There are many stages of the spiritual journey of becoming a modern board gamer. From that initial spark of discovery, through to wallet burning crazed excitement, and finally finding your unique style and acceptance. The following phases are the typical steps that a player experiences. As board gaming becomes increasingly popular, more and more gamers start to progress through these steps.
1. Blissfully Oblivious
You are blissfully unaware of the world of modern board games. You know about Monopoly, the Game of Life, Snakes & Ladders, and poker, but it’s quite amazing that you made it to this blog, and you have no idea what you are reading. Most people will get stuck in this phase unless a friend introduces them to gaming.
You just found about modern board games through a friend, colleague or associate. Somehow you joined in for a social event and enjoyed yourself. You like the idea of board games, and you have just become aware that there are thousands of board games to play and tens of thousands of people who play them. You’ve subscribed to the /r/boardgames subreddit and may have found the boardgamegeek.com website. You started to watch YouTube series such as Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop, Tom Vasel’s Dice Tower, Rhado or Watch It Played. Due to the overwhelming amount of board games that exist, you’ve begun to google top ten board game lists and to investigate the different types of board games that exist.
Somehow you’ve managed to find out that there are different board game styles. You’ve found new terms such as “Eurogames” which indicates the game has little luck and more resource-based economic themes and “Ameritrash” which indicates a game is more thematic with conflict and drama. You’ve investigated enough board game styles to have an idea of what you think you want to play. You start buying some board games cautiously based on reviews and videos that you have watched. To your surprise, you’ve found out that there is a broad range of solo games that are also quite playable and fun.
You initially convinced yourself that you would try one or two board games, but somehow you’ve ended up spending a lot of money on new board games and come to accept that board gaming is your new hobby. You spend your paychecks on regular impulse board gaming buys and kick starters. You religiously watch your favourite youtube channel and you have decided to try and find matching game players who have similar tastes for you to play games. You start looking for the best deals on Amazon and you’re kick-starting each modern new board games coming out. Although the big signal that you’re at this stage is that your secret birthday wishlist’s for your friends now has board games on it.
5. Too Far Gone
Players who are too far gone cannot play a game more than once because they own and need to play too many board games. They would love to play a legacy game, but it’s impossible to commit that many play sessions to one game when there are so many unplayed games to try. Choosing the next board game to play next involves playing a micro-metagame selection process. The hours spent tracking games on BGG, Facebook and Kickstarter are akin to a part-time job. Januaries are spent determining travel budgets for the years board game conventions, and travelling to Spiel in Germany is a lifetime achievement. The sign that you are at this stage is you not only know what a math trade is, but you also know how to create one.
Either reality starts to set in or you’re going broke. Either way, you realise that it’s hard to find the people and time to play games at the rate that you are buying them. You’ve started to understand that board games are not Pokemon and you don’t have to catch ’em all. You begin to enjoy certain categories of board games more than others. Your purchases aren’t as impulsive as before, and you’ve discovered you don’t have enough time to play all the games you want to, but you still buy a game once or twice a month. The physical sign that you are at this stage is you have a set of shelves that are now full of board games and you’ve started to plan your dedicated game room.
You are quietly accepting and at peace with your decision to become a board gamer for life. Your family knows you love board games and probably play them with you. Your friends know love board games, and you have great gaming groups. You’ve committed to assigning part of your house to be a board gaming room. For the first time, you’ve started to remove games from your collection. Maybe you’ve sold the games, or you simply don’t have space to keep practically all of them. Mentally you accept that you don’t need to play every game, and you’ve probably narrowed down a handful of games that you want to play regularly.
You have played thousands of different board games, yes that is right not hundreds, but thousands. You are a member of multiple gaming groups, and you’ve come to realise that different groups have different personalities and unique dynamics. You understand what style of games you enjoy and precise mechanics that you do and don’t like in a game. You don’t actively preach or tell people about board games, but when asked you are an ambassador for the genre and with your vast knowledge you can always add thoughtful discussion and predictions regarding games you are yet to play. Your collection is the perfect range of games that you like. It is not easy for a new game to make it into your collection, and you have a defined a rigorous trial of fire that any game must meet to make it successfully into your collection.
The journey to becoming a Guru is an exciting roller coaster of social emotions. People get very attached to their board games, and getting to the final stage of getting rid of games is not a step that everybody takes. What everybody can agree on, however, is that modern board gaming is fun, and a great excuse to get some friends together.