When I think about my relationship with board games, I'm immediately teleported back to when I was a kid spending the weekend with my grandma and grandpa. We'd play outside all day, then in the evening after dinner, we'd run to the closet to where the board games were stored and would pull out one to play together.
Like most people, my introduction into board games was through games like Monopoly, Risk, Uno, and card games with a standard deck of cards. I'm from the Michigan, so learning Euchre was quickly a vital part of my gaming life. Honestly, this was pretty much it for the longest time. Whatever games my grandparents had, that's what I learned to play. We had a few extra games in my house. Apples to Apples, Disney Trivial Pursuit, and classics like Backgammon, Chess, and Checkers. My home was a video game household.
It stayed that way for a very long time, went through college and played cards, learned Magic: The Gathering just after college and was deeply (and still am) attached to that TCG. It would bring me to the local game shop almost daily, and one fateful weekend, a few friends showed up with board games. These weren't games like Monopoly. They looked complicated, strategic, and fun. I had an opportunity to sit down and learn Ticket to Ride, and while I lost pretty badly, it ignited a spark that has now grown to a flame that can not be extinguished.
From that day on, I knew board games was going to be a part of my life. I've grown quite a personal collection of games over the last 8 years, and have no plans on stopping. I've introduced my friends and family to games. I play routinely with friends where I live, and I'm constantly learning and thinking about board games. My favorite part is how much more creative, yet strategic, I have become in recent years. It is certainly a skill that I've learned to leverage in my professional life.
Big thank you to board games, for being an excellent outlet and escape from reality.
I pretty much have to thank video games for a lot, heck...everything. How I think, how I communicate, and how I execute my every day life can be drawn back to my relationship with video games. It's my first love and we go way back.
I've been gaming my whole life. I was fortunate to be in a house where video games were enjoyed and celebrated by everyone. Heck, my parents met and their first couple of dates revolved around staying up all night to watch Gauntlet II and Bubble Bobble crash on my dad's NES. It comes to no surprise that some of my favorite memories growing up revolve around video games.
Now, I'm going to tell you right now, I'm a console gamer. Always have. Always will be. My personal collection of consoles goes all the way back to the Nintendo 64 and I've made the jump between Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. I love them all and didn't play favorites growing up. I just wanted to play the best games and whatever system allowed for that, I had to have it.
Friends I made in high school and college all revolved around the hottest game. Whether that was the latest copy of Madden, to Halo 3, to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was easy to find me down the hall in the dorms or hanging out at a friends apartment gaming the night away. Video games have the catalyst for some of my best relationships.
Professionally, I'm not a gamer, but how I think, analyze, and problem solve all revolves around my experience with video games. I lived through the cheat code era of video games, an a lot of my brain power looks at the problem before me and seeks out the "cheat code" that will make the solution as easy as possible. This often creates very efficient, although somewhat lazy, creative solutions that often make my coworkers look at me with the wildest eyes.
Now in days, I use videogames as my release from the world. Find myself in games that allow me to just escape and vibe. As video game design gets more and more realistic, I find myself looking for the simpler games that have a fun story. I'm a big old Nintendo kid now, and it makes me happy.
When the pandemic started a few years ago, we were all lost in what it is we were going to do. Our lives seemingly flipped upside down from the norm. At the same time, it gave us an excuse to explore and learn new things. We learned how to make sourdough bread. We learned the art of putting together puzzles. Me, I learned Dungeons & Dragons.
My good friend and coworker was getting his business off the ground. The concept? Professional dungeon mastering via online gaming. He would be the GM and customers could get their D&D fix when meeting in person could not be easily achieved. It was a perfect opportunity to make the most of this troubling time. The only trick, a little practice using technology was in order.
Now, prior to being asked to be on a testing team, I had very little D&D experience. I tried to partake in a campaign that only ended up being a couple of sessions because everyone got busy. It was never that I didn't like it. I just didn't have the time to fully experience it.
June of the pandemic, the testing team assembled and we started our first campaign...Curse of Strahd. We started with level one characters and did the preamble event that would bring our characters up to level three for the story. From the first session, I was hooked!
A few years and several hundreds of hours later, D&D remains my favorite hobby. Since we finished Curse of Strahd, we played Tomb of Horrors to test streaming our games, and immediately our test team became the stream team as dove into Tyranny of Dragons. I've participated in charity streams and made guest appearances on friend's streams. It allows me to flex my creative muscles that I don't normally get to do in work and in other parts of my life. I'm a D&D player for life now, and in a way, I have the pandemic to thank for it.
We currently stream each and every Thursday beginning at 8pm ET at twitch.tv/openheartgames This is where I play my favorite character I have ever built, Zed. You can learn more about him specifically in my character summaries or come hang out for a session and see why he is so special.