Gaming with friends

One of my largest passions is gaming and it has been ever since being introduced to the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980’s. My earliest Christmas memory is opening that console at my grandparents house in Michigan and I remember it vividly. I waited patiently as it was hooked up to the small (by today’s standards) television in the basement and proceeded to stomp Koopa Troopa and Goombas and shooting flying ducks in spite of a laughing dog. I was introduced to computers at an early age too and I truly miss the days of typing “Walk North” in King’s Quest and getting stuck in Space Quest. It was only a matter of time before I had upgraded equipment and had the Super Nintendo, Gameboy, and N64. Our computers advanced over the years and we were cruising the internet in hyper speed with an unprecedented 14.4k modem.

During these years as I moved into high school, I was introduced to Magic the Gathering through our local gaming store. This is when my passion truly ignited. I’m sure my parents would say that I was passionate all along, but it wasn’t until this moment when I knew I had this passion. It wasn’t the card game itself or the collectibility, but the people I was interacting with at the time. I went into college leaving many of these friends behind and with no surprise I made new friends through gaming as well. It was during these years, going into 2000, that online gaming became a reality. With games like Ultima Online, Everquest, and Asheron’s Call breaking the barrier, I found myself interacting with complete strangers with one thing in common. The desire to come together as a group and play games together. For someone that was not the life of the party, this leap into online gaming was incredible for me and the interactions with complete strangers bolstered my confidence to a high degree. To this day almost 15 years later, I am still in contact with many of these people that I first interacted with through a gaming platform that linked one end of the planet to the other.

Over the years I have found myself continuously going back to local gaming stores, not to be the best competitive player in the area or in the game but to enjoy great company and friendship. I have been fortunate to have a great group of friends to enjoy this passion of mine and look forward to many gaming days ahead. Life is hectic these days, our twins are growing so fast and we have moved into a rural area far from friends that I have gamed with for years. It’s frustrating at times not being able to drive down to enjoy Thursday night board game nights or make it down for a Saturday. I’m thankful for the capability to stay connected through our distances and I am watching the face of gaming change from physical to digital. As all of us are getting older and our lives get more complicated, this new age of gaming is amazing.

The games we have played for years are becoming available online, communities are forming on TwitchTV, Google Hangouts are becoming popular, and through it all gamers are uniting and having some incredible moments together. I will amend my previous statement that one of my largest passions is gaming. The more accurate statement would be that one of my largest passions is gaming with friends. Without them I would not be where I am today.

Thanks for all the memories, I look forward to more to come!

Collectible Card Games – Then and Now

I started by going to our local hobby store buying comic books every week. Every now and then I’d pick up some baseball cards or Marvel Masterpieces that initially sparked my interest in collectibles. Who remembers hobby stores that actually carried sporting cards? Our store owner recognized my interest in collectibles and pointed out a collectible card game that he said was fun to play. A few demo’s later and I was hooked introducing me to Magic the Gathering in 1996. ¬†Allowances every week went to purchasing starter decks and boosters. I spent all my free time at the hobby shop playing with new decks and free time at home spending hours sorting my cards. Scrye and Duelist magazines started piling up in the bedroom and soon I was competing locally in tournaments.¬†I was a decent player and had my fair share of tournament victories in those first few years. Fast forward 17 years down the road and who knew magic would still be here in 2013 and the biggest and baddest TCG of them all. Too many games have come and gone during that time to name or count.

I am also older now and have a family of my own, more responsibilities and work five days a week. My passion for gaming has not declined over the years but my ability to actively compete and enjoy a TCG has diminished drastically. The players are younger and have more time that can be devoted to these games which has slowly caused me to transition into accepting the truth that I must be a casual gamer.

The past few years I tried to stay active in my chosen TCG, which game it is doesn’t really matter. Any one of them just require too much time away from home, the choice of game is irrelevant. I have begun selling old collectible cards from these games I’ve played and converting them into games that make more sense and frankly are more enjoyable for myself, my wife, and closest friends. The days of countless hours wasted sorting through cards are over (unless the kids want to play those games). I have amassed quite the collection of board games this past year and play them with friends when we are able.

That was my haul this year at GenCon. Once I finally accepted that my old gaming days were over, I found a way to be able to continue to enjoy my passion and embraced the new path games are laying for the future. Board games have changed since my Monopoly and Sorry games as a child just like video games have changed from Nintendo to XboxOne. There are thousands upon thousands of games out there like these pictured above giving us gamers near infinite choices on how we want to enjoy our passion.

The newest revolution in collectible card games is happening now. The transition to the digital platform has begun. Magic the Gathering started this years ago with Magic Online, but this year has been a remarkable year for card games. Kickstarter has revolutionized the gaming industry making games that people could only envision a reality. SolForge is in open beta, a free to play collectible card game. HexTCG is soon to be in alpha testing, another free to play collectible card game. Hearthstone is in closed beta, a World of Warcraft digital card game. There are others popping up as well. I’m currently playing SolForge and Clash of Champions and my old love for competitive cards has resurfaced.

The time saved by having a digital TCG is the game changer for me. Collections are managed by the computer eliminating the hours wasted sorting through cards. The space required is gone. I must have fifteen 5k boxes of cards just sitting in boxes in a closet taking up half the space. The time spent going through those boxes to find the cards for your deck are gone. All of this is now available at the click of a button giving back the time I need to play the type of games I truly enjoy the most! So the selling of old continues to pay for the new age. We see this every day and I am happy that the time has come for gaming. I am taking the digital change in stride and looking forward to 17 more years of gaming. We live in an incredible technological world where anything is possible.

When I opened my first pack of Magic the Gathering, I had no idea where it would lead. I have been lead down an incredible adventure, meeting wonderful people along the way and traveled to cities I didn’t think I’d ever see. I have started this gaming blog and begun creating gaming videos. None of which I ever imagined that I would be doing. If you are hesitant to follow your passion, please take a moment to reconsider.

Until next time, get your games in!