Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Gaming Concepts for Real Life - Tilting

Reading Bright Cape you will sometimes come across posts about parenting and parenting decisions.  In these posts it is not uncommon to have it explained that parenting decisions aren't really all that hard if you are well-rested and fed and no one is screaming at you.  Unfortunately, challenging parenting decisions are made very often when you are tired and hungry and someone is very much screaming at you.

That's a great thing to keep in mind about parenting, and it is also a great thing to keep in mind about life.  We all know that we make worse decisions when we are tired and upset and yet when we are tired and upset we are least likely to remember that fact.  What's more, as it becomes apparent to us that we are making mistakes because we are upset we tend to get more upset at ourselves for being incompetent.  It's awkward.

Poker players, and gamers more generally, have a word for that, and it is "tilting."  You are tilting, or you are "on tilt", when your ability to make rational decisions has been overpowered emotions.  The concept is very important in poker because it is both a game that often upsets people - losing a large amount of money to someone specifically because they did something stupid that would have made them lose 90% of the time is upsetting - and because you actually can lose a large amount of money from one bad decision.  If you are risking huge sums of cash based on your assessment of probabilities, you better have that assessment right, and not be letting your anger or depression overrun your game.

As the fabled Gambler said, "You've got to know when to walk away."

Difficult parenting is done on tilt a very high percentage of the time, but most parents don't realize how badly they are tilting.  Unlike the poker table, you can't necessarily just walk away, but you can take a breath, reassess, or otherwise take a moment to be mindful of your feelings and how they affect you.  Importantly, you can check whether you are, in fact, on tilt.  This is not easy, but it is a very good practice.

What's more, if you are writing in a blog about parenting, instead of spending a couple of sentences explaining about being tired and upset, and how you make worse decisions when you feel that way, you can just say, "Now I was on tilt, big time."  But you can't say that, because the target audience of your parenting blog won't understand what you mean.  Of course you could just google it, the wikipedia article on Tilt (poker) is the first hit.  Actually, you should probably go google it now.


  1. Mindfulness really just is the goddamn.

    1. It is. Actually shouting "GAAAME" on a regular schedule and checking in on your emotional state would be good mindfulness practice. You don't necessarily have to shout, but it's probably easier to remember to shout something than it is to think something.