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Subject: How do you explain your gameGeekiness to non-geeks? rss

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james napoli
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I've been gaming for about two years or so now. Life is good, but the bulk of my peers are non-gamers. I assume that i am not alone amongst this group of dedicated gamers who faces the common dilema of how do you explain your hobby to the rest of world?
I ask this question now b/c i'll be taking off thursday/friday this week and flying from ny to dallas to attend the bgg.con and am going to need to explain to people where i am going.


1. How do you explain the hobby to non-gamers?
a. How do you explain the difference(s) between euro/designer games and the traditional boardgames(ie, monopoly).

2. What's the best way to introduce some potential gamers to the hobby, without boring them, or yourself and get them to come back over?
a. Do i have 2 play settlers? Can we go right to a puerto rico or maybe do a co-op of shadows ?

3. What's your experience been with expansion?
a. My group is current 5(sometimes 4) and we're quite fortunate as our skill level is pretty even, as we typically learn the games at the same time. We have some mutual friends that we sometimes consider inviting...but i fear that we risk the possibility of ruining the current dynamic and also offsetting the # of players...any thoughts?


Thanks for any feedback. I have to send out the email tomorrow that i'll be out of the office this week and since my last three trips have been, argentina, sweden/denmark and iceland...people will be inquiring ;-)
 
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Robin
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1. I've often run into this problem too. People look at me funny when I say boardgames and most people automatically assume Monopoly. The best way to explain anything is using ideas that they are familiar with. Some people are familiar with Settlers and that can help.

For me, many people understand the idea of miniature games or wargames but when I mention euro-games I get confused or dirty looks. Mostly I just mention wargames and other games (like Settlers) and leave it at that. That may not work if you are not a wargamer.

As for the other questions, I don't think I could answer them as well as others. So, good luck
 
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Dwsparks
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As for explaining the hobby, I have two strategies:

1) Lying.

This is the strategy I use for disinterested third parties. The term "poker night" is generic enough to be applied to what Game Night typically entails. For example, in a recent conversation I referred to a Game Night Buddy as "a guy I play poker with". (I didn't sign up to be a boardgame evangelist.)

2) Keep it simple.

If people actually pretend to be interested in what it is that grown men do consistently one night a week, I tell them that we play European games, that are less random, more strategic, and shorter than American games. (Everyone seems ready to admit that Monopoly takes too darn long.)

As for increasing your Game Night group, my group has recently swelled in ranks to the point where we consistently have two separate tables going each night. Everyone really likes this, because you're more likely to play something you're interested in each time.
 
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ɹǝsɐɹɟ
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MrSkeletor wrote:
darlok wrote:
1. How do you explain the hobby to non-gamers?


"I play boardgames."
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MrSkeletor wrote:
darlok wrote:
2. What's the best way to introduce some potential gamers to the hobby, without boring them, or yourself and get them to come back over?


"Would you like to play a game?"
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Crazy Bob
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Quote:
1. How do you explain the hobby to non-gamers?


"Well, lets say you're a whale, and don't know what pies are all about. You've eaten many chocolate pies, but have gotten tired of it because that's the only desert you've ever had. Then you find out that some other whales are eating apple pies. As a whale, you don't really think about it too much because you're tired of all the pie you've eaten in the past. Then those whales as you to try their apple pie and it ends up being different and somehow more norishing. *Then* you find out that there's all kinds of pies such as cherry and raspberry and you want to try them all out. So yeah that's my best explination of what the boardgameing hobby is... it's like fruit pie for whales."

Seriously though, say something like, "I like playing boardgames like Ticket To Ride (or other gateway game)"
If they are interested enough, they'll end up at game night.
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Robert R
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Sorry Skeletor...it's not that simple.

I do agree with lying. It's kinda worked before to get them to play a game or two, but have not had any success converting any to the dark side.

Heck, I am going to lie with some of my peers about this weekend too..... "uuuhhh... I'm going to see family" (hmmm, there's some truth to that). Why bother explaining what I'm REALLY going to be doing. I've been blessed to find enough gaming buds in my area through this gem called BGG, and don't need to go through the pain of recruiting new converts from work, neighborhood, etc.

Oh by the way...sorry. No good answers for the questions above. If the person you are trying to explain this too was never a gamer at all ...whether it be videogames, computergames, pen and paper rpg's, ccg'er, etc... it's going to be really really hard.
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Mike Sherwood
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I thought I would share ekted's thoughts:

http://ekted.blogspot.com/2006/08/so-you-play-games.html
 
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Scott Alden
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I start off with...

Over 500 games are published each year that aren't Monopoly, Life, Cranium, and Uno.
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Jonathan
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I was going to write quite a bit, but D.W. Sparks hit the nail on the head. Usually I don't even mention I like boardgames when someone asks me what my hobbies are (say on a date). Sometimes I do, and when the girl inevitably says, "I like Scrabble too," I'm more than happy to go along with it. Gaming just isn't important enough for me to inform everyone who asks about it.
 
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Ben Smith
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"So what are you doing Saturday night Ben?"
Heading out, probably have a few beers. Hopefully I wont be offered any drugs.

"Where do you normally go?"
Ah, this place in Kew. It's hard to get into.

That's not lying right? Certainly easier than saying I'll be playing Sword of Rome followed by Napoleonic Wars surprise
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David G.
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I skirt the issue, usually. "Getting together with friends", or "poker party" usually suffices. If it's someone that I think might actually be interested, or I think they're worth the time, I'll say we play "strategic games". When I get the inevitable "like what?", I'll usually say "there's a whole bunch of games out there that no one's ever heard of that are really fun to play. Not as heavy and dry as chess, but it's not like we're playing 'Sorry' either."
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Joseph Cardarelli
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Its sad that grown men have to lie about what their hobby is, expecially since it's nothing offensive or illegal. Not to say I don't lie either. Nobody I work with knows what I do on Thursdays except one. He's a RPG guy, I think, and I told him I play games, but he didn't really care. As for the others, I just say "I'm meeting friends for the night, hangin' out, you know." Thats seems to work pretty well. I just wish it didn't have to be that way is all. Downright ridiculous.
 
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Rik Van Horn
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If they're truly your friends, then you shouldn't have to explain squat to them.
If they're acquaintances, you don't need to explain squat to them.
If they're strangers, tell them to buzz off.
 
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Matthew M
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SatanicEssence wrote:
Its sad that grown men have to lie about what their hobby is


My hobby used to be watching pro-wrestling. Most people see boardgaming as a step up.

-MMM
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jbrier
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I face this issue all the time, especially since I'm an extroverted 23 year old who before discovering Euro games freshman year of college would have never considered myself a "geek".

My friends know that I love Euro games. This is partially because I've tried to get them to play them with modest success (they were willing in college when we lived in close quarters and sometimes there was nothing else better to do but beyond that no one else ever bought a game nor have they played since we've graduated).

I find it difficult to explain the concept of the Euro game as an engaging passtime for normal people, given all of the dorky connotations that gaming has. The truth is that being out in the open about my hobby isn't worth the uphill battle of trying to get other people to understand that I'm not like Steve Carrell in 40 Year Old Virgin. It's unfortunate, because I'm on the brink of having some of my game designs published, and it will end up being something that I am personally so proud of but that I wouldn't talk about on a date or at a bar.

The truth is that even when people are open minded to it, not everyone likes playing games, and it is just so much refreshingly better to play games with people who are as enthusiastic about them as you. It sucks being the one person who really cares while everyone is mildly interested. This is why I no longer push games on my non-gamer friends.

Thanks to BGG I have met people who like games like I do and in the process made some good friends. My friends are happy for my success as a boardgame designer, so even if they occassionally poke fun at me I know they aren't going to stop being my friends because I choose to attend a game night instead of go out once in a while. The rest of the world isn't paying enough attention to my life to notice I lead two separate social existences, and that's fine with me.

by the way, I have a rule (hasn't come into effect yet) that I need to be dating a girl for at least 3 months before I let her know about my gaming, hee hee!! laugh meeple
 
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Jennifer Stone
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Usually if I mention to someone that I'm into boardgames and they give me a strange look or odd comment, I smack them over the head with my most recent copy of Games Quarterly or Knucklebones subscription, or if that's not handy, any set of game rules I happen to be carrying around, and yell, "What? Don't you know that only cool people play games like the ones I'm talking about, you no-life numbnut?"

And of course, I'm just kidding. But it would be fun to do sometime.
 
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Hayden Scott
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b5mith wrote:
"So what are you doing Saturday night Ben?"
Heading out, probably have a few beers. Hopefully I wont be offered any drugs.

"Where do you normally go?"
Ah, this place in Kew. It's hard to get into.

That's not lying right? Certainly easier than saying I'll be playing Sword of Rome followed by Napoleonic Wars surprise


It definitely would involve lying on your part if guarana can be considered a drug!
 
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Joseph Bradshaw
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I usually say, "I play games." Or "We play games." But sometimes when I'm going to a friends house to game, I say "We're going to watch the fights."

 
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Bren Mayhugh
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darlok wrote:

1. How do you explain the hobby to non-gamers?


Most of my gaming comes by way of wargaming (warmachine currently) with most of my non-gamer friends refer to as "playing with dolls". Quite upseting, but I normally shrug and say: "we all have a hobby, mine involves using strategy and miniatures to beat my opponent." If pressed further, I can normally use: "you play Texas hold'em weekly right, most of the game conventions that I go to (like Gencon) have a Texas hold'em tournament, you should go and see if you can win. But then again, how would you face yourself in the mirror if you went and lost to a bunch of people who 'play with dolls'?" That normally make the conversation change...

-B
 
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Giles Pritchard
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Jeebers...

I say - "I'm going to be playing some games"

They usually say - response 1 - 'Ummmmmmmm ok...' - silence
- response 2 - 'oh, what like monopoly or what?'

my reply to 1 = yes - I'm a sad individual who has trouble with reality.

my reply to 2 = yes - but I'm a sad individual who has trouble with a reality that relates board gaming & Monopoly.

hehehe

Naw - I just tell em - if they have a problem so what, I don't rubbish their hobbies, and if they rubbish mine I just shrug and smile - I also prefer (and make) comparisons to chess and poker rather than to Monopoly - 'cos the perception is that they are more adult.

Cheers and good luck!

Giles.
 
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Nick Szegedi
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I am still looking for that bumper stick:

"Real Men play Board Games!"

...anyways, why do people feel we have to be like "super heroes" and live (2) lives? Actually I am starting to date this girl and I was upfront and honost with her: I LOVE Board gaming! She respects that! (I just hope she would one day love it as I do)- would make for a great asset in a wife!

Even if she didn't care for it too much, we would have (1) day we each can do what we want with our friends (mine would be to watch football and play a board game or two!!!)-
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Bryan Johnson
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jmw23 wrote:
Gaming just isn't important enough for me to inform everyone who asks about it.


That hurts.

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John Squires
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My wife usually explains it to our friends as boutique-style games (the choice of adjectives should be changed to fit the audience). I usually explain how it's a designers market and like books and movies games are often picked based on who designed them just as someone would choose the next offering by a favourite author or director.

I also mention, as Aldie said, that there are hundreds that come out each year and then usually go onto explain a few of my favourite concepts (themes). I also mention how, unlike the games we grew up with, that are still on the shelves of the big stores, the games I like tend to have more decision making and usually don't involve a contest of who know's what coming into the game (like say Trivia Pursuit, which is great for what it is, but for me is really just a contest).

At this point usually my enthusiasm for games is showing through and it's here where I can gage the interest level based on further questions..., etc. Lastly I never forget to mention how engaging and interactive game-playing is.
 
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Ben Smith
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verandi wrote:
by the way, I have a rule (hasn't come into effect yet) that I need to be dating a girl for at least 3 months before I let her know about my gaming, hee hee!! laugh meeple


This guy I can relate to, I tried in vain for a year to get my friends into gaming but none of them took to it. If they did come around to play they would get antsy after an hour and want to head out to a bar or club.. I was just warming up! Nowadays I avoid trying to get anyone into gaming, even family.

And of course, I always had my game collection hidden in a cupboard so women I brought home never saw it! I didn't wait three months like verandi however, I would break it to them after consumating the relationship, seemed to work fine! devil
 
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Darrell Overton
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I don't try to explain it. I remember trying to explain the
Magic the Gathering CCG and was stared at like I was
a warlock or devil worshipper.

I do in conversation ask about what kind of games they
enjoyed when they were younger, then recommend that we play
one of my games that is similar.

I also steer clear of games that eliminate players early.
Light games and Co-ops are great.
 
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