Chaz Marler from Pair Of Dice Paradise here with the next installment in my Meeples For Sheepish Peoples series, discussing the social activity of board games in the lives of people who aren’t necessarily socially outgoing.
Last time, I mentioned a potential way of reducing social anxiety by switching your role from being a board game event attendee to a host. Event hosts have some pretty big shoes to fill. But don't let your newfound footwear prevent you from putting yourself in other people's shoes.
Here's why: a lot of my social anxiety is just a big self confidence game. Some days I feel pretty deflated, but other days I’m full of courage and I feel like I could take on any social situation. Those are usually the days that I can get up the gumption for gaming with people I don't know.
My friendly local game shop hosts weekly gaming nights. They have a large library of board games you can play, and they also encourage people to bring their own games too. The first time I attended one of their open gaming events, not wanting to show up empty-handed, I took along my copy of Jamaica, a game that a trio of top ten countdowners have often recommended as being an excellent choice in situations where gamers of many different experience levels meet to mingle.
Feeling full of confidence, I proudly entered the game shop, proclaimed that I was there for game night, and that I’d even brought one of my own to share. The store manager looked at me and replied, “Jamaica. That’s cute.”
Now, it may not have meant it in a derogatory way, but those two words took every gust of wind out of my sails. I might as well have brought Candy Land, the way I felt. Embarrassed, all I wanted to do was go home and never show my face there again.
That's why, when hosting, we need to remain cognizant of the fact that it probably took a lot of effort for those new faces at your game group to strike up the courage to even show up. Their impression of your group, and the board gaming hobby in general, may be as fragile as a balloon. It's imperative that we warm their welcome, because a careless tongue can be more piercing than any pin.