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.


  1. Hey Jeff,

    First off, I don't think you came down hard on Pat at all, but the light you directed onto him could just as easily illuminate each and every one of us in the Wednesday group in the same glow of laziness. To different degrees perhaps, but we're all shedding photons. That being said, I have something to porpose to the group, but especially towards you. More on that later and in person.

    I understand you feelings of non-identity within our hobby. At the age of 37, I have felt them for quite some time. We sit in that territory between the new and the old. I like to call us "veterans". As it goes, I feel that while I may turn crotchety (sp?) in my advancing age, I will never become a board-game playing grognard. Why? Simple. I like the act of role-playing and storytelling too much. So much so, that whenever the old "games are for kids" feeling creeps into my psyche, my love of stories beats it into submission. It's my feelings that many older gamers turn to board games as a compromise between their age and their hobby. They feel silly getting together for "let's pretend", but nuking Europe or re-enacting the D-Day Normandy invasion scratches that particular itch for them in a way that makes them feel less childish. Then again, I may be over-thinking the situation.

    As far as the whole CSS/FLB/Metagamers thing goes. I say more power to them. I don't feel we dropped the ball so much as circumstances took it away from us, and with gamers being what they are (and us being gamers), we were just too lazy to bother taking it back. It was EASIER to just avoid the whole mess and continue operating into the parameters we were sort of forced into. I know *I* don't miss the parking hassles of campus. Given the whole situation, nothing says we can't revive CSS into a going concern again. It would just take some (brace yourself) work and effort to get it back up to speed.

    Just my two dollars...

    peace... RHM

  2. It's hell getting old, isn't it?? I am doing it with as little grace as possible and suggest you do the same. Contact the new group and show 'em how it's done old skool!

    Anything called "Pimp Pimp Pimp" just has to rock rock on!