The Best Game EVER
This is something you won’t read from me often: As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m looking out over an ocean surrounded by friends. You might wonder why that kind of statement would be a rarity. After all, it’s not like it sounds unbelievable or anything – I didn’t try to convince anyone that I’ve met up with aliens or taken over a small country. But if you know me, you know that ocean and socializing aren’t words that come up in conversation for me often. Let me explain.
One: I do not live anywhere near the ocean. Lake Ontario is nice (not really) but it’s no Atlantic Ocean even on its best day. You know how when you think ‘ocean’ you think blue, frothy water with the scent of fresh, slightly briny, kelpy/organically rich breezes? Lake Ontario is more like a constantly moving cesspool that always smells like dead fish. Fun fact that is not a fact at all and is, in fact, just a rumour that I have never attempted to validate or quash: During his expedition into the Great Lakes water system, Jacques Cousteau said it was so filthy that he’d never be back.
Two: I’m not usually surrounded by friends – I’m not even typically in close proximity of them. Being the anti-socialite that I am, I tend not to be in the company of anyone, but for those awful hours between eight and five on Monday to Friday, and even then I have my own office. But it’s not just a matter of me shirking my responsibilities as a viable member of our society that keeps me secluded, because in truth I love my friends, and I’d love to see more of them in person. Unfortunately, my closest friends and I live thousands of miles away from each other. In one case we live thousands and thousands of miles away from each other. So once a year, when we can, we get together someplace ‘purty’ and do absolutely nothing in each other’s company for a week or so.
Well… most of us do. Some of us write blog posts.
But hey, you all are my friends too. I can’t forsake one for the benefit of another.
(Now I sound like my mother. Did anyone else have a mother that lived under that premise to a fault? The kind that would quite literally count jelly beans so that one kid couldn’t say that they got more than the other? May the gods bless moms.)
Anyways, I’m rambling.
So last time I was scrambling for an idea to write about, I sent out a call on social media to all my online friends for blog topics. My request was granted quite nicely. Not only did I get a reply that I could use, I kept a list of questions that I could come back to for future posts. Today’s topic of discussion comes from my buddy, Frost (aka Jack Frost, aka killfrost, aka my own personal designation, Frosty) who wanted to know, “Not being competitive do you have any games you still love to play?”
This was a perfect subject to touch on right now because one thing my gaggle of beach-buddy friends like to do is play group games. Board games, table-top games, card games: whatever your preferred term of endearment for these atrocious divorce-waiting-to-happen, disaster-waiting-to-unfold, friendship-crippling moments of “fun,” these folks love them all. Me, not so much.
As a matter of fact, it was this time last year when I wrote another post on that exact topic. It may have even been titled “Why I hate games.” It’s a strong term, hate, but yes, I was using it in proper context. I really, really, really dislike playing games with a group.
However, to save everyone from reading that topic again, I won’t rehash why I dislike games, I’ll just go ahead and answer Frosty’s question. Yes, there is a game that I do like playing.
Spider Solitaire. Four suits.
How’s that for exciting, hmm?
I swear there’s a reasonable explanation for this that goes beyond the, ‘I can play it by myself’ reasoning. Yes, I don’t feel any competition when I play it (which is one of the biggest faults I find in playing board games. I don’t like people in general when they’re being competitive and I think that one of the biggest problems facing our world today is the fact that people have forgotten tribe-mentality and fallen into the kind of ‘me-me-me!’ attitude that board games foster. Even team games annoy me because they come down to an ‘us vs. them’ way of thinking that is just a wider variation of ‘me-me-me!’ that happens to encompass another person or two) and yes, the only person keeping score is me. But there’s more to my game preference than just my disdain over the supposed benefits of competition. It’s the ability to manage order from chaos.
Big expectations from a simple little game, I know.
However, if you Google “the benefits of playing a game with yourself” (and I doubt I have to tell you to remember to include “a game” in that search) you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of researched studies that show how games like Spider Solitaire are beneficial to the brain. They’re the mental equivalent of the physical benefits of exercise—a way to flex the muscle of our mind and make it stronger. Did you know that there are even studies that strongly suggest it is in a company’s best interest to not remove games like Solitaire from work stations? In plain and simple English: playing games like Spider Solitaire make a person more focussed and alert, which means the few moments an employee takes during the day to play is actually making the employee more efficient and capable. Tell that to HR next time you get called in to discuss your work ethic.
I also think a lot of us have a touch of compulsion in our nature. We like to put the jelly beans in order by colour, and the Lego in their compartments by shape. We like to alphabetize or chronologically organize our collections. We like the forks to rest with the forks, the knives to lie with the knives, and the coffee spoons and the soup spoons to keep to their own partitions. I won’t call it OCD because I think that term gets overused by the people that don’t truly suffer with the affliction, but it is a preference for order. For a lot of people ordered items make life easier in the long run. Practising our ability to ‘order’ makes the process easier and smoother to do in everyday living.
That’s what Spider Solitaire does to my brain. It gets me thinking in terms of patterns and flow. It makes me remember what I’ve seen, and what I haven’t seen, and helps me make strategic decisions based on both foreknowledge and precognition. Which is why, when I’m stuck in a novel or I have six different sub-plots battling their way into the same story, I pop open the game and work through a couple of hands. Hearts on hearts and spades on spades. Jumbled into organized. Chaos to order.
And at the end of the day, when I turn off the game and walk away from the laptop, everyone is still talking to one another. 😉
How about you? Do you brain games? Do you prefer games that you can play with yourself? Or do you despise games like that and prefer a good old-fashioned round of Monopoly with three of your nearest and dearest?
I’d love to hear from you…
Oh, and Frost? On the whole “… and pie,” part of your question? Who even eats pie?! *shudders*
Love you all! Thanks for reading!
AF Henley <3
(This used to be pirate ship. We are certain of it.)
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love- my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since. Henley’s newest release, Wolf, WY hit the market on October 21st and is now available at your favourite online book retailer. Check it out on Amazon, or directly through LT3 Press. Wolf, en Garde, the second novel in the Wolf series will be released on May 18, 2016 and is now available for pre-order at a special pre-release savings of 15% off.
For more information, please stop by for a visit at www.afhenley.com