In case you haven’t heard, it’s not exactly “cool” to be a gamer. Most people get a flash to a Big Bang Theory clip in which gaming was the punchline or conjure an image of a warped, 40-year-old fat man trolling the Internet in his mom’s basement.
We find our havens amongst our own via digital communities, conventions, or gaming meetups. I live by a fabulous place called Family Time Games. Apart from being a fully stocked game store, they host open game play during their hours for free. There are beverages and merchandise to buy, and of course, donations aren’t frowned upon; however, the owners make it very clear that it’s about the family time and the connection that games can bring between people. I love the atmosphere.
In some families it’s cards and in others it’s Monopoly or Risk, but in many more families it has grown to Catan, Cosmic Encounters, Puerto Rico, Code Names, and countless others. Even with gaming’s growing popularity, female gamers still lack community in many ways and the subculture can often be a boys’ club where we are not taken seriously or role-playing games end with four guys gang-raping your character. (You know, because that’s what their character would do. *rolls eyes*)
Family Time Games helps to bridge that gap through hosting a monthly ladies’ night, potluck style. I have been wanting to attend for a couple of months, and this month I actually did. No regrets.
I was a bit apprehensive at first. I mean, let’s get real. If you know that gamers aren’t “cool” to begin with and you know that sometimes ladies get mean when you put us in groups, it doesn’t exactly sound like the way to spend your evening. Especially when you have no one to go with! I have tons of other options to be socially awkward. But I told myself that I was enough, and I would have fun. Even if I didn’t, I’m an adult and can leave. But then there was the potluck dilemma.
Potluck is a powerful word of many connotations. People get serious about their potlucks. People lose friends over potlucks. I had to decide what I was going to bring to my ladies’ night debut. I should add that I’ve never attended a ladies’ night for anything. By name, they terrify me.
I decided that I would not actually cook or make anything and go the store-bought route. The primary reason being that I didn’t want to wash dishes to do that. I also gave myself a $15 budget before I went to the store. No matter how fabulous these women were, they weren’t getting sushi out of me. I went for the baked goods, which are pretty much guaranteed people pleasers and had a 3-minute internal debate with myself if the flower cupcakes were too girly or if the Batman cupcakes were too on the nose. I was already wearing a Marvel shirt, so I risked it and went for the cupcakes. I certainly wasn’t going to be the one who entered as a walking theme.
I had a mini anxiety surge walking through the doors with a handful of cupcakes, half expecting a crowd of Stepford Wives in cosplay and inconveniently timing a sneeze (or what’s known when your hands are full as a face explosion). But fate was on my side, and it turned out to be a room full of broads like me.
One woman yelled, “Cupcakes!” as her greeting, and I nodded in understanding approval. I laid my contribution next to all the other store-bought Cheeto puffs and pizza swirls and Easter candy. I was amongst my own. Some homemade caramel corn showed up later, but we’re not talking about that.
I played two games of Mysterium, a game in which my character, Conrad MacDowell, a Scottish homeowner needed to conduct a seance with other mediums to bring a ghost to rest concerning its murder. There was a ton of guesswork and lots of story. We stayed past closing time and it was well-received. This round of trying something new worked out.
I intend to go back, because we all need a place to roll dice, gamble on our selves, and find out that we are enough. Thank you women and Family Time Games for giving people like me that space!