I'm an 80's baby (1982 to be exact). I grew up with video games. My first system was the Atari 2600. :) A classic, I know. As I got older, I enjoyed the latest and greatest systems and my love for video games never weakened. My Mom working at Toys 'R' Us for 25+ years hasn't hurt either :). Granted, in the past 5-6 years, I grew really tired of "the latest and greatest". Nothing sticks anymore in that world. Excellent gaming systems and games became hard to come by and forgotten very quickly. Console games rely too heavily on the internet now, with updates galore and pushing online multiplayer play (which has never enticed me and drives me crazy). When I have time to play a video game, I don't want to wait 10-min for the game to "update"... grrrr! I just want to pop the game in and play!!
I grew tired of it. After Nintendo (quickly) canned the WiiU, which I still believe is a great system, I said "enough's enough". The best games and systems (to me) are the old ones. My PS2 is still going strong from high school...and still awesome! I vowed to go no further with "new" games/systems than my WiiU and PS3, and focus my attention on my PS2 system and backwards.
Enter modern tabletop gaming in my life; late 2019-start of 2020. As I moved through 2020, my excitement and interest has been completely hijacked by the tabletop world. It's not that I don't enjoy playing my video games sometimes still, but most of my energy is put onto the table now. When I'm looking online at places like the local Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji and I see some cheap video games that aren't in my collection, my first thought is no longer "oh, that's a decent price I should buy that", but has now turned into "well I could buy it, but if I do that's $10-$20 that could have been spent on a boardgame".
What modern boardgames have given me is a new outlet for entertainment, relaxation and learning / sense of accomplishment. I really enjoy medium-heavy weight games so the act of learning and teaching those games I've found really enjoyable and satisfying. It used to be when I wanted to relax, I would play a video game (after work, on a Saturday morning before the soccer game comes on etc...) Now, I see video games as fun and entertaining, but no where near as relaxing as a tabletop game. In the past it was "what video game am I in the mood for playing today?" Now my thought process is more; "Do I want to play a video game? or should I break out another game at the table?" :)
Being in the health field, I see the health benefits in tabletop gaming very clearly vs playing video games. I'm sure that subconsciously this is another draw for me:
- You're not staring into a screen (I prefer games with no digital aspect at all on my table)
- You're still immersed into "your own world" / "another world" like a video game can do for me
- You're using much more of your mind in tabletop gaming (learning, strategizing, remembering rules... even reading the rules and understanding them)
- You're using more of your senses
- You're interacting with others (when they're willing to play); laughing, teaching, talking and looking at them instead of staring into a phone, computer or tv screen
- It deepens the "relaxation effect" (in particular with solo play).
- It helps improve mindfulness and focusing on one single task. From unboxing and setting things up, to playing the game, to putting it away afterwards. The game is your focus the entire time (providing your phone is not beside you that is)
- For all these reasons, it can also help maintain/improve your mental health and well being
When I first dove into solo tabletop gaming, my wife would giggle (she still does sometimes) when she comes into the room and I'm immersed in a game that's taking up most of the table. She gets it though, and totally believes it's my "Zen" without a doubt. I always remind her that I could be sitting on the couch and starting into a screen playing video games.
I'll always enjoy my video games. And despite being in the health profession, I do believe video games are not "evil". They're like anything else; there's a way to find balance and enjoy them without over-doing it. However, if someone ever says which hobby would you choose as the best to introduce someone to, it would 100% (now) be tabletop gaming first and foremost! :) And for many reasons, I believe tabletop gaming is a healthy hobby as well. :)