The Story of CoQuest
The story of CoQuest began with a game of chess in the spring of 1979. On this occasion I found myself becoming uncomfortable by the fact that only one of us could win and the other must lose. Like most people, we made good fun of our rivalry, knowing our cutthroat posturing was only a game—or, was it?
Ever since, I have carried the question: Is competition essential to a good game? All the great games of chance or strategy played over the centuries are competitive. Competition offers challenge and excitement. The prospect of winning is the primary motivation for playing. And yet, for me, the question persisted: Why can’t collaboration be the basis of a good game?
Team sports transfer this dynamic from two individuals to two groups battling to win. Curiously, each team exercises a high level of collaboration among themselves in order to compete and defeat the other team. This odd mix of collaboration and competitiveness in team sports--as in business, politics and warfare--begs the question: Why do we compete with some people and co-operate with others? Why do we not co-operate with all people, all the time?
For one thing, it is hard enough to get along with just one person, or a few people some of the time, never mind all people, all of the time. Is it possible that we compete so much because it is easier? Not that competing is easy, but collaborating with others is even more challenging because it means finding strategies that not only serve our own success but the success of all the players.
It is commonly assumed that self-interest is so deeply rooted in human nature that competition is unavoidable and therefore must be accepted as a fact of life. In spite of this prevailing assumption, a growing number of people recognize that our individual lives are inextricably interwoven with the lives of others--that the well being of one is intimately tied to the well being of all. Co-operation and collaboration are core capacities for maintaining the web of life that unites the whole earth. Human needs are such that it may be neither possible nor desirable that we try to eradicate self-interest entirely. What we can strive for is to harmonize our self-interest with empathic interest in others.
Since 1979, I have spent many hours trying to create a board game that has the drama of competition, while challenging players to find strategies that serve both their own progress and that of the other players. I have coined the name "CoQuest" to describe this kind of challenge in contrast to the “Conquest” character of all competitive games. Instead of battling each other as opposing “black and white” players, as in chess and Go, the players face the Black and White Demons as common adversaries that calls for the collaborative spirit of CoQuest to prevent the Demons as much as possible from capturing HavenFinders.
In developing CoQuest, I have played a great deal by myself. In the process I discovered that playing Solitaire CoQuest, even for a few minutes at a time is a rewarding experience. Moving both HavenFinders and Demons becomes a form of contemplative practice that awakens ones creative spirit through fostering inner calm and focus
CoQuest is more than a game; it is a way of being, a way of meeting the challenges of our time.