Our Greatest Glory

“Our greatest glory lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~Confucius

…That’s my favorite quote and has been for years. There’s much to be felt and understood from Confucius quotes, and just bright quotes in general, but this one touches on something meaningful in a very poetic way.

For anyone reading this that has thought maybe I flaked out on the blog for a while, well, you’re right! I think I’m at a point now in which I can resume, and I had hoped to resume in the short term all along. That’s one thing I have in my favor: I rise every time I fall.

Yea, you know what’s next: “…and this is what this has to do with games…”


I can go back to a quote from Steve Sanders in one of the competitive gaming documentaries he appeared in when he was asked about the point in all the passion around game playing. He spoke about a mountain climber, I think one that had climbed Mt. Everest or something really huge like that, who was asked in an interview about “conquering the mountain,” replying with, “Mountains can’t be conquered. You conquer yourself.”

…To me that’s a big part of the essence of games. It’s especially evident in single-player competitive games, such as those in which you’re competing for a higher score, or a faster time. There’s just you and the machine, and the machine is stuck to doing just the same things. You’re the thing that changes over the journey you have with a game, not so much the game itself (although of course games can be updated, too).

…I’ve been told I’m entertaining to watch when I play a game. I’m not entirely sure why that is, because generally I’ve been told that when the person isn’t even looking much at the screen. I suppose it’s kind of like when I went with my uncle Phil, a wine entrepreneur, into a grocery store and he talked about the wine and looked through everything. It was so interesting to hear and see how he went through the different choices, despite the fact that I don’t drink alcohol and therefore will never have wine.

When you observe someone doing something that they see in a special way, like when I hear Dr. John Turner play Scottish fiddle music, see my father paint, or even see Billy Mitchell play Centipede or Pac-Man, it’s intriguing. I think that’s not only because it’s just cool to see the result, but also the process.

That’s where the idea of enjoying the process comes into play. I’ve been reading again recently about the concept of flow, both from the view of a game developer but also just as a living being. As I always say, games imitate the universe, and that includes the concept of flow as well. Games can be designed to facilitate flow in interesting ways, and I believe people can structure their lives to facilitate flow in much the same way.

All this comes together in this simple way: the winning of the game is just a result, but the playing of the game is really where the interesting things happen. The conquering of yourself is the interesting process, not just the last few steps on the top of Mt. Everest. It’s admirable because of what you went through, not just the result.

~David Klingler