Who doesn’t love a good game? You might ask yourself what type of game I’m referring to. Is it a particular sport, or perhaps a board game? Perhaps it’s a party game where you stand on your head and attempt valiantly ingest any number of liquid concoxions before relenting to the screaming coming from your liver. In truth it might be any of these games. I’ve become fascinated by the types of games we humans decide to play, and furthermore, why we choose to play them.
Games of sport for me came before games of chance. In an earlier life I spent my springs and summers on the dusty infield or grassy outfield of a local baseball diamond. It all started innocent enough, this early understanding of games, but it would grow into a love of emotion and revelry with my compatriots when it came to winning a trophy or perhaps an ice cream from the local concession stand. These were simpler times, when all my parents wanted was for me to enjoy an activity with structure and an outlet for their young extrovert which didn’t involve getting into verbal altercations with his brother. I wasn’t a great player – but I had a knack for hitting the ball a long way – and that meant I got a lot of playing time.
Games of chance came next, as I moved beyond the field of play and onto the table of books and dice. I spent the better part of my formative teenage years rolling dice and exploring countless worlds. All the places I’d always wanted to go were now within reach. If I wanted to swing swords and spells alongside the heroes I’d read about in mythology, that was there for me. I stretched my legs and flew through the blackness of space with Han Solo and the Rebellion, fighting to bring down the evil, authoritarian Empire. These games have resonated with me, but I have come to understand more about them now, and why I’ve enjoyed them so much. In basis, these games are escapism; little more than a trip through someone else’s brain in a world which we cannot experience except in a limited way. Games of this nature are a shared storytelling, one which I will always enjoy, and now have a new generation of kids to enjoy them with.
Games of the heart came after that. People have been the hardest game to learn. Everyone of them has their own rulebook, their own methods by which enjoyment can be had, but more importantly each takes time to understand. Much like games of chance, with many people you get to decide if you want to take part in that game. Of all the games I’ve take part in, these games have been the most trying, the most wounding, the most rewarding. Years ago I eschewed many of the games I had played in because I realized I was the only one taking part in playing. It took me years to learn that wasting energy on games which I had no hope of finding an equal back and forth needed to be cut away.
After all, you can only play so many games.
Addendum: After a few weeks of a heavy travel schedule, I get a week at home. As we near the first spring in our new home, I look forward to seeing what blooms in the garden and taking part in the cleaning which needs to be done around the house. Zelda, our wonderful dog, has been back to the vet now for a skin issue. She had an infection a few months ago, which after medication, we thought had cleared up. This is not the case, and so she is now getting a steady regiment of peanut butter and pills, plus a weekly shampoo. As for writing, this week will find me tapping away at a few last minute items and then putting together the puzzle pieces until I feel it is ready to be read aloud. My live pitch session is now four months away, and there is much left to do.