How Board Games Can Change Lives--A Holiday Challenge
Jeremy Harrison
United States
Grand Prairie
Texas
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Like all of us, I love board games. Playing games of all kinds has been a favorite hobby for all of my life. Aside from the sheer enjoyment and mental challenge that gaming provides, the fellowship, friendships formed, and memories made are invaluable. However, our shared interest in gaming can be more than just a hobby--it can transform lives.

As a young child and teenager, I was socially withdrawn and highly insecure. I kept to myself in most social situations b/c I lacked the confidence to engage others. However, there was one setting in which I was able to be myself and thrive: gaming. The first such venue for me was a D&D group back in the late 80s (can I get a shout-out from those who still know how to calculate THACO?!). It was around this table rolling dice, adventuring, and laughing that I first felt confident and the ability to "come out of my shell" (after a dexterity check, of course). The guys with whom I played accepted me and we all became friends on the journey of real life as we journeyed together in imaginary lands. Gaming was a "safe place" for me in an otherwise confusing and overwhelming social world.

If we are honest with ourselves, we gamers tend to be a bit on the eccentric side. Many of us struggle to "find ourselves" in mainstream society: we don't typically like conversations about sports, the weather, or the latest political developments. That's ok. It's who we are. I contend that, for many of us, gaming has provided a vital social venue for meeting new people, cultivating friendships, and developing a host of memories. So, where am I going with all this? I'm glad you asked...

I would like to issue a challenge to you this holiday season: Invite someone outside your current social circle into your home for an evening of games and fellowship. Find someone who could use a friend: that person at work who keeps to themselves, the couple down the street with an autistic child, the student at your school that has no friends, the family that recently moved into your neighborhood, etc. (you probably already have someone coming to mind now). Have them over, break out a light, simple game or two (probably not the night for TI3 or Caylus), offer them a beverage or dessert, and just get to know them. Ask to hear their story.

You'll notice that this list has no items yet b/c I'm asking YOU to post the items with the game(s) you played with the people you invited and a brief story/summary of how the evening went. Or post a game/story of how gaming has changed your life. So, it's up to you guys to make this list a reality. I'm hoping to hear from as many of you as are willing to accept this challenge and share your stories.

Let's get outside our comfort zones this holiday season, extend an invitation, and give of ourselves with the gifts of hospitality, gaming, and friendship. if nothing else, consider it a way to return the favor of what the gaming community has meant to you. I suspect that you will find this experience to be far more rewarding than getting that favorite game on your Wishlist for Christmas. And you never know the potential impact you might have on someone in your corner of the world.

Okay, that's all, folks. I leave the rest in your hands. Happy holiday gaming, my friends!!
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