Although I always intended this blog to be about music it seems there’s a parallel movement around gaming, with video gaming becoming a dominant force in what historically would’ve been a realm of table top and board games. Every one of us would have at some point played Scrabble or Cluedo with their families, probably fallen out over someone cheating at Monopoly. Aside from the odd game around Christmas time (at least in my family) the word ‘gaming’ would these days have immediate connotations of computer or video gaming.
There are of course differences between the music and gaming worlds, my own desires to preach the gospel of the record over the mp3 are more straightforward, it’s intrinsically the same music just a choice over format and ultimately the experience, either listening alone or with friends doesn’t change what you’re listening to (audiophile questions over sound quality aside). The idea of video gaming vs board gaming is different though, it’s entirely different experiences, one largely solitary (although you can play multiplayer games or online the majority of gamers play alone) and one based around the idea of sociability more so than winning or losing. I’m not trying to crowbar in similarities that aren’t there, ultimately video gaming and board gaming are different activities. What I observe, and what I feel is relevant is the desire not to continually run with the technological advances but to promote the idea of taking a step back, even if it’s ‘retro’ or ‘old school’ and enjoying a different sociable experience, in this case sitting around a table and playing a game with friends or family.
What inspired this slightly off topic chain of thought was a Guardian article on board game’s golden age, which somewhat interestingly appeared in the ‘Technology’ section of their website. The article claims board game designers are in a rich vein of form and that board game sales are growing, like physical music, in the face of technological advances. The quotes back up my suggestion that it’s about experience, spending time with friends or dysfunctional families and there’s some interesting articles, including one about a former Star Trek actor who now has a widely popular (over one million subscribers) YouTube series where he invites celebrity friends to play board games, attributed with increasing their popularity. There’s a whole series of articles on board games and I highly recommend checking them out here.
So as well as thinking about inviting your friends over to listen to some records and have a drink, maybe invite them over for a board game too, dust off your copy of Risk and see where it takes you.