For the past few years, my friends and I have been getting together on Friday nights to hang out. What we’ve done those nights has changed over time, but it seems to always be referred to as “gaming.”
When I started hanging out on Fridays, it actually was a gaming group. We played a variety of tabletop RPGs, like Dungeons & Dragons, Rifts, and Deadlands. I even ran a game or two myself (I wasn’t great at it). We usually had two games running at a time, on alternate weeks, so that everyone could play at least a little bit (and no one got stuck running things all the time).
But over time, things inevitably changed. I started grad school, so ended the game I was running due to time concerns. Other games ended, but we continued hanging out. Eventually, there wasn’t any gaming going on at “gaming nights” at all. Funny YouTube videos, in what had started out as a way to pass the time until everyone showed up and/or dinner was ready, eventually took over the entire evening. This was occasionally punctuated with “bad movies from Netflix,” which were suitably mocked.
The end result of this, however, was less group cohesion: it wasn’t uncommon for some members to bury their nose in a book or laptop, and while a lot of the things we watched were amusing, nights tended to drag.
But lately, we’ve actually started gaming at “gaming night” again! While a part of me still misses the RPG days of old, our group (with ever-shifting membership, of course) has re-discovered the joys of board and card games. Cards Against Humanity has made an appearance to remind us just how horrible and diseased in the head we all are. Games like Munchkin scratch some of the fantasy RPG itch, while Fluxx always provides a unique experience. We’ve even started getting into some of the complicated, “roleplaying-lite” board games like Eldritch Horror. These games do a good job of feeling long and involved, but are still relatively self-contained.
So while “gaming” has changed over time, it’s always been a fun way to pass the time with friends. I am glad that we’ve started actually gaming again, though. It was getting a bit awkward calling “strange YouTube and bad Netflix night” “gaming,” but it did roll off the tongue better.
P.S.: You should totally check out Tabletop.