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Board Game Diary – Fear of Missing Out

Dear Board Game Diary,

I try to keep up in the fervent glut of games that grace us with their interwoven mechanics and imaginative themes. At times, it all just seems too much for one to consume with over 3000 new titles coming out each year. I couldn’t even comprehend how one game can stand out from the herd without some form of established credibility: another time and another diary entry perhaps for that topic.

I’m inclined to think that this is too much for one person. The average game lasts for about an hour which would place your time spent on gaming at 3000 hours if you were to play them all: 125 days for a little extra perspective. This is not unattainable if you’re unemployed with an exorbitant amount of “Me” time. Let’s not forget about the other elephant in the room called cost. These games are a wonderful investment, but if you were a rabid hobbyist with a voracious appetite for the new hotness then these costs add up. The average game would probably be in the realm of $30-40 and total costs for 3000 games coming in at $90,000-120,000. This isn’t attainable for most and certainly doesn’t for this gamer. What does one do with the fear of missing out? That new game that just could be your new favorite board game.

This topic has me intrigued as I have found myself in the past drawn into the frenzy that is consumerism. That drive to find that perfect game that no one has heard of: a white whale. You take stake your claim on being that finder and be the savior to all of the board gaming world. This is all silly, but it’s a thought that may pass through many hobbyists minds including myself. This feeling, exciting as it might be, can be rather exhausting and is not without casualties. The games of the past may never see the light of day as you always hyper-focus on the games of tomorrow.

I don’t feel that this problem is exclusive to the board gaming community. I would argue that any hobby involving your time and resources would have to taken up with a certain sense of humility: the understanding that you will never be able to experience it all. A quote that I recently came across from a horoscope, of all places, may provide some insight.

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.

Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

I’d imagine that these words, or something similar in different context, are far from foreign in most hobbyist minds. They cross mine often. I seem to have enough time to truly dive into the things that make me the happiest. The games I so love to play and the other activities I enjoy all take the hits of life. Burdens of the modern human. I don’t want to dwell as all these complaints seem very “First World.” I want to pull some form of comfort from these words into something that is more constructive.

I will admit that purchasing games can be very therapeutic. There is relevance to retail therapy as some find solace in the acquisition of things: board games in this instance. This coming from an individual who owns over 400 myself. Is this truly why we gamers collect? The thrill of the hunt, excitement of the find, and the enviable let down when these feeling subside and the hunt is back on: a viscous cycle of the acquisition disorder. Maybe its time to turn back the clock just a bit and see exactly how the gaming bug bit in the first place.

All gamers know the thrill of gaming: The anticipation of a die roll, the flip and reveal of a card, and the satisfaction of a plan coming to together. We all live for it and thrive on it. It is why board gamers keep coming back to the table. A chance to feel that once again. Somewhere along the way that feeling changed into a desire to acquire more sources of that feeling. Those habit of purchases can turn into a drug of sorts and changes into something else entirely: An addiction.

Those frightening words send shivers down my spine and cause me to pause. Do I really need these new games? What is wrong with the games I currently have? An interesting thought.

These questions have rattled me as of late and have pushed me down a different avenue of gaming. One that focuses on the games themselves rather than their acquisition. A recent game I’ve purchased was Wingspan which I wrote a short review. In the past, I have played games in a much different fashion as Wingspan. I usually will read the rules and get the game to the table as soon as possible. Shortly after that first play, the game sits on the shelf and never sees another play as a new game rolls in to take its short-lived place. This cycle really defined my gaming style for the last few years. Wingspan was something different. I have had the game for a little over a month and have racked up 14 plays in that time. I’d imagine some gamers do this often but this is foreign to me. I’ve learned something here.

Wingspan

It’s been quite sometime since I’ve been this comfortable with a set of rules of a game, its gameplay, and the flow. My appreciation for the game became more in-depth and less superficial. I’d imagine these feelings would compound upon future plays which I will most definitely be participating. Why not try these tactics with more games? Play more and buy less. I’m in it for the rush of the game itself and not for its mere possession. This brings me back to this quote.

Sylvia has a different medium that she is referring to but I can relate. I want to feel every subtle emotion that comes from a game much like what Sylvia describes: excitement, dread, exuberance, anticipation, joy, and fun. All the shades, tones, and variations that games can provide. As a board gamer, the medium of gaming has a step up as being very replayable with a unique experience almost every time. The players at the table and various game circumstances make sure of this. This isn’t always the case, but the point is that the board game playing environment is always enjoyable to revisit regardless if its old or new. One that will truly fend off my feelings of missing out because I will have gained so much more.

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