Why do people cheat at games? For the life of me, I could never figure out how that would build one’s self-esteem or the purpose behind it.
As I write this column, and with a bit of a fond smile upon my face, I remember my grandfather, a crusty and somewhat formidable old Swede. You see, grandpa was a cheater at crib. Grandpa owned a logging camp which, almost a 100 years after he first built the camp, remains in the family. He came to this country not speaking a word of English and with little money in his wallet. Despite those adversities he lived the true Canadian dream as defined in the early 1900s.
By sheer will, hard work and determination, grandpa carved out his dream in the wilds of Ontario, near Rainy River. He didn’t do it by cheating, that’s for sure. And yet, when all the cousins would go to the camp every summer for a family reunion, grandpa would challenge each of us (and there had to be at least 20 children at any given time) to a game of crib.
It never failed, he always beat us. But my siblings and cousins weren’t too upset about that because each of us, even the littlest kids, knew grandpa cheated at crib. He used all the cheating tricks in the book. His cheating was a source of amusement and whispering between the cousins. To this day I still can’t understand what pleasure he derived from that.
So, it’s with interest that I recently played an online game of Words With Friends with a friend. He invited me to play and I was pleased he did until I realized he was using a cheat program. This friend is smart, but he consistently used words I have never heard of and he whooped me good in the game several times. Djin was just one of the words he used. I looked it up. It means an invisible spirit mentioned in the Koran. I decided to question him (via the chat function) on the word, but I was careful about how I did it. After all, no one likes to be called a cheater.
Me: Djin? LOL.
Him: Don’t laugh. It earned me 85 points and it helped me beat you in the game.
Me: (Now at a serious loss of words.) LOL
Him: I’m a pretty good cheater. LOL
Me: I prefer to think you’re smart.
After careful and protracted thought, I dismissed myself from the current game we were playing and declined yet another invitation from him to play. I refuse to stoop to his level and cheat to beat him. That’s against my principles or how I was raised.
I play Words With Friends because I love words. It matters not to me if I win or lose. For me, it’s all about discovering new words and when someone plays a word I have never heard of, I immediately Google the definition. For me, it’s about growing my vocabulary and using my brain.
It didn’t shock me as much that he cheated as it shocked me that he would do it and then laughingly boast about it. No shame whatsoever.
It saddens me that my friend would underestimate his vocabulary and think that the only way to win is by cheating.
I’m left with the adage my mother used to say. Winners never cheat and cheaters never win. And that is true, they may win at the game, but they don’t win in life.