Friday feelings: I don’t care how you got into gaming

Welcome to what I hope will be a regular feature – a short (well you know how that goes…) weekly (see last brackets) post where I can just jibber jabber about something game related that has been on my mind. I’ve been trying to post twice weekly, which I’ve enjoyed, but I can’t keep it up indefinitely in terms of longer posts that need research – so hopefully this will be good filler. Let me know how it goes…

I love board game podcasts and blog posts that feature special guests, and love being that guest myself sometimes, but am starting to dread that same old, same old question: “So let’s welcome so-and-so by asking, how did you get into tabletop gaming?”

This is never, ever an entertaining question to listen to – I just sit there wondering to myself, ‘How many hours of my podcast life have been spent listening to the answer to this question that I won’t get back?’ And don’t get me started on shows where they have multiple guests… It’s barely an interesting thing to listen to when you meet someone new in person at a gaming event, let alone on some form of media.

You’re never going to get: “Well Bob, I was deep in the Amazon jungle running from a rabid tiger when suddenly, from nowhere, a wizard appeared on his zombie-filled spaceship and challenged me to a dual in a game of Carcassonne. I’d never heard of it but thought, what the heck? It’s the reward of everything I ever dreamt of or a life of intergalactic servitude – and, you know, the game looked kinda cool. And when I beat him and took his stuff, I vowed to play board games… FOREVER!” [cue loud applause]

What you actually get can be best be endured by playing Gamer Bingo – or maybe a drinking game? One finger for each classic (Monopoly, Scrabble, Rummy etc); two per nerd classic (D&D, Magic, Talisman); then three per gateway game (Catan, Carc, Ticket to Ride), because by this time you’re losing the will to live. Can’t we all just agree that our collective history of gaming is the same, and move past it?

Game publishers, designers and journalists are – in my experience – pretty rounded and interesting people. You’ve got everyone from Hollywood stars to rocket scientists, from every country on the planet, who are everything from school kids to centenarians. So please, for the love of Bob, do a bit of homework and come in with a more interesting and researched question.

You could talk to them beforehand, find out about the game they played most as a kid, and ask why they associated with it so much. Ask about the time and place they grew up, and whether gaming was a big cultural thing in that time or place. Or, you know, just skip their bloody upbringing all together – your call! But whatever you do, please let’s all just move on from this boring, boring question that sounds like it may offer so much but always, always offers no insight at all.

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