Posted in Board Games

Giving Thanks in 2020

I didn’t think our Worm Month would actually last a month, but here I am, returning 35 days later. There’s no new ways to comment on a global pandemic, and the warping effect it has on time, energy, and life. We’ve seen a substantial amount of change here at the Hex. The latest change is nicknaming us “the Hex” in the last sentence. We always knew our regular board game meet-ups kept us close. During this ongoing pandemic, those (virtual) gatherings have kept us sane. I’m thankful in the time we gained with each other this year.

As a result of playing more games, I found myself diving deeper into the hobby. There was an abundant expression of support as the pandemic began and conventions were canceled. Many creators believed it to be their duty to work harder to produce content that would help support the community. I am grateful for their energy and generosity that helped make those first uncertain months feel engaging.

Afte we added the endless Tabletop Simulator shelves to our virtual collection, we learned a LOT more games, sometimes three or more a week. I don’t think this would have been feasible without Watch it Played, Jon Gets Games, GameNight, and the many other content creators who serve the community with their tutorials, insights, and game play. I’m thankful that they make games more inviting by helping to explain rules.

Once you know the rules, there’s still the matter of getting the game to the table, and sharing that table with others. I think most people want to believe that everyone is welcome at table, but the longevity and durability of systemic racism show a more complicated reality. As a black woman in a hobby filled with white men, this is the reason I’ve remained wary of identifying myself. Just like in my day-to-day life, I was concerned my voice or legitimacy as a member of the community would be diminished by my race.

Black Lives Matter was not a new movement, but it reached a new level of awareness and impact this summer in America. More broadly than I can remember, I noticed companies and community leaving no doubt or ambiguity on the matter of equality. Sometimes this was expressed as a single statement, and other times it was declared an ongoing commitment. As for the board gaming hobby, I am so thankful for how the community responded.

I am thankful for Board Game Geek, who made a public statement in support of Black Lives Matter on their website, and fiercely moderated the comments that followed. As a major hub for the community, their diligence is supportive and encouraging.

I am thankful for Shut Up and Sit Down for their history of denouncing racism and sexism in our hobby. Collectively, they have a significant voice in the community, and they have routinely advocated for inclusion and historical education in board gaming. This summer, they donated the revenue from a month of their Twitch streams to support equality charities such as the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

I am thankful for Richard “Rahdo” Ham, who continues to wear his Black Lives Matter shirts in his videos. His commitment is a loving reminder that systemic racism is not solved with one post or comment – it’s ongoing work that requires consistency.

I am thankful for The Dice Tower for reinforcing through their choice of contributors and through their words that everyone is welcome at the gaming table. Welcoming diverse views helps to grow and sustain our hobby, and the Dice Tower includes and supports a range of voices.

I am thankful for Our Family Plays Games, who have willingly stepped forward to advocate for representation in our hobby. Starla and Miklos “Mik” Fitch have candidly spoke about bringing their own games to conventions, in the event that no one wanted to play with them. By sharing their story, they are helping others understand how they can be better stewards of inclusion in their own gaming circles. I am grateful that Our Family Plays Games encourages all of us to see those we share the gaming table with as family, and to embrace the entire gaming community as extended family.

As for my immediate gaming family, we’re a core group of four: a married couple and a couple of friends. Each one of us has navigated significant life changes this year. Because we started playing virtually (and pandemic life freed up our schedules) we were able to play more than ever, which meant talking more frequently. We went from meeting once a week to meeting as often as three times a week. Sometimes we’re playing games, but most recently we’ve just been talking about work, swapping Instant Pot recipes, discussing news, and sharing reviews of what we’ve watched. I’m thankful that during this pandemic, we’ve grown closer though we’ve been apart.

And finally, I’m thankful for you. Thank you for taking the time visit our blog. I hope that some of these words have resonated with you, or at least inspired you to think about what you’re thankful for in your life. We’re so close to the end of a year that was so unexpected, and many people are feeling completely worn-out. Taking some time to reflect on gratitude has given me a renewed energy, and I hope it does the same for you.

With Gratitude,

Kellye

Kellye of Variant Hex in front of board game shelf, wearing an Our Family Plays Games hoodie designed by Beth Sobel

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