An Anxious Gamer

Hi, I'm a board game addict, and I have Asperger's Syndrome and a Social Anxiety Disorder. I've learned that one of the best ways to deal with it is to talk to others about it. This blog is one of my attempts at doing just that.
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You've Got a Right to Fight

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As I mentioned in my last post on dealing with change, games are an ideal environment for developing and practicing positive life skills. If I want to be more flexible and emotionally-resilient in real-life, everyday chaos, I can practice on a smaller scale where success is always in reach. Real life doesn't afford as good of odds. In the venue of a game, though, as I am consistently successful in my efforts to control my emotions, I have to believe that this will, over time, ultimately increase my chances of success in real life.

In addition to being more adaptable in the face of change, games also provide a place for me to improve upon some of my other deficiencies. One such is my difficulty in attacking others or engaging in conflict. I imagine this is a somewhat common problem for a lot of people. I find that I am far too cautious in communicating effectively with my wife because I fear that I may upset her, which is silly because she is not a fragile person. I definitely know that I would be very likely to not stand up for someone/something that needed defending in the heat of the moment. These are some of my weaknesses, but once again, board games become a help.

I'm reminded of a recent game of 2-player Endeavor (we use the Faster, Friendlier 2-Player Endeavor variant). About 2/3rds the way through the game, I had done some light attacking in Europe that hadn't impacted her standing that much, and we had mostly stayed out of each others' way. It became clear to me that I needed to use my Docks to finish off her dominated shipping track in the Far East so that I could get control of a crucial city in that region. Yeah she would get the governor, but I really needed one of those cities. Not only would I gain some points but it would reduce her potential there greatly. I had to make a decision: would I be a coward and not attack her because I didn't want to offend, or would I launch in and take what was rightfully mine to take?

She's a big girl and knows we are playing to win, so I took a chance and dove in. It was a little difficult to do, but I trusted that she thought enough of me to take it in stride. I went for it. After that one play, though, I backed right out because after that initial play, the point gains weren't worth it to ignore my other areas. Anyway, she was a little disappointed in the event of the attack, but got over it quickly. It ended up being a close game, and we both really enjoyed it, in a little part because of the increased tension.

All in all, it really wasn't that big of a deal, but it did mean that, in that moment, I was able to overcome my deeply-ingrained, flawed mindset of conflict/confrontation = bad. As I've continued to engage in appropriate conflict in games, I've noticed it getting easier for me to do this in our games AND in real life, and that's awesome. Also, it's important to remember that I also didn't take the conflict too far and knew when to back off. Besides, I wasn't going to fall victim "to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is to never get involved in a land war in Asia." Thank goodness my wife isn't a Sicilian!
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