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Playing (and Enjoying) Games You Normally Wouldn’t Play

We all have games we tend to avoid playing for one reason or another. Some seem too driven by luck, while others are too immature for your eclectic tastes. Whatever the reason, you know you’d rather not play it if given an option. Even if there is no other option, perhaps you’d still rather do anything else.

But where’s the fun in that?

I would like to share with you some experiences I’ve had both recently and some time ago, experiences in which I was forced/coerced/coaxed/etc. to play a game (or games) that I really didn’t want to play.

Killer Bunnies: A Rather Awkward First Date
While in grad school, my friend tried to set me up with his cousin. For whatever reason, he decided a group game of Killer Bunnies would be the best way to do that. I had never played (or heard of) Killer Bunnies before, but the box was colorful and the bunnies looked…interesting…so I figured hey, why not?

Well, the game was chaotic and it wasn’t long before I realized there was nothing I could really do but rely on luck, so it kind of droned on. Sitting beside my “date,” I couldn’t even make small talk because it was obnoxiously loud and chaotic. Everyone else was having a great time, and here I was, trying to smile like everything was just fine. I had no idea what was going on. Needless to say, it was a relief when the game ended and life could continue as normal.

This experience was before I was into board games, so I didn’t have those biases that tend to creep in from the plethora of Facebook groups dedicated to the hobby. Still, the game was rough, and I vowed to never play it again.

Killer Bunnies with the In-Laws
Fast-forward a number of years to when I was married (not to the aforementioned cousin, although I did take here to a hockey game the week after our Killer Bunnies game because that’s what a first date ought to be) and playing Killer Bunnies at my in-law’s house with my wife’s parents and siblings, along with her brother’s saintly girlfriend. (Seriously, she’s way too kind for a game like Killer Bunnies.)

I hadn’t played since that fateful night in grad school, so I needed a refresher. I was dreading the game because, well, I had a bad experience the first time. However, as the game progressed, I found myself actually enjoying it. What changed? Certainly not the gameplay. It was still the chaotic, chance-driven game of bunny slaying (and abducting) that it was all those years ago. 

The difference this time was I was playing with people I knew and people I loved. I was able to let go of my prejudice and play the game for the sake of playing the game. I knew it was luck-driven and there was really nothing I could do to improve my odds (especially when everyone picks on me…), but that didn’t stop me from actually enjoying myself.

Games with New Friends
A few months ago, we had a nice Sunday lunch with some people our age, and with kids our kids’ ages, who we knew from church. After lunch, they suggested some games. Obviously, I was all over that. So, they brought out Pit. We played a good many rounds of that, and it was fun, despite not really knowing these people before hand. Sure, we’d seen each other before and after church, but never really spoke other than a passing “hello.” Despite the newness of the situation, and me being a little socially awkward anyway, it was a good time.

Then their two oldest kids wanted to play Clue. Let me tell you, I haven’t played Clue in years. What I remember from it is it’s a fun little guessing game with a roll-and-move mechanic. Certainly not in my wheelhouse anymore, but hey, let’s do it for the kids.

I had even more fun playing Clue.

Then they brought out You’ve Got Crabs, which was a super awkward title to begin with. I’m not a big party gamer, so I was hesitant, but we ended up having a splendid time. Lots of laughter and fun. I never thought I would have been able to enjoy a party game so much, or a roll-and-move, or a screaming and yelling game of trading and whatnot. It’s certainly no Trajan or X-Wing or Clank! or Heroes of Land, Air & Sea. But, I felt like I had the same amount of fun playing those super-light games as I would playing something of a more heavier nature. 

Get to the Point
Thanks for sticking with me this long. I promise there’s a point. And, without further ado, here it is.

Games are made so that we can have fun. 

As mentioned at the beginning of this little thought piece, we all have our biases. Some people won’t get close to anything more complicated than Candy Land, whereas others spurn at the idea of any game involving dice for random outcomes. But there’s something magical about playing a game that someone else enjoys, and enjoying it with them.

A year or so ago, my wife and I were having dinner with her cousin and his wife. After dinner they brought out Munchkin. (It was actually our old copy we had given them, because we were so done with that game.) My wife and I were enthusiastic, but I know she felt a little hesitant, and I know I was as well. We were worn out of Munchkin, and we never wanted to play that game ever again.

To this day, that was the most fun I’ve ever had playing Munchkin, and absolutely nothing had changed about the game. What changed, then?

Me. My wife. The people we were playing with.

The people we were playing with were fun, and they enjoyed Munchkin. We didn’t worry about how awful it was, but rather enjoyed our time with them. After all, we were about to move across the country and who knows how long it would be until we would see them again.

Oh right, I was getting to the point.

People. Fun. Entertainment. That’s what games are for. Sure, there’s a time and place for brain burners and hour-long campaigns of some eccentric war game that took two hours to even set up, but the main thing to remember when playing games it that it’s not about you. It’s not about winning, nor is it about making the best plays. Of course, those things do play a role in a game’s fun-factor, but the real fun comes from the people you play with.

I think we need to remember that more often. Step out of your comfort zone the next time someone suggests a game you’d rather die than play. Let go of your bias and be there for whoever it is that really wants to play Scum or Munchkin or even (dare I say it?) Monopoly. I think, when you put someone else’s preferences above your own, you will find that you, too, can have a lot of fun playing a game you wouldn’t have otherwise even considered.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, or a lazy Sunday afternoon with friends or family, take some time to see what games make others happy. And, if you go in with an open mind, I think you’ll be surprised at the amount of fun you can have. Sure, it may take practice, but your horizons will open and your souls will expand. At the very least, you’ll appreciate your games a whole lot more after indulging in someone else’s game choice.

That’s still a win.

Benjamin Kocher - Editor and Reviewer

Benjamin hails from Canada but now lives in Kentucky with his wife and kids. He's a certified copyeditor through UC San Diego's Copyediting Extension program. He's a freelance writer and editor, and covers everything from board game rule books to novels. An avid writer of science fiction and fantasy, it comes as no surprise that his favorite board games are those with rich, engaging themes. When he’s not writing or playing games, Benjamin loves to play ultimate Frisbee, watch and play rugby, and read the most epic fantasy books available. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and Instagram @Kocherb, and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.

See Benjamin's reviews HERE.

Playing (and Enjoying) Games You Normally Wouldn’t Play Playing (and Enjoying) Games You Normally Wouldn’t Play Reviewed by Benjamin Kocher on January 09, 2020 Rating: 5

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