Squeaks, I see what you're trying to say, but I think you're making a bit of a false dichotomy there. The thing with going to Thanksgiving dinner if you don't like the food is, it doesn't affect the interaction between people. I'm not much for Thanksgiving dinner either--I'm a vegetarian, so I can't eat turkey, gravy, or stuffing that's been inside the turkey, and I don't eat butter either (not a veggie thing, more of an aversion to putting viscous fat in/on my food). In fact, when I lived at home, my mom would make me a separate pan of box-mix stuffing, and I'd eat maybe, three bites of it, and the rest would get thrown out, because I really don't like stuffing in general, but I didn't have the heart to tell her that. But anyway, I digress. With Thanksgiving dinner, it didn't matter if I just ate vegetables, and a small serving of non-buttered, starch-based sides, because I could still interact with my family just the same, even if we weren't all eating the same thing.
However, with Rockband (or any other video game), the interaction pretty much IS the game. It makes conversation harder, because everyone's focusing on what's happening on the screen, and it prevents people from getting up from the television screen, going out and doing other activities, and just generally engaging with the real world. The truth is, they have that game all the time, and they could play it whenever they want, but Saki and her husband can only visit once in a while, because of the cost and logistics of the travel involved. So, I think Saki's relatives *are* being selfish to insist on all Rockband, all the time, when Saki and her husband visit. Even without the travel issue, I was taught as a child that, when you have guests over, you do what the guests want to do. Well, in this case, Saki wants to actually interact and do stuff, so in that case, I think her wishes should be honoured.
Maybe the dynamic in your family was different in your family, in mine the "interaction" was "mmm good food I love turkey dinner omm nom nom nom nom" then hurrying to kick everyone out so people could be ready for bed by six pm. Well they did occasionally make sarky comments to me about my plate or only eating meat, or trying to convince me that sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes are the same (ummm no they are not, and yes there were years that they only had sweet and id only eat dry turkey. . . lots of snark on those years), so really the interaction was the food, I was left to twiddle my thumbs doing nothing waiting for them to finish listening to the same conversation about loving turkey dinner every single time it was served. The point if there was one at all was the food, not the interaction. I don's see how watching people eat is any more interactive than watching people play a game. Heck i feel like i can interact with people while playing video games much easier than while eating. But i do think it was sweet of your mom to try.
Video games are part of the real world. Not liking them or "getting" them does not not negate their existence.
They also can not play with Saki's husband all the time.
The problem with saying "Saki wants to interact and do stuff" is the answer is "Ok how about Rock Band?" and just about anything else she suggests can be countered with "how is that different than Rock Band?" Rock Band is "stuff"
Really if Saki wants to do *anything* be it play a board game, go to a museum, then the same arguments can be made about those things as they can with Rock Band. That they are the focus and a distraction. I suppose she could suggest they just turn off the TV and sit around talking and doing nothing but talk, but i suspect that is going to be interpreted as "Let's all sit in the room starring vacantly at each other" Some people just do not have much to say, and saying "let's talk and interact" is going to be met with " Um. . . . hi. . . I think im done now, i don't really have much else to say" If you are actually "doing" something, it can be a distraction for interacting.
Yes the argument can be made that you should try to keep your guests comfortable. But there is something unsavory about a guest wanting to bore all of her hosts to tears. If they have no interest in doing what she wants, it is a bit selfish of her to want to force them to be board while she has fun. They have said she/she and hubby/she and others can go off and do other stuff so they are not trapping her or forcing her to play. She however does want to force them to do what she wants. Really she would need to articulate more so why one thing is better than Rock Band in a way that is more than just she prefers it. Guest or not, there is a point where majority rules and a point where it is selfish to want 5-10 people to be board so you can have fun. A board game is just a preference. It really is not that different from arguing they should play Guitar Hero vs Rock Band. Functionally they are they same, it just is a matter of preference.
If she can find a suggestion that they like, great, wonderful. But if they say "No we really don't want to play a board game" It should be dropped. I can not see how anyone would have fun thinking "I like this board game so much better than Rock Band and even though i am surrounded by people that are only doing this to humor me and would rather be playing Rock Band I am still having more fun even if they are all board for my sake" Id just feel to guilty. It would be way way to weird to me to have people do that.
In writing all this and thinking about my family I think something just clicked.
With my family we talked often enough in passing we did not need to catch up, we knew eachother and what was going on. My aunt called my mother and grandmother each at least once a day. My grandparents lived five minutes from my family. So at a family dinner/get together/holiday, there was not really need to spend loads of time just talking. It was already said. So they focused on distractions.
Saki said that they rest of the family see each other quite a lot, so i suspect they are the same. They do not need to spend time talking and interacting to catch up. They know what is going on. If they catch up every 2-3 days or so, the catch up only takes so long, so they do other stuff. Sure Saki and Hubby are not there as much, but it can be hard to change the dynamic and the feel of feeling caught up. And with modern connections (facebook, email, cell phones, etc.) they may feel more connected to Saki and Co than they would a distant relative 20 years ago. In some ways that fact that they feel like you are still one of them is kinda sweet.
There is only so much catch up with a group of say 8 close and two distant you can do before it is awkward. Think about it. It can be an interrogation of Saki and Hubby where they ask them questions to get caught up on their lives as they are the distant ones, which can feel odd for many involved. Or If it is a back and forth with Saki and Hubby getting caught up on the family, then they are making the family hear stuff that they already know. i.e. Skai and Hubby may not know about Cousin 1's new job and may like to hear about it, but the eight other people who have heard about it routinely for a few months likely already have heard it all and it is tedious to have to hear it again.
So I have and idea. Saki. I think you should try to focus on spending some time with them one or two at a time. Maybe you would rather do it as a group, but that may not work. But if while all of them are playing Rock Band, if you corner Cousin 1 during some down time and say "Id really like to hear about your new job" there is a good chance that at least Cousin 1 would take the time to play less Rock Band and talk to you one on one more. Then over the course of a visit you can at least get your conversation time with everyone, even if it is one at a time. Knowing that you don't know about the job would make them more comfortable and open about talking as there would not be that nag in their head saying "they know this" and with devoted one and one time . . . well it can be easier.
You could also be more selective and direct in your suggestions. Instead of saying "it be fun to do x, it be great if you (general all of you or any of you) came" maybe think of something you know one of them likes. So try something like "Cousin 2 I know you are interested in X and Y thing about X is happening id love to go check it out with you" you may have more luck with getting Cousin 2 to go with you. It likely would be easier to find something that two people want to do rather than 10. And you can always extend the invite to everyone else. I suspect that as soon as one of them says "sure that sounds fun" others would be a bit more comfortable as well. It may not be ideal to split up like that, but if you spread it out evenly I think it could be a really good compromise.