If you’re on Facebook, you’ve seen it. Just in case, I’ll treat you to it again.
For once, they got it right. There is a certain ebullient redheaded writer we all know about whom this is true. What began as a hopeful year has so far been one of my hardest. And most of the people I know have no idea. I’ve been less than honest with a lot of people, and I think that’s okay, really. What many people do know, even if they don’t notice consciously, is that I’m more obsessed with games than even I used to be, that I’ve gotten a lot of new games, that I talk about gaming more, that I write about gaming more, that I manage to make a lot of my news about gaming when they ask what’s new. Some of them think I’m weird, and that it’s unhealthy. Most of them just find it entirely uninteresting, and move on as quickly as is decent to other subjects. Sometimes that stings, because it’s nice to take an interest in your friends’ interests, but it’s fine.
One of the things about gaming that I find both so comforting and so absorbing is its infinite variety. Last week, I mentioned having played Agricola, a game where I farmed. Over the weekend, I explored an ancient Mayan ruin (Tikal), mined resources and built things out of them (Dwarven Miner), directed wizards on dinosaur-back to assassinate ninjas from other planets (Smash Up), and built my skills as a writer to learn to build better words to earn more fame (Paperback). Who else can write such a sentence?? I’m sure there are other great hobbies out there, but absolutely give me this one.
I suppose it’s often a curse that a hobby can eat all of your time and attention, but sometimes, it’s a blessing. The fact that at any moment, even when no one is available to play a game with me, I can hop on BGG, and read about games, or watch videos about games, or make comments about games, gives me a point of focus that is positive, that is outside myself, and that gives me interesting things to think about.
I know so well that I’m not unique – so little in the world is – and that there are others on the Geek and in the larger gaming world who seek refuge in games. I sometimes see a quiet desperation in people’s eyes at games nights when we’re doing the awkward, “I’m up for anything” dance before choosing a game. We reach for the games because sometimes it’s the only safe thing to reach for. And I see no harm in that. We’re not hurting other people, we’re not hurting ourselves, and we’re making it possible to put one foot in front of the other…
Author’s note: At the end of this week, I will be accompanying my sister to Arizona to say goodbye to our beast of a father, who is apparently dying, and whom I have not seen in almost 20 years. I will take solo games, I have looked up a game store near my father’s house, and I have learned of a magical-sounding store that sells used board games at half price. I will roll the dice, and I will get through it. And hopefully, I will need some of the space in my sister’s suitcase to get my loot back, as well… Wish me luck.