By Michael Howard
In the spring of 1979 I was playing chess with a friend when I found myself feeling uncomfortable with the fact that only one of us could win and the other must lose. Ever since, I have lived with the question: Is competition essential to a good game? Why can’t a good game be based on collaboration? For 40 years, I have been exploring how to create a game based on CoQuest rather than Conquest.
All the great games of the past depend on competition to make them challenging and exciting to play. Team sports transfer this competitive dynamic from two individuals to two groups battling to win. And yet, each team exercises a high level of collaboration among themselves in order to be effective in defeating the other team. This curious mix of collaboration and competitiveness in team sports is also found in business, politics and warfare. Why do we compete with some people and co-operate with others? Why don't we try to collaborate with all people, all the time? For one thing, it is very difficult. Competing may not be easy, but collaborating is much more challenging because it means we must find strategies that serve the progress and success of all the players, not just our own. The prevailing assumption is that self-interest is so deeply rooted in human nature that competition is unavoidable and, therefore, must be accepted as a fact of life. And yet, as self-interest only seems to intensify in today's world, more and more people aspire to live in harmony with all who dwell upon our living Earth. It may not be possible to eradicate self-interest entirely, but our very humanity depends on our striving to harmonize our own needs and aspirations with those of others. When playing Conquest games, like chess and Go, players are limited to an adversarial relationship. Each one tries to outsmart the other in order to be the sole winner. In CoQuest, Dark and Light Demons obstruct all the players from reaching their StarStones. For all to be crowned with their StarStone, the players must battle their Demons together through the high art of CoQuest.
Like traditional board games, CoQuest can be played among family and friends simply to have a good time together. In addition, CoQuest can be played by groups looking for ways to foster team building, conflict resolution and other social capacities. CoQuest develops self-determination and decisiveness in ways that enhance rather than undermine social harmony. CoQuest can also be played Solitaire to strengthen individual social capacities. Solitaire CoQuest can also be played as a contemplative practice to focus the mind, promote equanimity and awaken our creative spirit.
CoQuest is more than a game; by learning to master our Demons together, we become more fully our self, and live in harmony with others at the same time. Learn more and ordering information at coquest.org.
Michael Howard was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1946, Michael began sculpting at the age of fifteen. He studied sculpture at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and received a BFA from Eastern Michigan University, and a MA in Fine Arts from Columbia Pacific University in CA. He met the work of Rudolf Steiner in 1969 when he attended Emerson College in England. Since that time he has researched the relationship between qualities of movement, sound and form. From this foundation, exploring the nature of metamorphosis has been a central part of his creative activity. In addition to making visible speech, in recent years he has also explored making visible music in drawings, paintings, relief sculptures and light art. His writing includes the introduction to Art as Spiritual Activity, a collection of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on art and Educating the Will, concerning the role of the visual arts in education. Currently, he is working on a book entitled Art and Humanity In Metamorphosis that introduces the perspective that artistic capacities must be developed in all human beings so that, individually and collectively, we can better understand and meet the personal, social and ecological challenges of our time. He lives and works in Amherst, MA. Visit his website at livingformstudio.org