Friday, November 03, 2006

Game Related Activities

I was looking at Yehuda’s latest essays and Shannon Appelcline’s Mathematics and Game Design essay of a couple of weeks ago, and I started thinking that a lot of the Gone Gaming blogs seem to written more for game designers than casual game players. Nothing wrong with that; casual gamers with intellectual curiosity could be nearly as interested in these kind of essays as aspiring game designers.

And this started me thinking about how many members of my local gaming group are more than just casual gamers. On an average night no more than seven or eight gamers will gather at Ted Cheatham’s house for the weekly session of the Appalachian Gamers, but almost all of us have been a playtester on at least one professionally produced game. With the publication of Silk Road, Ted himself has become a game designer, and there seems to be a good chance that one or more of his other designs will be published in the next year or two. One of our members--Travis Reynolds--is a founding father of a gaming convention--Charcon. Yours truly writes a gaming blog. And this month, some of our group members will be putting in time at local libraries demo-ing games for the public.

To me this seems like a lot of Advanced Game-Related Activities (AGRA) for such a small group. And that makes me wonder about how our group compares with others. Was I exceptionally lucky to stumble upon an elite group of gamers when I moved to West Virginia two years ago? Or are most gaming groups full of folks who indulge in AGRAs when they have the time? I know that there is a huge group of Long Island gamers who have their own magazine, but it might be that the percent of AGRA-active gamers in that group is quite small compared to the size of the group as a whole.

Post a reply here and let me know about your group. I’m curious what other exotic game-related activities are out there. As anybody with a nodding knowledge of statistics will know, this won’t be a scientific sample because it will be self-selecting. Gamers who belong to groups with members who do nothing but play games probably won’t bother to respond. But so what. This is for our amusement, not for a sociological journal.

Let me know—

…what’s the most unusual game-related activity you’ve witnessed.

…the silliest.

…the most work for no reward.

…the most intellectual.

When I start to add up the hours that I’ve spent on AGRAs this year, and when I consider that a lot of members of the Appalachian Gamers devote considerably more time than I do, I start to realize just how emotionally engaging this hobby is. And I suspect that the devotion that the hobby inspires has led to some strange and wondrous tales.

Tell me yours.


huzonfirst said...

Kris, I suspect your game group isn't all that unusual. Okay, I take it back, any group with both Ted AND Charlie is pretty strange. But in the way you mean, I bet there's plenty others like it.

Here's a rundown on my group, the DC Gamers. It includes:

Jason Matthews and Ananda Gupta, co-designers of a multi-award winning game (Twilight Struggle);

Christian Leonard, who is working with Jason on a follow-up game;

Alan Ernstein, co-owner of Hangman Games, which produces all his games, including such noted designs as Tahuantinsuyu and Ars Mysteriorum;

Kurt Adam, the other Hangman co-owner, who was also an early writer of the German game scene;

Marc Houde and Shawn Metcalf, who operate a small games publishing company (Omni Gaming Products);

And me. I've designed some games, write a weekly column for Boardgame News, and have contributed to Counter and Gamers Alliance for many years.

Our ex-members are just as impressive:

Ben Baldanza, IGA jury member and Counter reviewer, who's been a notable name in the industry for well over a decade;

Anye Sellers, game publisher (Dancing Eggplant Games).

At one point, we really did all game together!

Jeff said...

Let's see. The San Antonio Boardgamers contains:

Brian Bankler - Geek of the Week alumnus and blogger of Tao of Gaming fame

Patrick Christenson - co-designer and co-publisher of Hunting Party (Patrick moved away recently, but I'm still going to claim him as one of us)

Before I moved to Texas from Tennessee, I judged a large number of large Magic tournaments

We all blog at our BGIA-nominated blog ( and even though a lot of the posts are in the "Hey, who's gonna be at Brian's tonight?" vein, we also post several decent session reports and other game-related things.

There's a game prototype we're currently playtesting, but I'm not sure exactly how hush-hush it is so I'll not say any more about it.

I think many groups will have at least some Game Related Activities, especially with blogging being so easy.

Coldfoot said...

Since we are dropping names:

Even up here in the middle of nowhere I frequently game with Bruno Sinigaglio. Bruno has been active in the wargame community for years. He has been involved in the design and play testing of several wargames.