For many months now, Wendy & I have been quietly hosting Board Game Nights at our house. We try to get folks together for “gaming unplugged” about once a week, though sometimes schedules get in the way and make it less often than we’d prefer.
But once we get folks together, phones are put away (except for the occasional rules clarification and recording of the game on BoardGameGeek.COM), and people begin to interact in meaningful ways, all facilitated by cardboard chits. Laughter happens, drama happens, game-based tensions rise and are resolved, and common experiences are experienced, real-time and together, around a table.
Last night, we had friends over for the first time to play games, and they brought their bright 7-year old daughter with them. Among other games, we played MYSTERIUM, which allows you to vote for or against the selections made by other players. The little girl was very anxious about voting against anyone because “they’re [my] friends!”, she said.
We talked about it with her at the table, helping her to understand that it’s just part of the game and “nothing personal”. While she was still a bit apprehensive about voting against her friends, she embraced the spirit (pun intended) of the game and fully participated.
I hope, if nothing else, that she enjoyed the game. But more so, I hope that she learned that games can be a ‘safe space’ that is non-damaging (and in fact healthy) to relationships. Even if you have to vote against a friend!