Monday, 22 February 2016

Guest Article by Dean Goldsmith: My Gaming Experience

The Games People Play...

I'm currently venturing into a new gaming system. After playing X-Wing exclusively for the past two years I've given in to temptation and jumped into Armada. My thoughts are now filled with Nebulon B Support Frigates and Turbolasers and Command Dials rather than TIE Fighters and Elite Pilot Talents and Twin Laser Turrets. But despite the change of scale and pace, it seems my mind is still filled...

And this got me to thinking about how the games I play are so much more than just games. More than just a couple of hours entertainment on a Tuesday night. More than the odd tournament here and there. I recently had a bit of a 'rough' eighteen months. Illness and hospital visits plagued my life for the first time and until just now I hadn't realised how much of a coping mechanism games can be. Whether it's the immediate release of forgetting the real world for an hour or two during an actual game or the hours filled list building and ruminating on tactics and battle plans during stressful hospital visits, long days at work or times when the kids are arguing over whose turn it is to have control of the telly remote, games offer us a way to turn our minds to something creative and fulfilling. I've built lists sat on the loo! I've gone over TIE Fighter formation flying tactics whilst being injected with radioactive tracer and placed in an MRI scanner. I've internally debated the merits of taking R2-D2 instead of R5-P9 on Poe Dameron whilst being screamed at by irate customers at work. Without this mental cushioning I'd have gone mad. Maybe I am mad. Maybe I'm the only one that does this. I've unwound from a hard days work writing and re-writing squad lists on numerous occasions. I've spent hours pouring over the internet looking at other peoples lists and thoughts and opinions, often not so much to improve my game but to block out whatever the wife was watching on telly at the time!

Does everyone else do this too? Does anyone else spend time building lists they never take to the table? Do other people let the games they play fill their minds and their time as much as this? Is it even healthy?

Games that require you to paint models (and I paint many of my X-Wing miniatures) offer a relaxing, fulfilling element but painting, unless you are especially lucky, is not something that can be done at work or in a hospital waiting room. Brushes, though portable are useless in the dark confines of the cinema when you've taken the kids to see some new, sub-par, animated bore-a-thon. Ever tried painting in the dark? No. But you can theorycraft and list build and plan strategies to your hearts content. And the best thing is the kids won't even notice... Neither will the wife if you're lucky!

Don't even get me started on how podcasts can ease a boring commute to work (Cloud City Radio is really worth a listen). Hours and hours of pointless waiting in traffic have been eased listening to peoples tournament experiences or their opinions on the latest new releases. Hell, even Mathwing becomes a bearable topic of discussion when you're stuck on the A45 with at least another half hour to pass before your junction!

So the next time you think about the games you play, think about what the games you play mean to you. Think about the time you spend other than playing the actual game and ask yourself “What else would I be doing with my time, if it wasn't for plastic spaceships?” Hopefully you'll be happy with the answer. In the mean time, enjoy what you do.

Oh, and of course... May the Force be with you. Always.