It’s (not) just paper

It’s a strange fact that physical things are now a niche. Books records magazines and alt-weeklies are all just so much clutter given the convenience of digital. Compare a board game to an iPhone app never mind a next-gen console game; it’s hopelessly clunky and anachronistic by comparison.

But if you break out a deck of cards in public — in a bar restaurant coffee shop — you are guaranteed that someone will approach and start asking questions. This is doubly true if you’re playing a board game. They want to know what you’re playing but even more they want you to know what they play to share memories and stories of family gatherings. Playing a game in public just seems to invite others to take part.

As much as we’re moving away from it we still recognize that there’s something magical about the physical world. Games may be made up of mundane materials — of cardboard paper plastic and the ubiquitous little wooden cubes — but they represent something different. Each game is its own language. It isn’t until you’re in on the secret that those pieces and playing cards transform into stories and skirmishes and whole hidden worlds. The players agree they mean something more so they do.

In its own way the paper you’re holding is clunky and anachronistic too; words and pictures on newsprint on the stands for a week at a time before being bundled up and tossed in the recycling. It isn’t timely or responsive. It’s just paper.

But for a lot of us it has meant a whole lot more. For just shy of two decades Fast Forward Weekly has been a place where people with an unreasonable yearning for the obscure and the esoteric — for bike lanes and bad movies local bands provincial politics and sure board games — can come together and try to convince others that those are things worth caring about. Every week this paper took the passion of its writers and of the community in this city and made it into something real something you could pick up and touch and carry with you. That’s another sort of magic and one that’s increasingly rare.

While this paper is still on the stands though I want to thank Fast Forward Weekly for giving me the chance to write not just about games but also about music film literature and theatre about the people who keep this city vibrant despite well everything. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure and I’m happy at least to get that in print.