The mighty Dave Adams AKA Nerd of Wisdom has answered the call from Vault to find out what makes him a gamer. He is a husband, father, school teacher, board game reviewer on whatever sites publish him, and he does “Good Game Better Gamer” on Board Game breakfast, and Board Game Haiku just for fun on Dice Tower Blender. The story that won him the recent competition from our friends at ATGN brought him to our attention so we had to ask him the one simple question to find out... Why I Game.
What got you into tabletop gaming?
I consider that I have been a proper gamer since 2001. I always enjoyed board games but never really knew anything beyond Yahtzee, Uno, Monopoly, and Clue until 2001.
I regularly used board game with kids when I worked in an outside hours school care centre. One day some kids started playing this game called “Yugioh” and I tried to learn it so I could play with them. I bought a starter deck and some friends of mine decided to get a deck as well. It was my first ever gaming obsession that tapped into the same compulsion that made me a comic book collector.
My friends and I had no idea gaming communities existed until we went to a store to play Yugioh. We would buy booster packs and take them to my place and run our own round robin between the three of us to win all the boosters. We thought we understood the rules from reading the starter deck rules, but until our first night at a real gaming store we had no idea how many rules we were getting wrong. We eventually made friends with local gamers and we would meet up together, look at decks, and travel together to national tournaments. Later I started playing VS system and competing in 10K’s, but they died out quickly before I could get really proficient like I did with Yugioh. I studied and became a level 1 Yugioh judge so I could run tournaments with the kids at work and help out at my local store. After a few years of gaming I took on a teaching job in remote school in Central Australia and lost contact with the CCG scene.
In my remote community there was a married couple who introduced a game called Five Crowns to myself, the local police officer, and the nurse. It is essentially a set collection game based a little on Rummy. With little else to do we played a lot of that game, many rounds multiple times a week. We introduce many of the transients from various government organisation who passed through town to the game by inviting them to our gaming nights. We would host at each other’s place and share meals. For one of our birthday parties we did a “How to Host a Murder” which was a lot of fun.
Both of these experiences, as a CCG player and out on community, taught me a lot about the power of gaming to bring people together and build relationships. On my return to Brisbane I eventually made friends with some people who introduced me to Dominion. This once again set my mind abuzz with gaming and soon I discovered that my childhood hero, Wil Wheaton, was doing a show on games. From there it was a flurry of TableTop and Dice Tower and soon I accidentally found myself with a collection of games.
Care to share a #shelfie?
Which game hits your table the most? And why?
As I have a little one now I find it a bit hard to host game nights like I used to, so I often like to pull out Ghost Stories. I have never beaten the game, but I intend to get a little closer this holiday break. Of course I love to play it with others, but it makes for good solo play as well. If I was to consider what game hits the table most with others I would have to say Patherfinder the Adventure Card Game. My friends and I have been trying to make our way through the campaign and it was a fortnightly event… almost fortnightly. It has been delayed a bit of late as one of our team moved to Sydney for a job and another is getting married, so our group has moved into playing DnD online with each other over Skype. Still, we played a lot of Pathfinder TACG this past year.
What is your best gaming story?
I recently shared this for a competition run by Australian Tabletop Gaming Network and Vault Games. In short, it involved a teacher friend who I may have left silly messages on her light up board in her classroom. As revenge she spent a couple of weeks working with her students, parents, and staff to hijacked one of my lesson and involve me in one the worse games ever imaginable. She combined two of my personal pet hates, Monopoly and Crocs, to create a life size game called Crocopoly. The room was decorated with every game of Monopoly that the students could bring from home and any Monopoly paraphernalia she could find. The kids wore Crocs and had them around the room. The classroom desks were set up to resemble a Monopoly board and students created their own properties. They made money, pieces (mine was a dirty old Croc of course), and Chance cards that involved me doing silly dances and making different noises to progress my piece. I had to take on the whole class in a game. It ended as every game of Monopoly ends, with kids trashing the board and some kids in the corner crying over how mean people got.
There is one more time I found to be most satisfying that I should share. I put all my loose coins into jars to use when they accumulate into something spendable. I spent the better part of three years collecting coins before deciding to buy Mansions of Madness from my local store. It was a great feeling buying a game by dumping $120 in mostly 5, 10, and 20 cent pieces. It was also coincidentally the longest time I have ever spent in a store purchasing a game.
And finally, why do you game?
Since my days of CCG and on community I have taken gaming into my school community. I was asked one year to help out with some grade five kids who were struggling to build relationships and generally found it difficult to interact with others. So I started taking games along to school as a way of helping them learn about following rules, being precise, building positive interactions, teamwork, and of course the best things of all, learning to fail. It was a really successful program. I made friends at work with a guy who is also a gamer and together we set up a board game club. This turned very quickly into two clubs, one for Junior School and one for middle and senior school. Today those grade five kids I first played games with are in grade nine and regularly attend board game club. They also have learned to make friends and insist on trying to bring as many of them to the club as they can.
This is why I love gaming. It is a way of building relationships in a way that is positive, fun, and promotes good learning. Community has been part of my gaining experience from the very start. You can build real community around games and I love being part of building positive communities.
I have since tried to learn as much as I can about the ways games help us to grow and learn as people. In my casual ludology (games study) I came across a presentation that Mike Selinker (Betrayal at House on the Hill, Lords of Vegas, Pathfinder, Pathfinder the Adventure Card Game) made at the 2015 PAX convention. He listed the top 100 games that everyone positively, absolutely, must know how to play. Intrigued at what inspires a game designer I have set about playing all the tabletop games on his list. Game 100 on his list is one you make yourself. So I have been working towards making my own game for play as part of my personal journey in understanding games better. For fun I have been reviewing the games on Mike’s list and you can see those videos on YouTube by searching for Nerds of Wisdom.
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