How I Became a Gamer

I was browsing the Geek Weekly issue on Boardgame Geek just now, and included in it was a beautiful post from Neil Bunker, of Great Britain, who just recently rediscovered his love of board games with a chance visit to a bookstore that happened to carry some games.

To him, games were Monopoly or Risk, or even Snakes and Ladders. This visit opened his eyes to what games have become, and how far they’ve moved past all of that.

It reminded me of my own reawakening a few years ago. It wasn’t quite the same type of eye-opening, though it was close.

I grew up being into wargames. I was always a history guy, especially military history, and my brother had some games that we played.

There was the first one I probably played, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich

This is the 3rd edition cover, but we had the original

There was also the Napoleonic Wars games, War & Peace.

Quite the evocative cover

We played these a lot when I was a kid. He wiped the floor with me, but it was always fun. And we were able to leave them set up on the card table because our dog wouldn’t jump up and wreck everything. We also had other wargames that we played.

When I went to college, I learned Titan and became a big Squad Leader fan.

Titan 2
The original and best cover


A buddy of mine lived in his dorm room alone, though all rooms had two desks, so we kept Squad Leader set up on one of his desks and played through each scenario. We made it a fair distance before graduation.

Then I graduated and things bottomed out. I spent a lot of money on the Advanced Squad Leader revision of the original game (a $90 rulebook in a 3-ring binder, as well as the first 2-3 modules that were also $50+ each) but then they never got played.

Yes, that cost $90

I sold them when I moved to Seattle. One of my regrets from that part of my life (not the selling, but the not playing).

I did dabble in Magic: the Gathering when I lived in Chicago, but after buying quite a few packs I decided I didn’t want to try and keep up with it.

And thus wargames left my life, and boardgames themselves really hadn’t come into their own yet (Catan came out in 1995, and I don’t really know when it really took off). I had no idea they existed.

Fast forward a number of years, to 2011 or so.

The setting is V-Con, the annual science fiction convention in Vancouver. I’m a big fan of SF and I’m also an aspiring writer. I decide to attend this convention to attend writing panels, meet some authors, get some autographs, and just see what is out there in this world.

On a whim during a lull, I wander into the game room. A 24-hour game room! Holy crap!!!

I walk around a bit, check out the game library, watch a few people playing, and then get to a table where four guys are playing Merchant of Venus.

Merchant of Venus
Merchant of Venus, in all its 1st Edition glory

Hey, this is an Avalon Hill game, just like my old wargames! And I vaguely remember hearing about this game in one of their catalogs (it came out in 1988).

I watch for a while. Tony and Richie talk to me for a bit. Then one of the players has to leave to host a panel, and they ask me if I want to sit in for him.

I jump at the chance.

I still spent a lot of time doing other things at this convention, but I did stop by the game room quite a bit that weekend, talking to both of them. I don’t think I played another game that weekend. If I did, it wasn’t that memorable.

Move forward a year later, to the next V-Con, and I’m in the game room more often. I sit down and play newer games like Ascension.

Suddenly, I’m hooked.

While the 2011 V-Con was what baited the hook, the 2012 V-Con is when I bit down hard on it and was caught.

I’ve never looked back since that day. I did go from “I’ll play other people’s games because I don’t really want to own any” to owning way more games than I really have room for.

It’s been a delightful 6 years of gaming since then. I am so glad I discovered this hobby.

I’ve met wonderful friends, played some great games, and had a lot of fun in those years.

Here’s to many, many, many more years of gaming.

How did you get into gaming? Was it an epiphany, or did a friend get you involved somehow? Did you have a break like I did?

Let me know in the comments.




27 Comments on “How I Became a Gamer

  1. I grew up playing the usual family games like Monopoly. My family also loved doing Trivial Pursuit. I definitely had a break around high school through college where I barely touched a card or board game. It was all about video games.
    Video games were a great way to stay in touch with friends online, but local co-op gradually declined. Video games were no longer the thing to do when friends came over. Around 2010-2011 I played Carcassonne and Catan, and received Dominion as a gift. Those were the gateway drugs and within the year I was ordering games like Small World, Ticket to Ride, and Race for the Galaxy. Been hooked ever since!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love reading these kinds of things, instant nostalgia for me. I just remember playing Risk with my dad and brother, we loved it, and could just sit there for hours and hours. Even when you’d already lost all your battles, you’d still be watching the rest play haha. I remember also playing the Game of Life a lot, too much if you ask me haha. This really makes me want to go and buy some good ol’ board games again. Great post!

    Would you by any chance be interested in sharing your articles and opinions with us on Facebook? We’re a growing community of gaming fans and bloggers, and we’re always looking for more great writers to share their work and discuss all things gaming. You can check us out right here:


    • Thanks for the comment!

      Yeah, I’m a sucker for these types of posts too. That’s why I love doing them. πŸ™‚

      I’m a bit confused about your group, though. It seems to be all about video games. I’m not sure how board games really fit in there.

      Looks like a good group though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi there, cheers for responding. I always like to think of “gaming” in the broadest sense of the word, and because i’m into board games and card games, I think they definitely belong there too. Who knows, you might even inspire more people to play ’em. Feel free to join and to share your posts and reviews, the offer stands! πŸ˜€


  3. Hey! Last year I attended my local Comic Con and they had a board game set up. This was the first time I played anything other than Monopoly, Cluedo, The Game of Life etc. I had sat down to a game of Catan, then a game of Pandemic, then a game of Ticket to Ride. I was fascinated and spent around 4hrs playing board games. Then I got into Tragedy Looper with a friend from University.
    Have you got any suggestions based on the games I’ve already played? πŸ™‚


    • Funnily enough, I just played a new game that really hits that Ticket to Ride feel but yet is a step up. More details about it will be in my “New Games Played in May” post that will go up in about a week, but it’s called “Royals” and it is phenomenal.

      It has the TtR feel in the sense that you are collecting cards of a matching country (colour) to then place things on the board.

      I loved it when I played it last weekend. Definitely deserves its Dice Tower Essentials designation.

      Thanks for the comment and welcome to the wonderful world of board games!

      Liked by 1 person

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