Active players, so far in this Player Character Spotlight series we’ve talked to people who have been gamers for a while. People who have made gaming a huge part of their lives and consider it part of who they are. But everyone has to start somewhere! Today we focus on someone who is fairly new to gaming. Morgan talks to us about her brief time in the gaming world, and how finding new ways to play both spikes her anxiety and helps her overcome it. It’s a wonderful reminder to reach out to people and invite them into this magnificent world of games.
RP: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into the gaming hobby?
MM: My name is Morgan, I work as a casting coordinator at a commercial casting company in New York City. I initially got into gaming because some friends of mine LOVED board games, but they had never really been my thing. To be fair, the only games I had really been exposed to were the standards: Clue, Monopoly, Life, etc. I don’t exactly remember the first game my friends and I all played together, but I remember the first one that piqued my interest: Pandemic. Fighting the zombie virus (I know it’s not really the zombie virus but that’s what they told me to get me into it) as my character traveled the globe! All of a sudden, I had risks, a story, goals! Board games were cool, and I was hooked.
RP: Do you wish you had gotten into gaming earlier or was that the right time?
MM: I started playing games when I was about 24. In some ways I think it was both too late, and the perfect time for me. Too late in the sense that if I had started gaming earlier in life, I may have had an easier time finding “my people,” but to be honest I wouldn’t have had the patience or brainpower to grasp some games. But at 24 I had more sense of self and was able to hold my own.
RP: What's your best memory around the gaming table?
MM: I’m cheating because there are two. One of the first games I recall being introduced to was Once Upon a Time. My friend was desperately trying to take over the storytelling. But he kept asking me repeatedly about the new Shakira video, “ya know the one where she is dancing in the cage, what IS that song called?” I then proclaimed, “oh she-wolf” and all of a sudden, he threw his card down on the table, “and just then a WOLF blocked the path.” I was simultaneously impressed and furious.
The other best memory is whenever my friends and I give voices to our Betrayal at House on the Hill characters. Hearing a thick Russian accent as Madame Zostra, Professor Longfellow having a Scottish brogue, even one player determining that Ox can only “turn left,” in a big oafish voice. All some of my best memories.
RP: It sounds like who you play with is just as important as what you play. Do you agree?
MM: I wholeheartedly agree. It’s important that whatever you’re playing, you have a group that is supportive of you. That sounds silly, but some games have some complex rules in place, and it can take a while to get them. If you’re not around a group you feel at ease with, AND you’re dealing with complicated gameplay? I feel like that could ruin someone’s fun.
RP: The doesn’t sound silly at all! That makes a lot of sense. It’s hard to learn a new game if you’re made to feel stupid. Are there any specific types of games you look to play or collect?
MM: The games I tend to play definitely fall into the horror category. My collection is small but dominated by zombies, ghosts, psychics, and a certain Vampire Slayer. My favorite game, always and forever, will be Betrayal House on the Hill. I LOVE it! I also bought the expansion pack, Widow’s Walk as soon as I could find it. This game feels like it was 100% MADE for me. I finally get to act out my fantasies of exploring an old, decrepit haunted house...yes really that is a fantasy of mine.
RP: How do you find people to play with?
MM: I have a group I know that whenever I see I can play with, but they are unfortunately scattered all along the east coast. As I’ve made more friends in the city, I strive to possibly do a “board game” day but I have this fear that I won’t understand game instructions and rules, so I tend to avoid new things. It’s a bad habit that I want to try to shatter. I think ultimately, I just need to take a plunge.
RP: I mean it’s easy to say that, but it’s definitely intimidating to actually do! But I feel like if you took that plunge you wouldn’t regret it. Do you have any plans to expand your gaming?
MM: At this point in my life, no. If we’re being honest, I suffered a big bout of depression in the last half of 2018 and have been using 2019 to get my mental health back under control. As my mental health grows steadier, I have been trying to return to things that bring me joy. Eventually, this will be games and finding a group who I feel comfortable with to play.
RP: Have you considered online play at all?
MM: It is something that I need to look into. There are always questions about online play that stop me. “Will it cost money? Will I find people to play with? If it does cost money, is it worth it?” etc. I keep letting those questions stop me and I ultimately need to just take the plunge. Stop being so afraid. I already conquered gaming in life, that is way harder than the internet!
RP: Yeah! Have you attended any game conventions/do you plan on attending any?
MM: I haven’t had the opportunity! The living costs of NYC are so high that I haven’t allowed myself to dream of going to conventions. Additionally, I have the worry that as a new gamer I wouldn’t be accepted at a con. People may find me tiresome or irksome with my questions and lack of knowledge. It is a feat I would not want to undergo alone.
RP: Do you think it’s easier for new, inexperienced, or anxious gamers to be invited in, rather than trying to join in?
MM: Absolutely. Given the time and place, I would definitely be more receptive to an invitation rather than trying to start something myself. I’m still battling that “No one wants me around,” anxiety. So my brain can’t fight back too much if I’m given the invite.
RP: It’s a reminder to all of us to be inclusive and understanding of new players. Last question, as someone new to gaming, do you have any advice for people looking to get started?
MM: My biggest advice is one I follow: find a game you find interesting. I believe it will make you 10 times more willing to sit there, listen, and learn, if you are passionate about the gameplay. Once you find the game that is perfect for you, you’re hooked. Don’t give up games all together after a few duds.
Also, play with people who are patient and understanding. I would not have gotten into games as much as I did if it hadn’t been for my friends who walked me through the rules and gameplay every step of the way. I now have a small collection of games, but each one I love and look forward to pulling out and playing when given the chance.
Active players, how did you start your gaming journey? Does Morgan’s story feel familiar to you? How do you invite new people to the table?