Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Games That We Play

Release Your Inner Gamer!
It's been a long day at the office.  Your energy level is low; your mental state chaotic.  Part of you just wants to lay back and recharge; the rest of you wants to play!

The heart and soul of games lies in the pleasure of interactivity.  Whether playing some form of solitaire (where the game itself is your opponent) or participating with friends or strangers around a game table, our minds (and bodies to a varying degree) are engaged.

In a world full of complex issues needing careful attention, one might judge spending hours at a time rolling dice, shuffling cards and generally pursuing abstract winning conditions as a superfluous activity for the privileged first world.

The counterpoint is that gaming provides a spectrum of exercise for the mind and body, that is sorely lacking in ones working life.   Games are all about simulating abstract, fantastical, and often, realistic challenges, that hone our thinking and reaction skills for application when we return to creatively battling real world problems.  Additionally, it gives us practice at making mistakes that are fairly inconsequential, at worst we walk away having lost the game, perhaps having learned a lesson in losing with dignity.

Game competitions also build community, in particular with peaceful resolution at the core.  When players are immersed in a game, whether a physical team sport or a meticulous board game, we largely suspend our judgement of our opponents' economic class, cultural strangeness and personal differences.  Yet at the same time, the social nature of gaming brings us together in the common ground of the gaming space.

Ultimately, playing games seems to me to be among the high points of human civilization.  Once we've conquered our needs for health, shelter, and general safety, what remains is the desire to have fun.  Whether we play a complex Eurogame like Puerto Rico with our peers, a sillier game like Uno with our family members, or an intensely physical game like softball in a league of strangers, our very being thrives in the moment throughout the duration of play.

Game on!

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