I started gaming at a very young age, probably as far back as I can remember. Back then I had no idea I was a gamer. I loved PC and Video games, but found I would most prefer to spend my nights with family members playing board games. I remember walking to the local toy shop with saved up pocket money to buy the Australian version of Monopoly, and after that was Squatter which is a much better game where you really are playing for sheep stations. There would be weekend nights where my family would pull out World Quest, a historic trivia game in the 1980s that combined Trivial Pursuit and a form of Monopoly. I would talk my cousin into playing Scotland Yard, or my parents and sisters into Charades.
As I hit my teens, I branched out into more video games, addicted to such games as Super Mario and Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64. Then I discovered Telenguard, I loved this game, making a character that developed and explored. I distinctly remember when I fell in love with designer board games. I was 14, loved D&D PC games, but never looked into the hobby. Meanwhile, my sister was a competitive ballroom dancer. I would get dragged along to her classes and meetings with her partner at his house. One day, there was a box on his coffee table. It looked like a boardgame, but it was nothing I was familiar with. He saw my interested and said open it, have a look, if you like it, I can teach you.
The game was 2nd edition Talisman. This was like my favourite PC games, on a table, with bits I could hold, and cards that would change every play. It took one game, and I was hooked with this new style of tabletop adventuring. Weeks later, I found a more simple, yet more engaging game in a shop I'd never thought to look in. It was Games Workshop. I was in looking at the miniatures and saw a box on the top shelf up the back. It reminded me of the movies I hire from the video stores, a big sword wielding Barbarian, in an action pose. I realised I had to have this game. Hero Quest was a massive moment for me. I would play with anyone who would join in with me. I bought the expansions as soon as they were released and played whole campaigns with my sisters and cousins. We would then design our own levels.
Fast forward to 26 years old, and I now have the 3rd edition of Talisman, and I have painted the mini’s. A friend at work, introduces me to a card game. Its been around a while, but he thinks I might like it. You cast spells, summon creatures, and duel other wizards. Sounded alright. I was hooked to Magic the Gathering for 10 years. I would buy Boosters, Booster Boxes, and trade on the 2nd hand market. I made a group of friends that were also hooked, and we would play games every 1 or 2 weeks. We all had numerous decks and played duels and wild free for all matches. One day while looking at how I was going to afford to pay school fees for my kids, my wife noted that I seem to spend a lot of money on these cards. She was right, it is a bit of an addiction. One I couldn’t share with her, as she really wasn’t interested in dueling wizards.
We also had a friend, who wasn’t as money limited as some of us that played, and his card acquisition far outpaced the rest of us, and we found ourselves at the mercy of his superior/more expensive cards. Yeah we had some good ones ourselves, but we just couldn’t keep up. This was my final transition to modern designer board games. I jumped online and started searching for what I could play with my friends, that wasn’t such an open format. One of my friends brought a game he had called Settlers of Catan to a games weekend, and we played it as a change from Magic. This game where the object was to score points to win, and not beat each other up was a refreshing change. Another friend had a game called munchkin. It poked fun at our “nerdy interests” and was fun to boot. We loved these new games.
I wanted my own game that was engaging, yet still was limited to what was in the box. I bought Race for the Galaxy the next day. It was a learning curve, with its new mechanics, and iconography, but once we got our heads around it, we loved it. We played less and less Magic the Gathering, and more and more of this. Then we found ourselves with more and more of these games. I now get so much joy out of gaming. Playing 2 - 4 times a week with my wife and kids or even with my other gaming friends. I by no means am the most knowledgeable gamer or have the biggest collection, but I know what I like, and have great fun exploring new games and mechanics.
I have even started GMing Dungeons & Dragons for some friends. I guess I find that games is something that has brought me away from the Digital forum, and back to being in a room and communicating with people. It is also a release for me, allowing my brain to disengage from work and other stresses and relax in some engaging puzzles. That is probably why I like to play them so much. Let games be what brings you together, share the moments they create with family and friends, and don't be afraid to make new friends around the table.