Games of Love
Or, If Games Were Relationships
Once upon a fairly-recent time, in a city not very far away, there lived a young gamer. She was, as they say, at a crossroads. Her gaming experience up to this point had been relatively limited – a few childish rounds of Candyland; later, brief, haphazard rounds of Clue and Monopoly during lackluster sleepovers. In college, though, she dove right in, playing a different game every weekend, sometimes two or three in one night. She played everything from demanding Euros to capricious Americans to middle-aged RPGs, but nothing really stuck.
For awhile after graduation, she gave up games altogether. There was too much else to focus on, what with trials of Real Life looming over her. But, of course, her discipline and austerity didn’t last for long. This would be quite a boring, glum story if it did. So, nearly as quickly as she’d stopped, she was gaming again.
It was different this time, though. Gone was the mad rush to try everything, the hedonistic gluttony of epic game sessions. Instead, she had to balance herself, to find a game that would fit in with her life. It took some time, and not a little effort, before she found a game worth settling down with, a game that she would be happy to return to night after night.
In case you haven’t picked up what I’m putting down here, games are like relationships. We move from one to the next, maybe maintaining ties with former loves, maybe cutting everything out and re-starting. As our lives change, the games we play also change. What I want from a game now, as a childless twenty-something with limited time and a bit of spare cash is very different from what I wanted as a teenager, with more time than I could manage and no income to speak of.
But our gaming habits aren’t dependent solely on major life changes. Even with the more mundane, such as when the seasons change, my gaming tastes change. Winter here in New England is perfect for Epic Board Game Days, while bright summer nights lend themselves to quicker, more social endeavors, for instance.
Just as our relationships with games can change over time, different games can also remind us of the various relationships we have with each other. Here are some classic relationship types, and their board game equivalents:
First Kiss Games
Sweet and innocent, these light games catch you off guard every time. You might not think that you’ll like them, but they’re always over too soon and it’s so hard to recapture that whimsical feeling once the game ends. It’s quick and bright and friendly, but not demanding. There’s not much to it, but it always leaves you wanting more.
One Night Stand Games
These always seem like such a good idea at the time. It’s late, and maybe you’ve had a bit too much to drink, and someone pulls out a game you’ve never seen before. Ok, you say, I normally don’t do this kind of thing, but I’ll play. The game . . . well, it’s not bad, but it’s not good either. It’s a little clunky and awkward, and you’re not entirely sure whether you’re playing it correctly. It’s fun at the time, but the next time you run into it in the store, you try not to make eye contact.
The Game That Got Away
TGTGA is sometimes related to the One Night Stand Game. TGTGA is that game that your friend pulls out of his magical Bag of Holding near the end of the night. You only have time for one brief play-through, but the game is perfect. You had more fun than you’ve had in years, and you can’t see any flaws. Too soon, though, the game is over and packed up, and your friend forgets to bring it to the next few game nights. Will you ever see it again?
The Missed Connections Game
Oh, if only. You had to leave early that one game night, and as soon as you were gone, your friends pulled out this beauty. Apparently it was great, because it’s all they talked about for days after. You would love it, they say. You should’ve stayed. But how could you have known? Maybe you’ll have another chance at it one day, but don’t hold your breath.
The It’s Not You, It’s Me Game
The game is fine – you know it is. All your friends like it, and all the gaming blogs are singing its praises. But . . . you just can’t get into it. There’s nothing you can put your finger on, but it just doesn’t work for you. Maybe you’ll try again in a couple of years, but for now it’s not going to work out.
The Long Term Commitment Game
These games are investments more than anything. They demand your constant attention and effort, and they reward you with an ever-evolving experience. The more energy you put into a Long Term Commitment Game, the more you get out of it. Before you know it, you’ll have been playing the same game for years; you’ll own all the expansions, all the add-ons. You’ll have a custom storage solution for dealing with the piles of bits and pieces, and you’ll know your rules spiel like you know your name. You’ve spent so much time and money on this that nothing short of discontinuation or arson will make you walk away.
For me, Arkham Horror is my Long-Term Commitment and Ticket-to-Ride is my First Kiss. What about you?
Erin Ryan is a regular contributor to the site. Have a similar gaming relationship tale? Feel free to share them with us over on our forums!