When I started playing board games in 2007, it happened because a friend of mine introduced me to some games that weren’t Settlers of Catan, and told me about a local game store where I could explore the hobby a little more. That seems like a pretty normal way for people to get into boardgaming. Maybe a friend or family member invited them to play something, or they found a local group in which to get involved. After that everyone discovers the websites. Boardgamge Geek, Foretress: Ameritrash, /r/boardgames, whatever you pick. There are a lot of boardgame websites out there. Odds are one of them pointed you to this site the first time you visited. It’s not bad that they are out there. But I am sick to death of them.
Well, that’s not totally true. There are a couple things at work here. For one, I’ve been quite busy with life lately and I’ve been unable to really get in much with my friends. That’s how it goes sometimes, but it does make it a lot less interesting to read threads about what other people are playing, what they should be playing, what they aren’t playing but want to, and why what other people are playing isn’t worth playing in the first place. And of course there are the ever-popular “Why isn’t [insert popular title] as fun as They say it is?” So a dry spell is surely contributing to my ambivalence about the online boardgaming community.
But more than that I feel that board gaming tends to happen almost totally on message boards. It’s the endless parade of recommendations, petty arguments about what is/isn’t overrated, stuff like that. It’s a little different on every site, and each major website has their own irritating tendencies. More than usual, I find myself staring at a screen filled with threads that I don’t care about. This is less of an issue on F:AT, where I am more personally invested and the variety of topics is broader. But it’s harder on Boardgame Geek, where new posts are immediately lost to an avalanche of Kickstarter announcments. And /r/boardgames is the sort of place that reminds me unpleasantly of 22-year-old Nate, and believe me he isn’t as cool as I am.
The ambivalence is starting to extend to a little bit of my writing about games as well. I frequently struggle to come up with something to write about, which isn’t uncommon.What I find more distressing is the occasional week where I’d just as soon write nothing and call it a day. I mean, why obsess over adding more to a discussion that probably doesn’t need to exist in the first place? I keep going because being forced to write something is good discipline for me, and I usually really enjoy it. But the well gets dry sometime.
So what’s a board gamer to do when he doesn’t feel like participating in the discussion anymore? The solution I’ve learned is to get back to what got you into this hobby in the first place: actually play some games. For me lately it’s been the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, which is simple and very solo-able. I’m going out to game night tomorrow night for the first time in a couple weeks, and I’m really excited about that. And maybe you don’t have anything to play or anyone to play them with. You know what? That’s not the end of the world. Hobbies threaten to consume more time and energy than they should. It’s nice to take a step back and resist the ever-present temptation to take fun very seriously.