Collector vs The User

I promise this post is PG! Whatever you’re thinking, this isn’t about that!

Board Games! Yes, I’m referring to the things that come in boxes with instructions and in general require no computer or otherwise high tech device to occupy the time of a group of people. They require individuals to get together in the same place and socialize FACE-to-FACE! Think hard. I’m sure if you do you can recall a pre-tech immersed moment of socializing.

Several years ago when  I delved into the world of writing I was ignorant of the existence of the short and flash fiction markets. The only short stories I had ever seen were in my school readers or the occasional anthology of a well known writer’s shorter works. So when I began to socialize with other writers, at first I could not understand they bothered to write short stories for anything other than practice. Then my eyes were opened. A whole world of magazines, e-zines, and anthologies of which my otherwise excellent education failed to inform me existed.

How does this relate to board games?

I’m glad you asked. Prior to dating Soup King, my exposure to games consisted of ones put out by Mattel or Parker Brothers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially since they are geared toward families and often have rules that younger children can master. As an adult, playing “Sorry” more than occasionally can be a wee bit boring.

Back when I was a teenager, I had enough friends in the “geek” crowd to have heard of “Magic”. (In high school I was more nerd by definition. Yes, there is a difference, but I’ve unleashed my inner geek in recent years.) It sounded intriguing, but 1) I had no money to purchase cards, and 2)from my friend’s description it sounded time consuming. So, I didn’t bother requesting someone teach me. I was busy with my gazillion clubs and insane load of AP classes.

Fast forward a few years. My children collect Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh cards, but to say they play is a bit of a stretch. They play, but the rules are basically made up on the fly and changed to ensure Mr. Smarty-pant’s winning streak. Then Soup King takes me to his apartment one day and there are stacks of boxes, all board games of different types. These are more esoteric games, with books for rules in some cases, and despite “board” being in the classification, there isn’t always a board involved. He introduces me to “Dominion” and I like it. Several others follow and I’m excited! It’s a whole new world of couple and family fun! There’s a whole world of games out there from simple dice throwing monster games to complex historical battle re-enactments.

Mr. Smarty-pants attempts to cheat with the regularity of a used-car salesmen. Miss Diva falls for his snake-oil pitches as often as a naive first-time car buyer. Miss Drama, for the most part, is not old enough to play most of the games, which is why I’ve recently acquired some very simple games that she can play. A highlyimportant skill, in my opinion, is teaching children to lose as gracefully as they win, and it isn’t a skill that is learned overnight.  Playing fairly and by the rules is also important, and one which all three of them are still learning. Truth be told, I think Miss Drama is a better loser than Mr. Smarty-Pants. As long as she’s given the chance to win once at something she’s happy, as opposed to Mr. Smarty-Pants who’d rather win all of the time.

Games, especially the more esoteric ones, cost money (easily $40 and up). To me, it’s an investment and I’m all about getting the most out of my investments. It’s much like my philosophy on book buying. If it isn’t a book I’m likely to read more than once, I very rarely buy it. That is what the library is for in my opinion. Granted, sometimes I break that rule, but then I sell them to the used book store and use the credit to acquire a book that I really want. I can read my favorites
over and over and never tire of them. I’m much the same with games. Thus, I classify myself as a user. I use the books or games until they are ready to fall apart. I get every ounce of my money out of those things. So when I do buy a shiny new book or game it is always with the knowledge that it will be well used.
Soup King is a collector. He owns more computer games than I imagine he’ll ever play. He’s decided to whittle down his board game collection, but again it is one that would take a great deal of time to make use of all of them. He doesn’t own more books than me, but that is only because my best friend gave me boxes and boxes of books before she moved away. Prior to that, I could boast that I’d read every book on my shelf. Now I try not to feel guilty about the unread books patiently waiting for my attention. So, when we go to the game store (be it digital or board game) and Soup King is drooling over a new game, I ask, “But what about XYZ? You haven’t played it.” Much to his annoyance, my question is perfectly logical. Logic beats random collecting, but it isn’t as much fun. It isn’t to say he doesn’t play his games or I don’t collect. We simply approach the process from different perspectives.
So while I save his wallet from impulse purchases that will clutter his closet, I have made it a goal to do a bit of collecting too so I can share his thrill of new game-itis while making sure he plays at least a portion of his collection. I see that as a win-win for both of us. Don’t you think so, too?
My logical approach also ensures many more future game dates where we go to the game store and try out games with other people.  A night out, without kids in tow, doing something with other adults, with laughter and fun involved… I think he can appreciate that kind of devious planning. 😉

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