PERSONAL DIARY/UPDATE: 2019 – The Year Ahead, etc…

2017 and 2018…

As the year draws to a close, and the dying embers of 2018 slowly dissipate into the aether, I find myself in a reflective mood, especially where gaming is concerned…

Some really good things happened this year: time spent at various conventions like AireCon, MidCon and a whole boardgaming week in France at Le Pas Opton brought home to me just how much I love this hobby, gaming in general, and the majority of people in it, too.

There is something altogether special and quite magical about spending time around a table with like-minded individuals: a relationship that exists for a brief stretch of time, yet for those moments –whether they last for just 10 minutes or considerably longer– an unmistakable and intense feeling of camaraderie and indulgence hangs in the air, and it’s distinct, palpable, and yet always fleeting…  Some of these great times remain long in the memory: the moment that player did something so altogether off-the-charts in Jamaica that it put the whole table into fits of uncontrollable laughter; that time the other player who’d stuck with you through thick and thin suddenly turned on you to reveal his victory condition was to bring everyone else down in Dead of Winter; that single defining moment you had victory in your grasp and couldn’t see the woods for the trees, completely missing the fact that someone else was going to get there before you…  Of course, there are other moments you don’t always like to dwell on: that time you taught friends how to play Bunny Kingdom and The King’s Guild and strolled to victory in both games, feeling guilty all the way;  teaching your daughter how to play Century: Golem Edition and then watching in befuddlement as she trounces you by 30+ points because it all ‘clicked’ so easily for her; playing a game with that annoying player that wanders away from the table every other turn, and then spends ages pondering his next move when he returns, just before taking a phone call at the table…

Somewhere along the line, I also worked on a few more gaming designs, built several prototypes, did lots of playtesting, put together a history book that still needs editing, and became the default PR and layout guy for a boardgaming magazine called The SPIRIT (which is still going, but really does need your support to continue doing so: The SPIRIT Magazine).

Yup, there are definitely more than a few defining moments to be found in a single year of gaming!

It may not seem like it, but I would say I’ve had a busy year on Kickstarter, too — last year (yup, in 2017), I backed about 15 projects, only 12 of which saw the light of day this year (and many not until very late, it must be said). Of that selection, only 3 or 4 of the titles have really impressed me, the rest were… ‘Okay’.  A couple of those games also left me with what I can only term ‘that death knell feeling’, namely… ‘Meh!’

Alas, there are also times during the year when you need to pause and reflect, take stock, and decide what you’re doing and what you want to do going forward, and the end of the year is a very popular time to do this…


Fears and Foibles…

This year (2018, that is) I have backed a similar number of KS projects to 2017 (slightly more, actually), and at time of writing, only two have actually ‘landed’ so far (been delivered), with many more due to come through over the next 10 months or so.

Now then… I think I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to getting excited about what’s new in gaming and being swept away by ‘the cult of the new’ — being involved in games and games design (in whatever capacity) also means the sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is an ever-present annoyance, and I see it every day, all the time, and most especially when I’m on social media (Twitter, mainly, it must be said).

The thing about Twitter, however —and indeed any social site you care to name— is that it’s all too easy to come away from this microcosm of intense activity (and that’s what it is, btw: merely a ‘snapshot’) feeling that it’s representative of the world around you: that everybody you interact with is already playing all these cool new games, and the chances of you getting an opportunity to see and play these is just around the corner.

Of course, the stark reality is that the chances of getting anywhere near these titles (for many months at least) are pretty much slim to none, and in many cases these ‘new’ games haven’t even been officially released yet, or are available only in limited quantities to a very small selection of what I’d term ‘professional content-producers’.  Indeed, a trip to my local club or even to my FLGS (Friendly Local Games Store) is usually enough to bring me back to the real world with a resounding ‘thump’: most of the gamers at my local club would have barely seen or heard a vague mention of  >insert latest great title< ,  while at my local games store Keyforge and the latest Pandemic iteration has only just appeared on the shelves, and if I really want a copy of  >latest great game<  I’ll need to pre-order it in a few months’ time when it actually appears on the database as stock available to order!

The flip side of this coin, of course, is that I already have at least half a dozen new-ish titles on my shelves that haven’t seen the light of day yet, and >gasp!< some of them even remain unpunched!  Under a barrage of cries of  ‘sacrilege’, I should probably add that I will get around to sorting them out properly just as soon as I’ve read the rules and can grasp how best to sort out the bits’n’pieces and set these titles up for playing — something I try to do with every new game I have, usually.


Looking ahead…

Earlier I said the end of the year is a good time to pause and reflect, and when I did this a few weeks back, realised I still had a game from last Christmas that I haven’t even got to the table yet… this annoyed me more than expected, and pretty much gave way to my current resolve, which is to avoid buying or backing anything new in 2019 (games-wise, that is). And to be clear, this is not just a case of “I’m not buying any new games until I’ve played everything I already own,” but rather “I am not buying any new games at all for the entirety of the year.”  Why?  Well not only would I like to play the games I already have, of course, but I’d like to see just how much happens between now and 2020, and more importantly, if I can continue doing what I’m doing without giving in to the inevitable…

This is a bold and brash aim, for sure, and I intend to keep a diary with me all year to document my thoughts and feelings throughout, but given I’ve still got at least half a dozen Kickstarter games due to land at some point in 2019, at the moment I really don’t feel I’ll be devoid of new games to play. To be fair, I also went on a late games binge this month (December) and bought several titles that I have had my eye on for a while, including This War of Mine, Raxxon, and Pandoria. You’ll note that some of these games play well as solo experiences, too, and no doubt there’ll be many new titles that friends and colleagues purchase that’ll definitely reach the table in due course, and which I’d hope to be playing too, o’course!

At the moment, I’ve no concrete idea of how this will play out, or even what I hope to gain from it (financially, I’ll be better off, for certain!), but what I’d really like to find out is…  (a) if I can really do this,  (b) if I’ll have changed my approach and/or attitude to games and the industry in general in that time, and  (c) whether the time and money that would otherwise be spent on new games could be better spent focusing on my own games and designs.  Perhaps more interesting, still, is whether or not I’ll be tempted to buy in 2020 some of those titles I missed out on in 2019…

Arguably, I should also have more time for other things (not necessarily games-related), including reading, binge-watching, and my own stuff; all things I’d like to actively pursue in 2019.  I did a LOT of outlining and games design work at the beginning of 2018 before succumbing to the pressures of everyday life, juggling two part-time jobs, writing another book, and doing layout work for The SPIRIT, etc. and thus am hopefully going to find more time to work on my own games in the year ahead without the ‘distraction’ of chasing the new or trying to keep up with the current state of things, etc.  And I’m not intending to write another book, either!

I’ll try and keep my hands in the gaming pie, but my ultimate aim is to get through the year without purchasing a single new game, and ideally to have played all the games I currently own at least once or twice. I haven’t completely made my mind up what I’ll do with the thorny subject of secondhand games or expansions, yet, but in practice I feel this will go against the true spirit of what I’m attempting here, so we’ll see how that pans out…  It would probably be politic for me to add that having games ‘donated’ for review and/or coverage through this blog or in The SPIRIT magazine doesn’t exactly come under the same banner as ‘buying new games’, so it’ll be interesting if anything like that happens, too!  Who am I kidding, that’d be great… lol!

While I ponder these last few days of 2019 in a gaming sense, I’m also looking at all these shiny ‘new’ games on my shelves that I haven’t played, yet, and hoping beyond hope that they’re all good, positive choices…  Eeek!

To one and all, I hope 2019 proves to be a great year for you, howsoever you choose to make the most of it…


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