Wanna Play?

For as long as I can remember playing games has made me nervous.  I always worried that I would forget the rules of the game or take too long with my turn and annoy the other players. Those that know me find my attitude towards games to be out of sync with my character. In ‘real life’ I tend to be outgoing and rather courageous in my public relationships. I am a person that rarely appears outwardly nervous. I also have found this discrepancy between my attitudes towards games and my overt personality to be interesting.

I decided to challenge my attitudes by attending a meeting of the Boise/Meridian Board Gamers Group. I contacted Jason Walker, the meeting organizer, to ask permission to attend their next get together. He responded with an email expressing a heartfelt welcome. Jason said, “We’d love to have you come.  All I ask is that you participate and play some games.  I’m not sure I’d be very comfortable with a stranger standing in the corner of my den with a clipboard.”

Once I had fully committed to attending the game night, I began to experience anxiety. I took multiple steps to prepare myself. I began by doing some reading on board games and psychology. In the book, Moves in mind: The psychology of board games, I was surprised to find regular references to ‘board game psychologists’ (Gobet, 2004). Unfortunately, as I read more about the complex nature of games my anxiety grew.

I tried looking through the group organizer’s online board game collection list.  That really didn’t help since I didn’t recognize any of the games and the strategy descriptions sounded ridiculously complicated. Finally, I laid down the research and decided to wing it. I was worried about feeling out of place and getting stressed out by the games. I even intentionally dressed in layers in case my anxiety level raised enough to make me sweat! I cheated a bit by bringing a friend along for support.

The event started at six on Saturday evening. I was the first to arrive, but within fifteen minutes there were nine ‘gamers’ total. The environment was casual and inviting. The hosts had prepared snack foods and had two open tables set up. I was surprised by how nice everyone was. The group went out of their way to make my friend and I feel welcome, including picking games that would not be too intimidating to ‘virgin gamers’.  We played two games, both of which I enjoyed!  Everyone was competitive enough to have fun, but remained friendly and playful. The experience was quickly proving to be different than my past experiences of playing games.  There was a real sense of community. Players were boisterous, shared more openly and laughed a lot.  My friend and I had never met any of the other players before, but felt completely relaxed and at home.

After attending the board gaming group I have a whole new outlook on the pursuit of game playing. I used to think playing board games was trivial, but now recognize it has many positive aspects. With the right group of people it can be fun and provide for a safe social environment to get to know new people quickly. It also helps you get to know yourself more deeply. As stated by Jay Teitel, in Psychology Today, “The more we became immersed in the world of games, the more we realized that games weren’t simply revealing and therapeutic by nature; they were terrific tools for informing people about themselves, for getting them back in touch with the world of pure play and even for civilizing them.” (Teitel, 1998)

I enjoyed the social interaction and the playful challenges of the board games so much that I came home and quickly ordered several board games. None of the stress I remembered from my childhood was there and I left energized and excited for the next get together. Anyone want to play? The next meet-up of the Boise/Meridian Board Gamers Group is April 15.  If you would like to know more about this group check out the link below:


Jessie my social support.



Gobet, F., Retschitzki, J. (2004). Moves in mind: The psychology of board games. New York, New York: Psychology Press.

Tietel, J. (July 1, 1998). Wanna play?. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199807/wanna-play

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You’re so cute. I love that you work so hard to challenge yourself, even with recreational activities… an activity which you could so easily just avoid.

    • I am so glad I choose to venture out of my comfort zone. I had such a good time and met some really great people. It has always been difficult for me to do something “just for the fun of it”. I really think it is good practice for me. After all my New Year’s resolution was to have more FUN. In order to do that I have to relearn how to have fun 🙂 Time to quit taking life so serious.

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