Death and Gaming

This post was originally written as an email to the Stone Blade Entertainment email list, but it is more personal than usual and so I wanted to share it here as well.

If you’d like to see more of these kind of posts, let me know in the comments or sign up for the Stone Blade email list here.

I started working on this in September when I saw a Facebook post from my good friend Alex Yeager. In it, he talks about the last day he got to spend with Nik, his friend of 35 years who was diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Alex and Nik bonded over gaming, and this last encounter included more of the same, knowing that they would never see each other again. The story is heartwarming and sad and joyful all at the same time. You can read Alex’s post here, and I recommend you do if you have the time.

Less than two months later, I saw a post on boardgamegeek from Jessica, a long-time Ascension player.  In the post, she mentions being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and took the time to give thanks to the community that she connected with over a shared love of games.

I teared up reading both these posts. I’ve done the same multiple times when trying to write this piece. Though I’ve never met Nik or Jessica personally, I feel connected to them and their stories. All of us either have already or will one day face the inevitable specters of illness, death, and the loss of loved ones. It is the tragedy of the human condition.

But in addition to sadness, I also feel a sense of joy and connection. This thing we do: playing games, making games, and talking about games. It’s not just a pleasant way to pass the time.  

Games bind us together and provide opportunities for real connection. It’s a story I know from my own life. Some of my fondest memories are of my family playing games together each evening. My oldest friendships, some that last to this very day and helped me build this company, were all built around a gaming table.

But it’s not just my story. At every convention, I hear stories of how people have bonded over games. We’ve even had multiple marriages get formed over games of Ascension!

We as a community owe a lot to each other and being a part of building that community is why I do what I do. And for all of you out there reading this who understand what I’m talking about, this is also why you do what you do. Whether you design games, write about games, or just play games, realize that what you do is a powerful source of connection for us all.

As we enter this new year, I want to give thanks to everyone who has been a part of this community. I am forever grateful and will continue to work hard to spread the joys of gaming far and wide.  

Thanks for being here and Happy Gaming!

-Justin

P.S.- If you’d like, let’s send some love to this community. Do you have a story of a deep bond with a loved one over a game?  How has gaming changed your life? Please share your story with me! If I get enough, I’ll compile some of the best for a future email.

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