One of the reasons I decided to jump into X-Wing with both feet was not to do with the little plastic ships (though I do love Star Wars and it certainly helped!) and definitely not to do with the amount of money it was going to cost me (how naive I was…) but actually it was to spend time with my son.
When we started to play my eldest son was 11 years old and had just started comprehensive school. Life was different and a bit scary for him and for me was terrifying. With the teen years approaching I wanted to establish a common interest with him that was neutral ground for us. something we could talk about if/when there was nothing else to talk about.
I will freely admit that I have enjoyed it more than I was expecting to. Not just the game itself but the planning and strategy around all aspects of it from game plan and list building to discussing action choices and tactics. I also love the social side of it, getting to know new people and having a hobby that genuinely interests me.
Our local club night is a Wednesday evening which happens to be when my wife is at work. This generally means that both of my sons come along which has actually worked out pretty well since my youngest son plays Pokémon and a few of our local Pokémon players also pop down on a Wednesday night. Sometimes it’s a little stressful with it being a school night and making sure that we get away at reasonable time but having time together and having a common interest to talk about with both of them (I’ve learnt a little about Pokemon, just to make sure I stay relevant) has been really valuable.
This all built up gradually over a period of about 18 months to an amazing and surprising weekend of the UK 2019 System Open for many reasons.
A pair of tickets to the system open was a Christmas present for both of us and felt like a very long wait until the end of April. We spent weeks practising, refining lists, finding good openings, remembering interactions and generally planning our weekend away together.
Personally I was excited to go and play X-Wing all weekend but more than that I was looking forward to spending sometimes with my son one-on-one. So when the day finally came I collected him from school complete with all of our stuff in the car ready to just head out. Our aim was to make it in enough time to register lists (so we didn’t have to go so early in the morning!) and then go for pizza.
We set off and just started to chat and maybe 20 minutes in to our 2 hour journey my son started to open up about some issues that he had been having in school. I have to admit, this caught me a little off-guard at first but we still had many miles to go and time to burn so when better to talk some things over? We spent the whole rest of the journey talking stuff through and while there were some tears (his and mine!) when we arrived I asked if this had been the fun weekend he had been anticipating. He laughed and said no but was really glad of the opportunity to just talk.
We went on to have a really fun weekend in Milton Keynes, a great time meeting great people at a great event but that’s a story for another time.
I guess the point of this blog (since I feel it needs one) would be that, by it’s very nature of being a real life (i.e. not virtual) game against actual people that you really meet, X-Wing is a game based on relationship. Whether you’re playing against someone you’ve known your whole life or someone randomly selected by the pairing algorithm at some place miles from home, you have the opportunity to spend around 75 minutes interacting with someone. If you have nobody to play against, you can’t play. The continued success of the game relies on people going out to find interesting new people who are playing interesting lists and play the game. It seems to me that the UK is doing this really well since so many events are very well attended and so many blogs and Facebook posts that I read talk about friendships and connections being one of, sometimes the biggest reasons that people continue to play the game.
I feel blessed to have become part of it. Good job everyone, good job.