Gaming is a pastime that permeates almost every aspect of who I am as a person. I play games to relax. I play games to challenge my reaction times, logic, and emotions. I play games to tell stories. I play games to have stories told to me. The most social way that I play games is to have some fun with others. These games most often take the form of card or board games. Whether I play with my family, my friends, or my students, I find that games are a way to bring people together, regardless of circumstances.
Everyone has to start their gaming life somewhere. For most, this was playing simple games like Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, or Bingo with their family. I am no different. I remember many weekends spent at my grandmother’s house trying to outwit my cousin and brother in order to win Monopoly. A board game or two were always present on family holidays, and a pack of cards was always at the ready. Anecdotes of hotly-contested games formed part of family banter – “Yeah, but you still couldn’t beat me at Monopoly!” was an oft-used retort to expressions of superiority. And yes, we played Monopoly to death.
As I grew older, particularly when I entered university, the door into the true world of board games was opened to me. All around me, dozens of games that I had never even heard of before were played and enjoyed. I took one last mental look at Monopoly and dove in. I played games of all sizes, lengths, complexities, and themes. I hunted for Thunderstones and Munchkinned my way to level 10. I became a successful, profitable bean farmer and laid train tracks throughout Europe. I planeswalked and fought giant monsters. I even fended off cannibals in a little house on a hill. I did all of this whilst bonding with friends that I keep in touch with to this day (although not as much as I should!).
When I landed in Korea, I thought that the attitude towards board and card games would be different. In the land where League of Legends and Minecraft reign supreme, I held little hope that my students would even want to open a game that wasn’t an app on a phone or computer. I should have rather remembered the experiences that I’ve been lucky enough to have throughout my life. When I first showed my students one of my board games, their eyes lit up, and I saw my young self in them. Now, board game lessons are a highly effective reward for good behaviour and work ethic.
Life without board and card games would be a lot less interesting. They bring people together like nothing else. Just this week, I have already had one board game night, with the potential to have two more before the week is over. Every time I pick up a game, I think of all of the memories that I have made with that game. If it’s a new game, I am filled with the giddy anticipation of what is to come. In my next post, I will list the games that I couldn’t live without (it will be out this week, I swear!). Until then, play more games!