Get Your Game on, Go Play

December 19, 2018

The time had come to see if my son was a gamer. His mother and sister were off on a date to see The Nutcracker. Over the last two days, he had developed a seemingly unquenchable obsession for Blokus (or Corners, as he called it), at which he could be legitimately competitive. But the real test lay in a small green box. Was Elliot ready for Catan Junior?

Although the game is a simplified version of Settlers of Catan (aka The Best Game to Ever Touch a Coffee Table), it contains complexity in regards to trading, using resources to build, and waiting when one doesn’t feel like waiting. In other words, not exactly the ideal skillset of a five-year-old. And while Elliot did have a problem trading his goats because, in his words, “The goaties are just so cute!” He navigated the nuance well.

In fact, he won his very first Catan Junior game in convincing fashion. He won through a skillful deployment of the Ghost Captain, an obsessive purchasing of Coco cards, and an impressive willingness to listen to advice. Although he had quite a bit of coaching throughout the process, his father did make him come up with the winning trades and building decisions on his own.

Upon vanquishing his old man, E was quite pleased. He eagerly agreed to a rematch. This time he received much less coaching, and lost in a very close game. However, he handled it very well. “I’m used to losing,” he said, rather matter-of-factly. And in that statement of younger sibling reality, I felt solidarity with my son. So I talked to him about my decade of defeat during my early years, intimating to him how valuable it was for me to lose early and often in life. He listened attentively and then challenged me to a game of Candyland.

We split those games too, and he handled both his triumphs and setbacks like a pro. Over my life, I’ve received so much joy out of game nights, but I’m not sure if there was ever a night that gave me as much happiness as tonight’s Son E Delight. In the very near future, I’m going to have to get used to losing again, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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