You may have noticed that there haven’t been any articles about board games for a couple of weeks. This is because I am currently in board gaming exile. I’ve recently started my graduate classes, and most of my evenings are spent reading and writing stuff for my classes. Almost all of my gaming time has been spent in front of a TV, playing video games after I’m done reading for the night. But sitting down at a table with friends to play something in real life? That has been hard to make happen, and it looks like while classes are in session this will be the new normal.
It’s definitely a transitional period, and one that I expected to be really tough for me. There have been a lot of moments when I’ve had to pass on getting together with friends because my class schedule is pretty intense now. (One of my classes is entirely contained in two seminar weekends, where I put in roughly twenty hours of class over three days.) And when most of my evenings are taken up with reading, I not only need to balance fun stuff like board gaming, but also the much more important task of finding time to spend with my wife and kids. It almost feels like a much milder version of what I had to do when we had our first son. It’s a complete renegotiation of priorities and a time of learning how to juggle all of these different things. And though my “exile” is self-imposed (I chose to uproot my life and move for my degree) there are a lot of consequences that have been less than ideal in that time, especially my lack of a job.
But it’s been a positive transition as well. Finally furthering my education was a good move, giving me more purpose vocationally than I’ve ever actually felt in my life. Not having that extra paycheck makes it tough, but it also means I have the opportunity to spend my days with my sons. And I can still do a lot of the stuff I used to do, though I do need some more lead-in time to make the planning work and shift my studies around everything.
And on a deeper level, I feel like maybe it’s a good thing for me to shift away from a hobby into which I’ve invested a lot of time and energy, perhaps too much. I don’t wish to speak for anyone else on this, but the temptation to make board games a huge priority is very real. I suppose some people might do it by buying a lot of games, or spending all their time playing them. To some extent I think I did it by reviewing and writing about games endlessly. That’s not a bad thing, but in the absence of a lot of personal and professional momentum it amounted to the most important thing I had going for me, outside of bedrock stuff like my faith and my family. That’s kind of a bummer, so it’s probably good that I’ve had the opportunity to sacrifice my hobby at the altar of family and further education.
It’s always going to be there of course. I have a big shelf full of games that have withstood numerous purges and moves, and they aren’t going anywhere. My oldest is about to turn five, and he is getting more interest in playing simple games by the rules as listed. And there will always be new games that I want to buy, though at the moment the only really big upcoming one I’m excited about is Temple Of Elemental Evil, though we’ll see when I ever get around to buying it. And there are days when I’m not nearly as laid back about this transition as I seem in this post. I don’t think I’d use the term “growing up,” but it does feel like I have the rest of my life in front of me, and that board games will only ever be a very small part of it.