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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (The People of the Hobby) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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I grew up playing sports, all kinds of sports. I seldom played board games and when I did, I seldom enjoyed them. I never considered board games to be anywhere near as enjoyable as sports. Due to my love of sports I spent a lot of time on a lot of teams with a lot of kids, parents, and coaches of all kinds. For the most part sports offered great memories and numerous friendships but there were tough losses and having to feel the pressure of expectations or big moments in games but this never diminished my love for sports. In fact, I loved sports so much that I continued my sports career into college and then after that, becoming a coach myself.

Fast forward to 2016, I am walking into the Greater Columbus Convention Center for the Origins Game Fair. I am apprehensive because it is my first convention and I am not sure how best to maximize my time there. I recognized the feeling because it resembled the nerves I would feel before I would throw the first pitch in a ball game, or as I waited for the ball to be snapped in football, or a number of other moments in sports I was very familiar with. I'm not sure why I felt these nerves heading into the convention but I did. However, I soon realized that there was a very significant difference between this convention and my days of competition. Besides the obvious that conventions are hardly intended to be a competitive atmosphere, it was the people at the convention that were most noticeably different than the people I was used to being around in these nerve-racking situations.

When you're competing in a sports event roughly half the people at the venue want to see you fail, or at the very least won't mind seeing you fail. They have convinced themselves that you are some kind of threat to their success. Your competitors are driven so hard by various forces to be the best and constantly win that they will say or do anything they can to you to get an edge. If you show any weakness you are considered weak or lose the respect of those who are "stronger". If you aren't one of the core group, you can easily become excluded.

What I experienced with the people at conventions is that a vast majority of the people are the exact opposite. It was as if every person at the convention was dead set on making sure I had a good time. I made several comments about how it felt as though no one at the convention was judging anyone else for anything at all. I couldn't believe that there were so many nice people in one venue. As my wife and I explored the convention this just kept coming up. Person after person, whether a volunteer for the convention or a random stranger, was so nice, helpful, and inclusive, rather than exclusive, I just couldn't believe it. I don't mean to make sports sound bad. I really did enjoy my involvement in sports as a kid and I still enjoy my involvement in sports as a coach but having experienced both worlds now, I can honestly say the people in the board gaming community are just simply good people. I have no intention to keep my future children from playing sports if they wish to do so but I definitely want to expose them to the board game community if for no other reason but to introduce them to the wonderful people of the community.

So this is to you board gamers! This is a wonderful community and the people in it deserve more recognition. If you are new to the hobby, know that there will be a helping hand if you ever need it and if you are a veteran gamer, continue to be that hand that makes this community so easy to become a part of!

If you would like to check out my reviews, please check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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