It’s who you play with, not (just) what you play

As many in the hobby have professed, I too spent my formative years playing the mass-market classics of Aggravation, Uno, Operation and the like. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve cutthroat games of house-rule Monopoly against my ruthless (and very competitive) younger brother. The memories persist, not so much about specific games but rather the people I played them with. The games do however play a key role in forming these memories.

I’ve been in the board game hobby since November of 2011. This may be hard for some to believe, but I still had never heard of “Catan” at this point in time. It was a co-worker’s mention of the great gateway game, Carcassonne, that started me down the hobby gaming path. My purchase of Carcassonne was followed by Ticket to Ride and Forbidden Island. ¬†Each of these games were purchased with a particular gamer in mind — my daughter, who was age seven at the time.

At the time of this post, I’ve amassed a growing collection of about sixty games (and counting). Some of the games I’ve purchased are currently too difficult for my daughter. Why purchase these games that I cannot play with her (yet)? It is due to the fact that I have made additional friends that love to play games that she cannot yet play. Through sites such as boardgamegeek.com and meetup.com, I’ve built a small network of friends who share a passion for “meaty” games like Through the Ages, Ora Et Labora and Dominant Species. I’ve rubbed shoulders with game designers and have enjoyed playing their prototypes, regardless of how rough around the edges they were.

So much of my enjoyment of the hobby comes from meeting people who enjoy a hobby on a similar level that I do. I appreciate the fact that some people love games because of rich thematic overtones while others enjoy games for the mechanics and puzzles they offer. I am still new enough in the hobby that I am willing to try any game at least once – and I’d play with anyone at least once as well. I hope this mindset never changes.