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The Toughest Places/Countries to be a Geek
DominiGeek
Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo
D.N.
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Recently I saw this thread about the places boardgamers live or were born, and it got me thinking:

a) I’ve live all my life in my home country Dominican Republic,
b) I am a boardgamer (Not miniatures, TCG/LCG/CCG, RPG/LARP and such)
c) I’ve been so alone for such a long time in this hobby.

I see myself as an ameritrasher at heart, but a euro gamer out of necessity, and decided to express myself and maybe hear from others, about their predicament as boardgamers in their lovely countries/places which sadly and probably are geek-impaired.

Well, to the American and German boardgamers: NOT EVERYWHERE is wine & roses for everyone. I get a crack when I read about how the hobby is growing into the masses; females are getting into it; my group is starting to meet on a daily basis, twice!! because I can’t help but to think, NOT around here boys!!!. To be a boardgamer at my age (Mid 30’s) in this country it’s like some sort of legend, you‘ve heard the story, might be true… it just hasn’t been authenticated as real.

Let’s see the odds: The Dominican Republic, a beautiful country with around 10 million people: If only 1% were geeks, any kind, that would result in around 100,000 which I believe it’s a respectable number. But let’s be pessimistic, heck, let’s say only 0.25% went this way, with 24,999 geekbuddies around, I wouldn’t have time to surf BGG. Heck, I figure I could find someone to play something else rather than Carcassonne (Which it’s a good game but you know…).

But so far, of the 24,999 geeks that are supposed to be in the country, as a result of my pessimistic calculus, here is what I got to show:

a) 1 younger cousin that I have to bribe with food most of the time to play Twilight Struggle, and he sucks at it.
b) My best friend, with whom I’ve tried bribery, persuasion, dissuasion, even the threat of ending our friendship, just to get a play now and then, and nothing hardly works. Needless to say, he sucks bigger that my cousin.
c) A geek (Finally!) which a found through BGG, but the guy’s a sucker for miniatures. I’ve tried it folks, but I just can’t see it as any other thing that super cool models with a lot of rules around to play with them.
d) Another geek (Hey, only 24,998 to go!) he travels a lot, spends half the time out of the country, and what do you know? He’s into miniatures too…

Then there’s a geekbuddy from the northern city of Moca, 90 miles away from Santo Domingo, the city capital, where I live. For this hobby, 90 miles and 900 are the same. Did I mention he’s French?? Meaning he doesn’t count for my 50K Dominican geekbuddies that are supposed to be around. Never met him face to face, thank God geekmail exist or I don’t know what would be of us.

So summing it up, that’s 10 million inhabitants, 2 miniatures geeks and another one 900 miles away (It’s the same) Oh, I forgot to mention the RPG gaming group I “discovered” last month, but that’s another realm.

I know what you’re going to say, if you only have lemons start making lemonades; but how am I supposed to make lemonades when I’m so thirsty for a big mug full of 400+ cal milkshake. I’m so behind in my boardgame playing time, that I bought Axis & Allies in the early ‘90s along with Fortress America and Buck Rogers Battle for the 25th Century Game, and dude, if I could only play these games, with real people, for the rest of the decade, it would be a good, short 8 years. What can I say; I am a boardgamer, not miniatures, TCG/LCG/CCG, RPG, LARP and such.

This is why I think that, my lovely country, the Dominican Republic, is the Toughest Place to be a Geek. If anyone can convince me otherwise, well… I’ll tip him.

(English is a second language for me, please excuse any mistreatment of the idiom)
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1. Board Game: Caribbean [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1942]
DominiGeek
Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo
D.N.
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THE hardest place to be a boardgame geek, my lovely Dominican Republic; great beaches, awesome people, beautiful landscapes, almost completely and utterly geek-free.
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2. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Mongolia [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.36 Unranked]
Wendell
United States
Twin Cities
Minnesota
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Some years ago I lived in Mongolia. Certainly couldn't find any wargamers there (and this was before vassal), let alone any games in the shop (apart from chess). Dunno if it's changed now but then it was certainly not an easy place to be a gamer.
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3. Board Game: Pirates of Nassau [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:3923]
Alexander McKinney
Bahamas
Nassau
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Nassau is the same. I even started a thread looking for other gamers in the Bahamas. A few helpful people answered, but no locals
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4. Board Game: Mexico City Campaign [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Tony Ackroyd
United Kingdom
Brighton
E Sussex
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Mexico.

I went there with work. Mexico City, one of the biggest cities on Earth. I hoped to get to game with some locals (like I did in Miami recently). Number of gamers to be found: zero.
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5. Board Game: Vanuatu [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:410]
Donal O Suilleabhain
Australia
Bellingen
NSW
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Spent 5 months there last year. And not on one of the main islands but on Ambrym island, one of the remoter ones. No electricity, no running water, no fridge, no beer, no TV....I could go on. Two active volcanos though so that sort of compensates! Only two other foreigners in the locality, both Peace Corp, everyone else locals. Needless to say going there I knew there would be no gaming counterparts so brought Arkham Horror, Runebound and Lord of the Rings LCG. Got lots of solo gaming in, which was great as had done very little since my son had been born (for obvious reasons).

So tough place to be a geek but as a solo player it was great as there were no other distractions.

Poor girlfriend wasn't too happy though as she was back in Oz looking after our sweet little boy/brat (depends on mood) all on her own.
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6. Board Game: High School of Blitz [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Roy Hasson
Israel
Kfar Saba
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High school.

The toughest, worst, most horrible place to be a geek. Period. The natives are cruel, brutal and will kick your **s whenever they get a chance. Just mention your hobby and you are tarnished for life. Don't even think of playing Busen Memo while you are there.
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7. Board Game: Taluva [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:313]
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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The tiny nation of Tuvalu has to be one of the hardest places to be a BoardGameGeek. Tragically, it's also one of the places where having a good selection of boardgames would be a boon: there's not really much else to do there! But boardgames have absolutely no exposure over there. Even if people were interested, the cost to import games would probably make it an impractical hobby to get involved in.

I don't recall seeing any games the whole time I was there (except the ones I'd brought with me). No Dominoes or Checkers on the street, like you might find in Samoa. No Chess or Monopoly sets in the few shops that might sell those sorts of things. A boardgame wasteland... Such a shame.
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8. Board Game: Monopoly: Utah [Average Rating:3.91 Unranked]
Bill Gallagher
United States
Torrance
California
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Right here in the USA there are places where it can be very hard to be a Geek. The twin towns of Hildale UT and Colorado City AZ are controlled by the (now imprisoned) Warren Jeffs, leader of a fanatical religious group that broke away from the Mormon church. I won't get into any details except that sports, the Internet and board games are forbidden in the two towns.
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9. Board Game: Kingdom of Solomon [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1431]
Ido Abelman
Israel
Hod Hasharon
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While I converted many of my friends into half-gamers (we only meet half as much as I would want shake ), the hard thing is getting the games. There are hardly any game shops in Israel, and shipping costs are often higher than the game cost yuk
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10. Board Game: Where is Pluto [Average Rating:5.64 Unranked]
Jarek Kolek
Poland
Rzeszów
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Pluto is by far one of the most difficult places to practise your geekness. It wasn't that bad until 2006 (them pesky little envious "scientists"), but now that Pluto has lost its international recognition as a planet it doesn't receive substantial amounts of visitors anymore. Coupled with its environmental harshness and the relatively large distance from the rest of civilization it is overwhelmingly difficult to find anybody to play with.

Heck, they don't even have McDonald's there!
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11. Board Game: Brazil [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Pablo Schulman
Brazil
Belo Horizonte
Minas Gerais
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We have two great brazilian companies which are only interested in doing remakes of their old classics. They licensed decades ago games of Milton Bradley and Hasbro and still release them...

The taxes on importations are HUGE which means that any attempt to import games must be made in small packages, praying to not being caught by Customs. As a consequence of the high customs, buying games is also extremely expensive. (A game of 40 dollars in US costs around $80 here)

Thankfully, there is a new generation of small publishers seeking to publish designer's games, although their scope is limited by the even more limited knowledge about boardgames of the population.

edit: typo
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12. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space: The Obnoxious Orange Things From Another Place [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Alex Bagosy
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Orange County, California.

Yes, I know there are far worse conditions, but believe me, having lived in several far better areas for gaming (London, Washington DC/Northern Virginia, even Indiana), this is a huge county, and the state itself is quite balkanized. Finding consistent gaming can be hard unless you know the right people. It was very, very hard for us when we first moved here. Fortunately we hooked up with some friends via The Miniatures Page, and began to make connections from there, but it was by no means, easy...

Orange County is pretty much a wasteland in terms of gaming stores and gaming space, which is a critical component of the gaming infrastructure necessary to get Geeks out and active. The large distributor near Anaheim is no longer a distributor, carries half its stock in models, and has never been very gamer friendly. Game space consists of a single 8x4 table which is usually reserved months in advance. Most of the remaining stores with gaming space are very close to the LA County border, which makes them essentially Los Angeles, rather than OC, stores. There are a few smaller shops with excellent game selections, but they don't have much in terms of gaming space (if at all.) Those few gaming groups that do exist here seem to be based in private homes, with limited game repertoires. We do (rarely) see postings for groups at the local comic shop, for example, but most are of groups that meet regularly to play Catan or Apples to Apples.

North of us, we have LA County, whose gaming population is almost exclusively private home based and rarely recruits (in other words - you have to find them, since they don't gather in public all that often). To exacerbate the issue, traffic problems are rife in LA County, particularly near the OC Border, so commuting there to game can be very difficult at the best of times.

South of us is San Diego County. A few more gaming groups (including our own) based at a selection of small, but friendly stores. Not a bad place to game, but Geek resources are limited, since the majority of "Geek Infrastructure" type stores are dedicated exclusively to Comic Con clientele and products. Not a huge issue, except that Comic Con is not gamer friendly, and has becoming increasingly elitist over the years (such that few locals can actually get in, any more.)

The main problem, to put it politely, is that Southern California suffers from three major problems

- Not much in terms of significant mass transit

- A social reluctance to travel moderate to long distances. (In other words, gamers can find games in San Diego, but San Diego gamers are usually unwilling to travel to OC to return to the favor.)

- We have no major gaming conventions. SoCal Gencon was a flop from the beginning, and Comic-Con does -not- support gaming anymore, so we have the option of traveling up San Francisco way for an occasional game, or across country. There are some small, nicely run cons in LA, but the trick is getting there, which is sometimes more challenging than the drive to SF!


Of course, being a miniatures gamer has its own unique set of problems here. Miniatures games are not helped by the fact that few historical gamers will admit so publicly. The market is dominated by 40k, and a handful of small groups such as ourselves. HMGS could do a great deal of good to connect these disparate gamers, but HMGS-PSW is sort of a strange Banana Republic type organization that seems to have lost its calling a long time ago.

That said, it's no Tuvalu, and you will find gamers with some work, but... be ready, willing, and prepared to travel.

-Alex
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13. Board Game: China Rails [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:2218]
jumbit
China
Zhejiang
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China. Now, understand I'm talking about The Real China[tm], not the Westernized parts. How do you know if you're in The Real China[tm]? Does your city have 10 or more Starbucks? It ain't The Real China[tm]. I understand that there are active groups in the big cities.

Gaming for me and people I've talked to seems to fall into one or more categories:

1. You live in a Westernized city. There are plenty of gamers there, in fact it's just like being at home. You don't even need to learn Chinese!
2. You live in the provinces, and stumble into an existing group, which is delighted to have a new member.
3. You start your own group, recruiting English teachers and their students, and game in English.
4. You go to a local boardgame cafe and try to recruit people.

I moved to a new city and immediately discovered 2. above. However, it turns out this group is a bunch of tetchy geeks. I sat down for a thrilling game of Twilight Imperium and within 5 minutes remembered why I quit gaming back in the 90s. They had all the bad habits that bad gamers have. Rules lawyering, analysis paralysis, taking back moves, pitching a fit when someone blew up their position, and poor personal hygiene. Ugh, what a letdown. They mostly play D&D anyway, and I'm not into RPGs, I'm into board games.

My buddy moved to Panjin, a city in the middle of nowhere, and within a month successfully pulled off 3. Last I talked to him, he was playing Arkham and D&D and having a great time. Grr.

I'm currently pursuing 4. but a big problem is that most of the games with dual-language rules are from Taiwan or Hong Kong. They're in traditional Chinese instead of simplified. My Chinese is OK but not OK enough to read game rules, a legendarily difficult venture even when you're a native speaker. I posted ads at the boardgame cafes but have yet to receive a single response. I found a local wargaming group but I get the idea it's less a formal group than just a bunch of friends. The contact info was outdated and nobody replied.

I've gotten in a few rounds of China Rails with non-gamers. My try introducing Modern Art at the bar flopped as nobody "got it" the first time and were unwilling to try again, even though these were all hard-charging businessmen and would have loved the game. This group was later seen playing Monopoly on multiple occasions and crowing about how great the negotiation aspects of the game were. Ah well, I suppose I should visit the boardgame cafes again and see if my notice is still up.
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14. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:6]
Cosmic Charlie
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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Pretty much anywhere rural.
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15. Board Game: Next War: Korea [Average Rating:8.03 Overall Rank:2309] [Average Rating:8.03 Unranked]
Stewart Pilling
United Kingdom
Worsley
Manchester
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DPR (North) Korea.

Having been there 2 years ago, there really was little hope of any gaming of any type. Although I was too tired most evenings to try to get some gaming in!!
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16. Board Game: Hellas [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:1685]
Richard Lea
United Kingdom
Leeds
County: West Yorkshire
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Lets spare thought for the GREEKGEEKS! Not because I have any reason to believe it is particularly difficult to find gamers there (I am aware that there are several regular Greek contributors to the site) but because of the truly horrendous economic and social changes that are happening there at the moment.

With people being thrown out of work in enormous numbers and those that are left being expected to take wage cuts of 30% and more, I would imagine that the hobbyists are finding little to spend on games, with LFGS's taking a particularly big hit. Unless the next government takes some very difficult decisions that favour the majority of the population, I can't see the situation improving any time soon.
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17. Board Game: Family Fluxx [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:4358]
Eric Lai
Hong Kong
Happy Valley
None
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At first I figured that Hong Kong was a difficult place to be a gamer, the city is fast and so are its people and that leaves very little patience for boardgaming for the vast majority. Then I thought about it a bit more and I think it was more likely that most people that were gamers (those that grew up in the golden age of boardgaming before videogames are now older, with more responsibilities and many have families and have "moved on" with life and have left these flights of fantasy behind.

So Old Age is a tough place to be for a gamer.
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18. Board Game: Malta! [Average Rating:5.16 Overall Rank:10107]
Dave Chircop
Malta
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Yes, Malta,

A little island in the Mediterranean.

there is ONE gaming store... and they sell Magic the Gathering and Warhammer.. and thats basically it

So bunch of Warhammer players
Bunch of CCG players

total boardgamers: about 5 people. Including me.. The other 4 are close friends or relatives who i have converted myself, and i meet them once a month MAX!

Ive only played Runewars once, I havent gotten to play the WOTR 2nd Ed yet, bunch of games just sitting on my shelf.. thank god i visit them and talk to them once a day.. or play solo Agricola once in a while.

Not to mention that I pay double the price of a game for shipping...


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19. Board Game: Ceylon [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
 
ENEMY OF THE STATE

Galt's Gultch
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I spent the summer of 1995 here. I think I was the only gamer in the country, and had only a few ziplock games to play solitaire. Fortunately there was so much to see that I didn't miss gaming much.
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20. Board Game: BGG: The Board Game [Average Rating:5.94 Unranked]
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
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Games are not movies or stories; they're vehicles for creative decision making.
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"Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade." (Marcel Proust)
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BoardGameGeek is surely the toughest place to be a BGGeek. Anywhere else, you can be a big fish in a small pond. Around here, your every game-related thought, word, and deed is subject to the scrutiny of some of the sharpest and most knowledgeable minds in the gaming universe.
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21. Board Game: Easter Island [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:2682]
Joe Wiltshire
Australia
Ingleburn
New South Wales
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I would have thought Easter Island would be a classic island not for geeks. Noone much there at all to play with.
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22. Board Game: Australia [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1362]
David Wann
Australia
Western Australia
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Sure its fine if you live somewhere on the east coast where its more populated or in one of the bigger towns.

But if you live out in the sticks its another matter.

Where I gre up there was only a Primary School that had less than 60 students. There was no such thing as a FLGS. The nearest city to my home was actually Darwin but we tended to head to Perth as it is in the same state. The problem being Perth is about 2500km away. To top it off I lived on an island.

For an idea of the location search for Koolan Island on Google Maps. Look for Derby in the northwest of the country then keep going north a little more.

Now though I live in a town of roughly 40,000 with 1 neglected FLGS but only a 500km drive to Perth. Gaming here is ok, but of course Warhammer and MTG rule the roost and if you do not play them its harder to find a gaming group.

My group consists of my wife, a friend and his son.
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23. Board Game: Viet Nam [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Vuong Tri Lan
Vietnam
Quy Nhon
Binh Dinh
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I live in Viet Nam, one of the toughest places for board game geeks. The only kind of board games Vietnamese people play here is Chess and Go and Tien Len. Everytime I mention a board game, if I want them to know it's not video games, I have to say: "It's a kind of chess." (Yeah,that's right!) and I've only managed to persuade one or two people to play board games with me and I have to let them win first to keep them interested and the last time I play with them was 6 months ago. In the whole country, there is only one Board Game Cafe in Ho Chi Minh City which is 700kms from my city. Indeed here I can't find anyone to play "D&D miniature chess", "Summoner Wars chess" and "Heroscape chess" with me so I'm always fighting with myself in those 2-player games. They don't sell board games here too, only the basic things like Chess and Monopoly(The Vietnamese version which have paper board and no rulebook). It's so frustrating to fight against your own self every time so I'm considering importing Thunderstone Advance next time(The importing fees aren't cheap either).
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