Why I Game (Brandon Kempf)
It was about 6 years ago or so when my sister bought this box for my then 7 year old daughter, Gabby, for Christmas. In that box was a game, a game like we'd never played before. I didn't have to plug anything into it, and we didn't have to subscribe to it. All we had to do was open it. That game was The Magic Labyrinth and it is literally what jump started our gaming hobby.
As a child, we played games with our parents, the normal Monopoly or Clue or Sorry, but we never played much more than that, and we rarely finished any of those games. It was something we mostly did when there was nothing else to do. Our gaming of choice as kids was either being outside playing sports or riding our bikes, or video games. We had all the consoles, we played Pac Man and we even had a father who cheated at Pac Man and told us he was teaching us a valuable lesson, "read the book that comes with the game". After that it was console after console as things continued to evolve, even the Commodore 64 that my parents "snuck" home in the van for us one Christmas while we were on vacation. That's what we did as kids, we'd either be outside playing baseball with all the other neighborhood kids or we'd be inside, with all the neighborhood kids, playing video games.
I met Kerensa about 17-18 years ago, she may yell at me if I got that wrong, but that's what I'm sticking with, and gaming kind of went away. I worked a night shift and while there were some nights when I would come home and play GTA, Silent Hill or Resident Evil till she went to work, but mostly I just drank, and drank a bit too much. Well, not a bit, a lot too much. There were a lot of times where I wasn't even a functioning alcoholic, I just drank and slept, and drank and slept. There is a whole lot more story there, but we're not going to get into it, let's just say that my 20s are not quite the memory that others have of their 20s, heck, a lot of the memory of that time is gone. But one day, Kerensa said that she was done with me, unless I stopped, unless the drinking stopped and so it did. No rehab, no program, it just stopped and we got married. She did the same magical thing with my smoking as well, except then she had to agree to let me buy a giant TV if I quit.
Most everyone who knows me knows that I have a need, a need to be neck deep into something, or I kind of feel lost. I have to have something that I am collecting or repeatedly doing. So I dove right back into video games instead of something more productive. I played game after game after game, until my Brother in Law introduced me to World of Warcraft by giving me a 30 day trial. So for 5 years starting in 2004, World of Warcraft was my drinking, it was that pool that I needed to dive into. Do the math, my oldest daughter is now 13. I tried to be that attentive husband and attentive father, I didn't play WoW, while they were awake at first, then slowly it crept in and I felt guilty, so I started taking sick days to fill that void, until 7 years later I hit a wall and just couldn't do it any longer. No more raids at 3 in the morning, no more sneaking off for 30 minutes to do a daily quest. It had to stop. I'm lucky, I didn't get into as much trouble with World of Warcraft as others did with it, or any numerous other games like that. But, I did miss things, and that hurt once I realized it.
After WoW, it was Call of Duty or whatever shooter was popular at the time, until that fateful Christmas that Samantha gave Gabby, The Magic Labyrinth. Now, for those in the know, you realize that there is absolutely nothing super special about The Magic Labyrinth. It's a hidden maze game that uses magnets. You have your magician on top of the board and a ball bearing underneath the board attached to your magician, so when you move into a wall that is hidden under the board, the ball will fall off and be funneled back to your starting point. It's lighthearted, aggravating fun, but it didn't reinvent the wheel. Except that it did.
You see, what do obsessive people do when they find something interesting? They research and find more of the interesting. Which is what I did. I hit the interwebz and I found a database of all the games, the best thing is, that isn't even an exaggeration, Board Game Geek, is a database with all the games worth being in a database. I didn't join at first, I just looked up games, game after game after game, and I read about them all, or at least as many as I could. Then I started buying them and then we started sitting down as a family, well, AnnaBeth really didn't get to play too much at this point, but she was there with us, and we played them. I picked up A Game of Thrones, 2nd Edition after watching Lance ramble about it for an hour and then I got a group together and we played it, for 8 hours. We drank, we lied, we ate, and we gamed and had a fantastic time. Although now that I think about it, I still have not managed to get that group back together to play that again, I hate that the Baratheons won. We visited Forbidden Islands and we saved them from sinking, or at least we tried to, we made train routes and learned geography and we even had mythical battles and learned area control in a very Small World. We did this as a family. We laughed, we yelled, we cheered and we even cried a bit, mostly that was the kids, I swear. And eventually I started taking part in conversations on Board Game Geek and became a part of that community and we all know where this has spiraled to, right here.
I've been hit in the head with a flying Imp because I was a jerk, but we've also cheered together when we've saved the world. The thing is though, we did this as a family and we did this as friends, and that's why I play board games. To share these moments with my family and my friends, both old and new. To share these things in a way that no video game, no matter how good(I'm looking at you Overwatch) can ever do.