Iam not a “gamer”. Computer games have just never really been my thang. There, I said it.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a total console cynic. It’s simply that I’m the one that falls off the rainbow road faster than you can say “It’s-a me, Mario”, the one who was confused that Michael Owen and David Beckham aren’t options on the latest FIFA, and the one who ditched Call Of Duty upon discovering my mother’s apparent unspeakable encounters with over a dozen men within the first ten minutes of play.
So I suppose you could say that I’m a bit of an impostor here in the Games section. And I would be inclined to agree. That is, unless my childhood Tamagotchi counts, or maybe the few rounds of Space Invader I played at the local arcade in the late nineties? No, I thought not.
Yet just because I’m no master of digital ‘pwning’ or don’t know my square from my triangle, that doesn’t mean I’m not game for gaming. I would just rather swap the digital for the analogue – give me Scrabble over The Sims any day, and I’m yours.
Of course, my keenness for board games was never all that well received – the setting up, the die-rolling drudgery, or simply because they’re “lame” were all among the reasons cited for ditching me on my Mahjong mission. But now with the dawn of the alternative – thank you, hipsters – gracing every Camden-esque street south of Oxford, my digital distaste has finally found a home.
It actually seems that I was ahead of the trend all along, with board game purchases rising by 40 per cent between 2010 and 2013, in line with the increasing proliferation of cafés dedicated to the family’s once upon a favourite pastime.
Perhaps people are finally tiring of slipped components, dodgy disks and unworkable Internet? Drop those sticks all you want, but your Kerplunk won’t be compromised, whilst a few scratches on Sonic will leave the game jumpier than a hyperactive kangaroo – Skippy’s the name, and missing out all those vital explanation scenes is the game.
Then there’s the fact that nothing quite beats the sensation of bankrupting brother, sister, mother and father dearest in a classic game of Monopoly (fuelling family feuds since 1903!). That’ll teach them for force-feeding me broccoli from age two.
“It’s just a game”, housemate number two will screech. But it’s so much more than that. You stole my last slice of Maryland cheddar so I screwed you on Mayfair. Checkmate. So effective at extinguishing grudges, it’s hard to imagine that even the most ardent socialist wouldn’t appreciate the passive aggression power tool status of the capitalism-themed challenge.
Although mutual resentment is the only thing you’re likely to spawn in offline play, hey, at least you’re with people. Brush off that crisp dust-adorned tee and head down to Exeter’s very own Board when it opens later this year and you’ll be able to meet newbies too. Just ensure that you’re clear if wizards and warlocks or medieval mining isn’t your cup of tea. After nervously mumbling “stratégie” in a French games café, we were left with Splendour and a growing sense of self-loathing as we struggled through – we had come for Operation, after all.
Or why not make things yet simpler? Beyond the realms of “three, me” and “two, you”, Cards Against Humanity, Sopio and Exploding Kittens prove that leisure and ‘lolz’ can also be obtained from your average card deck. But I don’t need to give you suggestions. Students already know how to put the gin and rum back into Gin Rummy anyway.