For much of my life, I’ve been a strong believer that Board Games have healing properties thanks to their ability to force communication between players. Board games have always had a special way of bringing people together, helping bridge communication gaps and teach people that they belong at the table. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I realized they helped far beyond that.
In the digital age it’s easy to get lost in our electronics and I’m someone who is particularly prone to this. At this time I found myself struggling with social anxiety and depression. By putting a board or card game between me and the other person at the table, I suddenly found myself with an objective: Win! Not long after I discovered that wasn’t the only objective I could accomplish at the table. There were other ones like have fun, entertain, or perhaps the most valuable one: heal.
Tabletop gaming gave me space not only at the table, it gave me a world to live in inside my head. Know that I am very serious about this topic. My therapist, a magnificent woman, introduced me to EFT, also known as Emotional Freedom Therapy. In this EFT we were tasked with first creating a happy place in which to escape my everyday anxieties. I didn’t have to talk about them, I simply had to learn to manage them. After we had mastered that task, we began working toward creating a safe and comfortable space in which I would meet the next piece of the puzzle: my inner strengths. How? In the form of 4 separate Dungeons & Dragons characters. These 4 characters from tabletop gaming concepts helped me while learning to manage my anxiety. To this day, when I am feeling frustrated I’ll close my eyes for an instant and harness my inner paladin. All of this said I believe tabletop gaming goes even further when it comes to healing.
Tucker Smedes is a tabletop gaming designer who has been Kickstarting games under the publisher title of CardLords since May 2016 when he first launched BattleGoats. The campaign raised nearly $10,000. Their next game, Take the Gold, featured adorable animals and pirates and it did even better coming in at more than double that! He’s now coming up on his 3rd campaign, however, this time he doesn’t have his much-needed help, his muse, his fiance. Tucker’s fiance tragically passed away before ever seeing the final artwork and design for their most recent game, The Pirate’s flag. On November 19th, Shannon, unexpectedly passed away, exactly 6 months before Tucker and Shannon were supposed to be getting married. Tucker and Shannon had first met in middle school but they didn’t fall in love until more than 15 years after.
This tragedy left Tucker feeling like he couldn’t continue with game design, but fortunately, the community and Tucker’s friends encouraged him to never give up on Shannon’s dream. Shannon helped create The Pirate’s Flag game and her memory will live on through it as the co-designer of the game. When I heard Tucker’s story I knew I needed to write about this. As an advocate of women in tabletop gaming, I think it’s important for us to remember designers, even after they are gone. Shannon was the kind of person who carried prototypes in her purse and even took them out to play with her 80-year-old grandmother. She always encouraged everyone around her to have a great time and despite not having a background in gaming, she took to tabletop gaming with more passion and vigor than imaginable. The Pirate’s flag will be the last game we ever get designed by Shannon and I simply ask that you honor her memory by supporting Tucker’s campaign in its last 24 hours. Shannon’s positivity will live on in all future CardLord games and the best way we can do that is to never forget the impact she had on our community.