In the introduction to my short collection of gaming essays called Games Matter, I wrote:
Of all the things that make me a geek, nothing brings me more joy, or is more important to me, than gaming. I am the person I am today because of the games I played and the people I played them with as I came of age in the 80s.
Playing games — from video games to role playing games to hobby board games — has been as much of a constant in my life as acting and creating stories. This isn't surprising to me at all, because gaming and acting and storytelling are all interwoven in my life.
About a year ago, my gaming group, who I've played with since high school, suffered a TPK. It's complicated, and it's genuinely tragic, but it's the reality I now have to deal with: getting a group together to play games is, for the first time in my life, much harder than simply sending out an e-mail or making a few phone calls.
I know, I know, #nerdworldproblems.
Still, I miss pulling a huge stack of boardgames out of my closet, putting them on the dining room table, and wondering what we're going to end up playing when everyone gets here. I miss investing in an RPG character I'm playing, or a campaign I'm running, and looking at that day on the calendar when we'll be back in that game's world.
Being a capital-G Gamer, it isn't surprising to me that I miss gaming with some degree of regularity… what does surprise me is realizing that I miss gaming as much — and with the same sense of emotional loss — as I miss acting and writing when I'm not doing those things.
For the last few days, I've been lucky, and I've had some friends around to play the hell out of a lot of games. We've played Last Night On Earth, Settlers, Ticket to Ride, Say Anything, Small World, Munchkin, Chez Geek, and more.
Last night, as I was falling asleep after an evening of gaming, beers and pizza with some friends, I realized that before this past week, I hadn't played games in so long, I had forgotten how much I need to play them. I realized how much I missed playing them, the way you miss a person you love when you don't see them for weeks or months at a time.
In a weird way, I'm grateful for the sadness I feel when I think about having three bookshelves that are filled with games I probably won't get to play as much as I want to, because when I finally do get to play them, like I have recently, I appreciate it that much more.
So let me close this by going all Voice of Experience on you: Keep playing games. Make time to play games with your friends and family, because it's surprisingly heartbreaking to wipe a thin layer of dust off a game you love, before you put it back on the shelf because the real world is calling you.