Games and puzzles were the center of our childhoods. For as long as I could remember, I was always playing games — whether it was running around outside playing tag and hide-and-seek or sitting in our living room playing Life and Mall Madness. As we grow older, we sometimes forget to indulge in these sources of simple and lighthearted fun. But in the past few years, I have tried to reincorporate games into my life again in various ways.
Ever since my older sister went off to college, our family has naturally spent less time together. Our family is only fully reunited during long breaks around the holidays and the summertime, and we usually don’t have much time together. But during the time that we do share, we always love to reserve time for playing games. At every birthday we celebrate together, after blowing out the candles on our cake, we start dealing a deck of cards. As soon as we finish our big Thanksgiving feast, we clear the table and take out Sequence. Playing games is our love language.
When I got to Berkeley, I was so excited to explore the social scene and meet new people. I had so much fun engaging in different activities, from parties to football games to day trips. As an adrenaline junkie, I absolutely love going out and embarking on new adventures. But at the end of the day, some of my favorite memories were playing games with my friends while chilling in our dorms.
Our first ever game night was four of us playing Uno during orientation week, and little did we know that this would kick off a whole year of game nights. From then on, we would all congregate in a Blackwell lounge, bring our favorite snacks and drinks, and gather around in a circle. Cabo and Durak were our signature games, and we would play those at every game night. We soon branched into other card games such as Poker, Kemps, Gin Rummy and California Speed. Occasionally, we also brought in some other fun games like Scattergories, Cards Against Humanity, Monopoly Deal, Exploding Kittens and even Mahjong. We also had a phase where we would play online games like Wikirace, GeoGuessr and Covidopoly almost every day.
My friend group was a melting pot of all different majors, from computer science to economics to global studies. We all lived our separate lives, but we had one thing that brought us all together — our game nights. No matter how busy we were with writing papers or working on problem sets, we always found time to come together through games. Game nights became a quintessential part of our freshman year, and we would rarely go a week without having at least one. We even made a collaborative Spotify playlist called “game night every night” and put all of our favorite songs together to play in the background. Throughout the year, we also invited other people to join us, and we have made so many new friends through these game nights.
Eventually, my friends and I started solving puzzles together as well. We ended up having hangouts and sleepovers where we would put on a Netflix show and just work on puzzles endlessly. I also completed a puzzle with my dad over New Year’s, and we just bought a puzzle to work on during winter break. It would take us hours upon hours, and sometimes we would fall asleep before we finished solving it. But regardless of how long it took, it was always so satisfying to finish the puzzle. It’s always a labor of love, and we always persist and get it done.
What I love most about puzzles and games is their ability to bring together myself and my loved ones. We have all become so much closer through these moments, and these games have truly connected us together. Games have brought so much light into our lives, during both exciting occasions as well as stressful times, and we have formed so many inside jokes and great memories over these nights. It’s also a time for us to chat and update one another about our lives; sometimes we have deep conversations, and other times we end up laughing until we cry. Whenever I play games with my friends and family, a wave of comfort and nostalgia washes over me, and I feel my worries fading away. It feels great to embrace my inner child and to know that at any age, I will always find joy in games and puzzles.