I was thinking recently about the ways I have changed as a gamer over the years. Recently I was wondering what advice I would give myself if I could go back in time and talk to myself as a new gamer.
Before I go further, I should probably give just a little bit of background. I consider myself to have transformed myself into a gamer about five years ago. However, even before that, I had played a fair number of games, even hobby games. Looking back, I am sort of surprised that I didn’t really get into gaming earlier. And, I am surprised at the variety of hobby games I had played, even without me identifying as a gamer. So, for me to talk to myself early in my journey, I would need to go back in time about five years. For many of you, five years is a short time in your gaming life. For some of you 5 years might sound like a lot of experience. For a slightly more in-depth resume of my first five years of gaming, I did recently post here.
I think when I started gaming, I did what many of you did. I set up an account on BGG, and I fell into a rabbit hole of thinking about, researching, and eventually purchasing a few games. I do think that I avoided immediately buying everything, which I know some people do once they fall into the hobby, but that was mostly due to me being a bit surprised at the prices I was seeing. I remember the first “batch” of games I acquired included were, #Dominion, #The Castles of Burgundy, #Forbidden Island, #Race for the Galaxy, and #Carcassonne. But I specifically remember that I was very worried about the weight of the games, as posted on BGG. I was purposefully trying to avoid any games that were at a 3 or higher on the BGG weight rating. Looking back, this is hilarious to me. The game that brought me into the hobby was #Fief: France 1429. I had also played a number of other games over a 3 on the BGG weight scale before I ever started gaming. If I could talk to my new gamer self, I would like to tell me to not sweat the weight to much. I would like to tell myself that if I have researched the game well, and I think that I will like it, it probably doesn’t matter too much if it is a 1.5 or a 4.5 on the BGG weight scale.
The first game I bought for myself was the famous #The Castles of Burgundy. I had some relatives living in Bangladesh at the time, and they had a copy of it and they reported loving it. Of course, me being in Kansas and them in Bangladesh, I didn’t immediately run over and try it out. So, I researched the game. I watched videos of people “reviewing” the game. I read the description on BGG. I read some text reviews on BGG. I saw the rating on BGG. I got the game, and it bombed. This should have taught me two lessons. I am not sure how well I learned them in the moment, so I wish I could have told these two things to myself. The first is that: Just because someone enjoys the game doesn’t mean that you will. One easy application of this is that it makes me devalue the top 100 on any site as a buying guide for me. The second thing is that: researching a game means figuring out, at least somewhat, how the game plays. I think that I was weighing subjective comments on games entirely too highly.
At the time I got into gaming I had a fair amount of time to research games. I distinctly remember googling all sorts of questions about low/mid-weight euro games. This was the space in which I thought I wanted to live. And, I picked up some games in that search that I still love. But somehow, I thought that Ameritrash was too random. I thought that wargames were too long and boring. I thought that 18xx was too ugly, long, heavy, and boring. I thought Pax games were impenetrable. I thought that abstracts were too cerebral. Again, the fact that I thought that euros were the gold standard for me is quite amusing, considering that I was brought into the hobby by #Fief: France 1429, which is most definitely NOT a euro. I feel like I still have a bit of a blind spot in regards to Abstracts and Ameritrash. But now I am meddling in wargames, I love them. I am meddling in 18xx, it’s great. I love the Pax games, the whole system. In my top ten, right now, I have 18xx, I have at least one wargame, and I have several Pax games. I love them. If I were able to talk to my newbie self, I would like to tell myself that I should be more willing to explore. That in the end, euros aren’t the gold standard, for me. I really love some good euros, but I missed out on a lot of great experiences because of my dependence on euros back in the day.
For a long time I felt sorta embarrased by my holes in gaming experience. Since I have been a gamer, I have been the one that buys games, whether for multiplayer or solo. And most of the time, I don't buy that many games. I have been a gamer for 5 years, and I own 40-45 games that I consider "my" games. A few of those games are pure nostalgia games like #The Farming Game. And, I don't get to play that many hobby games that I don't know. This means that I do have some, what I consider, pretty big holes in my gaming experience. I have never played a legacy game. I have never played #Wingspan. I have never played #Splendor, or...... In the BGG or the BGA top 100 there are literally dozens of games that I haven't played, many of those are considered by many to be essential games. In addition to the fact that, generally speaking, if I want to try a new game I have to buy it, I do have limited time available. I do have work, family, other responsibilities, and other hobbies. I can't play games full time. I wish I could tell my new gaming self that I don't need to play every game. I don't need to feel inferior because the hobby, online, makes it look like everyone plays everything. I wish it I could tell myself that the point of hte hobby is having fun with people and/or with exploring games. If you are doing that, you are a dyed in the wool gamer. You don't have to have X years worth of experience, or have played X number of games, or have played game(s) X.
So, tell us, in the comments, what you would like to be able to tell yourself at the beginning of your gaming journey. There are further things I could mention, but these were the biggest things that came to mind.