Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly in love with the board gaming hobby. I recently shared some of my favorite games on the Geek This! blog and doing so made me want to dig into why I enjoy it so much.
If you were on the outside looking in, you might think it’s a simple obsession and, to a point, I guess you would be right. What’s not to like about a bunch over beautifully-designed and illustrated boxes that contain equally wonderful components? For some games, there are gorgeously detailed miniatures that are just begging to be painted, only to enhance their quality. For others, there are stories waiting to be unlocked or simply a good time to be had. For myself, I’ve discovered all of the above things to be true, but what stands out the most is the relationships that are created or fleshed-out while playing.
Some of my fondest memories with family and friends in recent years have revolved around playing board games together. Oddly enough, it isn’t actually the board game that makes it memorable for me, but the experience of being together, making jokes, and learning more about the people in my life.
This week my family and I pulled out Stuffed Fables after trying multiple times to get through the first chapter. For those of you unaware of what Stuffed Fables is, the goal is to help a little girl grow up as you play one of six stuffed animal characters who come to life and battle some bad stuffies set on messing things up. The first storyline is set on retrieving the girl’s blanket that has been stolen. You can learn
more about Stuffed Fables here, as well as learn how it’s played.
As we picked up where we left off in the game, I began to see how well my daughters were cooperating with each other. Did they share a spare die with anyone at the table? Did they try to defeat the bad stuffy that knocked their sister (or mom/dad) out? I also started to look at how they solved problems. Were they just in the adventure for themselves or did they want to tackle the situation head-on?
For my oldest daughter, Grace (10) one of the first things I noticed was that she wants to run the game. For a little background, when we play games, I’m generally the person who passes out cards, resources, etc. I don’t know what other people call it, but we say that person is “running the game.” This is what Grace wants to do, and I’m OK with it, but I want to keep coaching her and help her understand that this job isn’t always easy. You have to know what you’re doing on your turn, as well as make sure everyone else gets what they need.
In addition to running a game, I see her interested in teaching newcomers how to play. While we were sitting last night, my wife’s first time playing, there were several moments where Grace would have to remind me of a rule or two or even correct me. Again, that’s fine, because there’s a sense of growing up that I see in her. Tonight may be the night we let her take over Stuffed Fables to see how she does.
With Eiley (5), I see her brain working as we play. Not in a mechanical or strategic way, but imaginatively. She’s visualizing the story we’re telling and playing through. Between the two girls, this isn’t a surprise; she’s always been the more imaginative of the two. She takes the story seriously, so when a baddie shows up, she’s genuinely frustrated or worried and she avoids confrontation at all costs. Even with that particular play style, she does want to help and will hand over an extra die or ask if someone wants a particular weapon or item she has (even if the rules don’t necessarily work that way).
The more I play with my kids, the more I see who they’re becoming and how well I’m parenting them, for better or worse. It also helps me determine a better way to reach their personalities in times of stress, conflict, and celebration.
Eiley wants affirmation that rolling the goal number on a die was helpful and that she played the game the right way. Grace wants confirmation that her successful takedown of a baddie truly makes her part of the team. Those small moments that others may not notice help me “get” my kids.
In the end, this hobby or obsession has been beneficial to who I am as a parent. Soon I’ll share my thoughts on how it helps with my social anxiety and depression.
Until then, thanks for reading.