Work Work…

Today is my last day of work.

I’m looking at the prospect of being jobless with mixed emotions, both sad and excited.

It’s definitely not the usual two emotions I’d considered would occur for the same situation, I guess I should be glad I’m not ‘excitedly sad,’ because then I’d have to probably check myself in somewhere.

For obvious reasons I’m sad that I’ll be let go from a pretty good job, with good pay and some really great coworkers. Most of them have given some nice encouraging and heartfelt words during this time of transition, which I appreciate greatly.

It is at the same time exciting for me as now I’ve been pushed to look to things that are new and different and may play better to my wants and needs.

I’m the type of guy that for better or for worse tries to settle in and stick to the things I do or am apart of. I think that if I wasn’t let go this time, I’d probably try and stay with the company for as long as I could without much thought to the kind of future that would create.

The fact that my last day will be Dec 21, 2012 the week before Christmas is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it is very hard to find any work at the end of the year, and most of the companies that I applied to probably won’t reply to me or want to interview anyone until the New Year. It’s also a blessing because I had recently taken on a self project for my church that I’m very excited about, and this will give some time to work on it and put some real thought into it. At the same time it’s easier to play off the fact that my lost of job is like an extended Christmas break.

A bit of history on the project: When we got our new(er) church building, the church was able to also obtain a house property (that we called the “Education Building”) that many had aspirations to use in conjunction with the church building.

The only issue is that the building was quite run down and need some serious renovations to make it usable. This begs the question, “What will this building be used for?” Without knowing this, there was no real direction on the types of renovations needed to be done. And so the building sat.

Of course we tried to use it in the form it was in, the youths tried to use it for Fellowship, but why use a run down building, when a perfectly good and free church could be used and was 2 buildings away. So the building sat.

And it sat for many years with little to no use.

It was about 4 weeks ago that I lent some of my board games to Kevin for one of the Friday Youth Fellowship nights and it was the following Sunday where Kevin had brought the games to church where something occurred to me. I had gone in a bit earlier to prepare for my Faithbuilders (a.k.a. Sunday School) class when I saw a small crowd of kids around a table. On that table I realized that one of my games Zombies!!! was being played by Sam and a few other younger people. I could tell from the excitement that both players and the ‘audience’ were really into the game and there was conversation and interaction between the younger and older youths over this game.

It wasn’t until later that Sam came up to me and said “Yeah, we weren’t even planning to play, but after we opened the box, it just kind of started…and now I’m hooked!”

– he later went to go and get a copy of Zombies!!! 4 with zombie dogs and I can’t wait to try it out with the original Zombies!!! game.

This got me thinking about Tom Vasel from The Dice Tower who as I’ve read, works as a missionary in Korea and is an avid board gamer (and reviewer). I started thinking about how the game acted as a bridge to bring together people that may not normally interact with each other.

With the steady decline of the youths in the church and a lack of a place to just hang out with friends, I started thinking about how the unused “Education Building” could be used as a nice friendly place to bring new friends and in general hang out without the need for cash. The idea of having a board game hangout will require less renovations and I hope that we can be able to scrounge up some furniture from the church to warm up the place.

I’ll plan to get some pics of the process and hopefully create a nice reno diary. So it’s going to be an exciting endeavour. Stay tuned!

Board Games for the Bored

Games… the bringer of fun and banisher of boredom.

Being an only child, I’ve relied on the trusty TV and video games to fill up the time.

Most recently I’ve become more and more fond of the board game variety over video¬†games.

I find board games encourage a lot more person to person interaction whether it is a competitive or cooperative game.

It is definitely different playing board games face-to-face with a room of people and chatting with them, when compared to the online gaming done with headset mics. There’s still a huge disconnect that video games need to bridge to truly connect people.

There’s definitely more effort involved in getting together and setting up the board games to play versus turning on the console and playing, I still think the overall pros outweigh the cons in terms of interaction and the ‘togetherness’ feeling.

Some board games that may be labeled as strongly thematic and very complex (I’m looking at you Arkham Horror), but most board games can be played well to a certain degree without too much ‘grinding’ and ‘farming’ as seen nowadays in most multiplayer video game varieties. Even some of the ‘simple’ and ‘easy to get into’ board games have huge depth and strategy even if the initiation into the game took only 5 minutes (such as the deck building game Dominion)

I’d like to share the story of how my love of board games was renewed and revived.

Like many of my friends, the only board games I was introduced to when I was younger were the canonic Monopoly, Battleship and Risk. Like most, the games were the only board games I knew and were ‘fun’ to a certain extent (like when you’re setting up and have gone one round through Monopoly), but it quickly drew out in time and boredom settled in.

This was one of the reasons I become quite the video gamer, it was so much easier to get into with no set up time, but the thing I missed and it lacked was the interaction with people. I know, I know there will be people saying “but Jay look at all the crazy good multiplayer games like Call of Duty (COD) 1, 2,3, 4, modern warfare….black ops, black ops 2…”.

See the trend?

Most of the “good” multiplayer console games are First Person Shooters (FPS) and I have to admit I’m not too good at them, and it really seems to be the type of game that if you don’t wait in line to pick it up on the day of release and play immediately then you’d be far behind in all the Perks and new weapons and just get owned like no tomorrow. So if you ain’t in the club, you’re going to have to pay hard (in the form of grinding experience) to join it. For me, this is a slow and painful process.

Not to say my love of video games has diminished, but I find I am more of a single player game type. **

Back to the board games…so it started when I was in Victoria and was hanging out with my good bud Jon. He had gotten the Arkham Horror board game for his girlfriend and I was intrigued with the board game that wasn’t Monopoly. So we set up the huge board and played for many hours (not quite sure how long, but an average Arkham game is about 1 to 2 hours, but would run longer since I was learning the rules). After that night I was hooked.

The Horror!

The game is steeped in the Cthulhu mythos theme taken from the H.P. Lovecraft stories, where players act as investigators trying to figure out all the strange and horrible happenings in the town of Arkham (not to be confused with Arkham City or Asylum in Batman, though there is an Arkham Asylum in the board game as well). In the game, the investigators need to fight back the waves of monster pouring out of the portals and find enough clues to permanently seal 6 portals before the Great Old One (GOO), like Cthulhu awakens to destroy the world.

It’s a cooperative game that really punishes the investigators and more likely than not the group will lose. Not to sound like a masochist, but it is fun whether you win or lose the game. I think that the game is made in such a way that it really engrosses you into the theme and the battles are tense and there is a feeling that you as a human player are fragile and can easily die.

Suffice it to say that after that initial dip into the realm of other games, I looked into getting a copy of Arkham Horror for myself and have introduced it to a lot of my friends and many times we have played and many times we have died and lost the game, but still the stories of the battles and the close calls are still echoed from time to time.

I have now started to try many other games such as Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, Dominion and the list can go on and I can say I am now a great fan of the ‘age, old board game.’ I definitely plan to introduce and review the games I have in future blogs. Until then there are many online video reviews I’ve referred to such as The Dice Tower and sites like boardgamegeeks.com.

Picture taken sneakily by Tessa Tham

Playing Forbidden Island, a current favourite of my church group. A simple, yet intense game that has gotten many replays (and I got it for about $12 USD)