31 Jul Are Board Games Meant to Just Be Consumed?
My journey in the hobby board games scene began in 2012. At the time, I was heavily into computer gaming. So much so that I found myself saying no to many of my friends outside of the digital space created in online gaming environments. It took me a while, but I began to ask myself, “Is this the life I want to have? Do I want to be more present online than with those physically around me?” In that moment, while pondering these important questions, I decided to give up playing computer games altogether and find a means of bringing my friends together in the physical space. I thought back to a few games I played quite a bit in college – Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Small World, Magic: The Gathering – which led me to question what other games might be out there.
The research began. Hours upon hours of research to find games that would bring those closest to me together for a fun time. My tax return came in the mail and I was sold on four particular games: Kemet, Mystery Express, Evo 2nd Edition, and Ghost Stories. All brought something new to the table with themes that were wildly different. From solving the “whodunit” mystery to travelling around as Taoist monks exorcising ghosts, there was something for everyone. And sure enough, I began spending way more time with my friends playing these four games for hours. I remember one time when we played Ghost stories nine times straight. We didn’t win until the ninth game, but the amount of joy we experienced grew as we continued to meet the Wu Feng incarnation time and again.
This was just the start of growing my game collection, however. Although my budget was limited, I was doing everything I could to expand my collection. Game after game, my shelf (and then shelves) began filling up. All the new hotness: who could resist?
I wanted to try everything. My collection was becoming more robust and I was able to introduce new people to gaming by diversifying my collection. I began to develop a critical eye. What made people like particular games? What constitutes a “good game”? What games do I not care for, and why? As I asked all of these questions, I continued to become more critical of different games. My friends often came to me (and still do sometimes) to ask what games they should buy and which ones they needed to avoid. As this trend continued, games changed for me. I began looking at games as an object that was intended to bring me a particular type of experience. With every game promising something new, I gave the game the primary responsibility of providing the fun. I began buying games only to play them once or twice before moving on to the next game. Gone were the days of playing one or two games for hours and hours. Ultimately, games were there to be evaluated and consumed.
I am not looking to condemn the trend to buy the newest, hottest games. I will probably be doing so for many years, but what I would like to do is point out one keen observation I have had in my time gaming. Games are not meant to be consumed – they are meant to be a platform for creativity. Every time a game comes to the table, there is an opportunity to create a fun experience. The game could be very well crafted or could be a game you don’t think very highly of. In either case, you will have a wonderful opportunity to create fun moments and fond memories.
Having fun with a game is more about how one approaches the game than the overall quality of the game. The world around us is often telling us our value is wrapped up in what we consume rather than the content we create. Please don’t take this as me saying “Stop buying games!” because I am not. I love this hobby and am so glad to see it growing the way it has in the past few years. I am simply saying that we should all be utilizing games as tools to create fun experiences with friends rather than utilizing them as an experience just to be consumed and stuffed back on the shelf. At the end of the day, board gaming is about fun, and only you can control whether or not you are going to have a fun experience with a game.
Thanks for reading, and keep on gaming.