2021 has been a great year for games. Last year’s experiences have taught me many things, but I have learned one thing in particular when it comes to gaming. I always knew that games were good for the mind and the soul. This past year I have experienced that games can help heal a heart. Almost a year ago my mother lost her husband to a heart attack. As anyone would expect, her path these last ten months have been filled with many ups and downs; mostly downs. The grieving process can be a complicated one and, of course, isn’t the same for everyone. Feeling powerless to help someone going through one of the most trying times of her life has not been easy and I have often found myself pondering how to help her. To my surprise, about three months ago, she asked me if she could start coming over once every two weeks to play games with me and the kids. Let me say this, my mother is not a gamer in any way. You can imagine my surprise and excitement when she first mentioned this in one of our many conversations, and of course I was more than happy to make it happen.
I went home and mentioned this to my kids, and the level of their enthusiasm went through the roof. They started planning which games they were going to introduce to her, and I quickly had to remind them that Grandma doesn’t really play games. I convinced them that we needed to start simple (but not too simple) to ease her into the amazing world and variety of board games. On the first week that she came over for games, we decided to play the DC Deck Building Game, or as my kids call it, “The Super-Hero Game”. Now my mom’s idea of a game is something more along the lines of Candy Land. Nothing against Candy Land, but I haven’t owned a copy of it since my last child turned five. She had never even heard of the concept of a deck building game, so I figured that the DC Deck Building Game, being one of the easier deck builders to learn, was a great place to begin.
It was fun to watch my kids teach their grandmother how to play one of their favorite games. By the end of the first game, she had grasped the concept and seemed to be more comfortable and relaxed for the second time through. It was incredible to watch my mother, whom I had rarely seen smile over the previous seven months, to not only be smiling, but laughing as the kids joked with her, and she completely lost it when she saw Carson’s, my oldest son, angry face when we informed him that he wasn’t allowed to cheat. We played “The Super-Hero Game” followed by Dixit and two weeks later we played The Quacks of Quedlinburg. We had an incredibly enjoyable time and created some fun and lasting memories.
We have had several more game nights with her which have all been equally enjoyable. To see how playing games with those you love the most can be more than just a fun time, but can begin to heal a broken heart, is without a doubt one of my most cherished gaming experiences of my life. It has made me realize that the gaming world in many ways is a hidden world to many individuals and should be shared with others as often as we can. You never know what it can do for people.