I hope it goes without saying that, generally speaking, I try my hardest to be an ally for feminism (and all the other groups that get unfairly treated under the heel of the Hegemony that’s made to benefit people, well, like me). I do my best to check my privilege when I recognize a situation in which that privilege might be blinding me to the experiences of others, and I try damn hard to work towards creating a more inclusive and safe space in Gaming culture for others. This isn’t a case where you all pat me on the back- I just want to set this up before I go into the second part: Recognizing the problematic and totally sexist nature of this facade, I nonetheless relish the role of overprotective Big Brother. And I get to meet my sister’s new beau this Fourth of July weekend.
So, yes, I’m pretty excited.
I mean, it’s weird- I trust and respect my sister’s judgment, and firmly believe that it is completely her choice as to who she dates and for whatever reason she dates. I don’t belong in that equation, anywhere. I’ve told her as such, too- so I think she recognizes that I am supportive of her decisions for herself, whatever they might be…but at the same time, society is literally handing me an opportunity to enact a ritual in which someone else is seeking my approval. Sure, I don’t think my approval matters (or is important), and my personal opinion is that anyone my sister likes is someone I’d like anyways…but if such a thing is going to happen, why not take advantage of it?*
Well, lots of reasons, really.** Which is why, instead of challenging the new beau to jogging or how far they can throw a football (that’s a thing, right?), I’m going to be bringing along a series of board games to play, at my sister’s suggestion. I like this idea because board games provide the perfect opportunity to really get to know someone. They’re competitive, giving you a chance to see what someone else (anyone else, not just prospective beaus of my sister) is like under pressure. Many of the board games I thought of can also be team-based, so one can see how someone else plays when their success is dependent on others.
Plunging into this quest has earned me numerous suggestions and caveats from more-experienced board gamers- the most common being that Diplomacy is by no means and under any circumstances the game –do you hear me, Tim? Nod your head so that I know you understand what I am telling you– set before the table, no matter how viciously I want to test the mettle of this person. Thus, disarmed of the nuclear option, I am left to feel him out based off of the other games left around my house, which is something of a challenge considering the games I typically own are meant for joyous entertainment and not clear measurements of someone’s personality.
So here is what I have managed to cobble together:
Bruno Faidutti‘s Mascarade – This game is just wacky upon wacky. Players play alone, but most players will recognize early on that it is virtually impossible to keep a handle on the information needed in order to play the game (while still being able to play the game). How does someone react when they aren’t in complete control of the information they have? Are they risk takers, or do they want to spend their turns double-checking which card they have?
The Resistance: Avalon – This game encourages backstabbing and lying, so needless to say it must be used in any proper assessment of another person. Yet unlike Diplomacy, which allows for measurements of the same personality traits, Avalon usually won’t end in someone trying to set the board on fire. Instead, players are given secret identities, good and evil, forcing some of them to lie, yes, but nonetheless give the veneer of working together in a way that Diplomacy ultimately rips to shreds. If someone is able to play for the forces of Evil without me being able to tell, then I will know not to trust them with anything, because wow, what a poker face.
Netrunner – Because Netrunner must be spread to the masses. I mean, sure, there’s probably some really genuine things you can tell from someone when you play them in Netrunner -such as not to trust them if they play Jinteki- but I must admit that my main purpose here is to ensnare more people in the glory of Netrunner.
Ladies and Gentlemen – Okay, so, this game is just perfect. Players play in teams of two- one playing a lady, the other a gentleman, both skewering Victorian sensibilities. Gentlemen play at a really wonky version of the stockmarket, while the Ladies are attempting to purchase (with funds from their husbands) the best looking dress so that they will be the best dressed for a Ball held at the end of the game. Key point here, though: there is an optional rule I’d like to use called “Gossip cards,” which can diminish a Lady’s points at the end of the game. You can hand these cards to any player you wish, but you must accompany it with a genuine insult- “What a generous dress for your servant, dear…” or things of that nature. How better to find out how cruel someone is than to hand them the ability to be as cruel as they wish and be rewarded for it?
So that’s it for now. If you’ll all pardon, I need to finish packing and be off before the Overlords realize I’m gone. If they ask, tell them I’m off somewhere getting yarn and setting objects near the edges of tables- they seem to like that. TA!
* Hold Up! Go back and read the next sentence.
** Like the fact that it’s the reenactment of rituals like that which give them their weight and meaning, and I’d really rather not encourage that sorta’ Patriarchy stuff, even ironically. But I’m still going to see about making him sit in the back seat with me while I glare at him, because that’s funny no matter the context. [OVERLORDS: NO. NO, ITS IS CREEPY, AND ITS SHOULD KNOW BETTER.]