Monday, 13 January 2014

A Year of Gaming

Despite the regular set reports, She-Goat is a personal blog - I occasionally attempt to remember this and post something different to "I saw Matt Smith today!" - and this was certainly something I tried to capture when I named it. This isn't the Tardis Chronicles - I am the she-goat, I'm grumpy and will end up at loggerheads with people near accidentally. I don't quite eat sheets on a washing line, but the name feels apt.

I've been with my fiancĂ©, @gabundy, just under three years. The year before that I was on a depression-fuelled kick of self destruction where anybody was fair game, life was for sleeping until 6pm and staying up until late morning and tears were my showers - I was attempting to deal with a nasty illness diagnosis. I didn't deal with it very well. Luckily things changed, I met Gareth and he turned my world around (well more literally: he moved my world to Wales, which worked beautifully.) and I settled back down to being a less extreme human being.

A year or so into our relationship, my best friend visited. We played Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleships - anything we could pick up quickly from the shops. It reawakened old memories of constantly nagging my mother to play Monopoly with me (I was an only child) - I loved the mentally competitive nature, I loved the social nature of sitting at a table in friendly rivalry, I loved being completely absorbed in something. I loved gaming. Luckily we remembered a shop where six months before we'd visited to buy a Go board. The shop had been filled with different shiny, colourful boxes - immediately intimidating, but immediately fascinating - never forgettable. We met the staff, and chatted and they gave us recommendations that we seized upon and took straight to the pub.

Munchkin, Hive - one a silly, fun, fast card fest and the other a two-player strategy game where you try to surround your opponent's queen bee. That was enough - it widened our eyes, and we were hooked. It's been a busy couple of years and it's now weird to think of a time firstly and foremostly without Gareth, and secondly without games. Things have changed now: the days where we don't play a game are the unusual ones, I work at that very shop we bought those first few tantalising steps into the hobby, our friends now know games that haven't been produced by Hasbro by name.

I am very grateful for this.

I am grateful for the constant distraction, the mental stability it helps provide me when I still struggle with negative moments - the psychological satisfaction of doing something productive (the end of Agricola: looking over your board and seeing the farm you painstakingly created), the assurance of social contact (the Resistance: are you lying to me, am I lying to you? We don't know, but let's work together and find that spy..), time away from the digital world (which I desperately need as it harms my eyesight, but like everyone else it's hard to pull myself away from twitter, just in case @WaterstonesOxfordSt is funny again.), the mental training of heavy strategy (Mage Knight: is fighting rampaging Orcs but getting wounded the best option for me?) after my mind feeling dead from not being able to read for two years is amazing.

Playing games is fun. The best bit is that playing games is more than fun, it's a way of life for me and one of the many ways I keep my sanity track from dropping down to zero. It's a little bit of sparkle and sometimes she-goats need tinsel wound around their horns.

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