Updated: Dec 31, 2018
I've been playing games all my life. Like most families we'd settle down to play Monopoly or Cluedo or the odd game of Kerplunk when we wanted to play something quick.
Christmas Eve would be a game of Jenga and the stakes would be high. A mince pie for the winner and boasting glory for the rest of the evening.
Then, forward on a few years and I was introduced to the world of role playing games. The days of Heroquest had passed me by with cries of disbelief from my fellow gamers. Nowadays with the advent of new technology and time spent away from the table, I began to yearn for something more. A little more depth than a simple win or lose ending.
It was the start of a new era for me.
The game that cemented it all for me was Sheriff of Nottingham. A simple game and title you may think, however that's where the journey begins. Each player has to take turns being the Sheriff (therein lies the role aspect of role playing games) whilst the other opponent's take turns being the various villagers traders and townspeople who take their goods to the market square for selling. Now, in a group unit such as a family or a gaming group the players often know each other well and think they could tell when the other players were telling the truth. Poker is renowned for this. I am well aware I do not have a poker face. However, I have now played this with my son who is on the Autistic spectrum and from him would expect the concept of telling a lie to be impossible. He sees things in black or white with very little grey areas. And you know what, he has shown me greater depths of deception than other more accomplished mis-users of the truth. He may laugh when being stared at too much and have to look away but it just adds to the fun.
See, this game makes you analyse every facial expression and look for their ‘tell.' The micro expressions they call it. And yet somehow, the act of playing Sheriiff has allowed this young man to interact, imagine and tell near truths that we simply wouldn't have been able to teach and develop in everyday life in any other format.
Without such opportunities to role play, how can we change our identity or develop our interaction skills with the outer social world without a little fun? Let me tell you, putting into practice these social skills has helped us bond better as a family and provided much amusement at parties as an icebreaker. In these time where a lot our reality is online, a little face to time as a group focusing on a task can help build the bridges that help us feel connected.
That for me is what life is all about.