Why I Game

Hello there.  This is the umpteenth blog that I’ve started.  Most of them were focused on board game reviews or things of that nature, but this one will be a little different.  I’ll be combining session reports and reviews with essays or musings that revolve around board games and RPGs.  For an introductory post, I thought it might be a good idea to think back on my gaming background and why I game.

My college provided students with ‘Interterm’ which was a way for students to take experiential learning classes for a few weeks.  Some students traveled, some students learned Arabic, some students learned to fly fish, and others learned to play board games.  My first experience with ‘contemporary’ board games was with Arkham Horror.  One of the guys in my fraternity was in the board game class, and brought this home for the rest of the house to play.  I was hooked almost instantly.  From there, I branched out into wargames (starting with Commands and Colors: Ancients and Memoir ’44) and I haven’t looked back.

A few years ago, my group of college friends decided we wanted to try RPGs.  I ran an unsuccessful campaign of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and we slowly migrated from that to Dungeons and Dragons (3.5e).  This was amazing to me.  I could be who I wanted to, do what I want, and use it as an escape from the stresses of everyday life.  Now, I’ll admit, the characters I play don’t have a very different mindset than I do IRL, but they get to go on great adventures that I myself may not be able to.  In fact, one of our DMs came up with the name for this blog, since I normally play some sort of Melee class that tends to like smashing things.  Now we meet weekly (unless life gets in the way) and play one of 3 campaigns.  I still feel like I need to redeem myself and run a 5e campaign for them…

I think it’s this reason as to why I game.  Playing a board game or an RPG allows me to focus wholly on that game for the hour(s) that I am playing.  I was diagnosed a while back with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and one of the largest triggers of that for me is interpersonal conflict/relationships.  This doesn’t come up in gaming though, and I wonder if the RPG aspect of my gaming life has helped treat my anxiety in some way.  I don’t have to think twice or rehearse what I’m going to say when I’m trying to convince a bandit to let innocents go or try to get information out of a noble.  I just do it, something that I struggle with in my day to day life.  When I’m playing a euro, I get the mental exercise of trying to figure out a strategy.  Wargames allow me to research or delve into history, and, since I was a history major in undergrad, this is a very big deal.  Ameritrash games let me throw buckets of dice to see if I can take over America or ensure that the Rebellion stays strong against the Empire.

I am so grateful that I found this hobby.  I look forward to sharing my thoughts and my games with you.  If you have ideas for posts, or a game you think I should check out, let me know. I am going to leave you with a quote from Reiner Knizia, who is a legend in board game design:

“When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning”

I don’t win often.  It’s hard for me to commit to a strategy most times.  But the winning isn’t important.  It’s the time spent in pursuit of it.

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