Gaming for Sanity (and a Laugh or Two)

Right now, checking Facebook and Twitter is truly a labor of love for my friends. I want to stay in touch with everybody, but the stuff coming through my feed is a lot to take in.

You probably heard the news but there’s a lot of shenanigans happening on Capitol Hill right now. And I mean serious shenanigans. I mean the kind of where the spoiled-brat kids aren’t just pouting on the playground over not getting their way, but the spoiled-brat kids are changing the rules of the playground games so everybody can be just as miserable as they are. It’s gotten so bad that even the upcoming season of The Deadliest Catch is being affected by it.

And it’s affecting craft breweries, so now, it’s personal.

But that’s not what this blogpost is about.

photo 2I’ve been (sorta) tight-lipped about my thoughts on all this because people are rallying on social networks, venting far more than I think I ever could. What has been hard to stomach is how this bad behavior from our elected officials (remember, we put them in these offices…) has directly affected friends of Pip’s and mine, not just in the D.C. Metro area but across the country. Two such friends, Chooch and Viv, came over Sunday night for dinner and “grown-up” time. What we got was a lot more than any of us could have expected.

After the Boom hit bed, we sat around and vented a bit. It was needed, particularly after Van Hollen’s clip went live yesterday; but even a venting over the past few weeks wa smore than warranted, it was not how I wanted the evening to end. Fortunately, what Chooch and Viv brought with them was better than a bottle of wine or a four-pack of Dogfish Beer. They had brought with them a bag of games.

The games were varied, but one I knew on first glance — Cards Against Humanity. If you’re not familiar with this game, here are three things you need to keep in mind about it:

  1. The more people playing, the wackier it is.
  2. If you are easily offended, you will want to brace yourself.
  3. No one is safe.

As far as gameplay, you have two kinds of cards: Questions (black) and Answers (white). The questions are pretty “pedestrian” in nature, a bit like the classic game show of the 70’s — Match Game — where questions would be open-ended, allowing a player to play one or two of their answer cards. Sounds pretty safe so far, right?

It’s when you get to the Answers cards where you spiral down to the deepest, darkest depths of your soul. Here’s just a few of the answers you’ll find:

  • Power.
  • Keanu Reeves.
  • A fetus.
  • Another goddamn vampire movie.
  • Jerking off into a pool of children’s tears.

As you can see, the answers range from the random to the explicit to “Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, did you just go there?!” (Please refer to #3 of “Three things you need to know”…) So if the question is “What left that stain on my couch?” you can see just how twisted and inappropriate this game can get.

What occurred straight out of the box was the absurd, the disgraceful, and the inconceivable. What also happened during gameplay was laughter. Glorious, uninhibited,  therapeutic laughter. There were rounds when I snorted. There were rounds that my eyes ached. There were rounds I thought I was going to hyperventilate. And in most of the cases, it wasn’t the shocking answers that got me, but the idiotic and slightly puerile that had me on the floor.

Then, somewhere in the point of the evening, I had to ask myself “How long has it been since I’ve laughed like this?” Looking at everyone else, it dawned on me that in playing Cards Against Humanity, you really don’t play this game to win. You’re sitting around a table with friends, laughing yourself silly. Pretty much, you are winning from the first round to the last. That’s what we were doing last night, and by its end we were all tired but lighter, perhaps the lightest we have felt in a long time.

And then Pip said, “It’s going to be okay.” All four of us believed that, and still do.

photo 1Whether you are playing something as inappropriate as Cards Against Humanity, or something more thoughtful like Dixit (one we were introduced to), or a game of strategy like Ticket to Ride (one we want to introduce to Chooch and Viv), find the time to game. Yes, we were tweeting and posting photos from the various games we were playing, but we were for the most part unplugged, connecting with each other, and allowing ourselves some time to relax.

And in the case of Cards Against Humanity, just laugh the stress away.

It’s not a bad thing, taking a little bit of time out of the week with friends or family to enjoy a night off the grid, getting social around a game you know or one you’ve wanted to get to know. Does it solve the problems? No. Gaming does give you a hard reminder of what truly matters, and what will get you through harder times.

So game on, everybody. Looking at everything falling down around us, perhaps a timeout to game is in order. We have definitely earned it.

6 thoughts on “Gaming for Sanity (and a Laugh or Two)

  1. I play an on-line version of CAH sometimes. http://pyz.socialgamer.net/game.jsp When I host games (a couple of times a month), I always use the same password for my game’s (under Arkle’s Game); copperboom. More frequently though I play in games hosted by a woman who goes by the handle Dodger of Zion. I’m sure if the timing ever worked out she’d be more than willing to let me invite you and Pip. 🙂 We often talk to each other over Skype for such games and there’s always at least 5 people.

  2. So, did you happen to listen to the Podcasters against Humanity episode from my Balticon 47 Wrap up? Only panel I have seen where we got the audience to cheer in favor of chunks of dead prostitute. Seriously Not Safe for Work, but also seriously funny.

    Doc

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