Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Gamers: Don't Worry; That's Normal

Occasionally, I’ll see a post on BGG saying something like, “Help, I’m addicted!”, or “I can’t stop buying games”; or at the other end of the spectrum, “What’s wrong with me? I don’t feel like buying a new game”, “This hasn’t been a good year for new games” or “Just need a couple games to round out my collection”. The last one often includes a list of 15-20 games they own and induces fits of laughter from the knowledgeable. Actually, the last type of gamer is seriously deluded and will, hopefully, return to normal at some point in the future.

For the new gamer who has just discovered that there’s a smorgasbord of choices out there instead of the short-order menu at McDonald’s, these are just part of the normal life-cycle of the board game geek. Well, not that last one, of course. You should seek help from your local Board Game Psychiatrist.

I think most of us find that first year of geekdom to be excruciatingly expensive, with the whirlwind of new tastes and textures driving us ever onward. The dangerous GeekLists point out a constant stream of unheard-of games with unique ideas, wonderful themes and previously unimaginable mechanics. Area control, auction, hand management, trading, building, tile-laying, cooperative, action points, modular boards, pickup-and-deliver, variable player power. If you’re a true board game fanatic, how can you not want to try them all; to experience that which others are praising so highly; to immerse yourself in this world you’ve just discovered? Don’t worry; that’s normal.

Of course, your friends and family might disagree with me. Your game-buying spree (up to a dozen a month) will puzzle them, worry them, and possibly force them to call for outside help. They’ll ask you if you don’t have enough games now, could you stop talking about games, could you not read BGG by the hour, could you put together just one sentence without the word meeple in it? Don’t worry; that’s normal.

After a year of frantically trying to catch up with all that you’ve missed, you will have gained the valuable knowledge and experience to weed out the merely interesting from the totally awesome. In the second year of your geekdom, your game buying will drop off to a more manageable 4-6 games a month and you will have made some wonderful GeekBuddies to help you in your decision-making. Your friends and family will have learned to accept your…oddity. Of course, many of the games in your collection will remain barely touched or totally unplayed. Don’t worry; that’s normal.

By the third year, you will still be excited to read about the newest games coming out at Essen, but few of them will attract your serious interest. You will buy only 2 or 3 games a month and concentrate more on delving into the depths of some of the wonderful games you already own. You may have converted some of your friends and/or family to the addiction, so they’re off your back finally. Don’t worry; that’s normal.

By your fourth year, you are an accomplished gamer and it’s becoming harder to impress you with the new and shiny. You compare the newest releases to games you know, and find them wanting. You look for something different but all you see are shadows of the games you know. You rarely feel compelled to buy a new game; choosing to wait awhile and see if the game has staying power with other gamers. You’re starting to worry that there might be something wrong with you. Don’t. That’s normal.



Gerald McD said...

But ----- can one who is addicted really know what's normal?? Are you sure you are normal?

Okay, normal is whatever you are -- that makes sense to me. Now I feel better. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Am I blessed or cursed to have reached your "fourth year" stage after 18 months?

SodakLady said...

Gerald, it seems your abnormality stems from the fact that you did not need to convert your family; you integrated gaming into their lives at a young age. This led to your having a large play group available when you discovered BGG and the normal course of events did not occur. I have this on good authority from Dr. Meepolous. ;)'re just weird. Sorry that I had to be the one to break it to you.

Anonymous said...

Wow... you just read me like a book!

Kevin W.

SodakLady said...

Thanks, Kevin. It's good to hear that *somebody's* normal around here. :D

GamesBook said...

Um... I have been a gamer for over 30 years, and I still see new games on BGG every month that I really want to buy. The only thing that stops me is not actually having a budget to do so. Should I be seeking help?

SodakLady said...

Yes. I suggest a budget counselor. ;)