Nerd in the Country: In Which My Entire Life Revolves Around Gaming
Regular readers here know of my affinity for table top games. I started with the basics, Uno, Skip-Bo, Monopoly and Yahtzee, when I was a kid. I got a Nintendo when I was 9 or so, and that is when video games became a thing. As I grew up, my gaming did as well. I started playing Magic: The Gathering in high school and my wife (whom I started dating in high school; Mushy, I know) got me into Rummy and Hearts. Around that time I started playing more video games because I had a job and could afford my own consoles and such. Video games took over my gaming for several years, but I wanted to start having friends over to game. However, when you invite friends over to play Portal 2, most of them think you’re a show off. So I started exploring table top games again because of a gamecon that my local comic store was putting on. Little did I know that table top games were going to become a huge part of everything I do know.
I was buying games, but was having trouble getting my wife to play them with me. She would play, but the look on her face would be like she had just smelled wet dog… In hindsight, that may have actually been the case. We live in Oregon AND have a dog. I was also looking for an outlet that would let me take a look at a game, before I committed my $40+ to something that I may or may not enjoy. Enter the “Table Top” show. I would watch an episode while my wife played Farmville (or whatever she does on Facebook for hours on end) in the same room. I would pay attention to what games she seemed interested in based on her response. I started buying those games that she seemed to show the most interest in. I also started a little Nerdhurd of peeps that would enjoy coming over on a Friday or Saturday night to play games and watch “Doctor Who” or “Firefly” (again) with the wifey and I. Gaming became a regular hobby of ours.Shortly after that, I got an opportunity to work for a soon to be launching nerd/geek themed blog. They took me on due to my podcasting experience and I ended up running my ow section on the blog known as “Legit Low-Tech” in which I did reviews of table top games. I also became the iOS staff writer as I was the only person in the group that happened to be an “iphone/ipad fag”, as they put it. This site is now defunct (RIP CoinOpKids) but I formed a really strong bond with the site owner, Zac. We actually attended (and got destroyed at) a Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour qualifier together last summer. I wrote for CoinOp for a while before I got a new job. I continued writing for CoinOp, but could no longer head up to HQ (about 40 minutes north of where I live) to hang out, write, brain storm ideas and game. Around the same time, two other writers on the site quit. Needless to say, it wasn’t quite the same. CoinOpKids shut down a while back.
My new job includes working with developmentally disabled adults. That being the case, you must understand the confidentiality issues that could arise if I should talk in any detail about the clients, so I am going to leave it at that. I will say that some of them are autistic. I can talk about my role with these clients, however. They live in a group home setting. Some of them have jobs and some of them are more independent than others. What they all share a need of, is people to take them places and observe them in this setting. I am one of several people who perform this function. What this means is, mostly, I sit around this group home and wait for them to either need help with something or need to go to a place. They need rides to get to and from work, doctor’s appointments and various stores at which they purchase wares that they need or want. Yes, I am not that far removed from a taxi service. As you can imagine, there are days that nothing happens. They stay in their rooms and do whatever it is they do coming out for food or drink now and again. That being the case, I started bringing some of my board games to work. It started out as a way for other staff and I to have something to do while the clients did their thing. Soon enough, some of the clients started watching… and playing… and conquering!I started playing board games at work to alleviate the boredom of an 8 hour shift sitting in a chair waiting for someone to need a thing. Since, some of them (one in particular) has really come to enjoy gaming with me. He and I have the last hour and a half of my shift blocked out for gaming. This is encouraged by my employers, as it helps me build rapport with this client and he generally uses these gaming sessions to tell me things that he can’t seem to communicate to other staff. I think it’s because he’s able to focus on the game and let his mind wander about what may or may not be bothering him, so it’s easier to let out something personal that may embarrass him or make him feel uncomfortable. It also might be that he relates to me better due to similar interests in gaming. Whatever the reason, it’s going like gang busters!
I recently received a text from my buddy Zac that used to run CoinOp. Turns out he’s starting a new site to take the place of CoinOp. Looks like I’ll be doing game reviews there now (More Info Soon)! The point being, we all wish we could find a way to do what we love for a living. Wil Wheaton gets paid to play games (amongst other tiny things like Big Bang Theory and Eureka), in a manner of speaking, so do I.
I want to tip my hat and send a huge “Thank You!” out to Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day over at the Geek and Sundry Channel. Without “Table Top”, getting my wife to play games with me would have been infinitely more of a pain in the ass! Making the games accessible to her in a way that I couldn’t on my own. Without that, my game collection wouldn’t have been anywhere near what it is now, because, as any table top gamer knows, you need someone to play with! Those “infection vector” games wouldn’t have been in my closet to take to work one day so I could find out that a 40 something autistic man has something to say and I am the one he says it to over a “Ticket to Ride”game board or tumbling “Zombie Dice.” Mr. Wheaton, if you happen to be reading this, Thank You.[youtube http://youtu.be/V6oMBSiL7Zs]
Time for the question…. What are your favorite Table Top games? How do you use them to connect with others? PLEASE don’t say trolling on r/boardgames!
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Posted on December 17, 2012, in Games, Gaming, Geek, My Nerdography, Nerd, Nerd in the Country, Personal and tagged albany, alloy matt, autism, autistic, blogger, corvallis, felicia day, gaming, geek, geek and sundry, lebanon, matt jacobs, nerd, nerd in the country, nerdography, table top, wil wheaton. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.