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Words and Signs

RANDOM MUSINGS on the fin-de-millénaire games scene . . .

14 March 2008 . . . A while back I heard that Moritz Eggert had created his Ten Commandments of Gaming, which were both enlightening and entertaining. But it got me to wondering, what other ritualistic tropes might be adapted for board games? After little, very little, serious thought I humbly offer this, The Eurogamer's Prayer.

The Eurogamer's Prayer

Our Game Collection,
which art in perfection,
My Precious be thy name.
Thy meeples come,
thy playings be fun,
on the table
as it is in Catan.
Give us this day
our daily game
and forgive us
our BGG lapses
as we forgive those
who roll better than us.
And lead us not
into Ameritrash,
but deliver us,
from all Hasbros.
For thine are the mechanics,
and the bits,
and the Spielevergnuegen,
for ever, or at least until the next EBay sale.

After the fourth or fifth glass of wine I started to think of other rituals we can borrow for our hobby.

Have you ever noticed the "friend of" expression? This one is used when you want to communicate someone's status without being totally blatant about it. Suppose you're an alcoholic. Even though it's the truth, you don't exactly want to go around advertising the fact. Well, except at your meeting. But say you're at a party and someone offers you a whiskey sour. You don't say, "Sorry, I'm an alky." No, you say, "Sorry, I'm a friend of BillW." Or suppose a friend is gay and you happen to find yourselves in a red state. Of course when you introduce him you'll say, "Meet my friend, he's a friend of Dorothy."

It can be same for us. Suppose you and your wife run into a gamer at a wedding but the mother of the bride is listening. The conversation could go something like this:

You: "Hi, nice to see you. Didn't know you would be here."
Friend: "Hello"
You: "Meet my wife, Mary. She's a friend of Reiner too."
Friend: (raises eyebrows in comprehension, whispers) "After the couple exchanges their tungsten wedding bands, meet us in the lobby for Liar's Dice during the cutting of the cake."

After all Reiner is a very friendly guy and it's an unusual name here in America so I'm sure this will work out great all around. Besides, he's created so many games that most everyone will have at least one that he likes. So in some very real sense he is friend to us all.

Another area where this could apply is when gamers run into one another. The other night I had a nasty flu and was at Walgreen's all-night pharmacy picking up medicines when across the store I espied a gaming buddy. If you're at the pharmacy at 1 AM it's not a good thing so I confined myself to a wave and moved on. But it occurred to me that various different groups have special signs of acknowledgement. There's the rapper handshake, the football chest bump, the wave of Queen Elizabeth II, and many more. No reason why we can't have one too!

But what should it be? I thought about drawing a card from a deck, but if you try it, it looks a little too much like Friend of Dorothy. We don't want to get crossed signals in this area. Then I thought, how about holding a hand of cards? Nah, too static, and might be confused for an Italian hand signal. But then I landed on the perfect one. Hold your palm up, curling the fingers up into a claw and move your hand from side to side. On the last move open the hand and stop. Do you see it? It's rolling dice and what better sign could there be but what we've done millions of times? One tip though: be sure to do it so it doesn't get interpreted as Friend of Yourself.

Until next time, Happy Wording, Signing, and Gaming!


by Rick Heli