Geeking out Downrange

To the relief of gamers, geeks, and nerds like myself across the world, our little subculture has quickly grown to mainstream popularity. Between the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the ubiquitous nature of video games, indulging a bit on the geeky side no longer results in unintentional abstinence and finding out what the inside of a trashcan feels like. The problem for service members is that most of these things are enabled by something that’s rare in our line of work: stable internet.

Fast internet downrange is a commodity during the surprising amount of downtime there can be; even when you’re working 12-16 hours per day, there’s only so much time one can sleep and spend at the gym. A little entertainment keeps us sane. Most of us solve this problem by cramming every show, movie, and audiobook from the last hundred years on a hard drive. My own solution originally was my Nintendo DS, I’m not much of a TV person and can only spend so much time watching a screen without interacting with it. About halfway through my first deployment, my battle buddies and I found a different solution – Magic: The Gathering.

One of the veteran organizations threw in a bunch of the sample decks into one of the care packages for my office. At first, people laughed; those who knew about the trading card game either remembered it from nearly twenty years ago or knew it as a hobby that took a second full-time job to support (I often fell into this second group). But it was Tuesday, and Tuesday was our slow day, so we cracked open the decks and decided to mess around with them.

Quickly, these decks became a great smoke break activity for a lot of the joes. Games were quick, and the cards were cheap reprints, so nobody was particularly worried if a card worth the cardboard it was printed on got scratched or bent. There was a special side effect of playing the game; unlike the movies and TV shows, this was a social event. Instead of heading home to plug in their earphones, groups of six or more would gather around one of the tables near the MWR and play for an hour or two.

The cards didn’t last too long but the game nights continued with MWR games or the rare treat of someone ordering a new game online. The games weren’t just for entertainment; they were a bonding experience for everyone involved, even those on the losing side. Sometimes, especially those on the losing side. If you’ve never delved into physical board games since Monopoly ruined Christmas as a kid, I’d recommend taking a new look at what’s been produced in the last few years. You’ll be surprised at how fun some of them can be, even for the non-gamer, and you’ll enjoy the memories of having a much-needed reprieve from the stress of a deployment.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Garrett Ferrara

Garrett is a writer, perpetual student, and seven-year Army veteran. Currently studying Anthropology and Writing & Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida, he's hoping to stretch the G.I. Bill all the way to a PhD. Bilbo Baggins is his favorite literary character; a character that traveled, fought battles, and finally settled into a simple life. He's looking forward to squaring away that last phase.
Garrett Ferrara

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