My wife loves to play games. Cards, Scrabble, Risk, Candyland — it doesn’t matter to her — its all fun! She’s also a collector. Antiques, Stamps, Star Wars Burger King glasses or Precious Moments — they all give her great joy.
Scrooge that I am, games seem boring, same rules, same pieces, same dull colors. And, how much rent are those collections paying? It must be alot because they seem to get more room and better accommodations in my home than my tools and sports equipment!
So, I always found something else to do when the games came out and and well, let’s just say my delight with the collections was in making a bit of fun of them. My wife is so patient… can you imagine 15 years of being turned down and ribbed?
Being the collector, my wife started buying packs of Pokémon cards for my kids during the fad (around 2000). They too, shortly had collections, which they kept in binders. We’d go to dinner and they’d beg to bring their binders. I scrooged it for a while, but then gave in one evening and they brought them along.
I looked down at my menu that night and then looked up and the oldest two were 5 tables down. We don’t let the children roam the restaurant in my family, so I was getting up when I noticed the children were with some other young Pokémon fans, comparing binders. I don’t know why, but it really struck me that they were meeting people, interacting sociably and being, well… quiet!
The next day, I called for a binder and asked to look at the cards. It was readily apparent that the cards were part of a game. I’d seen the children try to ‘play cards’ with these pieces of paper and get a little frustrated ‘making up rules’. I figured I could probably find the game rules online for them.
I found a Flash-based tutorial on the game, rather than an online rulebook. Good decision by the marketers. I was intrigued. The next day we went out and bought a couple ‘starter decks’ which had the game rule booklets in them.
I taught the children to play, more or less, but then my wife and I had a game or two. The game play was fairly simple, but the strategy could be complex! And there were hundreds of cards to choose from to make a 60 card deck. Colorful. NOT the same every time you play. We took the children to Pokémon league to play. We played too. It kind of snuck up on me. When I realized that I really like the strategy, the deck building and competing, I rationalized, saying that I wouldn’t collect sets and I would just keep enough game cards to play. As a collection for the rest of the family, though, I figured it wouldn’t run me out of my home; cardboard stacks flat. So, I stopped making jokes about the collection.
Its seven years later. Those insidious game designers and artists got me as a collector in 2004. I guess I’ve got about 3000 out of the 3500 released cards, but my whole collection still fits in about 12 square feet! That is, if you don’t count the file drawer of paperwork from being a tournament organizer, the shelf of Pokemon backpacks, sling bags, binders and such that I’ve accumulated from judging at Worlds and US Nationals. And the miscellaneous stuff I keep around in boxes to give out to kids. And the playmats we keep behind the bookcase.
Oh, and the 12 foot Pikachu banner that hangs in our stairway.
Yep, I’m ruined.
But, my wife is happy. Family trips? To tournaments. In other counties and across state lines. Our coffee dates? We talk and play cards. Um, Pokémon cards. In public. At Starbucks. I hand out promo cards to children and we answer questions from adults. These complete strangers are attracted by color and flash of the cards as we play. And by my wife’s smile.