October's Topic

Family! Games! Games with Family!

In my July round table post I stated that I've always contextualized gaming as a social activity, even or perhaps particularly when it comes to video games. Much of that feeling comes immediately from the fact that I have a large extended family.

One of the earliest memories that I have of a big family holiday, probably Thanksgiving [1], included a card table set up somewhat centrally in the small den of my grandparents' home [2] with a jigsaw puzzle. It was in the way of mobility around the house and it subtly encouraged everyone to glance at it from time to time, and to contribute a piece whenever one might be found. I don't remember much more than that, or even if I ever saw that particular puzzle finished. I just remember a sense of the event being almost richer just by having that shared puzzle. (I was taught several times over that jigsaw puzzles are always more interesting as a social activity.)

There are many memories of other holidays and other games. Easter as a holiday, when you are young, is almost solely about the hide-and-seek competition for sweets.

But videogames have not been exempt: my first experience with a NES was when one of my (many) cousins would bring his for the holidays. Eventually I was the one bringing a NES around for the holidays. My grandfather [3] had a PC before I had one personally, and games were obviously a common activity upon it (and at times, them). Games would be requested as gifts and it was important to show off your haul of games to family, often debating which one to start with and play together. Even Gameboys would be passed around or gathered around for communal play.

Outside of the holidays, with my three siblings, games would always be important in passing time or solving disputes or just having fun, and more often than not games would be rejected or ignored if they couldn't be shared.

It's just about time to pick the games that I want for gifts come the holidays. I'm already salivating with dreams of Thanksgiving feasts to come, and maybe a good game or two with my family.

[1]American Thanksgiving, for those reading this internationally.
[2]Maternal grandparents, for those curious or might feel it has bearing on the story, which I don't believe it does.
[3]Maternal again. To balance: I remember many losses in Poker to my late paternal grandfather.