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The People Games Play #1 - bootleby

While I was away from the 'geek over the winter, I had the idea for an interview series, highlighting people that I like 'in the hobby'. The basic format is me asking ten(ish) questions to someone I like and allowing them to answer without any restrictions. The plan is to post one of these interviews every month.

'Living la Vida Luda' was a candidate title for the series. 'Living with Ludic Tendencies' was another, which is why I have invited bootleby as my first guest. I considered 'Lessons in Ludophilia' and 'Board Blabbering' and countless other stupid names. I almost settled on the rather straightforward: 'Ten Questions for BGG Personalities'. There may be some overlap, but each entry in this series of interviews will feature different questions. Probably ten questions, but I’ll also probably cheat and ask multiple questions with each question. Not even probably; this is definitely what I will do, so that the real title should be something like 'Probably Near or Around Ten or Thirty Questions for BGG Users Who Don’t Really Like Being Referred to as Personalities, Because Persons Are Not Personalities'.

'Ramble Time with Guests’ is the most honest title, I guess. I settled on stealing the title 'The People Games Play' from David Parlett (but I don't even remember where I saw that now).

Enough. Here goes…

The People Games Play #1 -
Mr. Anderson
United States
Ivory Tower
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I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have board games.
How do you know what you want 'til you get what you want and you see if you like it?
Microbadge: Offline from The Geek for a while

Mr. Anderson, thank you for joining me.
(Apologies to bootleby for this one taking me two months to post after interviewing him. I was really excited about the idea when I got back on the 'geek, then wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with it or not. I think I do, and even if I don't, I like this first interview and shouldn't have sat on it for so long.)

Your profile starts with a quote from a Frank O’Hara poem. Do you see any overlap at all in poetry and gaming? Yes? No? Explain. :-) What about poetry and gaming and mathematics? Is there a connecting thread there or do you see each as distinct? Answer in 2500 words or less.

Gaming and mathematics is a pretty easy connection. Here are some rules, explore what happens. Now explore what happens when we relax one of the rules. That could also be how someone might describe poetry. We have rules for language. Now, let's break them. Gaming & Mathematics both help to try to codify some of the chaos of living into principles and rulesets but of course, you learn about Gödel and John Bohrer, and you're even worse off than before. Poetry helps you survive the chaos by highlighting the absurdity of these codifications. And/or makes it worse, I guess.

Northern Pacific and Hex are probably the two games that I think best resemble the types of poems I like: short and beguiling.

Name anywhere from 1 to 10 books that everyone who wants to understand you should read. These may or may not provide any insight into anything or anyone else. You may simply list the titles or you may also comment on each.[/b]

Back when I had a facebook profile, I listed the following (maybe... the first two are For Sures, the last two are guesses) as necessary reading to understand me, which my now-Husband dutifully read during our initial courtship:
-The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt
-The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
-Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
-Age of Reason by Thomas Paine

The Last Samurai is a book I've reread a few times. Helen DeWitt is an inspiration to me and that book is the reason I took six terms of Ancient Greek in college. Frank O'Hara is the kind of cultured irreverent I aspire to be. The Collected Poems gets a lot of crap for being a poorly edited collection so search out the following: "Morning", "For Grace After a Party", "Animals", "Meditations in an Emergency", "Joe's Jacket", "In Memory of My Feelings".

I would now add Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm as it's helped me clarify my worst impulses. Hasn't yet helped me avoid them, though. Ovid's Metamorphoses is another one I've read and reread. All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews was a recent book that knocked me out. I just asked Jeff "What are my favorite books?" and he added The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Maybe Pedagogy of the Oppressed should be thrown in there as well as it has informed my values around autonomy in the classroom and on the pool deck.

You currently have 5 games that you rate a ‘10’ on BGG. Chicago Express, ConHex, Hansa Teutonica, Hex, and Sheepshead. Why these games?

God, I have great taste. I want to punt on this question and just answer "Because I have fun playing them," but what the non-abstracts have in common is that they are simple games that allow for mean play–or at least high levels of trash talk and manipulation. What Hex & ConHex have is simple rulesets with fun play. You know, as a teacher and a coach I really value connection so maybe that's why I love those abstracts so much.

Tell me about your grandparents. Did they (do they) play games?

I know very little about my grandparents. Two of them were dead before I was born, one was whisked away (allegedly) by a second wife and the other one was only interested in playing head games, and, unfortunately, I don't mean the song by Foreigner. I bet my paternal grandpa played a lot of Cribbage since all of his sons did and one of my uncles ended up joining the American Cribbage Congress. My guess is my maternal grandpa did too since my Mom played Bridge.

You’ve logged plays and not logged plays. You recently started recording plays in a physical journal, yes? Your profile states “I am finding that reflecting on the day’s games is a good framework for general contemplation.” Do you still think this is true? Could you unpack the statement a bit further?

Yeah! In my journal, I sort of did my normal blog mini-session reports but worked it into more of a general reflection on my day and frame of mind. It was nice to have the structure of the game write-ups to hang potential emotional breakthroughs/downs on. I think jotting down session notes anywhere is a valuable experience both for the writer and the reader. It allows you to process what happened, reflect on why you liked/didn't like the game, and helps (possibly) seed a discourse. Also, I realized I was playing Irish Gauge incorrectly by reading someone's play logs.

I think logging plays with comments is a good practice. I think analyzing play data is largely a bad practice if it ends up with you making game night decisions based on pumping up numbers. It can be a fun thing to analyze after the fact but not something that should inform your decisions.

Coding and programming? What was your experience with computers growing up when and where you did? What kind of hardware are you using today and to what purpose? OS?

My dad likes to tell the following anecdote: Two guys who were hired to recarpet our basement noticed that I, as a four year old, was coming in to sit down at our Commodore 64. They joked to each other, "Aw, this kid is playing pretend computer!" and carried on with their work. About five minutes later they realized I wasn't playing pretend computer. I may not have been four but the spirit of that anecdote should inform my answer to this question. I was born in 1985 and had access to computers my whole life. I use a Mac for work (beacuse the Chromebook they gave me can't run Google Meet & the interactive whiteboarding software I like to use) but a PC which I built for gaming. I have no preference for either but am much more comfortable using the command line on the Mac.

When I was young, I worked my way through some BASIC programming and had a geocities site on which I did some HTML. I had always been interested in math & language so I wish someone would have directed me to Computer Science in college but I probably would have answered "I don't want to be around computers all day" even though that is probably exactly what I want to be around all day given my habits, lately. This is also reminding me that Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter should be on my book list. Anyway, I learned JavaScript and enough Scala to get hired, found I wasn't all that interested in programming that had any use and then learned enough Erlang to program a command line version of No Thanks! and enough Haskell to beat my coworkers in programming contests at work. I always threaten to learn OCaml or some other Functional Language to work through an at home computer science curriculum but learning a new language's toolset is more fun in theory than practice.

On the topic of video games. Do you agree that Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo is the greatest video game of all time? Or are you stubbornly wrong in picking some other game? Besides some continued shared-space realtime in-person gaming such as Towerfall or Castle Crashers, I have been unable to find anything I enjoy in the realm of digital video gaming. What do you find that video gaming provides that is unique that other media do not? What is it specifically that draws you to video gaming? Tell us more about this Twitch channel that I keep hearing about.

Ha, I have not played Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo but I imagine I'd love it. My favorite game historically is probably the Mario Kart series, and Mario Kart: Double Dash will always have a special place in my heart. Video games are at their best for me when I can turn into a reflex. I don't like video games that ask you to manage systems or sift through a bunch of lore. I also am a fast typer so a game like Cook, Serve, Delicious is also a banging good time.

That said, this game that I totally wrote off in the Fall of 2020 has come ROARING BACK into my life in early 2021: Fall Guys Ultimate Knockout. I needed a relatively mindless diversion and found that it was just the ticket. Mostly just sprinting through levels with some occassional mean strategy elements and shared incentives (sounds appetizing, no?). I started streaming so my friend could watch while she was at work and have folded in some mathematics & crossword puzzling. I have a miniscule but passionate following. I did once stream myself playing Cribbage and Sean heckled which was also fun, I think he could tell I was streaming due to the Discord integration.

What do you love about Minnesota? Have you ever been to the Ocean? In my life, I’ve moved from the southeast end of Long Island to upstate NY. What I miss most of all is the ocean and the railroad. How often and how far have you moved in your lifetime? Is there anything that you once knew well that is now no longer a regular part of your life?

I grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota and haven't really looked back. I used to know the ins and outs of Madison but am pretty clueless now. People in Minnesota love to take advantage of any good weather so about half-way through March the Restaurant patios start to open and there's just so much life outside. I honestly didn't consider the move to Minneapolis much beyond "of course that's where I'm going" after I graduated. I should maybe think about my major life choices a little more.

Minnesota is also great for board gaming. Fantasy Flight Games, All-Aboard Games, Leder Games (and I'm sure I'm missing others) as well as groups like the First MN Historical Wargaming Society. The midwest enjoys a healthy card gaming lineage so you're never far away from someone who knows how to play Cribbage, Euchre or even Sheepshead if you're lucky.

Have you enjoyed the GCL experience on BGG? Why should anyone else on BGG be interested in joining a GCL? Or maybe they shouldn’t be? You were brought in to a pre-existing GCL. What was that experience like? How did it happen? Why did it happen?

The experience of joining was indigopotter sent me a geekmail asking if I was interested. I assume my participation in Deep Cuts and eventual gaming with The Mirror helped bolster my reputation. The great thing about GCLs is that you get to know people and get to understand what informs preferences that diverge. Phoenix has some incredibly thoughtful and opinionated people who just love playing board games. Lately, as somewhat explained in question 7, I have not been a great participant in the league either on BGG or as a gaming partner but I hope to be a prodigal son that returns when this video game madness passes.

I enjoy the experience but I also think Deep Cuts monthly roundup hits the same notes at least with respect to games. Now that the monthly list also asks about other cultural engagements it has become even more like a GCL. I think that's great. The one nice thing about GCLs is that the hosting responsibilities rotate so we get a different vibe every week. As Rob as also said, it's like planning a lesson and that can be a satisfying creative enterprise and that's not something you can get from just responding to the Deep Cuts monthly prompt.

What is currently your favorite deck of playing cards? Please share a photo.

I have so many standard Bicycle packs of cards that those are the most used and have found that most of my forays into buying "cool" decks have been rough in terms of usability. I saw Ray talk about a favorite Tom of Finland deck so I bought my own but haven't played with them yet. My favorite fancy deck that I've actually used is the The Planets: Saturn deck that I bought on 52Kards. I also bought the pictured Olympians deck as well but found it difficult to use, so Saturn takes the win and not only because I'm a Depressive Capricorn.
From gallery of bootleby

If you could abolish all thumbs on BGG, past, present, and future, would you do so?

My first thought is "obviously," and I think Yucata erred by adding thumbs to their forums. My biggest issue with thumbs is that I'll post something and then constantly refresh to make sure that thumb count goes up. How anti-Enchiridion is that? The one positive use of thumbs I've found is to mark what I've read in the Deep Cuts roundup or the weekly GCL lists... don't tell my GCL mates to go back and check for my thumbs for the past few weeks... I hope members of both of those groups don't find their thumb collection devalued after reading that previous statement. It may be that this use is enough to keep thumbs around. Hey wait, I thought this was supposed to be only 10 questions?
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Fri May 28, 2021 6:54 pm
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