I grew up around Collectible Card Games and I like gamers. Watching them play, listening to their banter and intense debate over EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME; their incessant trolling and annoyingly precise attention to detail. No surprise to me I ended up marrying one.

*SPOILER ALERT* It didn’t end well. My attraction to action and adventure always got me in trouble. I never saw it coming and was entertainingly gullible. I was an easy mark and got conned on several occasions. This was true in life and gaming. Personally, I blame Star Trek and The X-Files.

18788436_10209991780611265_2013579689_nMy ex is an intense gamer. Analyzing every move, 10 moves in advance. Knowing how to talk to you, how to nudge you in certain directions to affect your decisions ultimately leading to his benefit. He is very talented in the art of deception and very good at winning.

In one instance, he was competing in a CCG tournament against a “good friend.” This friend was basically talking out loud to himself, debating if activating a card’s ability would win him the game. It was slightly complicated math and he asked for my ex’s opinion. My ex, instead of saying, “This is a competition and I’d rather not help you right now. Can we just talk about it after?” he decided to say, “The move looks good to me.”

He knew his friend was interpreting a card incorrectly. When he made the action and went to celebrate his win, my ex intervened and corrected his mistake. The judge was called over and my ex’s play had worked. He won in the next turn. It created a huge conflict, things got heated and his actions divided what had been a very close friend group. When it was all over, he was unaffected by the event. My ex felt it was his friend’s fault for listening to him.

The damage had been done, the friend group remained at odds because, on one hand my ex was right; it was a competition. But on the other hand, why the fuck would you do that!? Friendly ball-busting aside, you don’t pull dick moves and humiliate your friends in public for no good reason. Eventually, it was his constant lack of empathy towards the feelings of others that led me to leave him.

I’m a very casual gamer. I like to see how big and pretty I can make my farm in Agricola. I like to keep the pieces tidy and organized. I want all my animals to have babies. I want to use all my fences and build a beautiful homestead for my make-believe farm family. Eurogames are unlike anything else. If you’ve never played one, do yourself a favor and play Splendor. Since these games are not always easy to grasp, I enjoy helping those around me so everyone can enjoy themselves regardless of winning or losing. Atmosphere is everything.

splendor

I use gaming as a kind of personal therapy. I have competed on a few occasions and have done well considering my experience level. I didn’t quite grasp Magic: The Gathering as a teen, but learned in my late 20s and it is really fucking fun. It takes a few games to learn the basics, but once you see it you’re hooked. I have been known to fall into games and play for 12 hours. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, there is nothing like an afternoon with friends, BBQ and card, board and/or video games. If you’ve ever almost peed yourself laughing while playing Mario Party, or felt the satisfaction of slaying a favorite song in Rock Band to unexpectedly unlock some random achievement and everyone screams like little girls high-fiving all over the place, you will understand. It’s a spa day for your brain and it comes with an awesome natural high if it’s done right…

If it’s done wrong, however, it can destroy lives. When your only goal is to ruthlessly demolish your friends and family, when you completely ignore your friends and family, or when you lose and throw a tantrum – every. Damn. TIME – you need to talk to someone about it. Seriously. Have you ever been in an argument about MMORPGs or Call of Duty? Do certain friends or family avoid playing games with you? Have you ever thrown game pieces?

Granted, we have all felt competitive to the point of becoming a giant dickhead at least once. It’s the frequency at which your loved ones have to interact with that negative gaming persona that you need to take note. If it has only happened a few times and you resolved the conflicts productively, you’re OK. If you can chart it like a period, consistently unpleasant at predictable intervals and sometimes ending up a bloody mess, maybe you should reevaluate how you spend your down time. Just a thought. Keep your “poo to positive ratio” in check at all times. People will only tolerate so much poo before removing it from their lives.

On that same note, you are NOT always going to win. I feel like I’m dealing with my kid around age 4-5. Who would cry and scream and carry on when they didn’t win at something or someone did it better than them.  Our first few mini golf experiences were absolute public nightmares. That’s what y’all sound like sometimes. I don’t even know how to talk to a grown ass man or woman about that. These are lessons y’all know you learned 20-30 some odd years ago. But since your mom isn’t around to keep you in line, everyone around you suffers. Adults take note: once you have your own life, you NEED to become your own parent especially when you start feeling like you want to act like MY FUCKING 4 YEAR OLD! OK. Rant done.

Allow for evolution. I still come back to my traditional gaming therapies but I need variety in venue and skill set. I do more spectating than playing because I’m still learning about my newest hobby. How much do you know about drones? I don’t know much yet but I do know that FPV goggles are the cat’s ass and a GoPro can stick to anything. We all NEED to be outside in the park on a beautiful day. Doesn’t mean you can’t do cool geeky shit with cool geeky people at the same time. Golf is an oldie but a goodie that has kept up with technological advances. Hearing the club and ball connect perfectly is practically orgasmic and your body will love being stretched. But now you can have a program evaluate your swing and head speed. It’ll help you pick the best club and length and you can use it to track your progress.

I appreciate much more now the value of games and hobbies you can also enjoy by yourself. To quote the always relevant Dr. Seuss, “All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.”

Moral of the story – be good to your friends and loved ones. Only your momma loves you unconditionally. If you turn into a douchy rage monster, no one will want to spend time with you.  You’ll end up a bitter gamer who bitches about being “friend zoned” while wearing a 3-day old shirt with food stains who smells like spoiled meat and cheese wondering why people only call him on his birthday. Balance is key but that’s just my 2 cents.

Well, enough about me. Tell me about you. What do you do to unwind? How do you balance your gaming and family life and/or how do you bring them together? Will there ever be enough hours in the day? Is the hokey pokey really what it’s all about? So many unanswered questions! I need to know! Send any and all questions to thecasualgeekery@gmail.com!

Ask questions, make comments. Trolls enter at their own risk.

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