Daily Illuminator

November 8, 2014: Munchkin Changed My Life: A Fan's Story

Still legible! Every once in a while a fan sends us something that makes us all warm inside, and right now that fan's name is Justin.

I have an interesting story I'd like to share with Mr. Steve Jackson and the other folks who worked on Munchkin, and I hope you will share this story with others to let people know how awesome your game is and how it can truly change someone's life. So feel free to put this on your site or anywhere you'd like to share it.

Like many interesting stories, it starts on a bit of a down note and includes a board game nearly being destroyed at the climax but -- Yeah, you'll see . . .

You have to know a little about me first. My name is Justin and I've lived with debilitating panic attacks and social anxiety since I was 13. I'm 33 now and still struggling but I've learned to live with it. I've tried to get out of the house, but it's tough. My girlfriend, Amanda, is part of a game night, but I was never able to go because of my attacks and agoraphobia. It was hard for me because I hated being alone but at the same time I didn't want to ruin her good time, so I just stayed at home and kept myself busy while she was out.

The anxiety began to get worse. My therapist said I needed to find a way to get out and be social, that it would help the healing process. That same day I saw an ad for your game on the back cover of one of my favorite comics, and I thought maybe I'd give it a try and play at my own house at least. So we saved up and got the game and the first expansion, and we bought it directly from your site. I remember being touched by the fact that someone threw in some extra cards and a little silver coin in the box, even though I didnt know what the coin was for. More on that later.

So Munchkin arrived and we had our first gaming night at our house, I wasn't leaving the house, but I was being social at least, and that was a big step. WE HAD A BLAST! Laughter and jokes and really good game play -- it was a night to remember. I knew then and there that I couldn't keep this game to myself, I'd have to take it to Amanda's game night at her friends' house. I'd have to face my anxiety and power through it and get out there and live.

So the next week I went and I was able to concentrate on the game, which made it much easier to fight the pulls of anxiety and panic that were causing havoc in my head. It was rough but I made it and despite the anxiety, the game and great company made for an amazing time. Another wonderful night of memories.

And so it went for almost a month. One session lead to another and I was getting out more than once a week, which was a vast change from the way things had been. My anxiety was (and is) being defeated. I'm being more social. Getting out more. Life is good.

Bent, but still playable!

So last night (Gaming Sunday), I'm excited but nervous (my anxiety has been flaring up a lot lately due to a death in the family). We get in the car, drive 20 minutes to our destination, get out, and the game is no where to be found. I start to freak out. It's not in the car. Instantly my panic swells. What has happened? Amanda and I discuss it -- Amanda remembered me putting the game in one of those reusable grocery bags and taking it outside but after that neither of us knew. Had I left it sitting in the driveway?

My anxiety wouldn't allow for another car ride (the ride is one of the hardest part), so I stayed at the gaming house (which I should note, staying somewhere without Amanda was another big step!) and Amanda went back to see where I'd left the game. You'll soon see she was the true hero of the night!

So 30 minutes later I get a call from Amanda. She's on her way back. She's searched the house, the porch, the driveway — the game is nowhere to be found. As she's explaining this to me, my heart drops. What had I done? Then she stops and says "Oh my gosh! I found it!"

She found it alright, strewn across the road nearly a quarter of a mile from our house. Apparently I'd put the game on top of the car in my anxious confusion and forgotten it was there. It had held on for quite a while before finally succumbing to wind and gravity, but in the end, it had fallen off and been hit several times by other cars.

But Amanda was not about to let that ruin our night! With me on the phone nervously telling her to be careful, she went around and collected everything she could. It took her an hour and we waited patiently. Would the game still be playable? Surely not! It'd been hit by a car, run over -- and yet all we could think was, "Can we still play it?"

Amanda finally got back with the game. My anxiety was at a serious high. But still I kept thinking "Can we play it? And if not, is there somewhere we can go to buy a new copy?" It was Sunday and getting late, so there was nowhere to go get another copy, but that didn't matter because, as Amanda plopped the game on the table, we found that it was mostly intact!

She'd recovered the game board, which now had a tire mark on it, the die now blackened by tires but still very useable, the colored pawns which had been crushed (much like our hopes an hour earlier) but NOT DESTROYED! We bent them to stand back up and they were still useable. The cards were dimpled, blackened, and bent, but they were still able to be used despite being found as far as a block from their point of impact.

All in all, Amanda had recovered the entire game (and expansion) save for the game box (which had been destroyed on impact apparently) and 5 cards. ALL BUT 5 CARDS! We counted and compared the numbers on your site in disbelief.

The game was, indeed, still completely playable and if anyone would like pictures of the battle-scarred game, crushed characters or road-mottled cards, I will gladly take them for you.

This box took a beating. But here is the best part. We didn't even care. We just wanted to play. So we all set about separating the doors from the treasure cards. We unflattened our little Munchkin characters and slapped the game down and we played. We played well into the night and we had an amazing time as always.

This is a true testament that not only can Munchkin change the life of someone with a bad mental illness, but it can survive being hit by numerous cars and still be playable.

I find this inspiring and I still have that little silver coin you gave me, I've kept it with me all this time when I go out, it helps me when things get tough.

We were so touched by his story that we sent him a bunch of stuff to replace his broken and beat up (but still playable!) game. Thanks for being a fan, Justin!

-- Brian Engard

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