Live Through This

Risk-y Business

How a friendship was destroyed…by a board game.

Downward Spiral

I’d always known that Josiah and I were fundamentally incompatible. We shared a sense of humor, but we also shared a lot of not-so-humorous qualities. We were both stubborn, prideful, and, at the time, pretty immature. Risk brought out all those qualities and turned them up to the max. To this day I wish Josiah and I could go back to those pre-Risk days, when we would just goof off and hold hands and be flirtatious pals. But Risk brought out the worst in both of us, and we can’t pretend that it didn’t happen.

JOSIAH: I knew that we could/should never be officially boyfriend and girlfriend. I was far too self-centered back then, and an appropriate girlfriend would have had to praise my every farce and be unconditionally adoring. Your violent streak also frightened me a bit, but it also intrigued me—something about playing with fire comes to mind. Your fun-loving side was what kept me around, though. Fun > danger any day.

MAGGIE: Which is exactly how I feel about Risk. It’s dangerous, and it’s brutal, but it’s so fun. We played Risk constantly, obsessively, even though it was turning us into monsters. It didn’t help that we were living on top of each other, that Nico and I were 4,000 miles away from home, and that there’s nothing to do in Fairbanks but play Risk and go slowly insane.

JOSIAH: I remember losing sleep at night preplanning my moves. “If she takes the Northwest Oil Emirate, I’ll counterattack her South American troops with my naval stronghold in New Atlantis!” etc.

MAGGIE: And you played rough. You never once gave me a break. Every game was a constant struggle against your relentless onslaughts. It made me hate you, but it also sort of made me love you. I loved that we played as equals, that there was zero faux-gentlemanly “let her win” stuff.

JOSIAH: No way. Board game chivalry is for shmucks. I knew you LIKED to be given no quarter, to be treated like the hardcore contender you are. Perhaps I was hoping to build up to the aforementioned make-out-fest climax, but that moment never came…and this pent-up feeling lasted for days, because the games would last for days!

Scorched Earth

Partway through August, Josiah and I each hit a new low. We’d been playing a particular round of Risk for four days. Josiah had conquered the moon and most of the Western Hemisphere. He was going to win, and I couldn’t stand it. So while he was asleep one night, I purposefully wrecked the board. Then I lied about it. I think I tried to blame it on the dog. When I first emailed Josiah about doing this interview, I finally admitted to him that I’d sabotaged his game. What he wrote back really shocked me.

JOSIAH: Yeah, that was a true low. As low, perhaps, as when I secretly read your journal where you admitted the dastardly deed.

MAGGIE: You…you read my journal. Wow. THAT is low.

JOSIAH: Yes, I read your journal. The entry where you admitted to wrecking the game board was just a bonus, as I basically already knew you had, and now I knew that you had lied about it as well.

MAGGIE: I’ve always felt bad about wrecking the board—that was low even for me—but now I’d say we’re even.

JOSIAH: I think you left the journal in the living room one night while you and Nico were asleep. It was like dangling bread in front of a starving child. Plus, I felt like you were super angry with me already, so what more was there to lose by taking a peek?

MAGGIE: So…what did you find?

JOSIAH: Well, most of what I read was rather dry, because you were just objectively documenting what you did day to day. I remember the tone started to change near the end, and the ink flowed thick with Josiah loathing. I don’t remember specifics, just that the language became surprisingly vitriolic. I was a bit taken aback by how passionately you expressed your hatred for me. While I had occasionally become annoyed with you that summer, I never felt even close to the level of blind rage you were expressing in the journal.

MAGGIE: I needed to go home. I definitely needed to stop playing Risk.

JOSIAH: I think Risk was just a PIECE in the GAME of our twisted relationship.

MAGGIE: I slammed you for your sneaky, dishonorable Risk moves, but I made some real-life moves that were just as twisted. I think I just wanted to see how far I could push you. Pretty damn far, as it turns out! I can’t believe you still liked me after the way I acted, and the things you read in my journal. Your crush was indestructible.

JOSIAH: The Josiah-bashing in the journal didn’t even bother me that much. What did bother me was the glaring absence of Josiah-crushing! We had a lot of sneaky-fun-smoochy-times that summer, especially early on, but I don’t remember finding a single instance where you wrote about them, or if you did it was just like a factual report, no “and my heart went all a-flutter” annotations.

MAGGIE: My crush on you would resurface every once in a while, and I’d remember why I came to spend the summer with you in the first place. But those moments kind of got lost amid all the bile and tension.

JOSIAH: Not for me, they didn’t. My heart would explode every time you laughed at some stupid joke that came out of my mouth. I was head over heels for this girl who would be toasting my heartmallow to a nice gooey golden brown one moment, then plunging it into the fire the next.

MAGGIE: I was very cruel, I acknowledge that now. I knew I had all the power in our friendship. I knew you were infatuated with me, and that I could be as cruel as I wanted. And as annoying as you could be, you never deserved that.

JOSIAH: Reading your journal, it seemed my fears were confirmed, that I like-liked you much more than you like-liked me. So yeah, don’t open Pandora’s Book, guys—you’ll just be left feeling like a sorry sap.

MAGGIE: And also don’t wreck a board game just because you’re not winning. You’ll only feel like even more of a loser.

JOSIAH: It’s funny…friendship-shattering drama aside, this conversation has chiefly reminded me of how Risk 2210 was such an awesomely addictive game…

MAGGIE: I’d like to think that we could handle it now, and possibly handle each other too.

JOSIAH: Care to roll the dice again? ♦

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30 Comments

  • MissKnowItAll October 5th, 2012 7:29 PM

    wow.
    My first relationship ended over playing “Tomb Raider”

  • Moxx October 5th, 2012 7:46 PM

    I really like this! thank you for writing it,
    I can relate to this so much… one of my best friendships was ruined (by both parties) in a similar way. you can see it coming, but… you wait, and then it’s much, much too late to save.
    I wish we had been less stupid, it probably would have saved us both many headaches. I hope one day we can talk about it again like you did with Josiah. but ever talking again would be good too :c

    On a not very related note… I -wish- I had people to play board games with! There seem to be no people anywhere near my age who play at all.

    Would anyone in NYC be interested in playing D&D?

    • AliceinWonderland October 6th, 2012 11:39 AM

      Oh my goodness. Do not engage me in a game of D&D. You will be immediatley sorry you did.

  • ickyteenagegirl October 5th, 2012 8:28 PM

    wow this was so good!
    i’m not really a competitive person, so when things get too intense while playing a game I usually just let the other person win so that i can avoid any conflicts.

    …but the route you guys took made for a much more interesting story.

  • christinachristina October 5th, 2012 8:49 PM

    Okay, this AND Jenny’s piece today are two of my favorites, ever, on Rookie. Way to Friday, ya’ll.

  • Maddy October 5th, 2012 9:02 PM

    Wow that is really interesting! I can’t believe you guys were in your 20s. Now I really want to play Risk (either, never played) with someone, not to destroy our relationship, but to have a super strategic game. But the setup in the photo looks killer…

    Also, Drippy Dan is creepin my out majorly. And like, all the other ones.

  • allyishere October 5th, 2012 9:51 PM

    I AM DYING THEY ARE SO CUTE

  • jenaimarley October 5th, 2012 9:58 PM

    This happened to my family!
    Risk is banned from our household now.

  • wolnosc October 5th, 2012 10:05 PM

    This reminds me so much of Jo and Teddy from Little Women!

  • Capt.Melina October 5th, 2012 10:21 PM

    I absolutely loooove this story! It made me smile a lot!!

  • pinmq October 5th, 2012 11:37 PM

    i am so glad this was written! awesome story, maggie! :)

  • daisyparakeet October 6th, 2012 12:12 AM

    I hope you gamersl have managed to channel all this passion into productive pursuits. Great fun to read!

  • softersoftest October 6th, 2012 12:53 AM

    What a great ending, and story in all of course.

  • Sputnick October 6th, 2012 12:53 AM

    This is in my top 25(ish) favorite Rookie articles ever.

  • Mary the freak October 6th, 2012 7:26 AM

    This was so perfectly written. So so so perfectly. I am still totally caught in this story. This is definitely one of my favourite articles EVER. And I love the ending.
    Also, the setup in this picture looks so freaking, creepy, complicated, strategic and awesome and totally like it could destroy a friendship. I never thought a game could be that dangerous.
    Love,

    Mary

  • Hanbanan October 6th, 2012 8:06 AM

    I very much enjoyed this piece, but I felt like a big part of it was missing– I’d be interested to hear from Nico on his feelings from that summer!

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica October 30th, 2012 12:39 PM

      Ooh, I like this idea! I bet Nico would have some very interesting anecdotes to add.

  • NotReallyChristian October 6th, 2012 9:15 AM

    apparently when he was young my Dad was a killer Risk player …

  • Serena.K October 6th, 2012 11:26 AM

    i really, REALLY enjoyed this. definitely one of my favorite rookie posts ever. (also, every person in it has a really cool/interesting name. it’s almost like you planned it!)

  • AliceinWonderland October 6th, 2012 11:42 AM

    This whole article is basically my entire family, though we’ve graduated from Risk to a game called Diplomacy. That game will TEAR YOU APART.

    • jessie77 October 7th, 2012 1:35 AM

      ohmygod diplomacy we played that for a week in history and those were the most intense brilliant lessons of history i will ever have!!

  • Quarts_and_frogs October 6th, 2012 11:55 AM

    I love this article, its so well written and it certainly captured my interest, especially since I love playing risk. The way you describe your relationship with Josiah reminds me of my relationship with one of my guy friends (I’ve had a mondo-humongous crush on him for a while) and how we always act this way when playing video games, though it’s never escalated into hatred.

    Anyway, great article, one of my new favorites.

  • girlswithsecrets October 6th, 2012 1:45 PM

    I’d like to see this as a movie.

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica October 30th, 2012 12:39 PM

      Wow. This would make an AWESOME movie!! :D

  • pinky October 6th, 2012 1:54 PM

    Board games and video games are dangerous territories for friendships! My best friend and I are both very competitive and one of the biggest fights we’ve ever got into was over a couple games of Pokemon stadium on the N64. He trashed talked me, I crushed him two games in a row, I had never beat him at a video game before so it was a big deal. I’m talking full out avoided each other and didn’t talk while the rest of our friends had to put up with our fighting. We made up fairly quickly but it was a big deal for us not to talk even for a night. In the end, I know to never play Pokemon stadium with him again, because this stuff is a big deal.

  • TheGreatandPowerfulRandini October 6th, 2012 3:24 PM

    This was such an intriguing piece of writing.

  • bethleeroth October 6th, 2012 6:41 PM

    okay, this is hilarious.

  • emile October 8th, 2012 10:46 PM

    “toasting my heartmallow to a nice gooey golden brown one moment, then plunging it into the fire the next” is quite possibly the best thing i have ever read.

  • Emilie October 11th, 2012 1:11 AM

    risk is DA BOMB- me and my friends have had to set a 4 day post-game no talking rule, and have banned some from playing. Funnily enough, we’ve never actually finished a game because some one always flips the board by the end

  • Cutesycreator aka Monica October 30th, 2012 12:37 PM

    Reading this was a blast! XD