Once upon a time I visited an acquaintance to take a look at his hi-fi sound system and listen to some records. After a while we began to discuss things we were into to see if we had anymore cross-over interests. That lead to him showing me into a room in his basement where I put the lotion on my skin and Precious into the basket. All jokes aside, he lead me to a dark, basement room with a wall of shelves containing about 80-100 board games (at the time…his collection has since grown). I started asking questions about individual games and was intrigued by the idea of being an alien species vying for control of the galaxy, building up my mercantile empire in the Mediterranean, or attempting to save the world from various epidemics. We spent hours that evening with me asking question after question about box after box. The evening concluded with an agreement to meet later that week to explore some of those intriguing possibilities.
Fast-forward six years and I have a collection of over 100 board games, have played a countless number more, and have started multiple media outlets to sing the praises of the hobby that has changed my life. As I look back on these six years I’ve noticed that my tastes and mindset regarding board games has shifted throughout that time.
At first I was like a kid in a candy store, wanting to try anything and everything. It was all such glossy wonder contained in cardboard. I was also afraid to buy anything, because board games aren’t exactly inexpensive and the idea of spending $50-$100 on a game was a little intimidating. This phase, I’ll call it the honey-moon era, lasted for a few months. I mostly played my new friend’s games, which he gladly accepted for he hadn’t been able to find anyone who was interested in the hobby, at the time (board games weren’t nearly as popular as they are now).
The next phase was when I found myself drawn to theme more than anything and started buying games at a slow trickle. Let’s call this the heavy petting era (seeing the theme yet?) which lasted the remainder of the first year or so. I grew up watching Star Trek: TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. I also loved Indian Jones movies. So I found myself attracted to any game with a space theme and jungles or exploration. I bought games like Twilight Imperium 3, Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, Empires of the Void, etc. I also found myself gravitating towards games that had a lot of player combat. The space themed games usually had that in spades. So did civilization games like Clash of Cultures, Rune Wars, etc.
Onto my awakening phase where I started finding myself attracted to mechanics more than theme. At this point I also started obtaining games at a high rate. This era, lovingly referred to as the “I can’t get enough of you babe” phase, lasted for a few years. I started to like player versus player conflict less, and started to enjoy having to out think my opponents more. I found myself shifting my interests from the thematic, high player-interaction, American style games to the more resource management, no conflict, mid-weight Euro style games. I still enjoyed games with lots of theme, but theme wasn’t the number one factor to which games I grabbed.
The phase I’m currently in is one of little acquisition and a rule of one game added to the collection means one game must be sold or donated. How about we call this phase the “just a night on the town celebrating our anniversary” era? I’m super selective about which games I buy, because I’ve honed my tastes down to very specific styles. I also enjoy incredibly heavy games that turn my brain to mush by the conclusion. If a game interests me it will go on the “want to play” list. If a game is constantly in my thoughts and becomes an obsession I must try, then it MIGHT go on the “to buy” list, but there are no guarantees.
As you can see I’ve changed considerably as a gamer and collector. I owe it all to one fateful evening and my good friend, Joe. Thank you, Pegleg! This constant evolution has me wondering what my tastes will be like in another six years. It also has me wondering if I’m an anomaly in the board game fanatic world or if others have had a similar story arc. Please comment and let me know if you’ve had a similar gamer life. I’d like to think that I’m not alone, but then again, I do play a lot of solo games. 😉