Most of the podcasts I listen to and people I’ve talked to mentioned, at least in passing, that they were going to try to get some of their family more into games this holiday season. In fact I remember a very naive, but favorite writer of mine saying, “My parents are only going to be in Germany for 12 days and, of course, we are going to do a lot of touristy things. We are going to go to Christmas Markets, visit a castle or two, tour a chocolate and also a cheese factory. That is a given, but at night, when we are back at the apartment, we need something to do and instead of my mom asking me if I have found a girl in my town to date, I figured I would distract her with games.”
Oh wait, that was me. Stink! So how did I do? Let’s ignore the dating thing altogether (because I should have known better that my mom would get around to it anyway no matter what we were doing) and just assess the board gaming aspect of their trip. What grade would I give myself if I did a silly thing, such as that? Did I deserve an A by converting both my mom and step-dad into true hobby board gamers? Maybe a B because they better understand my hobby and would like to play some deeper games in the future? Maybe a C because they left thinking “meh” about games and kind of, but don’t really understand why I spend so much time thinking and talking about board games? A D, perhaps because they aren’t big fans of board games now and only vaguely consider it a hobby? Or, hopefully not, an F because they now hate games and will recall the famous anti-drug commercials of my youth every time I propose to play a game and “Just say no?”
I’d have to say I’d give myself a B, but not because I got my family into games, or even really helped them understand my hobby too much. In fact, this B is mostly for the learning that took place. Sure we played some games. Sure my mom said she enjoyed 6 Nimmt and my step-dad played it a few times as well. Sure my mom played Diamonds and said she didn’t understand the strategy…yet, but in all we didn’t quite do what I had hoped. We didn’t break out Camel Up, Colt Express, Hanabi, or any other more games, but I learned a lot and we played some.
Reflecting on the board gaming aspect of their trip I had to start first by taking a look at my intentions. Were they good, admirable even? Sure, but were they the right ones? I’d have to say not really. My intentions were good, well mostly good at least, but looking back now I noticed one major mistake. In the mix of trying to say that my game selection was for my family, I was also putting in games for myself. I added several games that I have yet to play, but really wanted to play. That was a mistake, one in which I will get more into detail later.
1. Know the dang rules!
Introducing new players to the modern board game hobby requires a lock on the rules. You shouldn’t stumble and bumble through the rulebook while, at the same time, trying to get them hooked on the game itself. This should have been a given and yet…I forgot. When I played Diamonds with just my mom, I should have read the rules for the two player game before even attempting to start the game. I didn’t do that, so I think my mom’s overall impression of the game suffered slightly as a result.
- Don’t be a pusher
Taking my first lesson into account, I read the rules to Colt Express, had the train assembled and everything ready to go to play with a group of five of us. I was ready, everything was perfect and so I asked, “Who wants to play a game?” and got the resounding answer of crickets chirping in the night. I tried again, “This game is awesome, you get to rob a train, shoot or punch other players and move around on a 3d train, who is in?” Again, my question was met with the sound of my hopes of game playing for this trip, quite similar to bugs hitting a bug zapper. No one that’s who, no one wanted to play any game at all. So, I joined them in reading a book instead.
A few days later I brought up playing another game and again the response was a resounding no, more out of disinterest than anything else. I could have pushed it, I could have set it up and shown them how the game works, I could have…but I realized something. Not everyone wants to play games as often as me, so stop trying to get them hooked on gaming
I needed to take the opportunities when they arose, but not force them into it, nobody enjoys a pusher!
- When all else fails, say yes to whatever they want to play
Two times during my parent’s time here my mom suggested we play Rack-O (and yes I can see your eye-rolls as you read this) and at first I didn’t want to play. I mean, it’s Rack-O, it’s ranked 6144 on BGG, it doesn’t have much strategy, no cool art, was made in the 50’s and well, where the heck are the meeples?
There were many reasons I could think of to say no, but there was one way more important reason to say yes. My mom wanted to play a game with me. She wanted to spend quality time with me in a way that she thought we would both enjoy. So what if they game is ranked low, or doesn’t have much strategy. I got to play a game with my mom and we had a good time. If that helps her understand why I like to play board games a little bit more, because really that is one reason I like to play games, then I can play a game that I wouldn’t normally play at all.
Plans for the future
With all of that said, I still plan on trying to introduce my mom and step-dad to some fun games. I will still bring a couple games with me when I get to spend time with them, but instead of the 8+, maybe just one or two. Now when I play a game I will be thinking about if my step-dad and mom would like it, but when I see them next I will also be willing to sit down and enjoy a game of Rack-O too.