Monday, August 4, 2014

Rediscovering My Passion for Board Games

Lately, I've been reflecting on my board game collection that I have amassed over the past couple of years. It's a pleasing collection to look at, that's for sure. Most of these games were played and enjoyed. Some were suggestions from trusted resources, while others I bravely purchased with the thought "why not?" But overall, my acquisitions over the past few months were satisfying and worthwhile.

And, in recent months, I've even been proactively organizing all my game nights with friends. Sending emails, replying with my BoardGameGeek collection link, and getting feedback on what others may want to play. It's nearly a weekly thing, and I've gotten people excited for what to play next.

So why am I not happy?

Coming Clean

The hard reality is that I have little time to play board games.

There. I said it.

It's an unavoidable truth that must be acknowledged. Regardless, my collection keeps growing faster than I can play them. Even with my weekly game nights, they're a scant 3 hours that start late and end later, often wearing out most people before the full night's through.

And lately, I've had people say I have a "passion" for this hobby. But what good is a boardgame passion when I'm hardly playing anything? Does my passion for board games outweigh my realities? Am I, then, just a fraud, trying to fit in?

I mean, in my head...

Games are shelved nicely, proudly displayed for all to see. Despite the fact that they're quite neatly organized, their edges show lots of well-worn love, clearly from being taken out and put away so many, many times. You start running your fingers along the boxes like a reading enthusiast against book spines, grabbing a select few and stacking them up for the third game night this week.

Your friends have all gathered promptly on time, grinning at the stack of games you brought over, all of them lengthy euros. Everyone argues over what one game to play intensely, but no matter what's chosen, everyone is happy to begin. Since everyone is familiar, setup is a breeze as you are already halfway through an intricate array of gameplay choices. Everyone's quite surprised that there's still enough time for another game, playing with equal jovialness.

But really...

Stacks of games sit on a small table, often untouched for weeks, probably months. These undisturbed stacks are further mocked by the various day-to-day trinkets that gently rest on top. Other similar similar piles are out of sight, in garages or closets. Apart from the occasional nudge when searching for other things, they remain quite still, like a monument of something long forgotten.

After several failed attempts, you finally rustle enough people to play at game night. In a bold move, you decide against the typical lighter-fare games for the heavy euro. With open minds, friends watch as you dump out all the components, Despite waning grins, you silently refresh over the rules and setup. When friends are finally getting the hang of the game, it's already quite late. You decide to end the game prematurely, thank everyone for coming, and go home.

It Has Come To This...

I still have fun playing these smaller games with my friends, but I never get to really break out the meatier games that I want to enjoy. In my mind, I can play these heavier games constantly without pause, smiling at myself with closed eyes as I plan out my next moves. My passion is dashed when my eyes open to an empty table before myself - just myself. And I can't help but wonder...what's the point of it when I can't enjoy what I want to play?

So I decided to sell some games. To be honest, it was mostly in part because I recently acquired some new games, and so by selling some I was hoping to alleviate my financial burden. And the games I was selling were games I've at least played once. So, I gathered my Get Bit, Cheaty Mages, Cube Quest, and Blueprints, and contacted my friend who's been VERY gracious to lend me his place for all my game nights and struck a deal.

By the end of the week, I went over to his place, a bag of games in tow. Somehow it felt heavier to me than previous times. That's when the memories began. I bought Get Bit after watching Wil Wheaton on Tabletop playing it. Cheaty Mages was a STEAL for $7 online at CoolStuffInc. Cube Quest was a purchase whim after the Shut Up & Sit Down review. And Blueprints was after watching Richard Ham (Rahdo Runs Through) fumble through its dice in a dark cramped room. They weren't any games that were rare or hard to find, but they held a history in my collection. And in moments, they would be gone.

Silver Lining

Holding the cash in my hand, I can't help feeling like a betrayer, as I unloaded the games one by one. And with a firm handshake, the transaction was complete. Truthfully, the games couldn't have gone to a better person, and I know they will be well played; three of those games were used during our game nights, so he'll have no trouble.

Just as I was going through some remorse for this sudden detachment, my friend, in true Saturday-morning-special fashion, told me how grateful he has these games. "Now, when I go over to my friend's house, I won't be bored, or play her copy of Monopoly. Thanks!"

It then dawned on me what my board game passion has been all along - to get others passionate about board games. I began this hobby as a stand against everyone sitting in front of a TV for "quality time." I wanted "family game nights" to return, to gather loved ones around a table facing one another and enjoying each other's company. I wanted to show others that entertainment does not require high-tech smart phones, consoles, and fancy computers. That there's a world of options sleeping beneath some cards, thick cardboard, and meeples. Oh, the meeples! I want people to enjoy wrapping their fingers around physical pieces, placing them around the board as their creations come to life! I want people to be proud of playing board games, because it's not an introverted hobby, but quite the opposite; it gathers people together into a world that is shared and enjoyed by all!

Because, in the end, #IBoardgame to share my boardgame passion with others. Sure, time constraints will always be a factor against my hobby. If I can get other people excited about board games, however, who know? Maybe one day, my friend will invite ME over instead for game night.

If that's not a victory for board games, then I don't know what is.
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