Feb 182013

2013 is The Year Of The Boardgame

Don’t believe me? Don’t just take my word for it.  Look around and you’ll see a few places that are talking about the new Golden Age for boardgames. It’s nothing official, but let me tell you how I came to declare it for myself and why that might be something of surprising importance to you.

The 5 Best Board Games of 2012” @ Kotaku Australia

Late in 2012, I happened to come across this article in my Kotaku Australia newsfeed subscription. (Yes, I am a video game geek, albeit largely inactive. Deal with it.) It was unusual, as Kotaku don’t usually mention board games, which piqued my interest enough to give it a read through. (Which I recommend.)

The games sounded incredible. Imaginative, challenging and unique. But the greatest part is that they contained experiences that I was missing.

Is your entertainment habit useful?

It’s often said that “human beings are creatures of habit”. I agree and I’ve mentioned how habits can be destructive or constructive in the past. Plenty of times in fact.

When we entertain ourselves, we generally have habitual activities we choose. However, these activities are not always as effective as you might hope. As someone who played video games a lot in the past, I often choose them, but it’s not unusual for me to play for a while then wonder why I am bothering to do so. I become restless and feel tired and irritable. When it comes to entertaining myself to aid my general recovery from life’s stresses, thisdoes not sound like it’s very useful…

So… just do something else, right?

Sure. What though? What could I try?

In Gym Movement Protocol, we heavily use the concept of Contraspecific Movements; movements that are “opposite” to Goal Movements in some fashion, movements that appear to function complementarily. This generally spurs greater progress generally and opens up the opportunity to progress specifically in the Goal Movement.

So, say “enjoying video games” is my Goal Activity.
How could I design a Contraspecific Activity to my Goal Activity?
What do I generally experience when I play a video game?

  • Solo experience (primarily)
  • Stagnant in movement
  • Highly repetitive actions
  • Artificial intelligence opposition (highly pattern based)
  • Complete involvement (no other activities simultaneously)
  • Constant involvement (It’s always “my turn”)

Of course, there are games that break any or all of those, but this is a general pattern and usually when I feel most restless and dissatisfied.

So, if I were looking for a Contraspecific Activity, I could look for elements that are dissimilar or opposite to those, like:

  • Social experience
  • Involves movement
  • High variation of actions
  • Organically intelligent opposition
  • Partial involvement (ability to do other things simultaneously)
  • Staccato involvement (alternating pattern of engaged and not engaged)

As you can see, the general play style of board games could satisfy almost all of these things (not so much the “movement” one, but better action is important, not perfect action). This helps me predict that if I can find games that involve these to the degree I find enjoyable, then it might help me find more of my life more enjoyable generally.

Is that statement too broad and ambitious? Only time will tell! What I can tell you is that I found great enjoyment in the experiment so far (playing “Order Of The Stick” with my lovely sister and her awesome partner) and I am dying to get to it again.

And this is not without correlation: one of my most surprising joys of recent memory was when I chose, completely against “character”, to spend some alone time at home on baking a simple Scone Loaf (which I had never done before) to share with my wife and daughter on their return. That such a simple act of including something “new” in my life could have a lasting and memorable feeling of satisfaction and joy was truly remarkable.

Let us all try to make our life contain more of these remarkable moments and surprising joys.
MY 2013 is The Year of The Board Game. What is yours?

Start here: What are you missing?

Related links: My Movement associates at The Movement Minneapolis posted some great articles on a similar topic recently. Having had similar thought patterns in recent time, I judge myself in good company.

  1. February Challenge: Drive Your Top Line
  2. New Experiences in the First Few Days of February

I can’t think of a much better experimentation process for this topic than that!
If anyone else reading this post has an article around this topic they would like me to add as a link, give me a heads up in the comments!