Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How to Make a Gamer - A Work in Progress

It's always somewhat amusing to me to see how people react when they find out I like to play games. I'm sure they think I mean kid's games - at least until I explain what kind of games I'm talking about. I always use it as a way to see if I can get another person into playing some of these great games and further grow the hobby. Just today, I was at Fed Ex sending some appraisal files to the home office. The lady behind the counter and I always chat for a few minutes and I mentioned that I had gone to Tahoe over the weekend to spend time with the family. After being surprised that we didnt go skiing, she asked what we did all weekend. The conversation continued on like this...

"Well, we watched movies, went sledding, played a lot of games... just kind of hung out as a family."

"Games? You mean like Monopoly or Life?"

"Well, not exactly. I like a lot of Euro-games that you probably have not heard of, but you'd most likely enjoy if you had played one."

"What's a Euro-game? Do you have to speak another language or something? "

"No, a Euro-game is kind of an overall name that applies to the style of games that I play. Unlike a typical American game where you roll a die, move your token and do whatever it says on the space you land on, Euro-games offer you many choices each turn on what you can do and how you can work towards winning."

*Her eyes glaze over*
"That sounds complicated."
*Slight pause as she thinks about it*
Are they any fun?"

"They are a LOT more fun than your typical Monopoly or Life game. They just work a little differently. Usually the other players have something to do when it's not their turn. There is a lot more interaction and they are pretty easy to get into. I've converted most of my family and friends into fairly serious game players with them."


"Yep. They are really addicting - but in a good way. My sister and her husband started playing these a few years back when they would visit. Now she has a fairly large collection of favorites and is always letting me know of games she has seen and asks my opinion of them. Five years ago, you couldn't have forced her to play a game of Monopoly. My brother on the other hand, actively hated these games. He'd make comments as we'd play along the lines of Why are you wasting your time?' or That looks stupid!"

*Slight bemusement, but still a bit wary*
"So you didn't convert him I take it?"

*I laugh*
"No, he finally caved in and tried one after a few glasses of a good Merlot. Now he'll try almost anything and he actually went looking to buy a few for himself. He was really touched to get a game from me for Christmas."

*She cracks up at this, but definately was curious now*
"You're kidding. That's really cool."
*She thinks about it for a second and adds*
"My kids don't like playing games with me, I'm way too cutthroat with them - especially in Monopoly!"

*Both of us laugh*

"It's no fun to get eliminated in a game and have to wait for everyone else to finish. Maybe you should try one of my games."

"I'd have no idea what to do."

"Do you like playing Rummy?"

"The card game? Yeah, it's a lot of fun."

*Pulling out a pen to write some stuff down*
"Go to this store, and buy this game."

*Reading my note*
"Ticket to Ride? That's a game?"

"Yes, and a great one for you and the family. It's easy to learn and I'm sure you will enjoy it. It won't cost anymore than taking the family to a movie and you'll have the game to play again and again."

*Smiling brightly*
"Ok, thanks. I may just get this."

And I walked out. I don't know if she'll go get it or not. I hope so, but it might take a bit more persuasion. She was interested - especially after hearing that nobody gets eliminated during the game. I've decided to make her my next vict...errr... project.

We shall see.

I think this experience kinda sums up the way that most Americans feel about games. All they know is Monopoly or LIFE or some trivia game. The thought that there might be something else out there is intriguing. It's a tough nut to crack, but I have converted nearly everyone I know that had never heard of a Euro-game into a Boardgame geek.

Like me.
By the's a picture of the game I recommended... Ticket to Ride.


ekted said...

I love to over-sensationalize a little when discussing games with non-gamers, hoping to pique their interest.

"Did you know that out of 2847 registered board games, Monopoly is #2822?"

"How is that possible? What's #1?"

"Puerto Rico."

"Never heard of it."

"I bet you haven't heard of any of the top 50 games."


Once you get a bite, the conversation can take its natural course. :)

Darth_Tanyan said...

I wish I were so convincing to some of my friends. We all play D&D every other Saturday and frankly though I own a boatload of quality Euro-games, I can't get these people to play one to save my life. I end up being Mr. Solitaire. Maybe I should be a bit more persuasive at the local coffeeshop...

manowarplayer said...


I was in the same boat as you originally. There was a group of us that loved playing Poker nearly EVERY Fri or Sat nite each week. We would play 3-4 times a month like clockwork.

We started out with the "standard" Poker games of Stud, Draw, Lo-ball ect... but we eventually got bored and started playing all the crazy stuff with wild cards. Duecy-And, Baseball, 31, Acey-Duecy, Anaconda... you name it. I knew things had got out of control when "Red Cards Wild" would hit the table at least once a night.

This went on for almost 4 years until I went to my first Gaming Convention and played Cosmic Encounter and Settlers of Catan.

I went out and immediately bought Settlers the following week. The next Poker game I dropped the bombshell - the following week we would try this new game I had picked up.

Well, Poker night rolled around and nobody really wanted to try and play something new. I was determined and basically told them that I was sick of Poker and they would have to play without me because I was going insane.

I guess they felt bad, because they agreed to try it - although my wife sat it out because she "had to take care of the little one". I knew better.

Well, I walked them through the first game and about halfway through, it "clicked" with them. We finished and immediately they wanted to play again. I got them hooked on Settlers all the while talking about all the other cool games that were out there that we had to try. Cosmic Encounter made it to the table the next week.

For the next 3 years, we got together the same amount as we had with Poker, but we played Eurogames almost exclusively. Poker hit the table about once a year.

After some of the group moved away, things changed, but they all have gaming libraries now thanks to me!

Don't give up, just double your efforts! BTW... I notice you are in Tracy. Are you going to KublaCon?

Jack said...

I used to host games nights at my house, 14 friends from work, bring beer, snacks and any games you want to play, with that many people there would generally be 2 or 3 games going on simultaneously, so there was something for everyone.

The first time people looked at me as if I had suggested an evening of wife-swapping, but they soon came around and the evenings were very popular until I moved away.

Darth_Tanyan said...

Yeah. Lived in Tracy since '99 but all my friends live in Sacramento. Haven't made any friends here at all. And, yes, I am going to Kublacon this year (I think my brother is going with me) I hate going to these things alone. I was going to get a room at the Hyatt Regency but I figured I practically live next door so I will more than likely commute... or pass-out in the atrium.

Dave Wilson said...

Sorry to hijack your blog, Scott, but...

Darth, look around you. There are gamers about. I'm in Pleasanton, myself. I can point you to two Yahoo groups:

Ought to be a good start.

manowarplayer said...

I'm in Modesto Darth and I attend the CVW on a fairly regular basis. They are a nice bunch of guys and a lot of them will also be at KublaCon (if ya want to check them out before committing to drive all the way to Modesto).

I'm more of a Euro-Gamer and they tend to be Wargamers but my influence these past two years have got them into a lot of games that meet's everyone's criteria (A Game of Thrones, Twilight Imperium).

We are now up to about 15 members most off which appear on a semi regular basis so our game nights are now around 7-10 people on average.

Check us out at:

I don't know where the Tri Valley Gamers meet or what kind of games they play, but I'm sure you could check out their web site too.

Darth_Tanyan said...

Hey! Central Valley Gamers are based around Tracy! Coolio! But I happen to work in Modesto so it isn't as far as you might think. Thanks, Dave and Scott for your help. I appreciate it.