I didn’t know it would be like this. I’m still taking baby steps into the world of tabletop gaming and a lot has already changed.
The first thing to note would be how little time I’ve spent over the last fortnight emerged in any sort of video game. There was a brief unimpressive dip into the DOOM beta, followed by an equally brief, “Oooh look at the shiny graphics,” trip down Gears of 4 lane. But in the grand scheme of things my playtime over the last fourteen days has almost exclusively taken place at the dining table.
Then there’s the additional communication with my three older children, who for the duration of whichever boardgame grabbed our attention that night, managed to remove their hands from all mobile phone and tablet screens. When I eventually came round following the initial shock of this situation, we sat and chatted and laughed and plotted over some exceptional gaming evenings.
And the final change is a new family addition in the shape of some sizeable bookcase storage in which to house these new found boxes of delight. It’s been an expensive but deeply rewarding couple of weeks.
Oh, additionally I’ve watched far too much of Wil Wheaton’s, Tabletop (Even ordered a tee shirt. Shit, this has mid-life crisis written all over it), and Critical Role than can surely be considered healthy.
That aside, I just wanted to spend a little time here talking about the magic that resides in these gaming evenings.
You see, as primarily a video gamer, a lot of the opponent’s or team-mate’s reaction is lost to the game. Even when playing side by side, reaction to events is lost as player’s eyes are transfixed on the action on-screen. It’s not a problem of course, to be honest it’s not even something I’d ever really given any thought to before. But then I got involved with boardgames. As wonderful as video games often are, the absolute delicious moment my ten-year-old daughter realised she was to be the traitor as our game of, Betrayal at House on the Hill, unfolded, was absolutely priceless. Her wide beaming smile, tinged with excitement and nerves was worth more than every Call of Duty headshot I’ve ever pulled (Yes, all five of them!). As the game panned out it reached a tense climax where she required one move to take her character, who had since split apart and become a huge two-headed snake, to victory. She was denied by a last gasp battle, but still left the table delighted at her moment in the betrayer’s spotlight.
It’s been moments such as this that have elevated these wonderful games to ever greater heights. My five-year-old’s love of Exploding Kittens and his endless fight to become, King of Tokyo. My eldest son and his inner sneakiness having been traitor in both, Dead of Winter and then Shadows Over Camelot, and the brilliant moment the rest of us realise he’s been pulling different strings throughout the game, just awesome moments that are absent in the video game world. But most importantly, the fact that as a family it’s another reason to sit around the table together for a few hours, away from any screens, and just play, laugh and eat crispy snacks.
I’ll be honest, it’s proving to be everything I hoped it would be.
The initial plan for writing about these new adventures was to cover the happenings in an RPG setting. That’s still firmly on the agenda with Dread looming on the horizon and the beginnings of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign slowly forming in the background. But the trusty boardgame, in all its myriad shapes and colours has currently got a very firm hold on playtime.
Every day since I plunged into this new adventure in gaming, largely inspired by our own, Stewart Pilling, whose articles on Lizard Lounge drip with love and passion for the hobby, my children, who range from eighteen down to six, have asked excitedly, “Are we having a game night tonight?” And of course, who am I to say no.