Games in a Pub - 29th May 2011

Some of the attendees
With the weather good and another Bank Holiday you could never be sure if this would help attendance or destroy it. In the intervening time since our last event we had managed to publicise it on an additional web site - the Tunbridge Wells Events web site as well as get it tweeted about across over 1,700 people (a large number of whom live locally) and Damian (the owner of the Blue Anchor) had had numerous people ask about the evening and indicate they would be joining us. This publicity resulted in

Why Games Work In Some Families And Not Others?

This is an article written as part of my work with Imagination Gaming for the February 2011 addition of thru-the-portal an ezine for Social Gamers which sadly due to work pressures has not yet been produced. We hope you like it.
A photo from Mike Hulsebus's collection

Is it just chance or are there common factors that affect or indeed afflict those families where the mention of playing a board game will illicit groans or worse people making for the nearest door; meanwhile in other families peoples’ eyes light up and as one person on Boardgamegeek (BGG) put it “my girls are already making a beeline to the game closet”?

I suggest that there are three broad areas within families that result in a negative response to the question ‘anyone fancy a game?’

A. Playing The Wrong Games
There are thousands of games available but for those who have not discovered modern / designer / Euro games when asked ‘what games they have played’ they will likely reel off a series of games whose names will likely include 2 or 3 of the following Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, and Cluedo. The games will typically have been bought around the holiday season, arguably from retail outlets who sales staff who know little about the games themselves, they just know what sells. Worse yet there maybe the games around a popular TV series or films where the key factor in the purchase is recognition of the images on the box or whether the intended recipient like the program / film in question, if so it must be the right game for them.

Sadly the games mechanisms are often weak, heavily luck or knowledge based, or overly confrontational often with an exclusion dynamic and with a playing time that one commentator suggested leads to “the slow strangulation of the weaker players” or as another person put it 

Match Report 23rd May 2011

Two starters, one muffin and no main course!

The last of the evenings Munchies!With Gwen still not feeling her normal self it was always going to be touch and go as to whether she stayed the course or turned in early. This together with Natalie and Ben arriving a little (or in Ben’s case a lot) late had an impact on the games played. It was a good turnout with Malcolm back from his walking holiday in the Orkneys, Daniella, Ruth, Gwen and the aforementioned late arrivals. Sadly no Crispin (suffering with a gammy leg torn a cartilage in his knee) or Pauline both of whom we hope to see again soon.

For the keen eyed amongst you, you will have noted that the ladies

Mum Doesn't Like Games But There Are 3 She Will Play

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting a gamer who lives reasonably close but who I hadn’t met before.

We met in a pub part way between our two homes and obviously played a couple of games, Carolus Magnus (a new one for me) and Race for the Galaxy (a favourite of mine), but also had a long chat about a number of aspects of gaming - between turns and perhaps as a way of distracting the opponent, or is that just the cynic in me speaking?

One topic that came up in our conversation I thought might be of particular interest to readers of my blog.

He described how, whilst supportive of his hobby his wife really didn’t like playing games with maybe only three exceptions.

Games in a Pub - Week 6

I fear the writing is on the wall!
Dominion - Three players with two ringers!

We had a great night – all three of us (no wife this time as she was ill)! We played three games of Dominion, mentioned on previous posts and requested by Oliver who had enjoyed it on the previous occasion he joined us.

The games became increasingly interactive with the last game having a full range of attacks available to the players (depending on the cards 10 Kingdom cards selected for a game of Dominion, it can range from quite sedate to

GameCamp 4 (14th May 2011)

A day focused on

“the designers, coders, artists, writers, thinkers and, above all, the players who are making the 21st century the century of the game. GameCamp is about more than making games: it’s about playing them, thinking about them and how they affect our lives for good or for ill.”

An image from GameCamp 4
With the days strong focus on digital games the un-conference breakout sessions where never going to be the focal point of the day for me, particularly with a shy and reticent nephew in tow. However there was a significant games library donated in part by Esdivium (for GameCamp 3 in the autumn of 2010) but also loaned by this years attendees. This I felt sure would provide an opportunity to meet new gamers (we went along knowing nobody) in all probability play some new games and inevitably discuss the world of modern board games and indeed so it proved.

The highlights for me where:

What Would You Do To Help Your Child? Play With Them?

The theme of parents, children and play is one we have visited a number of times before in various guises within this blog. However, recently I unearthed a study reported in NewsWeek concerning a 32% improvement in reasoning abilities and a 27% increasing in processing speeds achieved by a group of 7 to 10 year olds who started using games in school. This level of gain would normally only be achieved over a year of education but was in fact achieved over an 8 week period using games for

Match Report 9th May 2011

3 light games and a lot of laughter
The players considering their options midway through a game of Bohnanza

With Crispin, Natalie and Daniella (and then Ben joining us half way through the evening) we had what turned out to be one of the funniest evenings we have had in a long time, getting three games in, two of which we had not played for many months. I only hope that my efforts to record the events do the evening and the participant’s justice.

Bohnanza (Age 12+, 2-7 players, 45 min playing time)
We started the evening with one of the group’s favourites Bohnanza . A game that requires every player to be vocal and creative in proposing trades that seek to maximise the cards they have available and so generate the richest harvest of beans. This is not a game for the hesitant or quiet, or at least not with

Games in a Pub - Week 5

Lots of games but less people
Players during a game of Dominion

Bracketed between two Bank Holiday, with the weather still gorgeous and having broken the pattern of these events with a three week break it was always going to be a tough ask to maintain the numbers from last time and so it proved.

On the good news front Phil joined us again along with his wife (Jenny) and three dogs plus Oliver who had seen the poster during the week and fancied giving the games a go.

We managed to get in two games of Quoridor an abstract strategy games, three of Dominion a simply brilliant card game that followers of my blog will have seen me comment on in the past and is outlined here. Lastly we managed the ever popular Straw.

Our new attendees both said how much they had enjoyed the evening and that the social dimension was part of what appealed.

The next event is at the Blue Anchor on the 15th May 2011 anytime after 7pm.

A Special Wedding

Our nephew (who has been playing games with us since he was a small boy) got married recently to a lovely lady. Imagine my delight and surprise when over dinner at the venue on the night before the wedding I heard that he had brought along the collaborative game Shadows over Camelot to while away the hours ‘til bedtime! So he, another friend and I proceeded to play (using his bed as a table) into the early hours.

Up to that point he had played the game 11 times but only won it once so it was the icing on the cake (so to speak) that we managed a victory that night.

Hopefully they will have a long and happy marriage.