Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Flicking the switch

Thankyou to all our loyal readers and writers over the years.

Gone Gaming has moved to the Boardgamenews website.

You can go straight to the main site, or directly to the Gone Gaming section.

We look forward to seeing you over there.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Turning out the lights

First, let me congratulate the Gone Gaming bloggers on their new home at Boardgamenews.com. Eric has been doing a bang up job filling Thornquist's shoes at Boardgame News and I wish them all the best of luck.

Guess it's my turn to reminisce.

Many bloggers have passed through the doors at Gone Gaming. They all had something to offer, and all were coming from a slightly different point of view. They all worked together to keep Gone Gaming not only one of the best and most diverse boardgame blogs, but one of the best blogs in general. It is a shame to see it go, but all good things must come to an end.

I would like to specifically single out and thank Shannon Appelcline for going the distance, so to speak. He is the only original blogger to have stuck with Gone Gaming over the years. As he alluded in his last post, Shannon was the last of the original bloggers to sign on. Funny how it worked out. The rest of us were hot-to-trot, and ready to go before he accepted his invitation in literally the last hours before the inaugural post. At the time I only knew Shannon as a noted RPG and boardgame reviewer, I had no idea he was a professional writer. Had I known I might have been too embarrassed to approach him.

Gone Gaming was created in the wake of the demise of the daily boardgame blog feature at the internet game seller, Gamefest. At the same time the noise on the premier boardgame site, Boardgamegeek, was drowning the good content. The desire for a daily boardgame blog where gamers could read quality material and congregate was my intention when I originally solicited contributors for Gone Gaming. I enjoyed reading over the years, and I hope you did as well. In the early days Gone Gaming still had that new-blog smell. In the intervening years blogging has become common place. Personally, I subscribe to nearly one hundred boardgame related blogs on my RSS aggregator. Some of those blogs haven't been updated in a year or more, but I discover new ones all the time. Also, several changes have been made which have greatly improved the situation at BGG, and to a great extent have alleviated the need for independent boardgame blogs.

The main factor that contributes to the demise of many blogs is the fact that blogging is a tough business. About the only thing blogging has going for it is that you can choose your hours, but even that isn't always true when there is pressure to meet a deadline as is (often) the case at Gone Gaming. Sure there are the loose blogger groupies, but even their attention wanes when the blow run low, and your smack dealer is in jail. The pay is low. The benefit package sucks. Feedback can be iffy, and you can't bribe an OSHA inspector to make it tough on the competition. I truly appreciate all the bloggers who are able and willing to keep their blog updated over a period of years. Consider this a thank you to all the bloggers who do so.

In my case work was not only getting in the way of blogging, but in the way of gaming. I was no longer playing a new game or two every month, and there were months in which I played no games, new or old. The stress of writing for a boardgame blog became greater and appropriate material became harder to come by. Like many other Gone Gaming contributors it came time for me to pass the torch. As has happened many times in the past, and as is the case right now, the final Gone Gaming torch will be passed to Boardgame News.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for contributing. Good luck to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hello Goodbye

As a biweekly contributor from the beginning of the blog in August of 2005 through the February of 2006, Gone Gaming was a lot of fun for me. It was a great outlet for my thoughts about my favorite hobby, it spurred me to write, and it enabled me to engage in the general buffoonery which I love so very much. More than that, though, the experience was special to me because of the enthusiasm of my co-contributors, Brian, Shannon, Yehuda, Mary, D.W., Alex, GROGnads, Fraser and Melissa; each had their own distinctive voice, but we were all united in our love for the hobby.

Two and a half years later, it's time to put the chairs on the tables and turn out the lights, but is that a bad thing? Not really. Things change, people grow, one door closes and another one opens. Nothing lasts forever, and that's just as well. Like gaming itself, what's important is the fun one has along the way, and for me Gone Gaming was nothing but. I hope its readers feel the same way.

As a parting thought, I will relate a conversation I had with my half-asleep son as I struggled to write something appropriate for this occasion:

The monkey is chasing the bees!

Did the monkey catch the bees?

No, they went into outer space.

What does it all mean? Something important, probably. If nothing else, I think we can agree that while chasing bees might be a fun endeavor for a while, in the end we monkeys have to slow down and let the bees do their thing. What would we even do with the bees if we caught them? It would probably be very awkward and we would just have to let them go again.

Thanks, Brian.

Last "riposte" for "Gone Gaming"

Here's a last riposte from GROGnads, another of the original Gone Gaming authors.

I was honored to even be asked to JOIN these folks when it first began years ago, so thank you all with that distinction. It was quite the unique experience as far that I'm concerned upon it all, since it brought together a diverse select few, where that was the main point of this all. You were then given their "perspectives" in the GAMES 'World' that they'd currently been involved with, along with the opinings of many another where they delved and diverged from the relevant and "on topic", to lambaste & lampoon one another and even gots some "hurt feelings" with a few. Let's all just BE above that 'pettiness' and 'pitiful' attempts then, to be respectable in PUBLIC displays here or anywheres for that matter.

Now, I'm asking everyone else to JOIN and keep them folks HERE, immortalized within our "communal psyche" throughout the remainder of our days. While certainly, it does require that a few people take it upon themselves to 'work' on being the "Admins" with anything that we shall come up with for whatever shall develop upon this all. I'm proclaiming HERE about a BGG-"related" 'blog' comprising of contributors from the vast amount of people within it there, to make UP that 'blog' with their everyday encounters. I've already gone around and formally asked a few folks to assist with that, while any others are most welcome to submit any content for considerations. Were there to be several individuals that can combine their efforts regarding some specific *topic*, then having their multiple "viewpoints" gathered together in coherent reply with response, is a good means for bringing out continuous discussions and resolution in this manner. WHY many of the actual "Game Designers" don't pursue this course to clear UP 'matters', is something of which I would hope that they're willing to comply abouts. Check out the BGG 'blog' we're creating and WHY don't YOU think of a good "intro" piece about yourself, so that others can gaze within your respective 'vibes' about "Gaming", with what you can? Keep the content 'fit' for public consumption with "civil demeanor" towards one another, and one more 'thang'~"Good Gamings 4 YOU!".

Saturday, December 29, 2007

So long, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen, Adieu

Since we're sharing, here's the original approach to me and Fraser back in December 2005 to join what we saw as the pre-eminent boardgaming blog.
Hello Fraser, Melissa, "BIGGIE" & "lil`un" and the 'critters'-if many as I send this for your to read upon and answer quickly please, thanks for reading over it. We would like for the BOTH of YOU to join in at the 'blog' for ONE 'day' out of the WEEK for a "Weekly" upkeep about YOUR 'gaming experiences' with insights, etc. and you could even alternate or however you'd like to approach this:

"FROM: the BGG 'group of geeks"

I'd suggest EACH of us write to them(you folks~edit.) with our very OWN 'notions' as well, in order to foster IDEAS from them or even US. The better MEANS would be for ALL of us to gather in the CHAT here and maybe some of YOU would be able to LISTEN in for 'moi' TALKING through that as well as ANY others capable for this? I've been on for hours with folks ALL over the world at NO Cost 'extra' for it. At the very least then WE can meet and toss 'subjects' off of one another as a 'sounding board' discussion and fleshing OUT Group missions. Should you agree to such, nobody's to FORCE anything upon another AS they can BE in or OUT on whatever matters. I'd surely expect YOU all to join in with "web-cam" meet ups when you're able, while I've got a T V "camera ready" S-VHS kit for actual tapings of 'gamings' in a to be featured "Games Channel" of some sort. Most likely they'll become 'subscriber based' for JUST certain and MANY varied types huh? So of course just about ALL can cover their 'milieu' since I don't EXPECT to myself. Then there's the "local yokels" of which we ALL would comprise for THIS within every country and soon upon the MOON! "Get with the 'program' of GET left behind"~that's a "Xclamato''
" Have 'your people' contact OUR 'people'! "

As I so eloquently put this, then it shall involve HOWEVER we can EACH accomplish this, while WE should all strive towards WHAT they'd like as well. You may become "famously RICH" whilst participating too, but it'll depend upon IF you'd want to AND in what particular 'manner' this results in. Take care-Robert.

My response, if I recall correctly, used the phrase "Mouse in the Company of Giants". I was honoured and surprised to be invited to join the group, and wasn't entirely sure that I had earned the right to be here.

I'm still not sure that I have earned the right, but I have learned that that is one of the beauties of blogging. There's a sort of upside-down logic to it: By blogging, you earn the right to be a blogger. It doesn't get much more egalitarian than that - and I now have a long list of boardgaming blogs on my RSS feed list.

One interesting side effect of writing for Gone Gaming has been that I now write more on my personal blogs than I used to - once you identify yourself as a blogger, you start to write more.

Unlike on Gone Gaming, where I feel the need to at least try to write something a bit longer and relatively cohesive, my personal blog posts may only be a paragraph or even a sentence long - sometimes it is more important to post than to polish. I have seen many excellent blogs lose their way because the author spent so long polishing a post that they missed posting five other things that would have been of interest. This is not (entirely) an argument for quantity over quality, but an understanding that sometimes the balance lies more in one direction than in another.

It has been an honour to be a part of the team here and to get to know so many people, both my fellow bloggers and our loyal (and sometimes occasional) readers. I hope to meet many more of you over the next few years.

My first post on December 17th, 2005 talked about why beating Fraser gives me a thrill. I have to confess, it still does - while I try not to bring anything from outside into a game, I still love to beat him.

When I wrote that, we were packing for a long Summer holiday away, and finding the time and opportunity to blog was tricky. Given that, I'm amused that we decided that December was a good time to pack up and move shop - but this time, it will just be a change of location rather than something new.

There's definitely a pang at leaving the Gone Gaming site behind. It's exciting to be moving somewhere new, though, and I hope to see our many readers on those pages as well.

*smoochies* - and see you next Tuesday!


PS - Sadly, although he and we hoped it would happen, DW Tripp was unable to contribute a farewell post to this series. We wish him well - and those of you who are missing his posts might enjoy re-reading his first post on Gone Gaming.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Plain Vanilla Gamer

This Christmas I asked for and received not a single 2007 boardgame. Instead, I asked for and received two older games that I thought should be part of my collection. The games are Manhattan and El Grande. You don’t get Euro-games more classic than these. I believe that both are Spiel des Jahres winners. Manhattan is a quick-playing light strategy game that I expect to play with non-gamers like my in-laws. El Grande is…well, if you’re reading this, you already know what El Grande is.

Now that I’ve come to the end of my Gone Gaming blogging career, I think I’ve earned the chance to be both lazy and to pontificate for once. In other words, here is a list of recommended games. This is not a list of all the games I own, or even a list of all my favorite games (although it comes pretty close to being the latter). But it is a list of ten strategy games that could be the foundation of any good Euro-game collection. (I have a different list of easy-to-play games to be pulled out when non-gamers are around; that list includes Manhattan).

The Hall List of Ten Essential Medium-to-Heavy Strategy Games You Should Own:

El Grande
Puerto Rico
Power Grid
Twilight Struggle
Union Pacific
Reef Encounter
Struggle of Empires
Age of Empires III

I now own all of these except Reef Encounter, and I hope to add that to my collection in 2008.

What strikes me looking at that list is how mainstream and bland it is. Is there a single controversial choice? About the only unconventional decision I made was to drop Tigris and Euphrates and replace it with Liberte (I’m not that fond of tile-laying games). Many of you undoubtedly would replace Union Pacific with Age of Steam, but overall my tastes are so conventional that I could be a stand-in for that hypothetical beast: the average gamer.

So I guess that is my strength and my weakness as a boardgame blogger as well as game collector; I am a plain vanilla kind of guy. Don’t expect too many quirky insights from me, or too much exploration of the odd corners of gaming. I tend to keep my boat in the center of the current.

I want to thank Coldfoot and the rest of the Gone Gaming crew for allowing me to give you a dish of plain vanilla once a week. I hope most of you readers will check out Boardgame News where some of us will still be chattering about the hobby.

It’s been fun.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Traditions

This time of year is always rife with traditions at my house. I’m descended from Scandinavian and German stock, so we tend to make a big deal out of Christmas, particularly Christmas eve when we would exchange presents as a family. I’ve always been a fan of boardgames, so I would often get games as presents. However, on Christmas morning we would all get up and open a few more presents from “Santa” in our stocking. Next to each of our stockings (there were four of us kids) would be one last present, a brand new boardgame! That’s four new games entering into our family’s game closet every year. As THE child in the family who was into gaming (I was in charge of “games and refreshments” whenever we had an official family meeting), new games were a big deal. Having most of our important traditions and activities happen on Christmas eve left the entire Christmas day for me to try to con my brothers, sisters, and parents into playing a game. We’d get all four new games onto the table at some point during the day, and sometimes even a few repeats. While I’ve loved boardgames as long as I can remember, I attribute some of that lasting appeal to the annual appearance of a new game from “Santa”.

One of my fondest Christmas game memories is the year we journeyed out to Montana to do some downhill skiing over Christmas break. My mother packed the large-box Milton Bradley Axis and Allies in the back of our van just so we could unwrap it on the traditional Christmas morning. As it was a bit expensive, it took the place of both my brother’s and my own games for that year. I didn’t mind at all, and my older brother seemed to put up with it. We played through two entire games before we headed out on the trip home. Losing a day of skiing or playing a huge boardgame with lots of little army pieces? – no question in my mind which is the right choice.

I’ve since grown, as has my family. The Christmas morning game tradition at my folks’ house still lives on, although it is now one per family rather than per kid. With my son only 1 year old, I’m anxious to start some game-related traditions of my own but I suppose that may have to wait at least another year. He’s too busy playing the “hide in wrapping paper game” or “chase dad through the cardboard jungle” game.

In fact, my own little future gamer is the main reason I’ve been so silent lately. Returning back to school this fall after staying at home with my son for a year severely cut into my spare time and I’m afraid my posting regularity suffered. It’s great to see the blog going out on such a high note with so many insightful writers coming back one last time for a grand hurrah. I came to Gone Gaming as a blogger later on in its lifetime, but I enjoyed my brief run. Thanks for reading and see you around the net!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

New, old, in between.

I qualify as the new guy I guess. I think I'm still the most recent addition to Gone gaming, so I don't have quite the long period of time to look back on and reminisce. When several folks left Gone Gaming at about the same time, I either mentioned writing to Shannon, or he mentioned it to me. Whoever instigated it, the result was me joining on a mostly biweekly basis to muse about the old and the new. I find it amusing to look at the variety of writers at gone gaming who were also retailers - DWTripp, Smatt, and myself. Did I miss anyone? If Smatt had admitted to owning motorcycles we could have had even more in common1.

Group blogs usually do have a short lifespan, or at least sporadic, with flurries of activities and then silence. Gone gaming has stood out as nicely even - which I hope we can continue at our new home over at boardgamenews.

It's christmas day for those following that calendar/celebration. Not the biggest blog reading day on the calendar, so I'll keep this short.

For those following the US retail religion of consumerism, this is a pretty even holiday. Lots of late shoppers kept me busy right up until closing yesterday (christmas eve). No big gains over last year, but no horrible drops either.

Gaming on the horizon? Unknown. It's an evening that might get monopolized by Rock Band, or could easily see a game upon the table. One of my regular groups meets on monday nights - we've got an extended break this week and next. I'll find out tomorrow how many people show up for games at the store the day after christmas.

And so it goes - a year ends, a blog winds down, and the new year brings change and all manner of other excitement. I'll see you there.

Merry Xmas, Thanks for the good times, and see you again soon.


1 Obligatory footnote: Yes, my primary transportation is a motorcycle. I don't have the undying love for them that DWTripp possesses. Why didn't you ride a motorcycle Smatt? oh well.