Dungeons and Dragons

Stranger Things, Games, and Tables

Recently me and my wife finished an amazing series on Netflix called Stranger Things. I was excited about this particular show because I’m a nerd who plays Dungeons and Dragons and this show happened to be revolving around a group of pre-teen friends who slayed dragons in their basement prior to a devastating event that requires them to work together not only with themselves but also those within their community. So Stranger Things was to be me and my wife’s new date night; if laying the children down for bed then watching a show clutching each other and eating popcorn, can be considered a date night, then that’s what it was. We take what we can get.

The show turned out to be an instant classic in my opinion, but this article is not a review of Stranger Things, but more of a segway into the Christian worldview; around what makes people sitting around a table, solving problems, eating food, and playing games so enticing. There is always something powerful in almost all film, even art, of individuals laughing and enjoying each other's company around a piece of wood in the middle of a room (imagine Ridley and the crew of the Nostromo from the movie Alien discussing how to kill the alien around a table). As a Christian I believe I can make sense of these things from my worldview; after all, the Lord’s Supper (which is the sign of the New Covenant) takes place at a table. Wow! I would even argue that the table is a chief symbol of Civilization. What does that say about the importance of this piece of wood? Why was our Savior always sitting around this object with others, teaching, eating, drinking, and fellowshipping? That has always been interesting to me, and I believe it’s because usually a table unites us around life-sustaining things; chiefly food. With that also comes other things, such as family discussion, devotionals, heart to heart talks, and games. Ah! Games! I can talk about a great many of the other things that take place around tables and how they bond the family and friends, but games is where I’ll stake my claim.

Dinner tables are almost the cornerstone of the family, apart from Christ, where the family comes together at the end of a long day (and sometimes at the beginning of a long day.)  Tables bring us to a place where we look at each other face to face and converse about who we are, what we did (or plan to do), as well as fosters discussions and even the occasional heated debate. We do all of this around food that sustains us and keeps us alive and well. Now enter into the equation board games or tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) and things get even more interesting. Bring your chips, salsa, popcorn, and favorite beverage and the hours will literally fly by as you talk, laugh, work either together or against each other, and in many ways bond with those around you. Gaming at the table often allows you to experience a whole new perspective on those you live life with, chiefly that of competition. Many people love to compete but are unable to run as fast as a professional running back or hit a 3-pointer like Kobe. So much of competition is viewed in the way of physical competition, but that’s just not the case because healthy competition manifests itself in the workplace, schools, and many other places - games being one of them. In fact, gamers thrive on competition, especially in the online arena. But within the last few years, board gaming in particular has exploded, and largely because of companies like Kickstarter that give investment power to the very people who plan on buying the game.

Recently a card game based on the old Oregon Trail released to much support from the board game community.

From a Christian Worldview, it’s important that we don’t make idols out of anything; yet how often are we having discussions with our spouses, friends, and family about our addiction to electronic devices and how it seems like people don’t look each other in the face any longer? What better way to fix that than to gather the wife and children, friends, and family around the table to play fun games that require either teamwork or competition? Games that get us away from the devices and looking each other in the face. In fact, it is a great tool to teach our children not only how to win graciously but how to lose and remain a good sport about it. These are things that we can do in the intimacy of our homes and do together at the earliest of ages.

A company named Peaceable Kingdom makes family cooperative games rather than games that pit family members against each other.

So my goal here is to convince you (mothers and fathers, friends and family, brothers and sisters) to do something different. Buy a board game and invite others to play, eat, and drink. Spend face to face time with each other. Tell others to bring games that they have and enjoy. One of the greatest things to do as creatures made in the Image of God is to share the things we enjoy with others in hopes that they will find pleasure it as well. This is largely missed in our culture (apart from memes) and thinking back to Stranger Things, we see kids enjoying a completely imaginary game where they cooperate together to defeat evil and restore peace to the land. But it doesn’t have to be Dungeons and Dragons, it can be card games, it can be dominos, it can be that new weird indie board game that just released and takes 2 hours to explain how to play. Whatever gets people back to the table. Back to one of the main symbols of a civilized world. Back to living life together and spending heaps of quality time with each other.


Carey Appling

Carey is 32, married for 12 years to his beautiful wife Sara and has 3 children. He is also an Abolitionist out of Houston, Tx.