Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Caught in the Middle

First of all, if anyone thinks I came down too hard on Pat in my last post, please feel free to call me on it. I was attempting to urge him to action, not pick on him, but if you think I was too pushy please let me know.

Last night was board game night. We played El Grande with the "build your own deck" expansion. Neat expansion, full of tricky stuff. I spent most of the game in second place on but got crushed in the last scoring round. I got too greedy and went after some cheap points that belonged to Al when I should have been agressively attack Jim, who was in the lead. Al struck back, from last place what did he have to lose? I'm hoping next week we play El Grande again but with the other expansion, involving the Grand Inquistitor and new territory tiles. Then the following week we can combine the two expansions. Or not. I'd be just as happy playing Puerto Rico again. We also played Bohnanza, which I continue to suck at. I came in third despite getting phenomenal card draws.

The title of this post describes how I feel sometimes about my place in the gaming hobby. I feel like I sit in some unknown territory between the college kids and the grognards. I'm never going to be one of the young turks again and I'm never going to be part of the Campaign for North Africa set. So what does that make me? Some schlub who plays games, I guess. This isn't something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I sometimes feel like my identity as a gamer is fuzzy. I'm not sure I know what the crap I'm talking about here. Maybe it's just that old "games are for kids" anxiety working its way to the surface.

I think I'm feeling this way today because I just discovered the existence of a new gaming group at the University of Illinois. Back in the day, I was President of the Conflict Simulation Society, the U of I's official gaming club. While school was in session we met every Wednesday night at the Foreign Languages Building, and the members usually got together on the weekends for other gaming projects. We stopped doing the Wednesday night thing at one point; the construction on campus turned finding a place to park into a total fiasco. But then the club pretty much fell apart. Now the CSS exists pretty much only on paper, as the secret cabal that runs Winter War. Once a year the CSS fades into existence. Once the con is over, it returns into the void for another year. So now these Metagamers folks have sprung up to fill the vacuum left by the CSS. It was inevitable, really, but still kinda sad. I mean, I'm happy their are students at the U of I organizing and playing games. Heck, I might try to get in touch with them. But I am saddened that the CSS no longer fufills that function. We dropped the ball.

I'm a little bummed, but I want to end this point on a less down note. Work with me here for a minute: open the Metagamers site in another window. Check out the front page illo. Are you looking at it? The spikes in the pit, the spikes in the wall, and the spears on the opposite wall all point towards the chick's butt. Furthermore, that butt is painted as an upside down heart-shape. Maybe I just have the female derriere permanently imprinted in my neanderthal brain, but it looks to me like that the whole "bottom" of that picture is centered on the chick's ass.