The other night, our household played the game Pandemic. Do you know of it? It’s a cooperative board game where the players work together to keep diseases in various parts of the world from spreading and becoming a pandemic.
While I love most games, I saw this one as falling into a category I’m not good at. The kind where each person plays a character in a made-up world that you have to wrap your head around. The kind where there are a LOT of rules to learn.
But, we hadn’t had a game night in weeks, and I love hanging out with my peeps, so I was going to give this a go.
There we were, four of us around the table. My son read the rules out loud, and set up and explained the board and cards and little playing pieces.
Soundtrack in my head:
I’m gonna suck at this.
It’s kind of creepy to be playing this game while we are in a real pandemic.
I’m not following anything Sam is saying about the rules.
We all had our characters assigned now, with their particular abilities. (Me: Lady Scientist.) The little cubes representing diseases were piled onto various countries on the world map in front of us. Everyone else started discussing strategies. I had no idea what they were talking about.
I tried to remember what we were supposed to do in our turns. What did Sam say? Umm… choose four of the actions to do from this little card here, then pick two of these blue cards, then turn up two disease cards. So complicated!
Game starts- whew, my turn would be last so I had time to observe before it was time to do anything. Lots of discussion about which actions each player should choose to move themselves and then help others get to the cities and wipe out diseases. Lots of rules about each of those steps.
But get this… the other players kept forgetting the last step of their turn: picking the disease cards. And I remembered! So as the game went on I became the person that made sure everyone completed all the steps. Me, who was in a meltdown about all the rules, became the rule keeper.
And each time when my turn came around, everyone jumped in to discuss my options and advise on what I could do to help the team keep the world safe.
Soundtrack in my head became:
Hey, this is kind of fun!
Can you believe I’m the rule girl of the game- how funny is that!
I might not be great at this, but apparently that’s okay.
I started to feel somewhat confident. I started to relax and notice how the game worked. The words people were saying began to make sense. We were all helping each other. We were eradicating the world of diseases! Together we were gaining on world wide problems!
And in addition to my assigned role of Lady Scientist, I inadvertently became the rule girl, keeping us all doing what we were supposed to do in the made up world of this game.
I did something I wasn’t confident about, or excited about, because I wanted to just be with my family.
I found a role for myself.
I began to focus on what I could do.
I accepted (gratefully) all advice and help offered.
I found that when I relaxed and stopped thinking about what I didn’t know, my brain began to work better, to absorb information, to track what was going on.
I realized not everyone has to be the leader.
I realized it’s okay to bumble along until things start to make sense.
I was glad to know I can let myself feel dumb, and still have fun.
I enjoyed playing a game my family was really good at, enjoyed their enthusiasm, and learned something new.
And I enjoyed thinking about all the ways this game reflected real life, real life reflected this game, and my experience of playing this game reflected my experience of real life.
And now my head wants to explode. Is anyone up for a game of Scrabble? Mah Jongg? All Aboard?