It’s been a little while hasn’t it? The last time I posted an article was almost a year ago. There are lots of reasons that my focus has shifted away from written articles and heading up podcast planning. Over the past year the amount of how to play work and requested video content from our channel has grown drastically which is wonderful. This has kept me very busy. In addition to working more life has just been harder. I’m currently the parent of a beautiful and energetic threenager that loves to play and also push all of our buttons. This takes up much more of my energy and attention than it did last year or the year before that and that means that I’m TIRED. All the time I’m tired. On top of all of that I think a slow shift in my priorities happened as well as far as the type of content I want to create.
We started our podcast and blog with the intent of trying out some creative reviews (and I will still explore how and when I want to give opinions on games) and the podcast which would focus on news and current events and topics with some interesting points of discussion. That is fun for myself and my brothers. I also want to make sure however that anything that we produce is interesting and engaging for our readers and listeners and is providing value that isn’t being provided elsewhere. There are lots of podcasts that discuss news, current events, and give their opinions on what they’ve been playing that week. There are lots of podcasts that do that much better than we do and I’m not sure that our input in that landscape is as valuable as it could be in other ways.
Something else that has happened to me over the past year is that my interests in videography and editing and telling a story in a creative way have grown in ways that I couldn’t have foreseen. I’ve started exploring the types of video that I can capture and the ways that I can utilize that to tell a deeper story about how our wonderful hobby is changing relationships and changing lives. I’m actively working on ways to increase the creativity that I use when producing tabletop content.
When thinking about what type of content I want to create and what type of impact I want to make on the hobby I’ve been thinking about why tabletop games mean so much to me. What I keep coming back to over and over is that the tabletop gaming hobby and community have changed my life. Saying something like that sounds silly and flippant but I want to clearly state the fact and drive home the point that I’m not joking or being sarcastic in any way. Over the past 3 years my life, relationships, passions and goals have changed.
Some of this change has come about because I’m a dad now and life is different when you have a little one to love and care about. Some of this change has come about because I’m getting older and things that used to be important don’t seem to be as important as they used to. The rest of this change however is due to the relationships I have strengthened and created through my involvement in tabletop gaming. I know it sounds silly to say that sitting around a table and rolling dice or trying to earn the most money from a camel race or creating the best farm can create meaningful change in your life, but looking at tabletop gaming with that lens is in my opinion a bit myopic.
Tabletop games are just an activity and some may see them as childish. What I think makes this particular hobby so unique however is its nostalgia and simplicity. Tabletop gaming is dynamic in the sense that it is NOT dynamic and everything else in today’s culture is. Our modern culture connects us more easily and in more ways than ever before. Technology and advances in travel mean that we are all neighbors. What seems to have happened with all this connection however is we withdraw from each other and revert to our devices to communicate. I’m an introvert and it’s never been easier to be an introvert. People can work from home, order their groceries online, do their Christmas shopping from their couch, and workout in their living room. The thought of interacting socially can sometimes feel like an overwhelmingly draining and dreaded task for someone like me.
When I think about playing a game however, I become very excited at the prospect. When I play a game, I have to sit around a table and interact with my friends or family. I have to use and develop my social skills and get to know others. In a business meeting or in a social situation without any structure or guidance I have the tendency to shut down or lose steam after I run through the short list of approved and age old categories of small talk. Games however have structure and an objective. Games can require teamwork, they have a set time of completion, and they provide a common topic or theme that everyone can focus on. So in the course of game play you can very naturally and organically interact with and get to know your fellow players without much effort on your part. The reason that tabletop games are superior to other types of games in my opinion is that once again, you have to sit across a table from other people and talk. You don’t tweet, poke, snap, swipe or hashtag your way to friendship. You play a game, and have an experience with other humans in the same room.
One of the other reasons that I’m so passionate about tabletop games is that they have changed my marriage. For the first year of my marriage I was an extension of myself in college. I was a 22 year old selfish person who wanted to play video games and have lots of “alone” time. Once again as an introvert this was very natural to me. Even though I would hop in an Xbox live party with my brothers or friends I didn’t feel like I was having to expend any social energy because we were just playing a game and focusing on getting the baddies. What this meant for my wife however, was that I was focused on my insular hobby and she was left to fend for herself. When I tried to include her in my hobby she didn’t quite have the same amount of enthusiasm because she didn’t really enjoy Call of Duty and even when we did play we never interacted or communicated in a meaningful way.
Then I slowly discovered tabletop games. What we found was that we could find games that we both enjoyed. We started spending more time together and doing something that we both genuinely enjoyed. While we played we talked, and grew closer together. What I realized is that while I enjoyed my game night online with my brothers, I also enjoyed spending time together around a table, and the people in my life who were being neglected enjoyed it too. It felt old-fashioned in such a wonderful way. It’s like someone who grew up on digital music hearing a record play for the first time. There’s such a warmth to tabletop games.
So where does that place me? I’m a 30 year old man who because of tabletop games has learned to spend more time with my family, and develop an interest in photography and videography. Through those relationships and new interests I’ve developed the desire to be outside more and travel as well. So when I say at the start of this article that tabletop games have changed my life, as you can see I’m not joking.
When I ask myself why I think this hobby has created this kind of change in my life I think the answer is simple. Tabletop games forced me to connect with people, both inside of my house and outside of it. Not online but in real life situations. The natural progression of these relationships lead to deep and meaningful conversations that have changed my worldview and caused me to be a better person. I’ve been exposed to new cultural backgrounds and perspectives from all walks of life that cause me to see the world in a different and I would argue better way.
I’ve learned that when you interact with people (whether that’s uncomfortable for you as and introvert, or very natural to you as an extrovert) you are changed. People inspire you, people challenge you, their stories cause you to look at your own life and question your motives. The amazing and wonderful people in this hobby have done all of those things for me. The hobby itself has caused me to look at my life and evaluate how I was interacting with others and if that was as good as it could be. Through all of this my story has developed and my story has changed.
At the end of the day I think that has caused me to re-evaluate and dig into our channel, website and podcast content to think about how I want to proceed. Games have changed my story. Games are telling stories and changing lives all over the world and I want to explore those stories. I want to focus more on why games matter. I want to also talk about games because at the end of the day they’re still all I really think about, but I also want to tell stories that encourage others like I’ve been encouraged. I want to discuss topics on the podcast that cause you to think about why we game and what’s important about gaming. So that’s what I’m going to do. Sometimes it may be just me and hopefully more often than not it will be with my brothers. I also want to say that I don’t think I’m going to absolutely turn the podcast or website on their heads. I still want to discuss what we’ve been playing and what we’re excited about but I want to be more cognizant of our hobby’s influence. Sorry for making a long story long. I want to get back into this and try it a different way, and I wanted you to know why.
P.S. I’ve posted a vlog I did from a recent day at the park and game night that I had with my wife and daughter below.