Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Growing up one of my favorite Disney Channel Original Movies was Brink. This post doesn’t have much to do with the movie other than one single line. Brink, the main character, was in a roller blading competition. During a break his little sister gave him some advice which was, “Skate better.” Sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? Brink knew that’s what he had to do. But, due to everything going on in his world he wasn’t focused on skating better. It’s that phrase that has stuck with me for 15+ years.
What does this have to do with board games you ask? Well I think it could apply to board games in two ways. One way is to “play better”. Just play better and you’ll probably win more. Don’t settle for complaining that a game is too hard for you, but rather play it more and get better before you give your judgment. However, it’s the second application of this phrase that I want to focus on.
The way in which this phrase has stuck with me over the years is to actually “be better”. In my mind if I want to perform/act/skate better I have to focus on what is driving my performance/actions/skating. It doesn’t just happen. Our actions don’t change if we don’t have a change of heart, mind, and perception. Empathy isn’t easy. Love isn’t easy. Respect isn’t easy. Disagreeing isn’t easy. Having unmet expectations isn’t easy. Life in which we interact with other people isn’t easy, but we have to be okay with that if we are to enjoy and contribute to this fantastic hobby in a positive way. We have to be okay with accepting difficulties and being constantly aware that what we say or do matters tremendously. This isn’t just a playground principle that we leave behind when entering adulthood.
I’m not saying keep your opinions to yourselves, though sometimes that is the best choice. I love box sleeves and hate card sleeves. I am a Christian and I don’t like to run. I love inserts and hate pickles. Druid City Games has taken the spot as my favorite publisher and I am not a big fan of Dreamworks when compared to Pixar. I look at the world through one lense while you may look through another. We have every right to express our opinions, but until this world is overtaken by robots remember that there is a person on the other end of your opinion. We must strive to be understanding and to be content in our discomfort. When I say I hate pickles I mean I’d drink my own urine before eating a pickle…seriously I’ve made that decision before. But, if I am forced to eat pickles I can still be content knowing there is so much more to life than my frustration in the moment. Get fed-up, get frustrated, but in those moments remember, “be better”. Tell the world you hate pickles, but do so in the right way. Tell that company you’re dissatisfied, but do so in the right way. Tell that customer your hands are tied, but do so in the right way. Tell that campaign backer you disagree with on wanting a box sleeve, but do so in the right way. Additionally, when you don’t get the response you were hoping for from another person, you can still make the decision to love them anyways.
Perhaps you are a designer or maybe a publisher. You might be an artist or a FLGS owner. Most of you are probably consumers or aspiring content creators like me. Whatever your role is in this hobby I simply want to encourage you to remember that we ought to “be better”. This hobby is so unique in that there is often times a direct line that flows through consumers, designers, publishers, artists, and content creators. This means that regardless of your role you are attached to that line and have an impact that goes deeper than your wallet. When it’s hard to put up with people, projects, campaigns, opinions, etc. let’s all be better. Encourage and love folks through your differences. Actively try to be a light in someone’s possibly dark day. When you fail at that, apologize. After all, if you’re reading this post odds are at least one person in your life has put up with you, your work, or your opinions. With that being the case remember that you may be the one single highlight in someone’s day and that’s not an opportunity I want to miss, do you?