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Subject: GEEK OF THE WEEK: Mikael Sheikh (milksheikh) rss

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GEEK OF THE WEEK: Mikael Sheikh (milksheikh)

Profile: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/milksheikh

Geek of the week is an open forum focussed on getting to know our Geek of the Week. Join in by asking our world-travelling Geek of the Week for some tips for the travel of life or some stories of his journey thus far.

Mikael, you have been nominated as Geek of the Week by a number of people, some of whom have pointed out your double life living in Turkey and USA for parts of the year and travelling through other countries too. It has taken some organising to fit you into a week when you are actually available. Tell us what keeps you so busy? Where do your travels take you and what makes you feel at home in each of the places where you live? What is your cultural heritage if I may ask?

You list Fargo as a favourite film. My wife is from Minnesota and though she didn't find the violent parts of the film enjoyable she had a great laugh at the stereotyping of rural Minnesotans. Have you been to Minnesota and did you find this aspect of the film funny? Top Secret is a distant memory of hilarious slapstick. What do you love about this old gem? You list The Wrong Trousers as a favourite film too. I have to admit loving this Wallace and Grommit in particular too, the way the tension is gradually built up and the non- stop frantic action and laugh out loud surprise of the final 5 minutes. Do you like the other W & G adventures? Why is this one your favourite? Was Monty Python's Flying Circus something you saw on tv when it first screened or have you got the videos/dvds?

A recent suggestion for Geeks of the Week is to share with us all the user names of other BGGers who you regularly game with and have them write a short post about themselves and maybe some inside info on you (or leading questions based on the inside info). Who is in your gaming gang?

A game I know is called two truths and a lie.
You tell us three things about yourself. Two are true one is a lie. We have to guess which is false. (hints: Try to make your truths the most unexpected things about yourself to trick us. The lie can be very close to the truth.)
Don't tell us which one is the lie til the end of the week.
Happy Geek of the Week week geek.

You can read up on previous Geeks of the Week using this handy list of forum threads:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/84208

Though they are not the active Geek of the Week forums they can have new questions and answers posted. It is a good idea for previous GotWs to add their own link to their forum in their personal profile too.
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Mikael Sheikh
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First, of course, thanks for this honor! I'm probably the least active (on BGG) Geek of the Week thus far, but I guess I have a couple fans from SpielByWeb who nominated me...

Critical Mass wrote:
Join in by asking our world-travelling Geek of the Week for some tips for the travel of life of some stories of his journey thus far.

I'm still trying to parse this sentence...

Quote:
Mikael, you have been nominated as Geek of the Week by a number of people, some of whom have pointed out your double life living in Turkey and USA for parts of the year and travelling through other countries too. It has taken some organising to fit you into a week when you are actually available. Tell us what keeps you so busy. Where do your travels take you and what makes you feel at home in each of the places where you live?

Well, I've never been to Turkey, so that rumor is untrue. And it isn't nearly as glamourous as it may sound. I was given the opportunity to travel to Braunschweig, Germany (near Berlin) and Budapest, Hungary for the second half of 2005 for work. While there, my wife and I of course took advantage of weekends to explore those and neighboring countries.

Both Berlin (where I stayed most of the time, commuting to Braunschweig) and Budapest are fairly easy for English-speakers to navigate. But I did join a weekly gaming group in both places, which provided a good opportunity to meet some "locals".

When you first contacted me about being Geek of the Week in early December, I was just in the process of returning to the U.S. We had given up our apartment in Manhattan, so I've been somewhat nomadic since then, staying with friends during the week and visiting family in Boston and DC on weekends. I just didn't feel I'd be able to focus on Geek of the Week until now.

Quote:
What is your cultural heritage if I may ask?

My parents are Pakistani. They immigrated to England, where I was born, and we then immigrated to the U.S. when I was seven.

Quote:
You list Fargo as a favourite film. My wife is from Minnesota and though she didn't find the violent parts of the film enjoyable she had a great laugh at the stereotyping of rural Minnesotans. Have you been to Minnesota and did you find this aspect of the film funny?

I have only visited the MSP airport -- Wisconsin is the closest I've been. I do find the stereotypes funny, but not because of any personal identification with them. I get engrossed by the film each time I watch it, as if I've never seen it before -- I think it's the interplay between morally despicable acts, the pleasant midwest demeanor, and the Minnesotan stereotypes that make it fascinating to watch.

Quote:
Top Secret is a distant memory of hilarious slapstick. What do you love about this old gem?

If you like a silly film, it's nonstop hilarity. With Val Kilmer. Souvenirs? Novelties? Party tricks?

Quote:
You list The Wrong Trousers as a favourite film too. I have to admit loving this Wallace and Grommit in particular too, the way the tension is gradually built up and the non- stop frantic action and laugh out loud surprise of the final 5 minutes. Do you like the other W & G adventures? Why is this one your favourite?

I do like everything Wallace & Gromit (and relatives, like Creature Comforts and Chicken Run). The Wrong Trousers is, to me, the most polished one -- a perfect story and script, and a flawless production. You're spot on -- the build-up of suspense ends with a chase sequence that is both thrilling and hilarious.

Quote:
Was Monty Python's Flying Circus something you saw on tv when it first screened or have you got the videos/dvds?

I was just born when Flying Circus was on it's way out, so no, I watched it first in 9th grade (I think we had rented VHS tapes). When MTV showed it in the early 90's, I worked feverishly to record them all in sequence. But that collection was tossed as soon as the DVDs were available.

Quote:
A recent suggestion for Geeks of the Week is to share with us all the user names of other BGGers who you regularly game with and have them write a short post about themselves and maybe some inside info on you (or leading questions based on the inside info). Who is in your gaming gang?

The group I've attended most is hosted by 'jonbone', which 'sisteray' also attends. None of the other folks who attended before I went on my travels are on BGG. There are quite a few others who joined jonbone's group in NYC while I was away -- so they don't really know me yet.

I gamed with two other groups in NYC, of which only 'petrix' is active on BGG. I attended only 4 sessions in Budapest, but really enjoyed gaming with: 'scorba', 'jenoe', 'janos_hunyadi'. There are a number of other folks I've gamed with a few times, both in the NYC area and outside -- I won't list them here but maybe a few will post...

Quote:
A game I know is called two truths and a lie. You tell us three things about yourself. Two are true one is a lie. We have to guess which is false.

Still working on this one...
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Mary Weisbeck
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Mikael, you've done a marvelous job with SpielByWeb--great game selection with very nice interfaces. I know you're working on a few new ones and wondered if there's any chance you could add Magna Grecia to the line-up? This is one of my favorite games and there's a few online friends that I'd love to get the chance to play with.
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milksheikh wrote:

Critical Mass wrote:
Join in by asking our world-travelling Geek of the Week for some tips for the travel of life of some stories of his journey thus far.

I'm still trying to parse this sentence....

that should be "...or some stories..." not " ... of some stories..." sorry.
milksheikh wrote:

Quote:
Mikael, you have been nominated as Geek of the Week by a number of people, some of whom have pointed out your double life living in Turkey and USA for parts of the year and travelling through other countries too.

Well, I've never been to Turkey, so that rumor is untrue.

Yes My mistake again. I have a weird dyslexia when it comes to Hungary and Turkey. Some kind of Foodian slip.
milksheikh wrote:

I think it's the interplay between morally despicable acts, the pleasant midwest demeanor, and the Minnesotan stereotypes that make it fascinating to watch.

Yes my wife refers to that midwest pleasant demeanor as "Minnesota nice". Apparently it is a forced pleasantness which goes no furhter than outward appearances and they are all champion Diplomacy players... probably not true but that is the reputation. I found the people I met there genuinely nice as opposed to "Minnesota nice".
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What do you remember about England? Do you miss anything from there? Do you have relatives there that you visit?
Have you ever been to Pakistan? Do you have any plans to go there? How strongly do you feel connected to Pakistan and in what ways? Do you follow the cricket teams at all?
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Congrats on being GotW!

I'd like to ask about how a game makes it onto Spielbyweb: how is it selected, how long the programming takes, etc.
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shugyosha wrote:
I'd like to ask about how a game makes it onto Spielbyweb: how is it selected, how long the programming takes, etc.


And more importantly, how can we help get our favorite game up on Spielbyweb?

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Congratulations on being named GotW, Mikael, and welcome home!

1) Let me take this opportunity to THANK YOU for spielbyweb! The play-by-web format fits in very well with my computer access and lifestyle. I love the selection of games, and I get a kick out of playing games with opponents from around the world. Your interfaces are intuitive and the graphics are superb (well, except for Hoity Toity, but that's OK). Not only am I a constant user of your site, but I am huge advocate as well, promoting it at every opportunity. I cannot praise you enough -- Thanks again!

2) Are there any games that you wanted to bring to SBW, but were denied by the game author or publisher?

3) Can you share any comments of what the game authors and/or publishers think of your site?

4) Other than family and friends, what did you miss most when you were working abroad?

Best wishes with your upcoming games!

- Phil

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TedTorgerson wrote:
How would you compare SBW to BSW? Is there much difference between the two?


The difference between the two is that BSW is real-time -- all players are online and playing simultaneously. SpielByWeb is "turn-based" -- you get an email letting you know it's your turn, you take your turn, and then the next player gets a message. Many people, myself included, prefer that format as you don't have to set aside a block of time to play a game online and don't have to worry about interruptions -- you play on your own schedule.

More specifically, SpielByWeb is a "play-by-web" turn-based system, differing from "play-by-email" in that you get a hopefully well laid out graphical presentation and that the system will only allow you to make legal moves.

Quote:
Do you have any tips for players looking to play boardgames online?


For discussion on play-by-web games, I recommend the "spiel-by-web" Yahoo! group:

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/spiel-by-web/

BSW is of course a good resource (http://www.brettspielwelt.de) -- English speakers are wise to visit the EnglishTown site for English-language help (http://privat.ub.uib.no/bubjb/EnglishTown/).

And there are a number of geeklists listing other sites.
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sodaklady wrote:
Mikael, you've done a marvelous job with SpielByWeb--great game selection with very nice interfaces. I know you're working on a few new ones and wondered if there's any chance you could add Magna Grecia to the line-up? This is one of my favorite games and there's a few online friends that I'd love to get the chance to play with.

Thanks for the kind words, Mary!

I've actually never played Magna Grecia, but you're not the first to suggest it. I'll see what I can do...

shugyosha wrote:
I'd like to ask about how a game makes it onto Spielbyweb: how is it selected, how long the programming takes, etc.

After I did Bus and Wallenstein, I found it hard to play a game without thinking, "Would this be good on SBW?" So that's basically how I decided on the other games (both those currently on offer and the ones "in development"). Once I decide I want to do a game, I ask the designer(s) and publisher(s) for permission, and then start coding. The fun part is programming the basic logic. That goes fairly quickly (because once I start, it's pretty much all I can think about). Testing, debugging, and fine-tuning the interface are less enjoyable, so I unfortunately lose interest in those tasks, particularly as the rest of life catches up to me. I have no idea how many hours go into it, and sadly a few games have been "in development" for more than a year.

texasjdl wrote:
And more importantly, how can we help get our favorite game up on Spielbyweb?

The biggest obstacle thus far has been constraints on my available time. However, we're in the closing stages of the first experiment with someone else developing a game for the site. If it works out, perhaps I can open it up so others can also conntribute games. We'll see how it goes...
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Critical Mass wrote:
What do you remember about England? Do you miss anything from there? Do you have relatives there that you visit?

I remember a decent bit from my first seven years in England -- memories of our house, school, various trips, etc. I mostly miss random foods and snacks. My mother's two sisters live there, so since moving to the U.S., I have visited them (and my uncle and cousin) eight times. I also miss them, of course...

Quote:
Have you ever been to Pakistan? Do you have any plans to go there? How strongly do you feel connected to Pakistan and in what ways? Do you follow the cricket teams at all?

I've visited Pakistan three times, at ages 1, 6, and 13. I do want to visit again, but want to travel throughout the country when I do (rather than just visit with relatives). As my wife is Chinese-American (U.S. born), I've been reluctant to do so due to the security concerns. Hopefully soon...

I'm unfortunately not particularly connected to the country, beyond my familial ties. And I have no idea what's going on with Pakistan cricket (unless they happen to be playing while I'm visiting England).
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Mikael,

I note on your game ratings that you have no "10"s and no "1"s. Do you not believe in perfection or its complete absence? Do you expect to play the perfect game in your lifetime? If you are looking to play the worst game in the universe, I have a couple of suggestions.

Jason
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JasonMatthews wrote:
I note on your game ratings that you have no "10"s and no "1"s. Do you not believe in perfection or its complete absence? Do you expect to play the perfect game in your lifetime?

Well, hmmm, I've got Puerto Rico as a 10, and Galaxy Command as a 1. So I'm not sure how to answer...
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Hi Mikael,

Congrats on being GotW! I just want to say I've had a lot of fun playing Reef Encounter at SbW lately. I had played Bus once before, but it was a game I'd never played in real life so I was just kind of going through the motions to see if I could figure it out. But since I actually do know how to play Reef Encounter (not that you'd know by my scores or anything though) it has really been a lot of fun and the interface is really good IMO.

Say hi to Phyllis and hopefully I'll see you in Essen again next year!
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I see in your profile that you list "public transit" as one of your hobbies. I'm in a quandary as to how public transit becomes a hobby.

I also see you list Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of your favorite movies. Have you seen the British tv version and if so, how would you compare the new movie to it?
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Critical Mass wrote:
A game I know is called two truths and a lie.
You tell us three things about yourself. Two are true one is a lie. We have to guess which is false.

OK, since travel was one of the starting themes of this questioning, let's go with some travel tales:

1) I came within inches of a bull's horns in the bullfight arena in Pamplona, Spain

2) Diarrhea struck in the middle of a friend's wedding in Chiang Mai, Thailand -- and I was serving as Best Man

3) I lost my sunglasses down one of the exhibits in a toilet museum in Tokoname, Japan
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sodaklady wrote:
I see in your profile that you list "public transit" as one of your hobbies. I'm in a quandary as to how public transit becomes a hobby.

When you find yourself going out of your way while traveling on vacation to ride and/or photograph interesting transit systems, it's a hobby. As to how it became a hobby, I'm not really sure...

Quote:
I also see you list Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as one of your favorite movies. Have you seen the British tv version and if so, how would you compare the new movie to it?

It's actually down as a favorite book, not movie. The movie was entertaining, but not nearly enough to be a favorite. I've tried watching the British TV series, but never could get into it for some reason...
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You have been to at least three continents that I have counted so far. Northern America obviously, Europe you have well covered, Asia for Thailand, (and for Pakistan though I'm not entirely sure where the borders for europe/asia and to a lesser extent africa are in the middle east.) Do you aspire to travel to all the coninents in your life time? (ok maybe not antarctica- no offence all you stir crazy dedicated scientists)
What are some places in the world that you would definitely see asap if you had an unlimited travel budget? Why?
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A lot of human behaviour is driven by fear. Fear of death, fear of abandonment, fear of standing out, fear of not being noticed... Do you have any unusual phobias you would admit to? (failing that do you have any weird strong aversions) If so how did they begin? Have you ever done something because of fear that you later thought was a bit silly? Have there been any times that you overcame a fear that gave you a feeling of pride/ empowerment/ accomplishment?
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Hey, I've been to that toliet museum! I didn't find your sunglasses though.
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First Geek of the Week I hadn't heard of before...anyway now I made him my Geekbuddy since he seems to have all the right opinions. I guess I'd better ask a question while I'm here.

What do you like best about Boardgamesgeek?
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That has to be one of the best 2 truths and a lie answers yet, because whichever is a lie, two of those are true!

Anyway, following up my last question: Bus, Amun-Re and Wallenstein are highly rated by you, but Hoity Toity is 'only' a 7 (and I note that you haven't rated Reef Encounter yet!). So what made you work on Hoity Toity over a more highly rated (by you) game?
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In the years I've been collecting games, I can count the games I've sold on one hand. The last game that I sold was Wallenstein, due entirely to my realization that I enjoyed playing it so much more on SBW than any other way. Could you PLEASE hurry up and add more games so that I can free up some more closet space?
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Ugh, I hit Andrew's profile instead of yours. blush Let's try again . . .

Your 2nd highest rated game is Wallenstein. Not much debate that it is a euro-fied wargame.

Your worst rated game (though it seems to have cool bits) is Galaxy Command. It too appears to be a light wargame. Yet, there is a derth of wargames in between.

Have you explored the possibility that you might be a wargamer? Has this "heaven and hell" dichotomey of your experience with wargames soured you on the genre?
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