When I was in Junior High, I hung out with some guys that would have been referred to as "metalheads". When you're that age, you look for things to identify with, or to help you identify yourself; I listened to bands like Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica, Danzig, most of the "power metal" and "gloom and doom" type stuff.
Yes, some of us actually took something like this seriously...
One thing was obvious, though--once you'd "identified" yourself with something at that age, you were not allowed to venture outside of that boundary, generally speaking. You didn't try other types of genres for fear of disassociation; you often blindly and blatantly judged other genres, dismissing them out of hand. "Pfft! Top 40! I'd rather have my eyes gouged out!"
What I find funny now is to see this happening in the boardgame world, except this time with grown adults who have long since left Junior High and should know better. I'm no saint--I've been guilty of this myself--but it's too easy to fall into divisions and schisms, to look down on the "other side" without ever trying them. "Pffft! Party Games? I'd rather have my eyes gouged out!"
I was supposed to get "Bungee Jumping" from THAT?!
Which is a pity, really. I think even the driest of Euro player (such as those who would in all seriousness talk about "social contracts" in gaming) would be well-served to cleanse the palette with a night of heavy dice-chucking, yelling, and backstabbing. Just for something different--something raucous and removed from what they're used to.
"But wait!" I can hear you saying. "You're writing this from a blog focused on Ameritrash games. Isn't that hypocritical?"
Ha! I'm glad you (hypothetically) asked that question.
Ask any of us--"do you ONLY play Ameritrash games?" The answer will be a resounding "No!" I mean, I can't say that with absolute certainty, but from my own experience that answer holds true. Sure, our heart may lie with the plastic-filled smash 'em ups, but most of us have a soft spot for at least a handful of Euros, and I know for one I've been roped into plenty of Party Games in my day.
I'm supposed to get "Black Christmas" from that? Can I have another partner?
I think the difference for us, for gamers *like* us, is the need for us to wear "different hats". Let's face it--when we're not gaming, we're scheming how we're going to game next time. Every family gathering, work group, whatever gets our minds to churning about how we can work a game in. Hobbyists are usually at least slightly addicts by nature, and that's how we operate--looking for the next gaming fix.
Most of us learned a while back that not everyone will be into "our" types of games. Even on a site devoted to the hobby such as Boardgamegeek--not even in that subcommunity will you find everyone willing to play an Ameritrash title. It's understandable, to a degree; grandma isn't going to know what to say when you hand her a Marine card, two special power cards, some ammo tokens, and turn her loose in the bowels of hell in Doom: The Boardgame. Fact is, she probably won't make it past the cover with the beast slobbering and screaming at her. The uninitiated at work would take one look at Quest for the Dragonlords and think you've just invited them to join the occult--sort of a "Noontime Necromancers" support group, if you will.
So we're forced to look for games that fit those different hats we're often forced to wear. What games will fit in a lunchtime? What games have rules that won't scare Uncle Hank away? What games won't have my co-workers thinking we're going to ritually sacrifice them at the 5:00 whistle?
Over the next few weeks, using my own experiences as examples I'm going to detail the "different hats" that I often wear in terms of gaming. I'm also going to give examples in each instance of what did and didn't work, some short reviews and suggestions, hopefully something that you can use if you find yourself in the same boat and need some help finding the right hat for the right occasion.
And no, I will NOT have a "hat" for "Games to Play With My Wife/Husband/Significant Other". For those who have significant others who will game, consider yourselves very fortunate. The rest of us have seen this for what it is--folly. A fool's errand. I will speak no more of this thing.
Thanks for reading, be sure to check out the next installment--I'm going to start small with the "two-player lunch hour" stuff and work forward from there.