Jay’s Boardgaming Journey: Chapter 1: Character Creation

Boardgaming is pretty ubiquitous in my life. Most of my friends are people I’ve met through gaming, and even those that I knew before I was into the hobby have since been introduced to hobbyist, or designer, board games. Occasionally, usually if I start a new job, I find myself explaining the hobby to new people, but more often than not, I no longer have to specify “no, not like Monopoly” to new people. Even non-gamers I meet have heard of Settlers of Catan or have seen Pandemic on the shelves of Target.

It’s hard to imagine a time that board games weren’t a part of my life, I mean, growing up, I played all your typical roll-and-move games that get looked down upon by the hobbyist. I popped Pop-o-Matic bubbles, passed Go and collected $200, and sank battleships like most people, but I would not have called board games “my thing.” I was more into action figures and comic books.

I guess the precursor, then, to my entrance into the wide world of gaming was playing Role Playing Games. In Junior High, I had a copy of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set. I made so many characters that would never get played (though many showed up in stories I would write), and even tried to get a campaign going. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the attention span or confidence to master the rules and run a game. Luckily, one of my friends did have these skills, and for a short time, we played the West End Games Ghostbusters RPG.

Now, my friends and I were obsessed with Ghostbusters as a franchise. I know I wanted to be a ghost hunter when I grew up, so a game where you get to be a Ghostbuster? Awesome! Unfortunately, we were still young kids with short attention spans and lots of homework, so we only played this game a few times. It was enough: I had gotten a taste, and I wanted more.

In high school, I found my Role-Playing group. We’d meet up almost every weekend to play D&D, Rifts, Paranoia, Vampire: The Masquerade. Toon, Star Wars, and a bunch of other games that I don’t even remember. As much as I loved comic books, for those three years, RPGs had taken over as my number one hobby.

Unfortunately, with graduation, our group fell apart. most of my friends went off to college (I went to a more local college and still lived in my hometown), so I needed to find a gaming group. Luckily, on the first day of classes, the school clubs were all presenting what their memberships had to offer. I was surprised to find that there was a gaming club! I signed up immediately.

There was a hitch: the role-playing activities were always held on evenings and weekends, and I had nearly full-time job, so I couldn’t play. Still, being a member of the group meant that I was at least introduced tp bunch of people who had shared interests and who had basically taken over the basement of the Student Center. They played all these weird board games, but they looked complicated, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by trying to learn, so I kept my distance. These people may have been geeks like me, but they seemed to already know each other and have a dynamic going that I didn’t want to try to insert myself into.

That was, until I decided to buy my first deck of Magic: the Gathering

To be continued…

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