It seems friendly enough. You sit down at a table to play games with your friends. You know they are your friends because you guys get together and enjoy each other’s company outside of the realm of gaming. Jokes are made, good times are had, etc.
But, something happens when you begin involving dice and pawns. The mere act of placing a game board on the table changes people. That guy you were having a beer and a laugh with ten minutes ago becomes your mortal enemy as soon as the cards are dealt. The competitive spirit takes over and, suddenly, there aren’t any friends at the table at all.
Jay Cheel explores this process in a documentary film called “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends“. He looks at one particular instance that some might say got a little out of hand. The infighting and gamesmanship took an ugly turn in what was meant to be a simple game of Catan and the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” gained the upper hand.
A little while ago, our friend Gerry had a bit of an outburst during one of our matches. He blew up at us all and then went home, claiming he’d never play with us again. It was an awkward moment that I immediately thought was worthy of some discussion. Our “in game” personalities are quite different from the “real” us, so I thought it might be interesting to talk to those involved and see what sort of insight they have on each others gaming personalities. Also, the idea of handling such a trivial subject in such a serious manner was irresistible. This is a comedy, first and foremost.
Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, the film presents an interesting view of the dynamics and psychology and a close up portrait of each of it’s players. Sometimes too close as it ranges from the sublime to the grotesque and back again, but each element helps to set the stage for the final blow up.
And a magnificent blow up it is, too. By the time it occurs you have a sense of sympathy for Gerry, but you also understand he has played no small part in bringing himself to the edge and making the whole thing possible. In a sense he allows himself to fail if only by suffering from his own gamesmanship.
You can read more about the film and film makers on the Fast and Scientific blog and check out the other films of Jay Cheel.Add to favorites
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