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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What am I thankful for?

So like a lot of people, this is a week to think about what I’m thankful for. And for this article, I’ll confine it to games-related thanks. Yes, there’s a bigger world out there (I know it’s hard to believe that for some hard core gamers) but that’s a whole different post. But there’s plenty to be thankful for here.

I’m here because someone smart imported German boardgames and cardgames into the American market. I was one of those who played Settlers when it first arrived, and it changed my gaming perspective forever. As much as I like Magic, the 3M bookshelf games and everything else I played before Settlers, that was the start of the revolution.

Without gamers who also become you friends and even best buds, gaming would be far less the joy it is. Sure, I need a good game on the table, but the best game is easily spoiled by a group of whining gamers. And conversely, we have dredged huge amounts of fun out of mediocre games just because of the happy campers at the table. And truth be told, great gamers know when to put a bad game away and move to something more fun. And no, I’m not naming bad game names today.

I’m grateful to Sid Sackson for creating classic games, regardless of which country he had to publish them in. I use Sid’s game Can’t Stop to teach a class in Risk Acceptance. We’ve taught Solodice (aka Choice and other names) to lots of friends with a piece of paper and 5 regular dice. And Acquire and a few others of his stand as all-time winners.

Yes, there’s other designers I love, but Sid was the first author I specifically hunted for to see what other games he had created, and ended up liking many of them. We’ll miss you Sid and whether you wanted a memorial service or not, your legacy will be played.

As a new designer, I couldn’t survive without friends who will play a new game of mine and tell me what they really think, or come up with ideas to make a game better, shorter, tighter, etc. So thanks to all of you for a generally under-appreciated task.

And thanks to the many gamers at conventions and game parties who I only just met, but you’ve given me your time and in many cases your honest feedback on a game you’ve never played before. Hopefully the games that survive and improved deserved to.

Web Folk
I’m grateful to the people creating incredible websites for boardgames. Shining sites like Boardgamegeek (over 22,000 games listed, pictured and discussed), plus game review websites that got me started, like the original Game Cabinet and the Luding data base in Germany. And lately the gaming blogs of the world, with our team-mate’s Chris Brooks sites still one of the best in my humble opinion. To all you who sit down at a screen and create stories and pictures about gaming, my vicarious life is blessed because of your time.

There are people out there who organize game conventions and contests. People who finance game production, sell games or generally run the businesses that support the hobby. I think many of you don’t do it for the money! And you add to my gaming life by providing new places for me to play, new games for me to try, and even new gamers willing to try games published by Sunriver. “Thanks” seems underwhelming, but it’s still well meant.

“If I started thanking you, right now, right here, I’d still be thanking you halfway through next year…”

My family gives me the support I need to create, test, play and store mounds and mounds of games in our house and everywhere else I can think of. My sweet wife is a gamer for which I’m both lucky and grateful. Even my kids will play a game or two once in a while, and when they’re gaming I truly think we connect and have fun.

I’m sure this list could go on. Who’s on your list? And have you hugged any of them lately?


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