Someone actually wrote a book about what you are describing, named "Finite and Infinite Games".
Some games, like checkers, are finite. You play, someone wins, the game is done. You may play again, but each game is self-contained and simply ends. The whole idea of the game is to eventually end. Success is defined as being the leader at the end of the game.
Some games are infinite. The purpose of a lottery, for instance, is to go on and on and on. People win, but they never win so much that the lottery runs out of money. The whole idea of the game is to never end. Success is defined as contributing to the game in a way that makes it perpetual.
Finite games are about the player. Infinite games are about the game.
Some games are both. In major league baseball, each game is finite... and yet, you play 162 games in a year, and there's another season next year, so you can't expend all your resources on winning this one game.
Many multi player, online, role player games like this one, are infinite. You join a game in progress, you leave a game in progress. You are but a cog in the game... The moment you sign on you are just about in last place... and the moment right after you sign off, you are right back to the same score. Even if you play the perfect game, one millisecond after you leave there is another leader. And soon enough, he will leave too, and when he does, your fortune and his will have become one. In the end, we all end up tied at zero. Even if you played the perfect game.
Anyway, for me, the game is about the spirit of friendly competition, and the camaraderie. For me, competition isn't about winning. The purpose of competition is to provide an incentive to perform my best. I want someone of equal or better skill to come along and give me a reason to try harder than I did yesterday.
Retired Army--Proud to have served
Armored Cavalry Crewman, 1981-1984 (M60A5)
Infantry Officer & Paratrooper, 1984-1986
US Army Ranger & Sniper, 1986-1989 (LRSD)
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