Existentialism & Play
Existentialism & Play
By: Andrew Davidson
What does your game collection say about you? And no, I am not referring to the size of your collection, nor the fact that if your collection is comprised of mostly drafting games then you are a gamer who loves drafting.
Let’s start by establishing a baseline of terms, shall we? According to the internet, existentialism is “a philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.” In short, you—and you alone—are responsible for filling your life with value, with things that give you a purpose, things that make you happy. Again, leaning on the shoulder of our good friend called the internet, play is “a physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement. Play may assist learning and self-development. It can be undertaken by individuals or groups of children spontaneously or as part of a planned activity.” In short, play is something we, as individuals, do to provide enjoyment and self-development.
Now I know what you are thinking: Where is this going? I clicked on this blog to read about games, not attend a Jordan Peterson lecture! Well, my meeple moving, cube pushing friends, worry not! If you’ve made it this far you’re through the worst of it.
I am going to assume that if you are reading this then you consider yourself a gamer and that you have your own collection of games—no matter how tiny or expansive—tucked away in your basement playroom or next to the table. I am going to assume that you did not magically stumble across your collection for free, but that you have invested your hard-earned dollars (or whatever currency you use) to procure each and every game in your collection. Why do we do this? Why are board games our definition of play? Why do we spend hundreds of dollars—or thousands!—to have a plethora of games to play?
I cannot recount the number of times I have been on a first date and asked of my date: “So…what are your hobbies?” only to watch them squirm like they were trying to figure out a trigonometry equation. Tons of times. To be fair, I have received the standard answers: movies, hanging out with friends, listening to music, but none of them extend beyond the realm of fitting into a niche community. When the question is asked of me, I always include board games in my list of hobbies (since I have an entire .com, blog, and YouTube channel dedicated to games I am pretty much obligated to include it on the list, right?). Typically, my date assumes I sit in my mother’s basement playing Monopoly all day; but the more comment question I get is this: “Interesting. Why board games?” If you gave me an entire month to write an essay entitled “Why I Love Board Games,” it would be an easy task. However, to recite some of the same components from the said essay in real-time (and with limited time), where does one even begin?
In our existential search for value, we all, at some point or another, decided that board games would be worthy of our time and money; they would provide us with some degree of happiness, unique shared experiences, socializing, and entertainment. We buy games. We play games. We read blogs or watch YouTube videos about games. We end up with a collection of games. Naturally, there is a sliding scale at work here as not every person who touches a game board plays games every weekend and owns 100+ games. But if you have a collection—even if it’s only a handful of games—you are getting something out of the hobby.
What does your game collection say about you?
It says you have imagination.
It says you have passion.
It says you love the learned experience of play.
It says you continue, game after game, to seek for self-development and learning.
And if you are reading this and board games are not your thing—although, I have no clue as to how or why you would be reading this—then I strongly encourage you to find that value and experience of play in your own life, whether it be longboarding, learning a new yo-yo trick, or being able to run the four-minute mile. Each person is unique. Begin your collection. Find your passion and never let go.