Cold and flu season is upon us once again. Conveniently, it also coincides with what I always think of as peak board gaming season. Winter, with its holidays, family gatherings, and limited outdoor entertainment options, is when many people play games more frequently. Combine germs with games and you have a recipe for a pandemic. And not the fun Pandemic with disease cubes and cute little petri dishes. Real germs = real disease. With that in mind, I’ve crafted the following public service list of ten things that gamers can do to help curb the spread of whatever germs are going around.
- Don’t cough/sneeze into your hands… You know you’re supposed to do the “vampire sneeze” and sneeze/cough into your elbow so germs don’t get on your hands, right? This is important when gaming because all those germs you just sneezed into your hand are now going right onto the dice or cards you pick up next. Your fellow gamers are so happy to have to share these items with you. Not.
- …Or onto the board. Some people aren’t satisfied with simply sneezing/coughing into their hands and contaminating just a few components. Some feel the need to sneeze all over the entire board, contaminating all the components and leaving a mushroom cloud of germs all over the room. I’ll say it again: Vampire sneeze, people!
- No blowing on or kissing the dice. I know you believe that Lady Luck only shines on you when you blow on or kiss the dice. Newsflash: During flu season, she actually turns her back on such behavior and will punish you terribly for spreading germs. Kiss the dice and lose for sure!
- No licking fingers or blowing to separate cards or rulebook pages. If you are having a hard time separating paper products, I’ll be happy to provide you with some of that sticky stuff they use at Wal-Mart to help separate the bags. Don’t spread saliva on the components, please.
- Don’t come to game night sick. I know you can’t wait to play the latest hotness but if you’re sick, stay the heck home. The games will still be here when you’re better.
- Don’t bring your sick kids to game night. If your kids are diseased and you can’t find a sitter who’s willing to stay with the little germ carriers (big surprise), don’t bring them to game night. You’re the parent. It’s your job to catch their germs. Your fellow gamers didn’t sign up for that.
- No mindless chewing of components. I’ve seen plenty of people put cards and pawns in or on their mouths while they think over their next moves. Just don’t. Aside from spreading germs, you’re degrading the components with teeth marks and drool.
- Don’t shop sick. When I’ve helped run demo nights at my FLGS, I’ve had more than one person come in, crazed with fever, looking for a game. “I’m sick and I need something to play while I recover.” You have two choices here that won’t infect the help: Shop Amazon or another OLGS, or stock up early in the season. Think about your potential gaming needs at the same time you’re stocking your medicine cabinet and buy accordingly. (See, I’ve just given you an excuse to go buy board games. “But honey, what if I get sick? I need that solo game to play while I recover.”)
- Don’t take games into the hospital or doctor’s office. Yes, I know it’s tempting to take them along to pass the time but unless you’re willing to burn them upon leaving, just don’t do it. Who knows what you’re exposing your poor game to in those places.
- Skip the games that seem designed to spread disease. You know those fun games that have you blowing down towers and the like? (Rampage/Terror in Meeple City, I’m looking at you and your ilk.) Leave them for summer play. No need to blow germs all over the place along with the meeples.
Games are fun, but not when someone is hacking and yakking all over the components. Please, for the sake of your fellow gamers, follow these simple rules and keep your germs to yourself.