Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Greater Than Board Games

One evening sometime in mid-March 2013 I was laying on the couch watching some worthless piece of television crap. My wife Vicki was siting in her chair at the end of couch playing sudoku or doing some such thing on her laptop. This had become our every evening. We'd come home from work, fix dinner, eat dinner and then "veg" for an hour or two before going to bed. She in her chair doing her thing... me on the couch doing my thing... day after day... week after week... month upon month. This had become the routine and it had been going on for a few years. It was slowly driving me crazy! I felt like we were alone together and I hated that feeling. Vicki loved games. Me... not so much. So, what happened that evening seemed extreme and shocking to me. Words came out of my mouth — something along the lines of, "let's go buy a couple of board games."

I was skeptical and apprehensive as we brought those first two games home, as we unboxed them, as we tried to understand the rules and play them. But, something kind of amazing happened as we played. Not only were Vicki and I no longer alone together — I saw wonderful things in those games. I was seeing complex systems in action, concept maps coming to life before my eyes, rich interaction and user experience. My relationship with Vicki was slowly and deeply being enhanced and my design brain was being fed a wonderful feast.

It's been over two years since my feet hit the path of board games and we now have a rather large collection of games (see the photo above). We play about six games a week — sometimes a few less and oftentimes many, many more. Modern board games are amazing and they have come to infect nearly ever part of my life. I'm not sure if there is some moral to the story here. I'm sure there are many. But I am also sure that I have a wonderful wife and we now share a deeply interesting hobby. In some ways we have become research partners as I have come to focus my work on how the designers of these games think and work. I hope it never ends.

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