My Gaming History:
1981 to 1994 - Abstracts and card games with my Dad. A firm foundation in gaming.
1995-1996 - (Garden City, Kansas). Scholastic chess tournaments. A lot of chess. Also introduced to Magic.
1996-1998 - (North Bend, Oregon). A decreasing amount of chess and an increasing amount of Magic.
1998 - 1999 (Nordhorn, Germany). My host-brother was a gamer! Lots of Magic, and computer games.
1999-2003 (Gustavus Adolphus College). Gustavus Gaming Society! Magic, Diplomacy, Settlers of Catan and Advanced Civilization.
2003-2006 (University of Wisonsin, Madison) Newly married! Introduced my wife to gaming (see An unexpected gamer
2006-2010 Discovered BGG, and the Madison Gaming Guild. Lots of new games, most importantly Puerto Rico and Caylus. Also taught Settlers, etc. to many, many people at Faith Community Bible Church.
2010-2016 (Ann Arbor, Michigan). Ann Arbor Gaming Guild and Eric's Great Oak game days - what a great venue, especially for those with kids! Still learning new games, and introducing others to the ones we already know. Also learning what games work with our growing family (mostly cooperative ones, so far).
The Five Unspoken Rules of Gaming
1) Have fun
2) Play to win
3) No Cheating
4) What happens in the game stays in the game
5) Be nice (and communicate!)
What I like in games:
(In approximate order of importance)1) Strategy
I play games for the mental challenge, and the thrill of competition - the battle of wits. Generally speaking, I don't play fluff. 2) Open Information
- I'm not a big fan of luck, and I really don't like guessing games. The primary enjoyment of games for me is the mental challenge of figuring out a strategy, and I like to know what I am working with. Granted, real life isn't always so neat and tidy. But that's why I play games.3) Interaction
If a game is essentially about finding an optimal path through a set of preset rules, I consider it more of a puzzle than a game. Puzzles are okay, I guess, but I find games more interesting because I enjoy the tension of challenging myself against an ever-improving opponent, and watching our strategies evolve together. That said, I also have only a limited tolerance for heavy multiplayer politics (I respect such games, but find them stressful and tiring). So, I have a sweet-spot for "intermediate" interaction (or 2-player games). 4) Long-term planning
- I like games where you can develop a strategy that will guide your play through an entire gaming session, as opposed to only doing calculations based on the situation each turn. 5) Empire Building
- I like games where you have your own stuff that you can build and develop, and feel a sense of ownership of. I like economic snowball games for this reason, too.6) Elegance
It's not a must, but I really admire a simple rule-set. If I feel like the challenge in a game lies solely in figuring out how to efficiently manipulate a complicated set of rules, I am disappointed. Deep strategy comes from interaction between the players - the rules just provide the environment for that to happen. In the best games, the rules are quickly learned then get out of the way so that I can focus on my opponent. 7) On-board play
- I enjoy having a real game board: that is, a place where different player's pieces interact spatially, as opposed to just a mat to help keep the pieces neat.
The things I like seem to be somewhat contradictory, or at least I have never found a game that satisfies all of them. Fortunately I am not really as hard to please as it might sound; as long as a game hits two or three of these things really well (and doesn't annoy me with excessive luck or hidden information) I will probably like it quite well.
My Top 10 list includes the 10 favorite games that I have played in the last year or two
(for my all-time favorites, simply look at my ratings). My Hot 10 are games that I have played only once but would be really interested in playing again.
When rating, I try to use the entire range from 1-10. A rough key:
10 - My very favorite games
9 - Fantastic, blow-me-away type games
8 - Great games, which I play over and over, and heartily recommend
7 - Good games. Not amazing, but I like them and play them a lot
6 - Okay games; good for certain circumstances. Perhaps not quite my style.
5 - Not really interesing, or perhaps a children's game, but I don't mind it.
4 - Kind of annoying, but has some redeeming qualities
3 - Kind of annoying or completely boring, without much in the way of redeeming qualities.
2 - Very annoying
1 - Seriously annoyingMy Non-gaming life(See my website for more)
Gaming is my second-biggest hobby. It's a close second, but my biggest hobby is music. I love classical music, especially the Romantic and Renaissance eras, and I love to sing. Other, more minor hobbies, include gardening
, cooking, and reading (history and fantasy).
More important than my hobbies, and almost as much fun, is my profession, Science
. I am a cell biologist, with a particular interest in membrane trafficking. I am currently doing a postdoc in the lab of Dan Klionsky studying yeast autophagy.
More important than my profession is my family
. I have a wonderful, loving wife of eight years who shares my love of gaming, and two little girls, one almost 6 years old and one the other who just turned 2.
More important than my family is my faith
My major intellectual influences include Paul of Tarsus, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Hannah Whitall Smith, Richard Dawkins, Augustine, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Soren Kirkegaard, Scott Bessenecker, Sharon and Dennis Backues.