I used to have invisible friends when I was a kid. An only child, I would invite them to play boardgames with me. My parents knew I liked games, bought me games at Christmas and birthdays, but weren’t into playing them. So, my imaginary/invisible friends stepped in, and we’d have fun playing Clue, Life, Masterpiece, Aggravation, Trouble, and more. Sometimes I won, but not always. It wasn’t fun if I won all the time. Essentially, I played the games alone. I’d turn the board and adopt a different personality with different goals. I was into role-playing a game before I ever knew it was a genre.
I thought college was great. When I wasn’t in class, studying, or working, I would play games with other students … still friends with some of them, despite the intervening years and miles.
Conventions and game groups took over in my post-college years. Geeze, I loved gaming at conventions … boardgames, role-playing games. GAMES.
Covid sort of ruined all of that. But gamers are a resourceful group, and moved the fun online. I discovered Roll 20 and Discord, where I play a game with friends in Wisconsin, Canada and Chicagoland. And then I learned about Boardgamearena.com, where I play with folks from around the world.
I have replaced the imaginary friends of my childhood with intangible friends who I cherish spending time with. Craig has become a good buddy who with a tale of a rocking chair inspired a chunk of my upcoming Piper Blackwell book. Never met Craig in person. I have no idea what he looks like. I know he’s a great gamer, a pleasure to spend time with, that he lives where it is colder than I want to contemplate, and that he is kind to his kin and comrades.
I met Paula playing Stone Age on Boardgamearena.com. She’s a little younger than me, loves dogs, loves boardgames, and lives in Portugal near the sea. We exchanged Christmas cards, and she sent me postcards of the beautiful scenery, like the beach she goes to on weekends. Ahhhhhh …. heaven, it looks like. Warm, amazing. I can almost smell the salt in the air. She wrote: “Every morning I hug the sea and kiss the sun as I walk along the shore.”
I’ll take the intangible friends of my old years over the invisible friends of my childhood. And now I’m going to post this blog and see if Paula is online for a game of Azul or Luxor, or maybe that silly Martian Dice.