I have a love-hate relationship with learning new games. I self-identify as a gamer, so being good at playing games is closely entwined with my ego and sense of self. But in the first hour of a new video game I usually die many times. The first time that I play a new board game I usually lose. I feel disoriented, clumsy, and ineffectual. I might petulantly disparage a game or its design elements in my head or out loud. I might remind myself that I don’t like a particular genre (e.g., stealth) or that my partner is better at certain challenges (e.g., puzzles).
Nevertheless, I love learning new games. I love encountering new design elements or familiar elements combined in new ways. With a new board game, I love the group cross-talk as we build our collective understanding and appreciation. And I love engaging with new challenges and ultimately developing new masteries.