I came to the realization that no matter how much I loved it, there is such a thing as too much.
Life forced me to step back and take a look at my life and how I devoted my time to the hobby. I began to ask myself those questions while re-evaluating alot of things in my life. I don't need to bore you with all my personal stuff beyond the hobby but I need to address why I created this blog a couple of years ago. Also how I feel about continuing.
Find the balance and share.
HOW IT BEGANFor as long as I can remember, games in one way or another have been a part of my life. My younger years certainly saw memories of the tabletop kind. Growing up I recall playing games with my family like Subbuteo, Monopoly, Survive! and Scotland Yard - the latter of which I still have my copy from the late 80s.
After that I spent a great deal of time into video games, becoming more anti-social even from my own family. It wasn't until the advent of online gaming that I began to be reminded of those moments that you felt playing across the table from one another.
After I met my wife and had a few kids, as they grew up we tried to bring in a board game night feel. Playing classics like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit together. It was Xbox live that helped me fall toward hobby board gaming, Catan and Carcassonne were early arcade games that I enjoyed playing with a few friends online. I found out later they were real, purchasable games that I could share with my family. That coupled with the appearance on YouTube of Wil Wheaton's TableTop we soon found ourselves rushing full steam down the path.
We ended up creating our own game group to find fellow gamers beyond our family. The rest is West Valley Tabletop history. And it hasn't been without it's up and downs.
WHY DO WE GAME?I have a couple of reasons here, so bear with me.
At the core we are social creatures, I believe we were created with a inherent want to share our lives with other people. I know people, myself included, who struggle in social situations and we find talking or interacting with others hard at times.
Why is that? We don't generally fear others for no given reason. It is often more because how we perceive ourselves. You see yourself and think 'Who would want to hang out with me?' or 'I look like I'm an idiot.'. When these things couldn't be further from the truth. We become too worried about what other's think of us that we begin to think those same thoughts about ourselves.
If you are willing to put in that time and bridge the gap you will find that you are wrong and those preconceived perceptions are figments of you own imagination. There is acceptance that comes with finding like minded individuals to play with. Fellow humans that have had the same struggles as yourself. Board gaming certainly allows a social interaction while still being able to hide behind decisions and cards while playing.
Secondly, accomplishment. Many games that we play offer decisions, puzzles and options that give you a feeling of achieving something. In a world where we often feel like we are ice-skating uphill. Where choices seem to never be the right ones and attempts to improve your life run into walls. In the world of games you are presented with forthright choices that lead toward an ending goal.
A great game designer, Reiner Knizia, once said 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning'. In the real world the goal is not always clear. In gaming it is right there in the rules; you are given an aim. More often than not, you will fail or score below that goal. Even though the whole time you had your eye's fixed on the prize; fully involved and tasked with meaning.
We want our lives to have meaning and know our choices affect the world. In a game we have tangible opportunity to see that in action. Now look at that quote again with different wording:
'When living life, the goal is to live, but it is the goal that is important, not the living.' - It's not what you accomplish in life, it is that you tried to do your best.
MY NEW PERSPECTIVEI turned 40 this year and only now do I feel I am at a point where I'm trying to figure out what the rules for my life are. What is my purpose? What can I do to serve and help others? I think as I moved through life I was always looking at the ground, head down, not sure where I was going, but just moving. I had trouble looking up and forward. I also found it hard to look back.
I spent a good part of this year looking back.
How the life I thought I was living was different than what was actually going on around me. I brushed over the finer details and didn't think too much about the end goal. Now this is opposite to how I would game; I had to focus on the end goal and on that WIN. I built a gaming group with a goal in mind, but lost myself to the cardboard. My heart had been in the right place, but my mind became consumed with that next buzz. That sweet sweet smell of freshly opened shrink-wrapped game box.
Not to discount everything else that was going on in my life, but I think the hobby became a tool to gloss over the real-life issues and avoid addressing them.
I re-read my previous blog (from a year ago) and how I called board games an obsession, then brushed it off because I was enjoying it. Even then, I sensed something was off but was unwilling to pull back the curtain.
I'm back in the game now, but this time primarily focused on sharing this hobby with the one person on this earth who is the most important to me.
Secondly with my family.
Then with my friends old and new, as well as friendships I make along the way.
Then with whomever will spend the time to read my thoughts outside that circle.