Recently a fellow board gamer commented, "for someone with Dyslexia you've chosen an interesting hobby." By that he meant gaming can be pretty complex and challenging. This certainly made me think about what attracted me to table top gaming.
I've read a lot of information regarding Dyslexia over the years and a couple of beneficial traits keep being mentioned. Specialists who study and support people with Dyslexia have commented that Dyslexics rely more on right-hemisphere strengths such as visual thinking, pattern recognition, spatial awareness and problem solving. These are all linked to heightened intuition and creativity.
Table top gaming is attractive to me because of the storytelling...
Dyslexics mainly think in pictures and have vivid imaginations. This is why I absolutely love games with a strong theme and journey. Games have to have a meaning: a clear beginning, middle and end. You can have all the clever game mechanics in the world but if it doesn't tell a story, forget it! It will just be a game with meeples and cubes moving around the board earning me points that I don't connect with. It may be mathematically genius with the perfect formula but a Dyslexic brain may struggle with this because it lacks meaning.
Table top gaming is attractive to me because of the social connection...
Growing up with Dyslexia I had to hide the fact that I struggled with academia which meant my confidence had to come from how I related to people. I compensated and became talented at making connections, influencing and communicating with people. Gaming for me is all about the interaction and my meeples or miniatures become my avatars. They say that people with Dyslexia can have high social awareness; they can be overwhelmed by what is going on around them, taking in all the different conversations at once. They seem to be intuitive, picking up on how others are feeling and the atmosphere of the room. I get to use that talent at the table. I get a kick out of trying to work out what the other players may do next.
Table top gaming is attractive to me because of the creativity...
Many Dyslexics are drawn to the creative industries such as art, design and music. Board games are like pieces of art, so much so that I've actually been tempted to hang them on the wall. The box covers alone can be a reason for me to purchase a game, one example being Quantum by Eric Zimmerman. It simply appeals to my imagination. When I open the box the story comes alive and I can contribute to the design of the game by playing it. As a child I spent a lot of time day dreaming (Dyslexics can get labelled as day dreamers) and imagination could be just as real and enjoyable as what was actually in front of me. I don't think I've grown out of this habit and gaming allows me to enter someone else's day dream. Whether that be building track and stations in Tony Boydell's Snowdonia, defeating Lord Fang in Eric Lang et al's Arcadia Quest or powering cities with sustainable resources in Friedemann Friese's Power Grid.
I think having Dyslexia is why I don't really focus on the competitive aspect of table top gaming. You need to be able to have good sequential thinking to successfully win most games and unfortunately some Dyslexics really, really struggle with this. This is why a game has to have more than just a formula, more than just a mathematically balanced puzzle.
I would like to use this Blog page to communicate my experiences when playing games. I may talk about the design or how I comprehended the rules (or didn't and comprehend them and got disorientated!). This will not be to moan or disrespect the designers but to simply show you how my dyslexia affects my experience of the world of table top gaming. I may offer suggestions or insights that might inspire your ability to become more inclusive to those that may not have the confidence to play a complex game.
Let's keep enjoying the stories that play out on many tables around the world and honour those that turn their day dreams into our playground.