Celebrating people playing together

This is a big month for VariablePlay. We’ll be celebrating both the Makati Board Game Club’s 4th year of PlaygroupTuesdays, as well as the Alabang Board Game Club’s 1st year of GameNightMondays.
And if there’s a reason why I haven’t been posting regularly, it’s because I’ve been occupied playing games with these wonderful people.

It’s been a heck of a ride.

A year ago, I met with a bunch of guys from Alabang. I asked if they were interested in forming a regular game night – same time, same place, every week. We needed a certain level of commitment and reliability to keep the fire lit, regardless of the number of attendees.

We haven’t missed a week since.

I remember how it started in Makati, years ago. One of us had to sit there for hours, til more could make it for a game of say – Manhattan Project. There would be drop-ins, like someone who migrated from another country to work here and knew nobody! He’s been with us since.

I’ve met so many people through this hobby. Many have come and gone. I now count a good number as friends. I’ve even witnessed a love story in there, somewhere.
But all of this wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the volunteers who stuck with us through the years. Those who’ve supported every trial and error promotion, event, and gathering. We’ve done podcasts, websites, talks – even a convention!

And we’re just getting started.

Sometimes we’re asked – “why do this?” Some would say “to meet new people.” Some do it because they just want to play and more people means more playtime. But my inspiration evolved throughout the years, starting with a desire to show families that they could have a better quality of entertainment – more personal than TV, less expensive than out-of-town trips – a way to improve family relationships, to provide a venue for gamers a lot like me – seeking a family they could belong to. I wasn’t interested in the monetary side of the hobby. I felt I might lose focus on what was important for me.

I don’t regret it.

Recently, I got to watch a bit by this comedian Michael Jr. He talked about how life is like a comedy show. The setup is what you have, and the punch line is what you give back. I realized, that can be applied to us gaming advocates. Our setup is our games, venues and know-how. Some people sometimes get stuck in the setup, collecting games, selling games, worrying about the changes that are happening to the industry, which games to get right-away, what games are worth it, which gamers are not. But while we all start with the setup, ideally, we progress to focus more on the punchline.

What is our punchline? – To us, it is to give people “the opportunity to play.”

People go through their week filled with stress and struggle like drones to a waypoint. We gamers see it as breaks between play times and play dates. Play is such a strong concept. We understand this growing up. So why have so many deem play as immature? There are so many people who can’t afford to buy games, people who are intimidated by games, and people who carry weights on their shoulders, but are very much interested in setting that burden aside for a few moments of sheer, genuine play. If we can just keep an eye out for these people and welcome them with open arms, I believe we can make a meaningful impact to the community.

Halfway round the world, in America, is GenCon 2017 – where hundred of new games are being announced and hyped. Fantasy Flight Games drops the mic with Twilight Imperium 4th edition! Then comes back, picks the mic up, only to drop it again with Fallout the board game, and does it a third time with Civilization: A new age dawns.

Seriously, FF, get a lapel mic! (kidding)

Sid Mier’s Civilization: A New Age Dawns

Good times! I remind myself though that while excitement is good, what makes the wait meaningful is by playing games with more people today.

Giving the opportunity for people to have a break. To spend time with people that they’ll fight fantasy monsters with, stop global pandemics, forge epic industries, and go on adventures together, giving the opportunity to play as friends and family. That’s why I clock in every week to our meet-ups. My setup started as growing my board game collection, my setup was my geeky mind and heart. My punchline is clear – give people the chance to play week after week.