Thursday, November 5, 2015

Organizing your Gaming Life Part 1

Being a gamer can take up as large or as small of a portion of your life as you decide to let it.  It occupies a healthy portion of my life because I write about games, game related things, game accessories, and other gamey stuff.  Finding the spot for games can be a complicated thing because games take up both time and space.

Time can be a tricky thing for the modern gamer, between work, sleep, family commitments, and a myriad of other things, your time can be a very high priced commodity.  Deciding how you choose to spend that time can make all the difference in the level of enjoyment that Games bring to your life.  If you have the time and the energy to play a tabletop roleplaying game twice a week with friends, then that's a hefty commitment of your time and energy.  If you don't have that much time, but still want to get together and play a board game, that's also an option.  The key point is that you have to decide how much time you personally have available, and how much of it you want to spend gaming. 

Gaming (in most cases) is a social activity, and you have to find people in your life that you're willing (hopefully, these are people you like to play with) to spend an evening playing games with.  You should also keep in mind that they have personal lives of their own and their also allocating their free time to a social activity.  Not everyone will dedicate the same amount of time towards games that you have and that's all right.  Games fulfill different needs for different people, and sometimes that means you may end up compromising to play a game in the time you have available with the people you have available. 

I have two anecdotes for this, one of the involves a specific (Twilight Imperium by those wonderful folks at fantasy flight games) and a general (tabletop war gaming).  Both of this will hopefully illustrate the value (and benefits) of time investiture in your gaming lifestyle. 

Twilight Imperium is a game that will probably take you the better part of a day to play.  The last time i played with friends at college (four players, all of whom were familiar with the game) it took us right at an hour to set up the board.  Now that may seem nuts to some of you, and i will agree, i can see where that might be crazy.  "An hour to set up the board?  Really??"  Firstly, you'll have to assemble a space map out of hexagonal tiles (one of the neat things about the game is that it will be different every time) and choose races and a bunch of other things that just take time to get moving. 

So you might be thinking at this point since the game is set up now it should play fast, shouldn't it?  Well, Twilight Imperium feels a lot like a board game version of Civilization, it's a game where you will start with a very small portion of the map under your control and hope to dominate the entire map by the end of the game.  That means it has a lot of parts, and steps, and other little quirks that just eat time.  It took us about an hour per full game turn (that means that all four players had completed all of their actions and were ready to move on).  We played a nine turn game, so from start to finish, it took us ten hours (and we called the game because the venue we were playing at was ready to close up for the night). 

Tabletop War Gaming eats time in its own specific ways. 

First, you're going to have to find a game you are interested in playing. 
Then you need to find people to play with
Then you're going to need to learn how to play the game (To be fair, most war gamers are interested in finding new people to play with, so you should be able to try the game out a couple of times before you have to spend some money on it).
Then it's time to buy your first couple of things (Probably a starter set, those are tailor made for two people to learn the game)
Then you need to assemble your models (this can be tricky)
Then you need to paint your models
Then you might actually be ready to play your first game with your very own models (This can truly be a wonderful experience, but you should be ready to make mistakes and screw things up, it's the natural way of learning).

The time sink doesn't end there though
You'll probably need to
Build more units to play larger games
find the units you prefer to build your army
Repeat the above steps a couple of dozen times
Find time to paint more models
Play a game once in a while

Some people will look at a war game as a time sink.  It's just another way for you to waste your time and not get other things done.  Other people will look at it the therapeutic device that keeps them from snapping and killing people.  Some people see the canvasses that they can paint in a bajillion different colors.  Some people just want to play the game.  It's all a matter of deciding how YOU want to spend your time. 

Space is a different sort of a problem.  A board game takes up a specific amount of space while its being played and a different amount when its packed up in storage.  Repeat that thought with every version of a game you can think of (war game, card game, video game etc.) and you may have a crisis of space on your hands, especially if you're the one who hosts game nights. 

Storing your games in a method you feel comfortable with (No, i'm not judging the oddly balanced pile of board games hanging off the edge of the table at all) can be hard, and you'll need to find the right balance of games that you feel comfortable with and hopefully stay within your comfort zones.  Does this mean you may not own every game in the universe?  Probably so, as i don't know how much space that actually takes up. 

Some games require little space outside their board set up, and that's great, but other games will require you to bring extra stuff with you.  War games with miniatures, trading card games, and role-playing games all require you as a player to bring extra stuff with you, or to have extra stuff on hand.  This means that you'll need to allocate more resources to storing that stuff when you aren't using it, and to finding a dedicated place to have it during the game you're going to be playing. 

Finding the right balance between time and space is tricky, but i will try and help you find your way around these tricky areas as we move forward. 

Thanks for reading, and i'll see you next week

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