Gaming for Sanity – Guest blogger Tee Morris

Tee Morris is today’s guest blogger from Write by the Rails – the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club‘s Endless Blog Tour 2014.  In the coming weeks, you will find here posts from additional guests. Enjoy!

Gaming for Sanity

By Tee Morris

IMG_9026I’ve been (sorta) tight-lipped about my year up to this point. I know, it’s only March; and I had made a pledge not to allow a single event define the year for me. It’s a little frustrating, though, how that single event has directly affected Pip’s and my life. What has been a real blessing are the people in our lives who set aside to to game. Be it a board game, a card game, or a role playing game, friends who take the time to game—something that adults seem to lose touch with during their teen years—find a moment’s peace when things are rough.

Two such friends, Chooch and Viv, came over one Sunday night for dinner and “grown-up” time. What we got that night was a lot more than any of us could have expected.

Chooch and Viv, being the thoughtful people they are, brought with them something for dinner. What they brought was better than a bottle of wine or a four-pack of Dogfish Beer. They had brought with them a bag of games. The games were varied, but one I knew on first glance—Cards Against Humanity. If you’re not familiar with this game, here are three things you need to keep in mind about it:

1.    The more people playing, the wackier it is.

2.    If you are easily offended, you will want to brace yourself.

3.    No one is safe.

photo-2As far as gameplay, you have two kinds of cards: Questions (black) and Answers (white). The questions are pretty “pedestrian” in nature, a bit like the 1970’s classic game show, Match Game, where questions would be open-ended, allowing a player to play one or two of their answer cards. Sounds pretty safe so far, right?

It’s when you get to the Answers cards where you spiral down to the deepest, darkest depths of your soul. What is found on the White cards range from the random to the explicit to Did you just go there?! (Please refer to #3 of “Three things you need to know”…)

What occurred straight out of the box was the absurd, the disgraceful, and the inconceivable. What also happened during gameplay was laughter. Glorious, uninhibited,  therapeutic laughter. There were rounds when I snorted. There were rounds that my eyes ached. There were rounds I thought I was going to hyperventilate. And in most of the cases, it wasn’t the shocking answers that got me, but the idiotic and slightly puerile that had me on the floor.

Then, somewhere in the point of the evening, I asked myself How long has it been since Ive laughed like this? Looking at everyone else, it dawned on me that in playing Cards Against Humanity, you really don’t play this game to win. You’re sitting around a table with friends, laughing yourself silly. Pretty much, you are winning from the first round to the last. That’s what we were doing last night, and by its end we were all tired but lighter, perhaps the lightest we have felt in a long time.

And then Pip, without any sort of prompting, said, Its going to be okay. All four of us believed that, and still do.

Whether you are playing something as inappropriate as Cards Against Humanity, or something more thoughtful like Dixit (one we were introduced to), or a game of strategy like Ticket to Ride (one we want to introduce to Chooch and Viv), find the time to game. Yes, we were tweeting and posting photos from the various games, but we were for the most part unplugged, connecting with each other, and allowing ourselves some time to relax.

And in the case of Cards Against Humanity, just laugh the stress away.

It’s not a bad thing, taking a little bit of time out of the week with friends or family to enjoy a night off the grid, getting social around a game you know or one you’ve wanted to get to know. Does it solve the problems? No. Gaming does give you a hard reminder of what truly matters, and what will get you through harder times.

So game on, everybody. Looking at everything falling down around us, perhaps a timeout to game is in order. We have definitely earned it.

What about you? What are your favorite kind of games with friends? What was the last game you played?

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 3.48.41 PMTee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.

Tee has now returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light. When Tee is not creating something on his Macintosh, he enjoys a good run, a good swim, and putting together new playlists to write by. His other hobbies include cigars and scotch, which he regards the same way as anime and graphic novels: “I don’t know everything about them, but I know what I like.” (And he likes Avo and Arturo Fuente for his smoke, Highland Park for his scotch!) He enjoys life in Virginia alongside Pip, his daughter, and three cats.


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