All my life for as long as I can remember, I have been a Gamer. Whether it was monopoly junior, checkers, scrabble and all of the staples of childhood, or playing Wing Commander and Day of the Tentacle on the 486 when I was a little older, or Risk tournaments, Goldeneye and endless rounds of "President" in the library during high school, there were always games going on around me. It didn't matter if it was a board game, a video game, or just a puzzle that I found that needed solving, I loved the notion of playing with a purpose.
Fast forward to, oh let's say 2004. At that point, my opinion of board games was that it was either something childish and mundane that I used to do or that is done at family gatherings, or that it is for things like Risk or Axis and Allies that geeks play together. But I had lost contact with my friends from high school, my wife wasn't interested in the conflict inherent in wargames, and I felt like I had outgrown the general mass market games. Then one day, I was reading a webcomic, probably Penny Arcade, and they are talking about some new "German" boardgames that don't suck. I hear about Catan and Carcassonne. Knowing that we need something to do in the evenings that isn't just watching TV, I get carcassonne and bring it home to my wife, who loves it and we start playing regularly. Catan is 3-4 players and that doesn't work for us, so I bring home the 2-player Bible themed Settlers of Caanan. That goes over well until we solve the map. More and more, it seems to me that when I play on the Xbox, it is something that I do on my own, but when we play boardgames it is something that we do together, and we can enjoy each other's company, having something at the table between us instead of an awkward "what do you want to watch tonight". From there I pretty much went down the rabbit hole.
I found ASOBrain and spent all my lunchbreaks and off-time on it learning all of the subtleties of "Explorers" and "Toulouse". I found BSW and muddled through it enough to learn Stone Age and San Juan. I found Boardgames with Scott and learned just how good some of the rest of these games are. But most of all I found the Geek. Through the reviews and commentary I have read and listened to and watched over the years my collection went from just a few new and exciting games to dozens of boxes that are making the shelves sag. On top of that, I have developed a wishlist that is at least equal if not double the number of games that I currently have, and the number of Rulebooks that I have saved and read is easily double that again. Once I got a smartphone and bluetooth in my car, I plunged into the world of podcasts and I listen to as many of the boardgaming podcasts as I can. I have learned about more games than I will ever have, I have more games than I play, but when do I play them, I love doing it.
In general, I play with one of either three groups. The first is a group of friends who get together every other week to slog through a D&D campaign. The second is with my wife who enjoys games without a lot of direct conflict or excessive complexity, but still likes to trounce me when she gets the chance. The last group is with my three sons, aged 10,8,and 5 who love dinosaurs, knights, monkeys and everything that little boys usually do. They are just getting into the ages where they can see the connections between the rules of the game, their options and the end goal, and it is a lot of fun watching them grow into little gamers as well.