A little over a year ago, when I first started attending the game group I play with regularly, I owned Scrabble and Uno and that was pretty much it. I had plenty of role-playing books, the vestiges of many a long-since abandoned campaign. But my board game mojo was weak. There was a sound logic behind this: most of the friends I would play board games with owned most anything I’d ever want to play. So why did I need to own anything? Chances were good they’d already have it.
Flash forward a year and I bought my thirtieth game today. The bookcase I set aside for my board games is already full, and I have games coming from Kickstarter yet to account for. And there are about a dozen more games I’m interested in, either out now or coming soon. Not to mention expansions for the games I already own. I’ll wander up and down the aisles at my friendly local game store thinking to myself, “Want it. Want it. Maybe. Maybe. Want it.” At least I hope it’s to myself.
Gamers have a term for this madness. It’s “acquisition disorder.” It’s when you have to have the new shiny. It’s when you have games on your shelves that are still unopened, or opened but not yet played. It’s when you buy a game because a mechanic looks interesting, or you like the theme, or the components are cool, regardless of how the rest of the game might turn out to be. Some games is good, more games is better, more than that is ideal. Because you never know when somebody might want to play that one game. Better make sure you have it, just in case.
I don’t have it as bad as some friends of mine. One carries an assortment of games in his car trunk, just so he’s ready in case any gaming breaks out. Another has so many games, he keeps some in storage so there’s room in his house. I see people bringing huge plastic bins of games to our meetups, filled with stuff that must have gone out of print years ago. But they’ve all been doing this for years. I’m averaging almost three games a month, a number inflated somewhat by Christmas sales and the occasional bargain here and there. But I have all the symptoms. I bought one game because it was on sale and had a cool little faux jade Buddha as its starting player token. I can’t tell you at all how it’s played, but I know Little Buddha looks cool.
I’m not spending myself into oblivion. I still prioritize food and fuel over some new game. But I’ve definitely gotten the bug. I even have copies of games my friends already own. Because maybe one day they won’t have their copy. Or I might meet some new people who want to play. Or it could be that it just looks really cool on my shelf. But I think a big part of it is that gaming in general has been a huge source of relief and distraction for me over the last two years. The movement of cubes and tokens, the rolling of dice, the thought behind the different strategies, the people whom I play with, they all helped me get through some rough times. So the games themselves feel a little bit like therapy. Even if the most playing I do with some of them is to set them up and try them out by myself.
Whatever the reason though, I’m going to need another shelf. At least.