My old boss and I used to play Dominion and Ascension after work. I always found my boss to be a little uptight, and with his work ethic I never thought I’d convince him to play board games at the office. At first we played at the end of the day when all the work was done. Then it was towards the end, when work was almost done and we could multi-task. Then it was at the end of an early day, where non-essential tasks could be put off until tomorrow. To an outside observer it may seem that we were goofing off, but I always thought that the team-building and personal connections we made while gaming were integral to our success as a two-man team.

Teaching a new board game is one of my favorite activities.  At some point I should clean up and post my old essay on the subject. It is a stark microcosm of the bond between teacher and student. When I taught my boss Dominion it felt amazing, empowering, as it was one lesson I could give him, as opposed to the multitude of lessons he had for me on the job.

When he took a position in Texas I was happy for him, and simultaneously nervous about how I would fill the role of two people, when he was already doing two person’s worth of work. The work took care of itself, however, and it wasn’t until later I realized what I was truly lacking was someone I could relate to through gaming. Every time I looked at the games, tucked away in our corner of the lab like a dirty little secret, I felt a twinge of regret, and eventually I removed them from the lab entirely, certain I would never find anyone interested in them at a place I spent a third of my life, give or take.

The lab recently brought on a team of interns. I didn’t get one, which sucks, but that’s beside the point. After a couple weeks I thought it might be fun to see if they were interested in board games after work one Friday. Two of them were very excited, and once all our work was done I jumped in to teaching Dominion.

So you’re saying running this $50,000 machine is like playing a game? Damn, Dominion’s only $40, I’ll go with that!

I forgot how much I missed making gaming part of my professional environment. Becoming reacquainted with the starting card set and watching people slowly figure out the basic strategies is always fun for me. And it made me realize that teaching a game, especially one as systematic and detail-oriented as Dominion, is akin to teaching junior scientists about the work I do. It validated the work I’ve done and the knowledge I have gained in my years of employment here. And introducing one of the finest board games of the current generation of gaming to new people again felt amazing, like inaugurating a new era of board game appreciation to my co-workers. The outcome of the game isn’t important; I won, but whatever :). It just feels good to bring fun back into the office.

I look forward to our next game.