Yes, my Yahtzee addiction has actually taught me something useful.
One of my best friends and I used to spend hours playing Yahtzee. We’d keep filling our wine glasses while we shared deep life conversations over dice. There was something stress-relieving about the rattling sound inside the little plastic cup, and the final toss onto the table to see what fate the numbers held.
Our Yahtzee sessions were times of deep reflection and strong rivalry. We could do it all night long, letting the competition melt away our days of stress. So, naturally, years later and miles away from my old friend, when I stumbled upon a phone app that let me get into this game again I became quickly obsessed.
It should be noted that phone Yahtzee is much different than real-life-Yahtzee.
It’s lacking the personal connection, the tangible details, and is probably a bit rigged, as I’ve come to believe. But it’s still the same game in a different format — with tournaments, endless rivals, and the ongoing potential to earn rewards, much like other technology-based games.
It’s become my new addiction. I wake up to Yahtzee tournaments and obligations to take my turn in ongoing games. I take breaks from my kids to squeeze in an extra match. Try as I might, I can never beat the digital “Yahtzee masters” that entice me with their rewards of cute, unique dice to use in future games.
It was only recently that I began to realize why I have always loved this stupid game of quasi-strategy but mostly chance.
Because Yahtzee is like writing.
You Take a Chance
When you write, you take a chance, just like you take a chance with each Yahtzee roll.
“Is it good enough? Does this sentence fit here? Will I know what to say next?”
“Will my client accept this piece? Is it worth it to pitch to a publication?”
“Will my readers enjoy my words?”
“Will the writing say what I originally wanted it to say?”
You’ll Face Rivals
Sometimes, your words are not received well. People just don’t like what you have to say and they aren’t afraid to let you know. Or, you write to compete against other writers on Medium, seeing who will get the top writer spots. It’s a competition every time you write a pitch for a new client. You might write something to disagree with someone else. You might make some enemies (I hope not). Rivals in the writing world are just as present as they are in Yahtzee.
You Try to Put Pieces Together to Make Something Meaningful
In the game of Yahtzee, it’s a constant struggle of pairing up dice that can help you earn points. Sometimes, you have to let go of them and pray for better ones. The strategy comes in the way you fill out your score card. If you can fit the scores in your sheet just right, like a puzzle, you may wind up with a good score even after a series of bad rolls.
Writing is like that. Your draft words can come out with some winning sentences or they may need a bit of work. You re-write some sections, rearrange, and strategically place your words in a way that will maximize your story’s potential. It’s like filling out the scorecard for your piece.
The Writing Game is Rigged
Whether you write for Medium or an online publication, you have to account for Google’s rigged search engine optimization (SEO) and Medium’s story-selection algorithm. You could write the most beautiful piece that gets looked over or doesn’t appear in search results because you haven’t optimized for SEO well enough.
It feels a lot like knowing my Yahtzee game is going to produce computerized results based on some unknown algorithm. You learn to live around these rigged systems and how to flourish within and despite them.
It’s an Addiction
Just like real-life Yahtzee and phone-Yahtzee, you’ll find that writing becomes something you perform over and over again, despite wins and losses. We’re in a never-ending pursuit of the perfect writing, just like Yahtzee players are in a never-ending pursuit of the perfect score.
My Yahtzee mates these days are my young, well-meaning children. They don’t get the game. I help them score their dice, but they never win because they don’t understand the strategy part. Each set I’ve bought has been scattered around the house in its many pieces.
I miss having a rival to share a glass of wine with, to share life with, and to share a damn good game of Yahtzee with. For now, I will just have to share these things with you, my readers, as we play this endless Medium Yahtzee game together.