Some thoughts on human interaction

October 12, 2015

MB-INTJ I am an introvert - INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs scale, and that "I" couldn't be more firmly in place. I think this character traits stems from a deep-seeded desire to do everything perfectly. Certainly not the best character trait to have, but it has more-or-less fueled my entire life: a lot of over-achieving throughout school and a strong gravitation towards activities where I could have total control over the outcome. Because as long as I had control over every part of a system, given enough time, I could act perfectly within that system. Puzzles, solo video games, Euro-style board games - these became my playground. I was particularly fond of RPG video games because I could take as much time as I wanted to make my decisions. In more action-oriented games, I would simply play them over and over until I understood the patterns and could perform perfectly. I really wasn't keen with play with other people, though. Humans are unpredictable. It's impossible to interact with them perfectly because the situation is always changing. You can take all the time you need to craft a perfect first sentence, but then they respond in some unforeseeable way, and now you've got to act on the fly. And everything you do is permanent. You can't experiment with different responses to suss out the mechanics and then redo the interaction later. Man, talking to other people was just awful. I've gotten better over the years. As with anything else, it just takes practice. I was always afraid of not being perfect, but often you just have to man up and talk to someone. And when you do that enough, you start to learn the rules. I'm still not that great at talking to people, though. My brain is just sluggish at crafting dialogue for my mouth to speak. It still wants to say things perfectly, so I'm a bit of a slow-talker, which is itself an infuriating imperfection. I just can't win. bobs_burgers_tina Unless I'm talking about board games. I have spent so much time thinking about pretty much every aspect of this hobby in detail, sometimes it feels that when I'm talking about board games is the only time my brain functions normally. When I am at board game conventions, well, okay, I still don't exactly have a magnetic personality, but if someone wants to talk to be about a board game, I am firing on all cylinders. Contrast this for a second with how I felt attending physics conventions. I used to attend these to give talks on my research, and they were the worst. The talks went all right because all I had to do was put in the time to prepare, but the prospect of speaking to another physicist in a free-form conversation filled me with dread. You see, I never felt like I knew enough about physics. It was a large field and I had a tendency to only put in the minimal effort because I just didn't care enough. This worked for writing papers, but conventions were a horror show. I kept my head down and pretty much didn't talk to anyone. Being embarrassed from not being able to speak eloquently about physics was my nightmare, and I did everything possible to avoid this. I decided that board games was an ideal career choice for me at last year's GenCon when, right after the success of Forge War, this nice guy wanted to interview me for a paper he was writing on the board game design process. I was a little reluctant at first, because, well, I'm me, but once he turned on the tape recorder and started asking questions, the words just started flying out of my mouth. It was like some surreal out-of-body experience because I had never talked that way about anything before. To him, it was probably a normal conversation, but for me it was definitive evidence that I should do everything in my power to keep making board games and exploring this world that I actually feel comfortable in. So now with the success of Gloomhaven, I couldn't be more thrilled to keep doing what I'm doing. If it keeps me from never having to go to another physics convention, I'll consider that a monumental success.

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