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Subject: Geek of the Week #376 - Sue Hemberger (smithhemb) rss

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Boots
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My week in the spotlight has drawn to a close, and it's time for me to introduce my successor, Sue.

Sue Hemberger

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Dist of Columbia
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With over 2000 posts in the site forums (as opposed to game forums), Sue is an active member of the community, especially in the "women and gaming" section of the site. For someone who doesn't think of herself as a gamer, she also has a hell of a lot of games! For these reasons, as well as the fact she is an articulate, intelligent member of our community, I thought it was time that Sue was feted as this week's Geek of the Week.

So without further ado:

smithhemb wrote:
Many thanks to Boots for adding some novelty to my Thanksgiving! Family time has been fun, but with all the cooking and cleaning, I was grateful to have something different to think about.

Professionally, I’m a lapsed academic. Got a PhD in Politics (no science about it!) and spent six years as junior faculty at Johns Hopkins University. Quit when I decided my job was getting in the way of my intellectual life. My dissertation was on the debates over the framing and ratification of the US constitution and, oddly enough, that research helped spark my interest in forums like BGG. I remain an avid researcher(and writer, when need be). These days, I’m generally focused on city planning and public transit issues. And I still take on the occasional teaching assignment when I’m asked (or dared, LOL!). For the past few years, I’ve been hanging out in the 8th grade – helping the kids with their contemporary constitutional controversies paper and with the lead-up to their mock Continental Congress (they spend three days debating (by candlelight and in costume) whether to declare independence).

Though I don’t really consider myself a gamer, that’s probably the aspect of my life that makes the most immediate impression when someone walks through our front door. Our entry hall and dining room are lined with bookshelves filled with games. They’re there because it seemed like the ideal set-up for our now-traditional New Years Day gaming party -- aka LizzyFest – held in honor of
Falafel Palmer
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and then, well, they just stayed. It’s been interesting to see who reacts to the games -- the combination of so many boxes and so few familiar titles brings out the kid-in-a-candy-store reaction from people I wouldn’t otherwise have seen as playful. Basically, I’m a (friends-and-) family gamer. I first came here when my daughter (now a HS freshman) was a preschooler and I was looking for things our family could do together any time and at a moment’s notice. As a group, we’d much rather play a wide variety of smaller games in one session than a couple of longer games. Lately, we haven’t been playing as much -- too many other things laying claim to our time – but we’re looking forward to holidays at home this year and hope to get more gaming in.

Now for two truths and a lie. I probably should have outsourced this assignment. My father specializes in incredible truths and my husband in plausibly outrageous falsehoods. As a result, my own grasp on reality is somewhat tenuous.


And now for her two truths and a lie:

Poll
Which is the lie?
Lynne Cheney (Dick's wife) provided me with my 15 minutes of fame in the early 1990s.
An ill-advised promotion to fire baton put an abrupt end to my twirling career.
I've lived in Cleveland, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, DC, Berkeley, Princeton, Cambridge, Los Angeles, and New York.
      147 answers
Poll created by smithhemb


And some questions to get the ball rolling:

- Have you ever noticed any commonalities between board gaming and academic life?

- Does the study of politics have anything to gain from boardgaming?

- Does boardgaming have anything to gain from the study of Politics?

- What makes the "Women and Gaming" forum great?

Enjoy your week Sue!
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Congratulations!
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Pone McPoneface
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Congratulations Sue! I hope your week in the spotlight is an enjoyable one!
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Adam
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Congratulations, Sue!! Have a great week!
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Paul Bradley
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Congrats, Sue!!! Wishing you a great week!
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Mike Jones
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With almost 1,200 games owned, I have to assume you've played at least that many different games (those unplayed in your collection are probably close to being made up for by games played that you don't own.)

Yet, you've only rated about 140 games. So, I'd have to 'guess' that you don't really rate most of the games that you've played.

Is that a 'close to correct' assumption?

If so, what makes the cut for you rating a game? And are there any games you haven't rated, that you feel would desire a 10 rating?
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Chris B
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Congratulations Sue! Enjoy your week!

Don't know how you can't consider yourself a gamer with a collection the size of yours!
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Sue Hemberger

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Re ratings -- You're right Mike, I don't generally rate games. We play lots of things once or twice and I don't always come away with a strong opinion or anything particularly interesting or helpful to say about the game. In which case I don't bother to rate it. And I tend to think of games contextually -- i.e. if you have this number of people in this kind of mood with this much time and you want to avoid this potential problem, then X is a great (or really bad) choice. That's something a simple numerical system doesn't capture -- and, as an aside, BGG's particular system of rating (which focuses on the rater's interest in playing and assumes it's pretty stable) doesn't reflect my own preferences.

In short, for me, it's usually less about the game or my own taste than about the situation and the playmates. At this point, I'm most likely to rate a game when I'm a contrarian and think that some other POV should be in the mix. But I came to that approach gradually, so there may be games I rated early on that don't fit the pattern. In the beginning, I felt more obliged to offer ratings as a kind of payback for valuing/using others' ratings. But then I switched more to offering recommendations on geeklists or forum threads.

The other issue for me was that, for a long time, my center of gaming gravity was games that worked well with children and, as a number of us in that situation have discussed over the years, those are games that are hard to rate (e.g. parent's POV vs kids, kids of what age/with what skills or personalities, commensurability with adult games you've rated).
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Sue Hemberger

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boisse wrote:

Congratulations Sue! Enjoy your week!

Don't know how you can't consider yourself a gamer with a collection the size of yours!


I tend to think of myself as playful. Games are an easy way to play, but if you took them away, I'd find another!
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Sue Hemberger

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Boots01 wrote:
And some questions to get the ball rolling:

- Have you ever noticed any commonalities between board gaming and academic life?

- Does the study of politics have anything to gain from boardgaming?

- Does boardgaming have anything to gain from the study of Politics?

- What makes the "Women and Gaming" forum great?

Enjoy your week Sue!


Damn, Boots -- you write a tough exam, LOL!

Two questions are easy, so I'll answer those first and think more on the others.

For me, the main overlap between boardgaming and academia is that both are environments where you'll find people who have the most fun when they're thinking.

What I appreciate most about Women & Gaming is that I feel like I see the posters there in 3-D. (FWIW, I think that's also been true of Gaming with Kids). Part of it is just that it's a more manageable scale than General Gaming, but I also think that the topics probably lend themselves to more discussion of relationships/dynamics/identities.
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C. Rexford
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HI H Congratulations Sue! HI H
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Warren Smith
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Congrats!!!!

What number am I thinking of?
Spoiler (click to reveal)
5
Are you surprised at how close / way off you were?
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Troy
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Congratulations!

A couple of questions for you:

-Is there a political game that you think captures the modern culture well?

-What is your favorite part of the geek?

Have a great week!
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Geert Dijstelbloem
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Grats! Enjoy!
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Craig Somerton
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CONGRATULATIONS SUE
I hope you enjoy your week of fame fortune and glory
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Congrats, Sue! Enjoy your week!
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Pete Belli
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Excellent choice.

Congratulations!
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Ed R
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Congratulations Sue. Enjoy your week.

Where do you see boardgaming in a childs education. As you work with the 8th graders have you used any boardgames in your teaching?
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Phil Taylor
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It is great getting to know another formidable BGG'er.
Neat read.
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Sue Hemberger

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edjrjr wrote:
Where do you see boardgaming in a childs education. As you work with the 8th graders have you used any boardgames in your teaching?


I haven't used boardgames at all with the eighth graders -- because I'm a guest in those classes I have limited time and a clear mission -- but for a couple of years, I did bring games into one of the kindergarten classrooms. We timed it so that I came in and took one half of the class (4-5 kids) while the math specialist worked with the other half. And rather than focus on games that provided practice with math facts, I tried to choose ones that rewarded observation and critical reasoning skills. So, over time, we ended up talking about things like probability, opportunity cost, deduction, thinking ahead, contingency planning, and how things fit together (spatial relationships, sequencing, pattern recognition, dynamics of turn order).

From an educational standpoint, I think that the killer app for board games is practice in using means-ends rationality. What's my objective, what resources do I have to work with, how am I constrained, how might other peoples' pursuits of their own objectives help or hinder my plans? What's essential and what's just a distraction?

Oops, I probably just answered one of Boots's questions about politics and board games, LOL! "Strategery" (or is it spelled "strategerie"?) is where I see board games developing a skillset or mindset that might inform politics (but also lots of other real world interactions).
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Daniel Cedro Gomes
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Congratulations !

My usual questions:

d10-0 How did you meet BGG ?

d10-1 What are the qualities of a good player ?

d10-2 What is your favorite ABSTRACT GAME ?

d10-3 What is your favorite 2 PLAYER GAME ?

d10-5 Can you describe yourself as a gammer ?

d10-6 Do you have any unfulfilled dream ?
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Sue Hemberger

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h00sha wrote:
Congrats!!!!

What number am I thinking of?
Spoiler (click to reveal)
5
Are you surprised at how close / way off you were?


You aren't really thinking of a number right now. And, alas, I wasn't paying attention to what you were thinking yesterday when you WERE thinking of a number. Sorry about that!

If I had to guess, I'd assume it was a number that involved scientific notation. Lately when someone asks me to think about a number they're already thinking about, it's been THAT kind of number. Then again, you probably weren't doing Algebra II homework when you asked, so I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I'm wrong!

AND I AM!
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Wendell
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Congrats Sue.

Have you had the occasion to travel abroad much? Any favorite places you've been? Places you would like to go?

You said your father & husband were both creative liars. Care to share an example of their lie-craft?
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Robin
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SUE!Long time no see! I'm looking forward to reading your replies throughout this week. I always appreciate your insights.

What is your most requested kids' game?
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Tyler Darling
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Congrats
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