I wrote a post a week or so go where I talked about the value of gaming and I had a lot to say about the influence, joy and importance it has had over my life. I then sat down, after playing several different games the last few days, that I barely scratched the service on other games that I play or have played.
I also missed a couple of really important points in regards to my gaming life, the influence of my family. Every family has something that binds them together, something that gathers dust until family members gather round and becomes the family tie of bonding everyone together. There was two things that did that for my family, The TV series red dwarf and games, in particular card games.
Some of my earliest memories involve the family gathering round to watch series 6 of red dwarf,one of the few tv shows we all liked and was mandatory viewing (remember when all tv was mandatory?). not only did that time influence my geekiness and my love of sci fi, but after we would sit and play cards, like a simple version of poker, switch(which I affectionately call pick up 2) or kings or trumps. Even on holiday, the thing that we would make sure not to forget, was a pack of cards and yahtzee, that we played so much we had to print our own score cards off!! It even would be created into anecdotes like when I was around 8 years old and was overtly aggressive with the yahtzee dices that they rolled into the swimming pool. Imagine my brothers face when he had to dive in and look for floating dice that his younger brother was at fault for? I still think he holds it against me!
What I regard as beautiful about this, is when I was thinking about this last night, the reason It hit me was because, we were playing uno(the chinese version of switch) at work and it was reminding me how much games bring people together. I mean we were playing uno with 13 year olds, over 10 years older than me, and it was something we could share like there was no generational gap at all. Last night I was playing games with my dad in a bar, because regardless of how little my dad and I talk about serious stuff, we bond over games like snooker, darts and cards. Some people regard gaming in that sense as insignificant, but games are the reason my dad and have something to do, and maintains our relationship even to this day.
Snooker is a really important thread in my life, because It is about one of my two major regrets. My family were really fortunate growing up to have 3 quarter sized snooker table in the house, and I played all the time, some of my earliest photos were of me with a half a regular sized cue trying to pot snooker balls with my dad or brother. It still makes me smile thinking about how much fun I had. the regret I mentioned was I suppose not my fault, but a cruel twist of nerves and age. my dad took me to a snooker club, baring in mind I was hitting 90 breaks in snooker at around 10 years old, I was getting really good, and for whatever reason, I got scared of going in the club. it looked to me like the entrance to a ghost ride, with teeth for doors ready to devour me, so i asked my dad to turn the car around. I never pursued it beyond that initial encounter, other than playing occasionally like I do now.
I often wonder how I would of done, because I also got good at football but in terms of playing that particular sport it never sustained my love and joy that snooker still does now. My friends often joke that once I play snooker you have to drag me away from it, which is true, now my only consolation is playing pool and hustling people who brag how great at pool they are (I feel I’m providing a moral service in shutting up douchebags…honestly!). But the thing is, I play things that I lose at too, my dad is much better than me at darts for example and i lost 8 games in a row at uno. 8 games! that means even with it being quite a luck orientated game, the only way i could of done worse is if i celotaped my eyes shut. or the cards were trying to kill me, yeah lets go for that.
But that’s the value of games that are brilliant. My fondest memory of last Christmas for eample was playing cards with my family and sitting next to my sister, we laughed all day, we forgot at several points that we were playing cards, and its a good memory because it was nice to see my sister being miss serious all the time and enjoying herself. it reminded me of playing snooker with my brother years ago, or more significantly, we’ve done the same thing for 20 years: gathered round my dinner table at home as a family and played a board game or six, or endless card games and maintained the most important relationships in my life.
That’s the beauty of gaming, is that the game gets the people you love, the people you know, or the people you don’t know and develops maintains or creates relationships and friendships that can last due to the mutual love of games, and I’m so grateful that they exist, because, I wouldn’t have the life I have now without them, the friendships that have last years, the family that bind together over playing them, and Ill always be grateful for that.
so as I look at my new edition of Munchkin apocalypse, I get the same buzz, the feeling of opening it, and knowing that I get to share this with the people i know, or dont know…..and I still cant wait to do that! 🙂
I will be at Newcastle Gamers celebration of international tabletop day on march 30th do have a look here http://www.newcastlegamers.net/ and do come along if ya can! 🙂