About two years ago, I was worried about my social life, what person isn’t? For me though, I was worried about technology’s increasing strength on my life. It was serving more as a barrier than as a passageway towards interacting with my friends. Desperately, I was trying to figure out a way I could interact with my friends without the use of video games, TV, or cell phones. The answer to my problem was actually solved, funny enough, by one of my friends (we’ll call him “Mr. Pink”).
One day, Mr. Pink was talking to me about this great board game that we should try out called Ticket to Ride. A game about building trains to connect between cities on a real-world map. At first, I wasn’t convinced. He then showed me a video on Youtube called Tabletop which was hosted by former Star Trek actor, Wil Wheaton. On Wil’s show, he invites several semi-famous actors, writers, and so forth to play a board game with him. Each episode the board game and the guests are different. The episodes are high quality, nicely edited, and highlight the basis of the board game very well through both explaining the rules and playing the game.
I was convinced. Almost immediately after I saw the episode, Mr. Pink and I got in my car and we drove over to our board game store. We bought Marklin Ticket to Ride, where you play on a German map, and we played the game that night with our two other friends.
As I was playing the game, I realized that I had found the solution to my problem. Board games. They are non-electronic, they take a few hours to play, and they offer a (mostly) positive interactive environment for us to be in. This was it.
Soon after, my roommates and I religiously watched Wil’s Tabletop and after every episode we would discuss if we should get the game or not. Our board game collection is now filled with games, most of which were recommended by Wil. You name it, we got all the greats; Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, Betrayal at House on the Hill, the list goes on. Our bookcase can barely contain them all. Our collection has given us the opportunity to pick games that suit our current mood and I love it!
My favorite thing to do now is to invite some random friends, who probably haven’t met each other before, and play board games with them. Let me tell you, getting a diverse group of people together and them playing off of each other as much as they play off of the board is a satisfying experience. Sometimes, they even bring their own games with them and that thrills me as well.
For those kinds of situations, Pandemic does a great job setting the mood. Everyone works together to stop the looming diseases. This really builds up the players’ trust towards one another and can break down reservations the players may have. People take on roles that fit them and they interact, they inform, and they suggest strategies to partake in. This builds and builds as the going gets tough and we might tooth and claw to suppress the diseases from spreading. Even if we lose, we still have fun. From there, it’s really up to the players what they want to play (though I like to encourage Betrayal due to its rather weird nature). Overall, it can be a fun time.
Wil and his show was a definite influence in my social life. And last March, I was able to tell it to him in person. He was going to show up, along with other Star Trek actors, at a local comic convention. When I heard this, I knew now was the best time to meet him in person and autograph a board game while I was at it. But what board game?? Ticket to Ride seemed like the best choice since it was our first board game but the box was unfortunately too large for my backpack. I decided to go for Powergrid, a board game that my roommates and I love to play.
I was a little nervous when I finally met the man himself. I briefly told him that he got my friends and into board gaming and then I gave him the box for him to sign. His eyes immediately lit up and he said, “Isn’t this a great game? I love this game a lot! The first goes last rule is a great mechanic.” We talked briefly about the board game, he then signed it and I was soon on my way. I have to say, that was probably my best encounter with a celebrity (though I haven’t had that many encounters yet). He was kind, earnest, and he gave the time to talk to me even though there were many people before me and just as many afterwards. Needless to say, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I got to meet the man that helped me find a new way to connect to my friends.
Wil has had a similar effect in my life, and I am very grateful to him for it. I love Tabletop, or as I like to call it, The Wil Wheaton Show (how people at Games Night cringe when I say that!), and I’m so excited for next season. Congrats on getting to meet him and have that awesome encounter!