Haddayr: Ha! This from the dancing queen of Ratbastard Karaoke Night!
Ted: Well, this is true. And it's possible I overstate the case slightly for comic effect. It's also worth noting that I do not expect all my interactions with my kids to be fun. When they were colicky infants, I did not refuse to carry them around for hours singing lullabies because it was insufficiently fun.
My thesis, though, is not that selfishness is a virtue overriding all others (any more than laziness is in a programmer). It's that it is potentially a virtue in the right circumstances.
And just as there's an intended irony in Larry Wall's list of programmer virtues -- because, of course, it is his lazy, impatient, hubristic programmers who take the time to carefully implement and thoroughly debug tools used by the rest of us -- there's a twist here, obviously, in what I mean by selfish. Just as lazy programmers do smart work now to avoid doing dumb work later, the kind of selfishness I mean is the one that makes you work to reach out toward others, not shun them.
One could respond to Larry Wall by saying that if programmers were sufficiently lazy, they would just not do anything at all, instead of implementing tools (especially on a volunteer open source project like Perl!) Well, sure. But that's not the right kind of laziness. If you are going to be a Perl hacker, your laziness is only good insofar as it has you writing better code. By analogy, if you are going to be a parent, parenting selfishness is only good insofar as it has you having more fun with your kids.
The point of programming laziness is to have you think harder about what you're doing -- isn't there any way I could automate this?. The same is true of parenting selfishness. The point is that if you don't settle for just enduring the chore of playing with your kids (analogous to enduring some dull manual copy-pasting operation for the Perl programmer), if you think hard about it, you are likely to find some superfair, win-win solution in which not only are you actually having fun, your kids are having more fun.
It is hard to imagine someone who only likes playing chess against worthy opponents if you parse that as meaning "that is the only thing that they like" -- that is, they don't like movies, hugs, chocolate, wrestling, punk music, walking in rainstorms, or ANYTHING ELSE. But let us postulate such a hedonistically impoverished person. Still, we can ask: well, but is your seven year old a worthy opponent if you start the game without a queen? Without a queen and a rook? With only a king and your pawns?
You can, of course, postulate someone who only likes playing proper chess with no handicap against worthy opponents.... and likes nothing else in the world. In that case I agree that this method will not work well for them. I would however submit that in general there is some intersection between what you like and what your kids like... and so it just becomes a game design problem to find it.