Years ago, I had invited someone from work over to play some board games. At the time, I was buying way too many games and thought of them not just as vehicles for fun, but as sort of art object that belonged in my highly curated collection. *adjusts monocle*
My co-worker did not know this. Like any healthy person, they viewed playing a board game as an opportunity to socialize and hang out. The outcome and mechanics of the game meant nothing.
So, I spent the evening existing in constant worry as they waved their arms around, threatening to spill beer on my precious art object. As the evening went on, they existed in a state of chaos and even bent a few cards. I brought it up, but they genuinely didn’t understand where I was coming from, to them a board game was like a kids toy.
After that, I realized that maybe I hadn’t examined why I was playing games. Even more, I realized that by not knowing myself, I couldn’t communicate the experience I was looking for and get on the same page as the other player.
Because you can play a game for any reason. Maybe you want the thrill of competition and the crushing of your enemies, maybe you want to chill and have a beer. But if the players at the table aren’t in it for the same reasons, it’s tough to have fun.
I now see a game group as a group of people agreeing to try to help the whole group have fun. Everyone shares responsibility in that, and getting on the same page and having the same aim is part of that conversation.
Of course that starts with self analysis and discovering why you are at that table in the first place, and the answers aren’t always flattering. You might be a backstabbing jerk that delights in the downfall of their enemies. But if everyone at the table feels that way, and you are playing a game of Diplomacy, it becomes a feature, not a bug.
Being in a game group isn’t trivial. You have to find people that you can count on to be present and help everyone at the table have fun. If there are wildly differing aims in a group, it all falls apart and you end up in a living nightmare. Not to be dramatic or anything.
But don’t despair, I think there exists a magical place, a board game Nirvana. A wonderous land where every member of the group is there to help everyone else have fun. And when a group reaches that far off land, it’s bonkers.
Ok, maybe a little dramatic. Anyone else have stories of game groups nightmares where members had different aims, or even better, have you reached board game Nirvana?
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