We play them to relax. We play them to escape. We play them for fun. Many think of games as solitary experiences, and many are. But not all.
A couple of weeks ago, our office underwent some major changes in focus and projects. Some projects were greatly expanded and became more of a focus. A couple long-term projects were ended to give more attention to the aforementioned expanded projects. People were shuffled from one area to another. It wasn’t massive chaos – in fact, it was good overall – but naturally, people’s feathers got a bit ruffled, and patterns and schedules were upset.
This is not a great situation to be in when making changes. Everyone needs to be at the top of their game and working well together when changes occur. Even the positive news and changes couldn’t quite smooth out all the rough edges.
So, our publisher, in his infinite wisdom, arranged a tabletop gaming session. He says he didn’t really think of it that way, but I have my doubts. He invited a few people, including myself and some of the others experiencing changes, for a classic session of Cyberpunk 2020 with our old characters. Kross, Virgil, Johnny Dread, Max and Diva all hit the town again, stirring up the same old sorts of trouble: jury rigging weapons, breaking into storehouses, net-running and embarking on ridiculous stunts of gunfire.
There were seemingly impossible accomplishments, and there were multiple mistakes, including a few friendly-fire events. Diva (my character) and several others came very near to dying from one of those botches, in fact. Even still, we laughed, we plotted and we adventured. Together.
It was that shared experience of playing that gave us some common ground, allowed us to interact, outside of work, in a light-hearted atmosphere. And we carried this common ground we found during that game into the following work week. It was a sense of camaraderie, a sense we could accomplish great things together … all from the experience of playing a game.
We found an ability to work together more easily. Does it not stand to reason people can build friendships and have meaningful social interactions through games as well? We think so, and that’s why we’ve dedicated this issue of The Escapist, “Group Play” to games we play together. Enjoy!