I grew up in a family of gamers. No, no, not that kind. Heck, for much of my childhood we didn’t even have a TV, let alone video games. I mean the non-tech kind of games. We played a lot of card and board games around the dining room table. There were many “go-to” games in my family, often with extra “rules.” Milles Borne, a card based auto racing game, “required” each of us to describe, in detail, what car we’d be driving for the trip. Clue was played so often there are now mandatory accents associated with each character.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

This is a tradition/habit my sisters and I have all carried over into our own families. Before COVID hit, every holiday, birthday or “just stopping by for coffee” was accompanied by a game.

In my home, the old classics are housed side by side with some newcomers, one of which has seen a lot of action since coming through the door: Wingspan. I ordered it when we first went into lockdown to give us something new to do. As the name implies, it is a game based on birds. I saw that it was winning awards for both its illustrations and play style, so it seemed a good choice. It has not disappointed.

The game itself is hard to describe. Yes, it involves “playing” birds in various habitats and with various nests and yeah, honestly, it is too tricky to explain. What I will say is this: We have been marathon playing it. It is so good, my teenager will even leave his sports programs to play.

We have been playing it so often, I went online to see if there was an expansion pack out yet. There is. But in my search, I stumbled upon something even more interesting, something I had not actually considered before. I found an article about the importance of the game, not only because of its play structure, but because it was created by a woman.

I am a person who often pays attention to and actively looks for representation, but I honestly had never considered gender representation in the world of game creation. I should have. Turns out, a woman creating a board game is a rare thing, not because women game creators aren’t out there, but because preconceived notions of what a creator looks like have stood in the way. Wingspan, designed by Elizabeth Hargrove and illustrated by Natalie Rojas, Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo and Beth Sobel, is shaking things up.

I like this. I like the idea of a group of smart, creative, intelligent women opening doors through sheer talent and belief in their idea. It adds an extra dimension to a game that was already really interesting and compelling. I like knowing something we love to do is also opening doors. Mostly though, it’s just fun to play and it excels at the most important part of any game, it brings us all together.

There are studies out there about how important board games are at developing higher thinking strategies and problem-solving skills. I have no doubt. But in truth, we gather at the game table because it gives us time together. Around the game there is laughter, conversation and the building of memories.

I hope you and the people you love are able to gather up soon with a mug of something hot and a good game.

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