I feel that the board game hobby is great and that our community is wonderful. Board games bring like-minded people together. I know, nothing is ever perfect and we can't ignore the bad actors, but on the whole, board game people, if I may address you all this way, are great folk. Playing board games is my happy place and I feel very much at home whenever I see board games.
It's always lovely to see when your hobby becomes more mainstream and is accepted by society as something normal, rather than odd and nerdy. I know, some of us are proud to be seen as nerds, or rather as board game nerds to be more precise, and that's great. At the same time, being seen as an outsider or outcast isn't so nice. I do feel that board games used to be seen as weird, but not in a good way. So it's good to see it's changing for the better.
Come On In
Given that the board game hobby has been, and to some extent still is, more of a nerdy thing means that the people in the community have each other's back. Our nerdiness has created a close-knit community. Again, I know that's not completely true. I'm not blind to the toxic behaviour that's still happening and needs to stop, but in this article, I want to focus on the positives.
So, when my wife, daughter and I walked into the Thirsty Meeples cafe in Oxford and saw so many tables all of which had happy people sitting around them, playing board games together, I immediately felt at home. I felt I could walk up to any of the tables, say hello and ask them about their game or ask for a game recommendation. Of course, I didn't do that, because I didn't want to intrude on the happy time these people were enjoying in each other's company.
Instead, we sat down and waited for one of the wonderful "game gurus" to come over and help us choose a game. We ordered our drinks and some food and got playing. We felt safe, surrounded by like-minded people, all of whom were having fun. There was such positive energy all around. The huge variety of games on all the tables was amazing. It was just glorious.
When I came back from a quick comfort break, wearing my meeple mask, of course, one of the other guests saw me and told me how much they liked the mask. It was really wonderful.
Board Game Events
Thinking about going to Airecon 2022, the first in-person board game convention I attended after the UK had first gone into lockdown, was an anxious time. I didn't know what to expect and how I would feel being so close to so many people in an enclosed space.
Of course, it all turned out fine.
The event organizers did everything they could to make people feel comfortable. You had to show a COVID pass or negative test, wear your mask, unless exempt or sitting down to play and there was plenty of ventilation, hand sanitiser stations and everything else.
I felt really at home at the convention and was able to see so many of the people I previously only knew via social media. I loved talking to them, getting a demo of their game or generally catching up with people. Everyone was friendly and everyone wanted to enjoy seeing people in person again.
Board Games "In the Wild"
I also always love seeing board games when I'm out and about. Of course, board game shops and cafes will have board games, but as the hobby has become more mainstream, you start to see modern board games in other places as well. Long gone are the days when toy shops only stocked Monopoly, Clue and other classic games. Nowadays, there are many modern titles and not only Catan. Ravensburger's latest line of IP-based games has become much more commonplace in toy shops. Not only that, but modern games can now also be found in book shops, which is really amazing to see.
So it's no surprise that more and more people play games together and that our community is growing. Board games are just a lot more visible now and hopefully, there will be a self-propelling cycle of more people buying games, leading to more games being more widely available, leading to more people buying games.
Getting to Know Each Other
Board games are also a great way of connecting with people, of course. Not only do conventions allow you to make new friends through playing a board game together, but playing board games also allows us to get closer to our friends and family.
Board games are a good way to find out more about a person's character. The type of games someone likes and how they act while playing can often reveal some clues as to who they are as a person. I found this with our neighbours. The first time we played board games together, I had brought a selection, just to see what would work and what wouldn't. It didn't take long to find suitable games that everyone was happy with. Now everyone feels more at home when we play something that everyone can get really into and get the most out of.
Spead the Word
It's also nice to spread the hobby further. It didn't take long after giving my wife's brother's family a modern board game as a present that they started to ask me for suggestions on what other games they might like. Soon after that, they found games for themselves and introduced us to games we hadn't played before. Whenever we visit them now, we will play one of their games with them - and not too long ago it was us bringing games to play. So we feel right at home now.
Board games have also given my wife and me another way to connect with each other and spend time together. A quick game over lunch or a longer game in the evening with maybe a glass of wine is wonderful and gives us the chance to talk - either about the game or about us. I feel that our board game nights have brought us closer together. Board games can create a focal point that allows us to relax and open up.
How About You?
So what about you? Do board games also make you feel at home? What is it about the hobby that makes you feel so comfortable? Is it the games, the people or something else? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear your story.