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Why Board Games? Part One

Updated: Feb 6

For many people not familiar with the hobby, board gaming is somewhat of a mystery: WHY board games? Why, they ask, are people spending so much time and money on something that seems to be only for children or, perhaps, crusty old grognards recreating WWII in their basements? The answer, to the extent that I can address it, might surprise people.

For most of my adult life, I worked in the field of education, first as a teacher, then a teacher trainer, and finally, as a teacher trainer trainer (someone who trains the trainers who train the teachers). Obviously, this is a very “people intensive” field, as the work involves interacting with large numbers of individuals every day. As anyone who has worked in the area can tell you, it can be extremely rewarding to work with other human beings; at the same time, human beings can also drain you of every last drop of energy and patience you possess. When you consider the fact that I live in Mexico City and had to contend with a packed subway and nightmarish traffic every morning and afternoon, it’s easy to understand how I used to arrive home after work completely “peopled out.” All I wanted to do was shut off my social circuits and simply have some time to myself.

I have always been fascinated by games in all forms, and at that time in my life, my primary gaming activity was video games. They were perfect for where I was in my life: I could lose myself in the worlds that video games provided, completely shutting myself off from having to converse with or even spend time with others. After a long day of working with people, that was exactly what I needed: some alone time to decompress and enjoy myself without any further social obligations.

Then, the financial crisis of 2008 forced me to change careers: I took a job as a database programmer, working out of my home and only interacting with other members of my team over the them people via Facetime or Skype. The sudden shift from constant social interaction to almost total isolation was a difficult adjustment, and it came with an unexpected side effect: I completely lost my interest in video games. What had once provided me with release and escape suddenly felt lonely and isolating: after spending a day working alone, the idea of isolating myself still further in a video game was just sad.

I am not, by nature, a particularly gregarious person, and I was finding it difficult to find opportunities to socialize. Luckily for me, this change in my life just happened to correspond with a huge increase in the popularity of board games. In Part Two, I will go into detail about how board gaming changed my life!

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