I have always been a gamer, I think looking back it is one of the few things that have defined me throughout my entire life. At maybe 8 I was playing super Nintendo on a mini trampoline in my basement. When I was 10 I got a computer and began my early life as a PC Gamer. By 12 or 13 I had rebuilt it into a formidable gaming machine and was playing original Starcraft, Counter-Strike, Half-Life and eventually World of Warcraft. PC Gaming is still my strongest passion when it comes to gaming, but it is slowly ebbing away.
I am entering a phase of my life where not only do I have an added amount of responsibility and family time (see posts about my daughter). I now have somewhat less time to sit on the PC for hours at a time. I have less time to play whatever new games there are and honestly somewhat less desire. I find my hands, or more importantly one hand occupied much of the time and my erratic sleep schedule leaves me going to bed early and not spending late hours of the night racking up wins in Starcraft2. I realize this may just be a temporary setback in my gaming time, but, even so, I am starting to expand my gaming palette.
I really have to give a lot of credit to Wil Wheaton’s “Table Top” web show. I started watching these out of mild curiosity and quickly began discovering a whole new world of gaming possibilities. Around that time, I began playing D&D 4th Edition with some fiends who also turned me on to my first “Euro Style” board game (Carcassonne) and my first true indie game Pushfight!. I found myself thinking, “holy shit, there is a whole world of games out here I had no idea about.” I was honestly taken aback, I had no idea even what I was missing. As a kid we had played Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Apples to Apples and the like and I always sort of felt demeaned by inferior gameplay and childish themes. I had no idea there was this world of deep, strategic, fun board games out there.
How board games fit
Some of the advantages to board games feel a little obvious but, I think as someone who never fathomed enjoying them, they are worth pointing out.
- Board games have a certain deep subtlety about them that my “gamer” side really appreciates. Sometimes it is hard for me to look at cardboard cutouts, dice and cards and think, ‘hey, this is some advanced thinking going on here,’ when I was used to the insane complexity of an MMO or a good RTS game. However, sometimes complexity is not always the most fun. Complexity can also be crude and complex just to seem like there is a lot going on. The depth and subtlety of board game is apparent when simple mechanics such as tile laying, card playing and piece moving can have a complex strategy behind them. Suddenly moving a piece is as interesting as controlling and building an entire army.
- Board games are inherently social. And granted, many games are now played online. In fact I spend most of my life online, talking over chat and on the phone and that is where board games are very refreshing. I find myself craving interactions face to face. Sitting at a table with friends or family over a game is a wonderful way to talk and get all the humanness I can soak up in our increasingly digital world.
- Family playtime is something I’ll probably find ways to bring up all the time on this blog. But, as a dad and a husband, I find myself looking for ways to spend more time siting together, playing together, talking together. TV is both good and terrible for this. We sit but we don’t talk, we don’t use our brains, we don’t interact. Board games are something I enjoy playing with my wife (and thankfully, she enjoys them too) and one day I hope to share with my children. Again, I will write more on this at another time, but, I believe strongly, the family that plays together, stays together.
So now, I can proudly announce I have started; my collection has begun. I am now a collector, player and advocate of board games. I have a boardgamegeek collection page started and I play and share games whenever I can. Will there always be room for computer games, sure, but, somehow I don’t care as much about missing my time sitting alone playing Starcraft or Skyrim. I look forward just as much to playing board games and card games with friends and family when it comes to getting my gaming fix.