Monthly Archives: May 2015

Defining “Gamer” 2

Listening to the latest bonus episode of Game Store Prophets got me thinking. (Actually, GSP usually gets me thinking, but this time it got me thinking so hard I blogged about it.) Early in the episode, it came up that there are 1.4 billion gamers worldwide. That can mean a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people. On the podcast they mention that it includes everything from people playing casual mobile games like candy crush through serious board gamers like Tom Vassel and professional League of Legends players. The term “gamer” also has an interesting connotation to outsiders as well, because to some people, it indicates gambling. It includes console gamers, PC gamers, people playing Magic: The Gathering at the local Grand Prix qualifier, every D&D group since Gygax and Arneson, and maybe even the family playing Monopoly (and trying not to let the game devolve intro fratricide).

The more precise part of me wishes there were more specific terms, but then I hear Galatians 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”) spoken in Derek “The Geekpreacher” White’s voice in my head and I reconsider. I think maybe having just one banner of “gamer” to sit under is like having one of “Christian” to sit under; it has the potential to unify, rather than dividing.

Still, like “Christian,” the label of “gamer” will give you some basics, but there is a tremendous amount of interesting specificity to tease out when talking to individual gamers. Before I continue, I’d like to call for comments on this one in particular. I’ve met a number of our listeners (mostly at Fear the Con) which has been a great experience, and I’d like to get to know our audience better. So in the spirit of sharing, here’s what it means to me:

Tabletop RPGs: We just put Grant’s Shadowrun game using Savage Worlds rules on hold, and I have started running a GURPS game, but I’ve also played a bunch of d20 variants, FATE, In a Wicked Age, The Trouble With Rose, Ragnarok: Fate of the Norns, and probably more than a few I’m forgetting in my day. I’ve gotten small entries published in two GURPS books and a couple of PDF d20 modern books that were made to raise money for charity after Hurricane Katrina. Most of my gaming these days is via Google Hangouts, and I’d really like to get a regular tabletop gaming group together again at some point, but for the time being, the current situation is what works with my schedule, and I also have an absolutely fantastic group, so I can’t complain too much.

Digital: I am one of those smug “PC master race” guys (no, not really – I just like tinkering and don’t have a traditional living room set-up with a TV, so console gaming would be a serious pain and is also more of an investment than I feel like making). I’ve built my own gaming PC from components several times over and I despair of even making a dent in my game library before I die, much less finishing it all. I enjoy a lot of smaller indie games and “second-tier” titles from companies like Klei. I’m a sucker for game bundles and sales, and I really enjoy games that let me take my time and think about my next move. I’m also a huge fan of story-driven RPGs like Bioware makes. The Mass Effect games are my favorite game series of all time, and I gave almost an entire weekend of vacation to Divinity: Original Sin when it came out. Most of the stuff I play is fairly “serious,” but I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll play a round of Peggle or Bejeweled every now and then, and I’ll also fire up War of Omens and Card Hunter in my browser from time to time.

Non-RPG tabletop gaming: I played Magic: The Gathering a bunch back in high school (though never competitively) and got out for a long time. I recently got sucked back in by the Duels of the Planeswalkers computer games, and now I exclusively play the Commander/EDH format (though not nearly as often as I’d like). I enjoy board games when I get the chance to play them, but unfortunately, I almost never do. (Though I have convinced my wife and parents to play Dominion with me a few times, which is a lot of fun.)

Okay. That’s me. How about you? What does “gamer” mean to you, and how do you game?

Episode 62 – Animals

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Grant and Peter are back, and talking about creatures great and small! Inspired by M. J. Young’s 2004 Faith and Gaming article “Animals” (written for the Christian Gamers’ Guild), Grant and Peter discuss the wide variety of animals seen in roleplaying games and the real world. Then, we talk about how to use them effectively in your story and setting, and some pitfalls to keep in mind when the focus shifts to pets and other creatures at the table. Plus, we’re going to Fear the Con 8 and you should too!

Scripture: Job 12:7-10Luke 12:6-7Revelation 5:13

Of Finals and Short Blog Posts

This is going to be a short one – this is finals week for me, and while I’ve knocked one down, I still have other on Thursday I’m preparing for. (Two finals for one class! That’s just mean!) In any case, I haven’t had a tremendous amount of time to think about blog topic recently, but I’ll leave you with a couple more pieces of gaming curriculum “Extra Credit” in honor of my finals.

Longmire: An interesting and very well-written cop drama set in modern Wyoming. Sherriff Walt Longmire deals with murders, corruption and limited resources. This show is worth watching for its treatment of small-town dynamics, its characters, and its interesting take on police work. You wouldn’t have to change much to make the setting a post-apocalyptic one instead, and it does a good job of portraying characters that have various levels of respect and affection for each other working together in spite of their differences or failing to work together despite their positive relationship. The books are also supposed to be excellent, but I haven’t tried them, at least not yet.

Anthologies: I’ve plugged the Sojourn series that I’ve been published in a number of times, but any anthology that interests you is going to have at least a few ideas that you can use. I’ve pulled monsters, NPCs, setting elements, and plots from examples I’ve seen in anthologies before, and because the works in an anthology are short, they tend to be dense. Furthermore, if one doesn’t work for you, there’s probably something else in the same book that does.

And that’s going to do it for this week. Next time I’ll be back with a more typical blog post. Good luck to any of you reading this that are also in finals season. May your studies go well and pay off handsomely.

Episode 61 – Fear the Charity and Con Games (with Derek Knutsen)

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Derek Knutsen, co-host of THE ESTABLiSHED FACTS and the mind behind Palegain Press, joins us to talk about charitable activity happening at Fear the Con 8 and some tips on running convention games! Derek has run Fear the Charity events at Fear the Con for several years now, and this year he’s also running Fear the Fruit. He’s also running a canned food drive, an alternate reality game (ARG) for Fear the Charity donations, a charity dungeon crawl at Fear the Con, and more! In short, he’s very busy helping everyone at Fear the Con give back to the broader community, and he’s awesome. While we have him on, we also pick his brain for some advice on running good convention games—basic advice on handling people, play and preparation. Enjoy!

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12Malachi 3:10Matthew 18:20