I have found that gaming is the secret passageway to one’s personality. If you really want to get to know someone, play a game with them. Yes, you can try the yawn-inducing mundane questions: ‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘Where do you live?’ Oh, and ‘Did you grow up in this area?’ (That’s a good one.) You will gather many tidbits of information and be capable of writing a very factual report on the person by the end of the night.
Or…you can swim into deeper waters and find out how they perform when asked to draw the word “hallucination,” or imitate Jim Carrey, or get a teammate to say the word “goodbye” without saying “hello.” Learn the inner workings of their brain as you discover what they associate with the color red, what job they feel they were made for, or what they see in an inkblot. Glean their heart state as you witness their ability to win, to lose, and to work as a team. Analyze their skills as you discover their aptitudes for learning, negotiation, and strategy. Note their idiosyncrasies or diagnose disorders as they arrange game pieces and playing cards. (Mine are always very orderly.)
It really is a unique view into the depths of another’s psyche. Someone should have told Freud he didn’t need a couch, just a deck of Bicycle cards or a board with a Free Parking space.
Games induce laughter, thought, and communication at a new level. They help reveal different sides of self that mere conversation over coffee cannot draw out.
So, the next time you are faced with new faces, or even old ones, do yourself a favor and take the shortcut. Deal ‘em, roll ‘em, set ‘em up. It’s always a win.