This past Sunday, I met up with a few friends and had a chance to play one of the board games that I own – Escape: The Curse of the Temple. The experience was okay, but it reminded me of the reasons why I ended up “quitting” board games.
Don’t get me wrong, modern day board games (or the more accurate term, table top games) are a lot of fun and they provide a kind of social interaction that video games will never be able to, in my opinion. Table top games filled the void after I had given up Heroclix and for several months, I was really into the hobby. I ended up buying several games, and I made it a point to attend a monthly event called All Aboard wherein the organizers would bring different games for people to try out. I’d be there by lunch time and would even stay up until after dinner. I’d bring some of the games that I owned to work and tried getting my colleagues to play. I even started writing about table top games over at my old blog.
But the hobby simply wasn’t sustainable for me – despite enjoying it a lot, I had to give it up. In my mind, this is just a temporary retirement as I haven’t sold any of my table top stuff but I have yet to get back into the hobby. Here are the reasons why I stopped:
1. I didn’t have a good venue for table top gaming
Similar to Heroclix, you can’t play table top games just anywhere. One of the reasons why I was a regular attendee of the All Aboard event is because the organizers were able to secure a large space with plenty of seats and big tables that were suited for table top games. The space was reserved specifically for the event, so people could stay as long as they wanted.
Unfortunately, both my previous and current residence don’t have adequate space for table top gaming. I tried inviting a friend before for Heroclix matches and we ended up sitting on the floor – it was very uncomfortable. And modern table top games usually last for half an hour or more. So home wasn’t an option.
Outside the house, my options were very limited as well. Restaurants and fast food joints usually don’t have big enough tables for the games that I own. And even if they do, these places usually don’t appreciate people hanging out for hours – they want customers to come in, eat, and leave to make room for other customers. I was part of a semi-regular Heroclix gaming group which had long gaming sessions over at a local McDonald’s; we occupied around four to five tables and the reason we never got kicked out is probably because our gaming sessions happened late at night (the place was open twenty four hours).
And even if I find a place with adequate table space whose owners don’t mind people who stay long, it’s still not enough. I mentioned playing Escape: the Curse of the Temple with my friends – we did it at a coffee shop (the table was barely enough) and some of them weren’t comfortable playing something that can draw unwanted attention.
Just before I finally retired from table top gaming, several “board game cafes” started opening shop. You’d think it would resolve this issue for me, but no. We tried visiting one twice; the first time, we were able to get a table. The second and last time, all tables were occupied. Other board game cafes were too far and out of the way, so I gave up on the idea. With no place to play, it was hard for me to enjoy the hobby.
2. Gaming sessions are long; friends couldn’t commit to them
From my experience, all the board/table top games that I’ve seen or played, a round would usually take between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. And that’s with a group who already know the game – sessions are much longer if we’re playing something for the first time. And that’s ONE round of one game. Playing different games would mean more time needed, and my current circle of friends simply don’t have (or don’t want to) that much time to free up for table top gaming.
And table top games require multiple players. Sure, there are games that can be played by individuals, but that kind of defeats the purpose right? I mean, why would I play a board game on my own if I could have just watched TV or a movie instead? Or picked up a video game console? When it became really hard to invite people to gaming sessions, I gave up.
3. Like books, movies, and video games, one table top game isn’t enough
When I first got into table top games, I thought that it would be less expensive than Heroclix or collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering, wherein you needed to keep buying and buying product in order to keep up with the game. I thought, all I needed to buy was one box and I would be good.
I was right in the sense that when you buy a table top game, that’s usually all that you need to buy. But after a while of playing a certain game, it can get old; I ended up wanting to play other games. Table top games are really like video games in that there are different kinds, different genres that are played differently and provide different experiences.
I ended up getting Last Night on Earth, a board game that simulates how it feels like to be caught in a Walking Dead-type of scenario. I have Mice and Mystics which played like a story driven medieval period video game RPG (which were derived from table top games, go figure). I have Flash Point, a cooperative table top game which requires the group to work together strategically as fire fighters trying to rescue as many civilians from a burning structure as fast as possible. I have around ten games, all providing different experiences. And back then, despite having almost a dozen different games, I was still looking to buy more.
People who are really into table top gaming end up with a vast collection of games. Sure, they sell those that they don’t want to play anymore, but (at least the people I know) end up with really big collections. Not only did I not want to spend that much money (I thought this would be less expensive than Heroclix), I also did not have enough storage space for such a collection.
With all that said, I think table top games simply don’t suit my current lifestyle. I haven’t sold any of the games that I own and I do miss playing them. I think I’ll be going back to them once I have children who are old enough to play and understand them, once I’m no longer as busy at work and at adulting. At this point in my life, I don’t have time or room for table top games. That’s why I quit (temporarily).