2015 in Review

This year was a bit of a transition for me. My work environment changed a lot, and I finally made the move to management. I spent more time working and less time playing games, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I spent less time playing board games.

A Critical Hit

If anything, 2015 was the year of RPGs for me. I joined a regular Dungeons and Dragons Encounters group that met every Wednesday night at my friendly local game store, The Crazy Squirrel. This was good for me in a couple of ways, beyond the fact that it’s just plain fun. First, it helped me get out of my comfort zone and made me sit down with people I didn’t know. I tend to stick close to my good friends when it comes to playing games, and this forced me to loosen up a bit. It also gave me a creative outlet that I sorely needed. I’m starting to realize how important it is to my happiness and well-being to always be involved in some kind of creative process. Regardless of whether it’s writing, cooking, building, performing, or painting, those are the times when I feel most connected to a sense of self. I plan on exploring this a bit more in 2016.

Games of 2015
I still played a lot of board games, but not as many as I have in previous years. There were certainly some standouts this year, but nothing hit the table quite like Pandemic Legacy. If you haven’t had the change to play this, you are seriously missing out on a real gaming adventure. Other notable games included Mysterium, Cacao, and Codenames.
About 2016

I’m going to be 50 years old in a couple of months. I choose to look at this milestone as that point in a journey when you have reached a certain distance and altitude where you can look over, with some sense of perspective, both the path behind you as well as the landscape of what may lie ahead. I suppose one could also look at it and say that it’s all downhill from here, but I like it better my way. I can’t change the path I’ve already traveled, but I can take what I’ve learned with me as I move forward. Here’s some wisdom that I have gathered over time:

Keep an eye out for poop in the road so you can avoid stepping in it. If you think something might be poop, it probably is poop.

If you pick up all the cool rocks you find as you make your journey, you will end up with heavy pockets filled with rocks. Enjoy your experiences. If something is that cool, then take a picture with your phone.

Don’t say all of the words that you hear inside your head. Words are powerful and you should use them responsibly.

Look more than a couple of steps down a path before you start walking. There may be an owlbear.

Automate your savings.

People are more important than things, but always keep in mind the rule about poop.

I give 2015 four out of five stars. There were some pretty good plot twists and turns and some reasonable character development. The writing was consistent, if somewhat predictable, but I am leaving the theater feeling like my money was well spent.

Dice and Cardboard

Recently, I’ve been getting back into tabletop role playing games. These are those games, like Dungeons and Dragons, that your parents warned you about because they have been linked to things like creativity and not being popular with stupid people. I’m still playing a lot of board games, but I feel like there’s been a shift somewhere in my gaming brain, and the pie chart that displays my thought allocation that was previously filled mostly with family strategy games is now filled with RPGs, and of course, pie.

I recently finished the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set adventure. My buddy Joe was our DM and was nice enough to run it for our significant others and my son. We had a really great time, and I can’t say enough about the value of this starter set. We spent about six months going through the adventure in the starter set. Now, we didn’t play all that often, but we may have played eight or nine times over those months, and it was a lot of fun. By the way, DM stands for Dungeon Master. Also FYI, OG stands for Original Gangster. Apparently, this is a good thing. I had to ask about this last week. FYI stands for Flying Yellow Insects.

I also ran a short adventure at a local RPG convention, using the Fate Accelerated rule system. It was a spy thriller set in the 1970’s and I called it “Dr. Disco vs. the agents of F.U.N.K.” It’s always nerve wracking running adventures in those situations, but I was glad that I did. I had a great group of players and it was a total hoot. I’m already planning the sequel.

I’m getting ready to run our starter set crew through the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure. Getting started with a new campaign is always the most difficult thing for me, but once things get moving, it gets a lot easier.

On a housekeeping note, I’m experimenting with new comment protocols. I’ve disabled the normal WordPress comments, and enabled Facebook comments. I’ve also created a Twitter widget that will follow the hashtag #ggthinks. I’m interested in seeing what’s easier to use and what allows for better feedback and interaction. Try them out and see what you think.

Sunk Cost Fallacy and Boardgames

Last Friday, I listened to a short piece on NPR called “How Sunk Cost Fallacy Applies To Love.” In Economics, a sunk cost is one that has already been paid and cannot be recovered.  I think this is where we get the saying “Throwing good money after bad” or “Don’t chase your losses.” In the NPR piece, a woman stayed in a bad relationship because she had already invested a good deal of her time.

It struck me immediately that this can have a similar effect on gamers. You get excited about a new game and you pay your money, but after you play it, you don’t really like it. However, you feel obligated to keep it or play it again because you feel like you haven’t gotten your value. You may find that you prefer a new edition of a game, but you won’t purchase the new edition because you spent money on the old one.
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