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We Have All Become God's Madmen

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There Will Be Games


I received a pile of games in the mail yesterday, games that I'd eyeballed the photos of countless times online, read the electronic copies of the rules for, went over in my mind how it would be to own them...

 And yet, once they're in my hands, it's amazing at how..."different" it is.  To actually have the pieces in front of me, to see the actual boxes instead of just pictures of's almost like the real experience has become divorced from what we perceive to be the real experience by proxy we get from surfing boardgaming sites.


There's no turning and running from the information fact, I wallow in it with reckless glee.  But it's hard to realize that our perceptions have taken on an almost clinical nature in terms of how we consume our hobbies.  We accept seeing pictures online as substitutes for actually owning and knowing a game.  We consume "session reports" and vicariously chalk it up in our brains as actual game experience.  We read reviews online and those words, that initial consensus, becomes GOSPEL.

Just think about how many times you hear blurbs about certain games, those snippets of game opinions that become mantra.  "Doom is too hard on the marines."  "Twilight Struggle is imbalanced."  "War of the Ring has poor production design."  (That one always makes me laugh, as it became the thing that would-be detractors ultimately clung to.)  "Game X is too fiddly."  "Game Y takes too long to play."  "Game Z is too complicated."


These words become truths whether they've earned that distinction or not.  And they become bonafide substitutes for actually playing a game.


Can you blame people for that?  To some degree, yeah.  We have so many choices in front of us for games to buy, and the lion's share of them aren't getting any cheaper.  And all of us are crunched for time, lives preoccupied with things that ultimately do matter--kids, family, paying the bills, getting work done.  Like kids in a candy store, we press our faces against the glass peering eagerly at the wealth of goodies that are dangling before us.  We can't possibly hope to buy them all...and even if we can afford to buy the ones we want, we usually don't have time to play them all.  So we watch others chew their candy and line up our expectations accordingly based on the experience of others. 


Still, there's no replacing the actual play of the thing.  And no amount of pictures online have the same impact as actually having the heft of a game in your hands.  Yet we continue to casually dance in and around games, switching partners, judging others from across the room just because someone said something vaguely untoward about them.  Worse yet is spending the evening dancing with those that will never be the love of your life just because there are people too polite to tell you just how average they are without looping in and back again with softshoe doubletalk.


I stood there, for the first time in awhile thinking just how sterile the online experience of boardgame consumption has become.  I think that part of that was a factor in my gaming burnout last year.  But there's none of that left now; I'm gaming these days more than ever, and I'm always eager to find new partners to fandango with.



There Will Be Games
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