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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

E-mail Monith Ilavarasan

About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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Bored Games

Uploaded: Jun 23, 2022
I spend most of my waking hours in front of a screen. My job pushes me to be on a laptop all day either on video calls with fellow teammates or heads down getting some work done. I look back fondly on my childhood where I would go weeks without looking at a screen. In the middle of a workday I catch myself fantasizing about a future in which I can return to that magical place.

It’s crazy to stop and think about how much screen time dominates our everyday life. I get notifications from Apple on a weekly basis that lets me know how much time I spend daily on my devices. On average it’s close to nine hours across both my work & personal laptops per day. I spend an average of 45 minutes a day across my work & personal phone. On top of that I probably watch about thirty minutes of TV at the end of the day to unwind.

When I was growing up I used to read all the time, but ever since I entered the workforce around a decade ago my reading slowed down considerably. I noticed this isn’t unique to people my age. Much of my parent’s time is taken up on screens as well, whether it’s sending memes on their WhatsApp chats or watching the latest Netflix blockbuster.

One thing that my partner and I have started to do is intentionally carve out time where we commit to being present to each other. This became especially true during the pandemic, when it was easy to get lost in a sea of content sitting silently next to each other on the couch. We pledged to spend the weekends as screen free as possible, and replacing all that time with either reading or some form of activity outside.

Building on this, we noticed one form of social activity that we could do with each other, friends and family that involved us all being present with each other. That activity was good old fashioned board games.

The ecosystem of board games has exploded since I was a child. Gone are the days of playing a single endless game of Monopoly for the entire summer or flipping the Risk board out of frustration.

The past few years have seen a huge rise in what are called “European style” board games or “Eurogames”. While American style board games typically focus on luck, conflict & drama, Eurogames have a different focus. These games have low randomness, incentivize social play, and have more complex game mechanics.

These games can be competitive and have one winner, or they can be focused on an entire group of people working together to achieve a single objective. Examples of these games include the ornithologist developed Wingspan, the steampunk post apocalyptic resource management game Scythe, and the train track building Ticket to Ride.

Since myself, friends, and family have re-discovered board games, they’ve been an integral part of hanging out. Nowadays when we visit family or have friends over, we always carve out some time to get at least one session in. In fact, trying out new board games has become the key focus of our friends get togethers.

It’s been a great way to get people in the same room focused on something other than their phones. If the only memories you have of board games are throwing the Parcheesi board at your younger brother after a particularly unlucky roll, I encourage you to revisit this world and discover something new.

In fact, the whole reason my partner and I met was a chance invite to a group game night through some mutual friends. They are a great way to unplug, connect with people that you are close with, and meet new people you might fall in love with.
What is it worth to you?


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