Learning to be silent when necessary is a virtue, but playing games silently is really hard! But that was my challenge this week, play a game without talking. For those who might not be aware, every week I take part in a Gamer Challenge that comes directly from that weeks page in the Board Game Calendar. So what game did I choose to silently play? Settlers of Catan.
Well, actually, I didn’t personally choose to play that. A challenge was issued, and a challenge was accepted. A good friend of mine, Mario, had been playing SoC at home with his fiancee and a mutual friend. He had won the last couple of games, and thus some smack talk was now being thrown around. He announced on our game groups page that he would “like to play someone more challenging“. We couldn’t let that stand, silent or not, challenge accepted!
As my gang arrived for the evening, I made it clear to each of them what my challenge was for this week. At which point most of them snickered and a few choice gestures were implemented on my behalf. So the first thing to do was to implement some ground rules: non verbal communication was OK, talking to people not playing the game about things outside of the game was OK (I’m the hostess, so when people asked questions like “Where are the plastic cups?”, I could answer), but in game talking was forbidden.
The first thing I should fess up to is that I took three years of American Sign Language in high school. Granted, my retention of it is on par with a five year old’s retention of such a subject, but I did remember a little (mostly swearing, and the alphabet). But this did give me a small leg up, as learning how to communicate in a non verbal manner is a skill, and you can do a lot with facial expressions and gestures. Secondly, before the game started, we worked out a few hand signals for types such as “sheep” and “wood”.
The game started and my lips were sealed. Of course this is the time that all of my friends choose to playfully poke fun at me (I can’t blame them, I would do the same), and except for some choice gestures, I was left with no way to retort. Ya gotta love good friends!
The gaming went pretty good. There were a few moments where what I was trying to communicate was lost in translation and took a few different attempts to convey my message, but on the whole the game functioned as normal. I did notice one interesting thing though, that I don’t think I could have realized any other way…
A lot of the time, when we game we are playing new games and I end up teaching the rules. But this also puts me in a position where I moderate the game. I help walk people through the steps of their turns, I make sure everyone gets their resources, and often help solve rule disputes. It’s a role that is important, and one I didn’t realize that I did to the extent that I do. However, being silent I was stripped of that usual position (which in a way was nice because I could just sit back and enjoy the game, rather than herding the gamer cats). But that position is one that is important to keep a game moving, and I was pleased to see that one of the other gamers at my table, Josh, took up that role. It wasn’t till I saw someone step into those shoes that I realized that is a role I typically take. Who knew that gaming challenges could be introspective!
In the end, I did not win, but I had a good time losing. However, I can happily say that Mario was also defeated, by his fiancee no less. She was pleased with herself, and I think all of us were pleased with her as well. If there was a gamer’s set of ten commandments one of them would surely be “thou shall not let a gamer’s ego get too big”, and she kept that commandment spectacularly by crushing her significant other.
So this week was a difficult one. I must say that I did have one slip up during the game, and answered “yes” verbally when I was asked if I had received my resources for the turn. When you are so use to answering in one fashion, changing that pattern is incredibly difficult. How did you do with this challenge this week? Any slip ups?
Next weeks challenge is an easy one for us: Play a game that was published within the last year. We have a lot to choose from for this one. If you don’t, perhaps it is time to visit your friendly local game store.
Until next time, Happy Gaming!
P.s. It is not too late to get in on a drawing to win a copy of Cards Against Humanity. Click here for details on how you can enter!