• Anne

No Point Games

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Do you enjoy losing a game against a friend?

Putting forth your best effort and still failing miserably can ruin a night out. Sometimes it can cause tension between friends and family members when the whole point of the game was to have fun together. Even with good sports, it can still be a downer.

I consider myself a fairly good sport, but I’ve certainly come out of the bowling alley or out of a board game (that I was initially winning) feeling quite embarrassed and almost resentful of the person who got a score that was twice as good as mine. What was originally a fun activity became a stressful battle of saving face. (Since my masters thesis was based in combinatorial game theory, it’s especially embarrassing if someone beats me at a strategy game.) Then when I do win, I sometimes feel bad when I win by a long shot and how that makes the other person feel.


Let it be known that I am definitely a believer in competitive games. I think it is good for people to experience playing with the stakes of winning and losing. It builds character to fail, and winning is a just reward for hard effort. I think it’s good to have competitions and tournaments to determine who is the best.

Context for non-competitive games

However, there are contexts where I don’t think competitive games are advisable. On a date, playing with children for fun, or having a few laughs with friends are probably not the best contexts for these win or lose games. It can dampen the mood or make members of the group feel less worthy.

No Point Games

When I’m aiming to have a good time, I enjoy playing what I call “No Point Games”. There are no recorded points and there is no real point to the game, except to have fun. My best example is when I play mini golf. As a math person, I often joke that I can’t count past 2, so I count every round of mini golf as a hole in 1 or a hole in ≥2. It’s a really fun way to go about it when on a date. There is something fun and silly about someone taking a lot of hits to get the ball in a frustrating hole and then shouting “Two!” afterwards. It takes away the pressure and makes the game more fun.

Cooperative games, made up games, and games where you simply don’t count the points are great ways to spend time with people you care about. Generally, you can do this with most any game; just don’t count the points! My husband and I don’t want to beat each other at anything, so we avoid tracking points when we play together and we enjoy making up random rules for fun. The activity is simply a means to create a stronger bond; keep the purpose of the game in mind.


I want you to arrange a date with a spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend, where you play a game that you will both enjoy, but don’t count the points (feel free to make up your own point system). Add your own twist to the game and make it your goal to have fun together!


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