EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a free form op-ed which contains more colorful language than is typical for this blog. Also, take basically anything Justin says with the largest grain of salt in your possession.
It’s been said that opinions are like assholes – the ideal place to insert one’s thumb. But how many thumbs can you, realistically, fit into a single anus? It’s a good question that likely won’t be answered by this post. Why? Because this post is about you and me. Yes, we the figurative assholes of THE HOBBY™, lurking on message boards, hijacking YouTube comment sections, hard-on in hand, waiting to obliterate every pleb and filthy casual we can sink our chits into. Many of us are guilty of this. I know I am, so if this post reads more like penance than admonition, you’ll understand why.
Harshing the Buzz, Breh
So much of what we know and love of tabletop gaming is in the collaboration, the interaction, and the problem-solving. We love to pull up a stool and hunker down with friends and strangers alike, eradicate the virus, swap sheep for wheat, or build the quilt. But somehow this all disappears when we leave the table. Suddenly we don’t give a meeple’s ass why someone has a different idea or, god forbid, a different preference than us. We are so rarely curious of others but so quick to criticize that it makes me wonder if we ever really liked playing with each other in the first place. Stop pretending that we have a monopoly on good opinions.
So, what do we do? Well, for starters, ask yourself if you really care what other people think. If the answer is no, then go fuck yourself. Get out of public forums because you’re an absolute ulcer of a person. If you truly want to contribute, though, focus your energy on figuring out why people like the things they do. Do your best to figure out, in any game, why someone would like it. In a recent review of Tournament at Camelot, I panned the game pretty thoroughly, but it was still important to me to touch on who would like this game. I’m not saying you can’t have your opinions, but don’t crash someone else’s party with the express purpose of putting them down. Trust me, you’ll find these conversations much more stimulating.
Case in point, the Cadillac among users hijacking a Fireball Island thread with the express goal of telling OP what a knuckle-dragging mouth breather he is, simply for being nostalgic. This guy then proceeded to tell everyone his secrets on getting his bowel movements to smell so magnificent.
It’s Only a Game
Yes, it is. And before we regurgitate “well, we enthusiasts have the maturity to speak more seriously about this hobby” understand that this does not give us a pass to treat others like garbage and that we also probably don’t have that maturity either. Have we forgotten why we love games in the first place? Is it because we like to be a tremendous buzzkill? Is it because we want to induce anxiety by sending our friends a simple “free tonight?” text message? Is it because we love to crush our enemies. see them driven before us, and hear the lamentations of their women? Actually, that does sound pretty rewarding.
An astounding stunner of an anecdote emerged recently on r/Boardgames wherein a (now infamous) player known only as Crevice “sat down to my table, ate my food, drank my wine, and then used his superior knowledge of the game” to knock his friend out of A Game of Thrones. It was a true and shining beacon of smacked-assery. It may seem like Crevice is the bad guy here, but I’ll spare you the daunting details and cut right to the chase. The original poster chose a game that hinges entirely on screwing your friends, subsequently ruined his buddy’s birthday when he was eliminated, and was now seeking public vindication for being a shithead. The link above is an archive link, as the original post has been entirely removed.
If we’re not concerned with the enjoyment of others, we’ve abandoned the main motivations for playing games in the first place. You can’t force someone to have a good time, but you can sure as shit give them a reason to have a bad one. In the time I’ve hosted public meetups, arranged weekend-long boardgame marathons, and turned many people on to rad games, I have learned the importance of having fun, being inclusive, and absorbing and respecting all sides. Inclusion is the life’s blood of this wonderful hobby, so please don’t breed elitism.
Gaming By Force – Your Friends Are Practically Begging For It
Now, before we snatch the torch of inclusion and run through town lighting roofs alight, we need to get one thing clear – not everyone wants to play games with us. We need to stop this constant quest to “change minds,” “create converts,” or “find a game that is most like Scythe, but can be played on the tray table of a turbulent plane ride”. I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, because games are fun, right? Everyone likes fun, right?! But get a grip on the context here because playing with someone who feels forced is the shittiest feeling in the world.
Condisder this – would you hang out with a friend that wanted to play full contact rugby every time you came over? Or maybe it’s Summer and you’ve been invited to swim in the neighbor’s in-ground pool. He wants you to participate in a full-fledged diving contest, his family will score your perfomance, and don’t worry, he has a bathing suit you can borrow that definitely touched his penis. Some people just don’t care for games on the level that we do, so drop the hostility and astonishment that you can’t Terraform Mars during every social engagement. You’ll have time to play games tomorrow, I promise. Better yet, why don’t you start a game group?
Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dit – Quit Being A Spoiled Piece of Shit
We boardgamers have adopted a nasty sense of entitlement. I get it, we blow our disposable income on this, it’s a luxury item, we enjoy the warmth and safety of our own asses. Now, imagine that you publish board games (or if you already publish board games, be sure to pat me on the back for my boundless empathy) and you are constantly barraged with requests and comments about component quality, stunning artwork, a slick theme like post-apocalyptic zombies meets Vikings, except we also need to license the entire Marvel Universe, and can the box insert have a place where I can set a drink? Really? I’ll be the first to buy it when it goes on clearance, and I’ve cross-referenced the prices with the CIA database to ensure I’ve squeezed every last penny out of this deal…
Do you know why the employees at your local game shop always wrap their knuckles on Ticket to Ride and mumble “I’ve heard this is good,” but can rattle off an encyclopedia of tournament-banned Magic: The Gathering cards? Because guess which game keeps Rich Uncle Comic Store’s pockets fat. I used to make a point to hit new breweries when I traveled, now I hit game shops. I talk with the employees who know games, I linger near demo tables, I legit send emails to store owners to tell them how much I appreciated a recommendation. I want to give FLGS’s a reason to stock that hotness! And I’m not endorsing some dogmatic support of “the scene” – but we have to understand our role in the community we so desperately request. Put some action behind it and stop acting like everything needs to be handed to us. This is our disposable income so lighten up.
The wounds are still fresh on the recent backlash against beloved, Blair Witch-inspired reviewer Rahdo, so I’ll get you up to speed. The long and short is that a “big announcement” was hyped for GenCon 50, it was Rahdo’s review of the gratuitously and ironically punctuated Clank! In! Space!, and the interwebs were none too happy about this “underwhelming” reveal. Subsequently, our intrepid hero posted a farewell on r/Boardgames and deleted his account. Was Rahdo being reactionary? Sure. Is that a good look for anyone? No, sir. Were the lot of us being entitled, little pricks? Absolutely.
Quitting cold turkey for his own sanity might be one of the few things I have agreed with Rahdo on, but wow, we really gave him the business over that reveal. The man is retired, for Christ’s sake. He crowdsources his income, so fuck him for not revealing “Pandemic Legacy 2 will come with a free handjob.” right? Fan or not of Rahdo, what exactly did we expect him to do, knowing now that we were unimpressed by his “big news?” He pumps out content from his living room asking basically nothing in return, so he’s probably the last person we should be bitching to.
We’re all welcome to our own opinions, preferences, and desires. I know I vocalize some pretty boisterous ones on this blog… But this doesn’t give us the excuse to abandon all decency and respect for other people. The elitism and entitlement are pushing new friends out of this wonderful hobby, and turning old ones against us. Stop complaining and start having fun again.
Oh, and by the way, you likely shouldn’t fit more than two thumbs, simultaneously into a single anus.