During a recent conversation with gaming friends, the topic of “what games most influenced us over the years?” came up. It was so interesting to hear how games we played as kids, in school, and later in life influenced our gaming interests today and led to some of us working in the game industry. This Monday series will take a personal look into my history as a gamer with my #Top10InfluentialGames. This week we reflect on a classic board game that spawned an iconic game piece and pulled me passionately into the modern board gaming hobby.
Once I left college and my epic games of Risk and Shogun, I honestly didn’t play board games that heavily. I couldn’t find anyone interested around my graduate school or my fist job after school. Played lots of video games, MUDs, MUSHes, and MMOs during my tabletop gaming drought. I would play Euchre, Monopoly, Upwards, and Rummikub with my family. Rarely I could get someone to play a game or Risk or Talisman, but that was only when old gaming friends were in town. Now during that time, I was introduced to Settlers of Catan by friends, and my mind was blown. That game was so different than anything I had played, but it still didn’t pull me into the modern board gaming hobby because it was only that one game, and again I could not find people interested in a game of that type. My wife would play it occasionally, but our neighbors and family were not that into the game.
That all changed when I started working at Taylor University (where I still work today, over 20 years later). My first manager at Taylor was a board gamer and played games during lunch at a table in his office. It was there that I was introduced to Carcassonne, which we played every day for weeks on end. Eventually we picked up other games as well, but that was the game that got me passionate about board games again. I instantly went out and purchased it to share with my wife. Carcassonne started a gaming collection that has grown exponentially since then. Every few weeks, the members of the gaming group would bring in new games that we had heard of, played with other friends, or learned about at an international computing conference we hosted at Taylor (ICCM). ICCM attendees would bring games with them from Europe, expanding our gaming experience and adding to our lunchtime gaming. Carcassonne started that lunch gaming and it grew from there.
- Lunch gaming builds friendships and strengthens teams. Gaming at lunch helped introduce me to my new coworkers when I first started working at Taylor. While gaming, we talked about work and life. The lunch game game us time to unwind and be friends, not just coworkers. And this year we started a campus-wide open gaming time on Tuesdays at lunch for anyone to attend. We are a small group, but I am hoping it grows over time.
- Repetitive gaming leads to deep strategies. With so many amazing games available now, it is so easy to be distracted constantly by the new, shiny game. Always learning a new game and playing it once or twice, then on to the next. But, if you can find a group with the time to play one game multiple times for weeks on end, do it. You all learn the rules so well that you can focus on the strategies of the game rather than learning how to play it. The game takes on all new depth and immersion when you are focused on the gameplay rather than the rules.
- Classic modern games have a lot to offer. As I continue to grow in the gaming hobby and play so many new games, I find the classic modern games still are amazing. It is so easy to be awed by the shiny, new games, with their miniatures, beautiful art, and hype online. But, when you take the time to play games that helped really start this new renaissance of gaming, you find they are amazing games to play. Games like Carcassonne, Catan, Mississippi Queen, Puerto Rico, Cosmic Encounter, and more.
What about you? What game have you played the most over the years that had a huge impact on you? I would be very interested in others writing about their #Top10InfluentialGames. Next week, we discuss my maturity as a game master from focusing on game mechanics to truly story centric roleplaying.