Jobby looks at how board games helps friends to stay friends …
What Are Friends For?
While researching a little background about what people consider friends to be, I came across lots of references to something called Friends. Apparently this was a US sitcom in the 90s/00s involving six loveable 20-somethings and the crazy antics they got up to. I say this with tongue firmly in cheek, of course I know what Friends was! And at least two of the characters I like.
However, in all seriousness the show did demonstrate what we all know really. Friends are the people you are comfortable around. They’re the people who you want to spend time with and who you want to share your interests with. Conveniently, they tend to make good people to play your favourite board games with. 🙂
True, friends also do lots of other things like be shoulders to cry on, help you out in bad times, make speeches at your wedding, etc, etc. But they need to become good friends for all of that, and to become good friends you need to spend lots of time with them. Again, here’s where table top games come in! 😀
Spending Time Together
So, to become good friends it helps to spend time together (without getting all soppy or trick-cyclist here, it’s No. 3 on this list of things that can make you happier, and there’s plenty of other articles like that around the web.) What better excuse to spend time with people than recruiting your friends as a few more investigators to help you keep Cthulhu from entering this world in Arkham Horror? Or maybe you need some more drivers for a race in Formula De? Or you need a couple more leaders to build some of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world?
Hopefully you see my point: no matter your tastes or what themes you like, there’s a board game out there somewhere that can be enjoyed amongst your group of friends. And one good experience of a board game should lead to more games, which could then turn into regular game days/nights which ultimately lead to better friendships. Why? Well, you’re not just playing the games but interacting with the others; not just in-game interactions but socially in the form of banter and trash-talk. Often some people talk a bit between turns and also between games. Drinks will be drunk and food will be eaten. All great human bonding processes.
So, how do I know all this? Do I have friends that I regularly play with? Why yes, I do! Sometimes I game solo, which I hope to write about another time (for now, you can read my review of Friday here.) For me, though, board gaming is about the social experience. I have some amazing friends and feel very lucky that they are (nearly) always happy to game with me. Here’s some examples:
The Old School Chums
I have some old school chums who I have had the pleasure of knowing for more than 25 years. Members of the group have come and gone but a firm core has remained and in that time we have done a lot of gaming together. We used to roleplay a lot starting with Dungeons and Dragons (2nd edition, way before it was cool!), then moved onto GURPS (dunno if that ever became cool) and even Rifts and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (both by Palladium).
We flirted with Battletech, then we ran Bloodbowl leagues. We grew up, got married and then went back to our Bloodbowl leagues! 🙂 We even had a brief stint with Magic (which I still play to this day). Now we enjoy the occasional get together with plenty of board games and these guys enjoy heavy, engine-building Euros which suits me fine! 😀 They are some of the closest mates I have: I can share anything with them and they would help me out in a heartbeat. Without the games, I suspect it would be trickier to find an excuse to get together but the common interest serves as a bond.
The Magic Players
I first experienced Collectible Card Games at college when the Star Trek CCG arrived. My friends and I had a blast with it. Things got a bit sour when people spent ridiculous money on it and as an act of protest I cut up all my cards. <ahem>
Then came Netrunner. I loved the cyberpunk theme and again, we had a blast with it. The first (and only) expansion came out and then the product fizzled out. 🙁
Finally, a friend of a college friend sat a load of us down and suggested we tried Magic: The Gathering. I was handed an elemental deck and we spent a night learning to play. We were hooked. This friend-of-a-friend registered to run Friday Night Magic and so we would gather at his house each Friday to play. This continued until real life got in the way and many people dropped out.
Fast forward several years and I still meet once a week with several of those college guys. We sling spells at each other, swear a lot and drink Bovril (the last is probably just me). We talk about the new cards, gawk at the combos we pull off and threaten to kneecap players of ‘arse-magic’ (counter spells). We also talk about normal, everyday stuff. Again, another bunch of great guys who I am honoured to have in my life.
Finally, an honourable mention goes to family, although this has less to do with friendship I guess. However, I take my hat off to my GF’s mum. She has been very game at playing the board games my GF and I put before her. It seems that my GF and her brother spent a lot of time when they were younger playing Backgammon with their mum. GF’s Mum humoured us and agreed to play Killer Bunnies with us (our first table top game together). She has since gone on to learn, and indeed love, quite a large number of games with us. This makes seeing the in-laws rather less painful! 🙂
Play More Games
There we have it. Gaming, be it roleplaying, board games or card games has been pretty central in my life and has certainly kept a lot of my friendships alive and well.
Have you had any great experiences with friends and games? Do share in the comments!