7 Reasons Why I Don't Play Games

Hey everyone!  I hope you’ve had a great week? The team has been crazy busy here recently with some massive gaming events happening throughout the country.  On the one hand, these events have enabled us to get a lot of games to the table that we hadn't managed to play, on the other, they had me thinking about my shelf of shame.  You know the shelf of shame, that selection of games us gamers just had to buy but have never opened let alone play? I began exploring what it was about those games in particular that meant they've remained unplayed, some for more than a couple of years?  So, being the introspective sort that I am, I decided to look into the barriers that keep me from getting to these amazing games (so I've heard anyway, I haven't actually played them yet).

Out of Time

If Back to the Future has taught me anything, it's that time travel is hugely entertaining and we should absolutely find a way to do it, if for no other reason than to give us time for the things we enjoy.  Scarcity of time is my primary reason for not playing games more often.  Work, family, nocturnal vigilante escapades, all these things impact on my downtime, often at the expense of my hobbies. There's an adage that says you should always make time for the things you enjoy, a wonderful sentiment, but not necessarily grounded in reality since many of the things that take up this precious time are necessary and unavoidable, the city isn’t going to defend itself. 

Dad's make the best superheroes!

That having been said, the underlying meaning isn't lost on me.  Finding new ways to prioritise my time can go a long way to ensuring I get to play more often. Lately I’ve been exploring games that can include family, for example, playing shorter or more accessible games to encourage the kids to join in. Or perhaps taking a fast, simple game like a roll & write to work to play on my lunch break. To be honest, there's only so much I can do to regain time... be less busy I guess? Quit my job? Don't sleep? I dunno. It's time, an abstract concept used to quantify our mortality and give our lives greater meaning by motivating us to make better use of it; and messing with it makes for great movies... and board games!

Great Scot!

Overwhelming Complexity

I love epic, crunchy board games! There was a time that I paid little attention to anything that wasn't filled to the brim with minis, tokens, cards, fiddly bits and pieces and rulebooks thick enough concuss a Flat Earther.

Just kidding, nothing is that dense.

 

But often all those components came with a level of complexity to match. Complexity which didn't always translate into fun or playability. Over time I learned to curb my enthusiasm and explore games that provided the same level of enjoyment but didn't take upwards of 45 minutes to set up and explain. If a game is too meaty, just the thought of trying to explain it or even learn it in the first place can result in me giving up and turning on the old <INSERT POLARIZING VIDEO GAME SYSTEM HERE> instead. Nowadays I tend to seek out games that are more measured, easier to understand and teach and don’t throw too much at newer players. I still enjoy bigger games, they’ll always be my jam, and I long to get them to the table, but often, compromise leads to more gaming and that’s a win in my book.

Terrible Rulebooks

Modern board games are a feast of talent from writers, designers and artists, to publishers, editors and marketing gurus.  So why, after going to so much time, effort and expense to produce a sensational game that could be talked about for decades to come, would you drop the ball on something as simple and vital as the rulebook? There are a host of games that have terrible rules, but one of the standouts for me was Conan. The rulebook for Conan was so poorly written and translated that they actually had to reprint it and send replacements out to customers. Of course the controversial cover of the original may also have had something to do with it.

 

Dammit Conan, why do you have to make everything awkward?

 

 

Sadly, too many companies seem to want to cut corners at this crucial juncture. Hiring a skilled rules editor can result in streamlined, clear and concise rules that leave players with more time to enjoy the fruits of the game developer’s labour. Often it's easier to turn to YouTube where there are a host of channels adept at walking learners through their games step by step. Sometimes though I want a completely analogue experience, a benefit of board gaming is to get away from the screen, a concept I ironically addressed in my recent YouTube video. If a game is just a chore to learn, then I’m likely to take a pass on it and move onto the next one.

Not Enough/Too Many Players

While most games tend to have fairly complimentary player counts ranging from 1-4 players, sometimes I’ll encounter a game that requires 3 or more at a minimum to even get to the table. While this isn’t a concern for most gaming groups, it can throw a 3rd player sized spanner in the works if there are only a couple of us. As I said, not really a big issue as there are plenty more games out there that suit 2 players than not. But it is something that gives me pause when considering my purchases. If I’m less likely to get it to the table, then I’m equally less likely to buy it in the first place. The opposite can also be true if a group regularly consists of 5 or more players and the game only takes a maximum of 4. Again, I hear you say, “stop whining then and just play one of those bigger games you just moaned about” to which I reply, good point. Moving on...

Not a Good Fit

People are strange, they’ll often have preferences and opinions that don’t align with my own, crazy I know, and when that happens it can mean the difference between a game making it to the table or kicking Kevin out of the group. Preferably both. I have a number of games on my shelf that haven’t seen much, if any play time because they just didn’t work for others and that simply has to be okay. I recognise my interests aren’t going to appeal to everyone.

 

"Trust me, after five or six games it'll start to grow on you."

 

 

Sometimes I’ll accept reality and end up playing the game on my own if it offers that option, or selling it on. But in a few rare cases, I’ve allowed a game to remain a part of my collection, unplayed sometimes for two or three years, I even continue to buy expansions and other content, having convinced myself it’s a brilliant game and one day I’ll finally get a group together that will share my presumed love for it. This continued acquisition of game content actually brings me to my next barrier to gaming...

Completism

I’m a completist. I know this and I can’t help myself. When I become enraptured by a game, I feel a compulsion to collect everything I can to ensure I don’t miss out, I want the full experience and games that have a lot of expansions are the worst for me. In the past this was the X-Wing Miniatures Game which I’ve mentioned in a previous article. It took an entirely new edition of that game to be released to finally put a stop to my collection of those beautifully detailed little plastic ships. Currently I’m collecting three new games, Marvel Champions, Mystic Vale and Unmatched. These aren’t so bad as I have been happy to play each one as I go, but there is a 4th game I haven’t yet delved into. Root!

 

What have I done?

 

 

It all started with the best of intentions. I bought the base game and one expansion and was excited to get it home to play, captivated by the artwork and the promise of epic battles fought by woodland creatures. However, it ended up being a challenge to learn so I put it on hold for a while, in favour of other more accessible games. A few months later, another expansion came out. Knowing the buzz Root kept getting in board game circles, I figured I’d pick that one up too which served to only add further complexity to the game, thereby causing me to put it on the back burner again. This continued to be the pattern up until recently. Now I hear there is the new Marauder expansion, in fact, when writing this, I looked it up and have found that four major Root expansions are due for release next year! I can’t keep up!

 

Just how many animals are there in the world, like 12?!

 

So I’ve decided I’m going to break it out and finally get a game going just as soon as I get past my final barrier to gaming....

Cumbersome Storage

Finding ways to adequately store expansive games can be a challenge on its own, add to this my OCD tendencies and it’s over! Further compounding my completionism, is how overwhelmed I feel when I open a game box and see hundreds of individual components staring me in the face with their creepy screen printed eyes. There are baggies bulging with meeples, cards and tokens and to be honest I take one look at all I have wrought and close the box again, not knowing where to even begin; which is why custom inserts are such a welcome commodity these days. Having a way to set up and pack away games quickly and conveniently makes it all the more likely they’ll see table time.

 

Good job, Kevin.

 

 

Games like Wasteland Express and Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy include some incredible inserts, for which I’m grateful as both of these titles are massive, component heavy beasts and, without the inserts, set up alone could take a decent chunk of time out of a game night. Combined with the other reasons I’ve outlined above, poor storage solutions can be the proverbial straw when it comes to playing games. Anything that can reduce the effort it takes to store, learn, schedule, teach and enjoy a gaming experience is most welcome.  Now, as soon as my Root insert arrives I’ll finally be able to play… maybe.

 

As always, thanks for joining me this week.  If any of these issues outlined above resonate with you please let me know in the comments below or share your own reasons for not getting games to the table. In the meantime, play lots of games and I’ll see you next time!