Confessions of a Gamer: By Dean Martin
I think that my evolution in games is pretty typical. Like most Canadians you start with Crazy 8’s, UNO, Euchre, Monopoly and like were the games you played with parents and siblings. Then in the late 70’s early 80’s my friends and I discovered Stratego, Risk, Panzer Blitz and Supremacy. The problem I found with some games is once someone began to get ahead the game became unbalanced and with no way to catch up. Games were always competitive.
Then in the mid 80’s I got my first taste of a game that automatically labeled you a geek..Dungeons & Dragons. At that point I donned my Cloak of Geekdom and my path started. The biggest thing that hooked me at that point was it was a game that you played WITH your friends instead of AGAINST them. Little did I know where this would lead me. As time went on different role-playing games were discovered, played and shelved. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that I discovered a new genre of games…Eurogames.
Eurogames is known by different names (German Style Boardgames, family strategy games, etc.) that focused on co-operative/ semi-cooperative building where the North American styles games (Risk, Stratego, etc) were based on war. That said it could be that I was just male playing ‘male style’ games back in the 80’s that I could be making a huge generalization. In the late 90’s though a game bridged the ocean between North America and Europe and a new era of gaming began in my opinion. Most people will realize what game that is without reading the next part to find out what that is. Settlers of Catan is probably the most famous introductory game to teach people. It was for me and it’s the first game I teach to people.
Settlers of Catan is what brought me fully into gamerhood. Easy to learn this resource building game is something that can be played with friends, family and inlaws. This is the first game I pull off the shelf to introduce people to ‘the real world of gaming’. For the first 5 years my wife and I were together she wouldn’t touch a ‘geeky game like that.’ Don’t get her wrong, she knew how much of a geek I was and fully accepted it. Eventually, begrudgingly, she gave it a try to get me off her back. Then she wanted to play again…and again…hmmm…maybe we should get an expansion. Next thing she knew she was a geek! She wouldn’t admit it at first but it had happened. Then she convinced her parents to give it a try…and they were hooked. From there our game collection grew, more book cases and trunks purchased. We keep looking for our next fix.
Everyone has an inner geek. Some recognize this, others it needs to be nurtured and grown. Geekdom is a phenomenon that is going and accepted in this day and age. It can be expensive to get into with the average price of a game on average being $50.00+. However there are several avenues where you can start off slow. Some restaurant and bars have a monthly games night where people get together and play. Other restaurants/ cafe/ taverns are dedicating to gaming with walls lined up with games to select from and staff willing to teach. Most (if not all) colleges and university have a games club with a collection you can draw from. Specialty gaming stores have a staff that can help you pick a game based on your likes/ dislikes or sometimes have a ‘store copy’ that they can show you how to play. Sometimes the rules books can be confusing so there are several websites and YouTube channels have games reviews and show you how to play. A personal favorite is TableTop Gaming by Wil Wheaton (aka Wesley Crusher and nemesis of Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory).
If you are an experienced gamer then Game On! If you’re new to gaming or haven’t tried ‘one of those geek games’ welcome to The New World Order….Of Gaming. Don’t try just one. Not every game is for everyone. There is a game out there for you. Just remember games are just games but the fun you have playing with friends and family, the laughs and conversations you share while you play them is what make them priceless. May your dice roll in favor and the cards you are dealt be a winning hand.