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Tennis

Yesterday my wife and I first watched Roger Federer square off against Andy Murray in the Wimbledon Gentlemens’ Singles Final, securing his seventh Wimbledon title and seventeenth major title. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable match – not least of course because the person we were supporting ended up winning. Andy Murray said some very gracious things afterwards, and so did Roger Federer.

Immediately after the presentation, we swapped our viewing to another competition going on last weekend – the EVE Alliance Tournament. Being EVE, this was not perhaps quite as sportsmanlike, but as we watched the matches, it occurred to me this was another illustration of the feebleness of the phrase “it is just a game”.

At root, there is no difference between the Wimbledon championship, and the EVE Alliance Tournament. Both take games for entertainment – remember that tennis is first and foremost a game – and use a tournament format to try to establish a sense of one player being better than another. I am fairly sure that the Jester is as committed to his team in the Alliance Tournament as any baseball or football/soccer player is to their respective teams. I am also fairly willing to bet that many EVE players who are part of the Alliance Tournament teams – not all to be sure, but many – probably spend a not dis-similar number of hours practicing their craft as any professional sportsman or woman.

Of course, one pays rather better than the other … but for most athletes and sport stars somehow I think the winning is more important. Just like it is for most EVE players.

 

NB: Over time this is likely to become a series of posts about gaming, hence the Part I in the title. As yet, however, this is a solo post.

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My mormor followed tennis her entire life. She may even have gotten to see Fred Perry play in person, but if not she certainly followed his victory in 1936. I never really knew my morfar, but in later years after my mormor moved down to the village in Cornwall where we lived, her old school-friend would come down for the Wimbledon fortnight and they would watch it together. I fondly remember talking to her once the week before, and she saying to me she was going out to the shops to stock up on gin and sherry!

In later years, after I came back from university and was working, I would often ring my mormor after I got home, to hear her view on what had happened in the previous day’s play. They were precious moments, and as a result I always think of my mormor a little more often during Wimbledon fortnight.

I quite like tennis, though rarely watch it. Wimbledon I do watch however. Not always reliably I have to say. This year has been somewhat better than average, watching several earlier matches – indeed even watching a bit of the Queens tournament that occurs before Wimbledon. Also managed to watch a little of the later-round matches, but today I watched the Women’s Singles finals, the Men’s Double’s Finals, and the Women Double’s finals, all in one long glorious stretch.

To be fair, I didn’t really care that much about the Women’s Singles – though it was nice to see Serena Williams take the title given her personal medical history. Likewise it was nice to see the Williams sisters take the double’s title, for pretty much the same reason. However, the men’s doubles match was a different matter.

Yesterday I watched as Marray and Nielsen defeated the Bryan brothers (one of the most successful doubles pair in the game) in the semi-finals. Jonathan Marray is British. Frederick Løchte Nielsen is Danish. Well, with a pairing like that in my household, we were always going to be rooting for them! – My wife being Danish and all 🙂

It was a marvellous, marvellous match, which went a full five sets. Tennis at its best. Predictably enough, the British coverage of a British champion was rather spectacular (though muted a little given all the attention focused of Andy Murray in the Men’s Singles Final tomorrow). However, the Danish coverage was even more fantastical.

This is a screenshot I have taken from the front page of the DR website – roughly analogous to the BBC website. I think it is fair to say the Danes think this is a big deal.

Which it is. No Dane has ever won a Wimbledon title. Indeed, the last Dane to ever reach a Wimbledon final was this chap’s granddad. Just to compare I went to CNN’s website, and while Serena’s accomplishments are indeed on the front page, they do not dominate. After all, an American winning Wimbledon is hardly new.

All of this got me thinking of gaming, particular MMOs, where so often one’s own achievements are valued in reference to what others have achieved. It is all too easy to become cynical – to become consumed by a “bittervet” mindset that disparages the achievements – and the enthusiasm – of newer players because they have seen it all before.

Sometimes, perhaps all the time, it is better to celebrate like it appears Denmark will celebrate this victory. Like the UK will celebrate Andy Murray tomorrow if he wins (for the record, somewhat unpatriotically, I am hoping Federer to win, because Murray just rubs me up the wrong way).

It is easy to be cynical, to disparage. If Andy Murray wins tomorrow, there will be plenty of that as well. There is some of that now with Marray’s win (it is only the men’s doubles, they say). Far better, I think, to image how my mormor would have reacted. I can almost hear the excitement that would have been in her voice, the sheer sense of joy, and perhaps a suitable glass of something to mark the occasion as well. A much better approach, which I shall try to follow whichever player wins tomorrow.