- Name: Scot Martin
- Location: Hurst, Texas
- Age check box: 35-44
- Current career age: ~20 years
- # of years involved with ODTUG: 7+ years
- Company: Cash America
- Title: Hyperion Technical Lead
- Technology identifiers: Oracle Hyperion, EPM, BI, Essbase, UNIX, Automation, SQL
- Twitter: @ScotMartin1
As I write this, Scot is at the last day of the annual BGGCon event. I'm completely jealous. I have yet to attend myself, but hearing him wax poetic about the convention and seeing his Facebook pictures make me realize I need to plan around this event in a year's time.
(pictures from past BGGCons)
BGGCon (Board Game Geek Convention) is a local, annual board game event that now lasts four glorious days. It takes place each November, and people from Texas (and all over) flock to it to partake in a weekend of fun and to geek out on all things gaming. It's one of two annual gaming conventions he makes it a point to attend.
The people who attend this type of convention call themselves "gamers." And gamers. Are. Awesome.
(courtesy of Google images)
I've known Scot for just over a year. We're both part of the organizing committee for the NTxHUG (the North Texas Hyperion User Group). In North Texas, most of us EPM folk run in the same circles. Scot also likes to attend and present at Kscope.
But enough of this shop talk. Let's get back to the magnificence that is gaming.
Gamers are everywhere. Like Scot, I also enjoy gaming, and it has been a passion of mine (and my husband's) for years. Gaming has evolved and expanded over time, and the beauty of today's gamer world is that it encourages people of all races, genders, and ages to participate. If you ever have the privilege of attending a convention, take a look around. You'll see a whole lot of everybody there.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the below 2015 infographic from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which shows some pretty cool statistics about one of the largest gaming groups: video gamers.
There have been multiple studies purporting the effective skills built up by gaming, both mental and physical. The ESA researches the effects of video gaming on humans, and each year they publish an annual report. This report comes to the conclusion that gaming is good for you.
What Is a Gamer?
The term "gamer" is pretty broad and describes a whole world of subcultures. In preparation for this article, I attempted to research if there were official classifications of gamers but came up short.
So what is a gamer? After searching high and low, Wikipedia offers a great umbrella definition:
Although the term "gamer" may commonly refer to video game players, the term may also be applied to players of other forms of games, such as tabletop games or physical games. Additionally, in some countries such as the United Kingdom, the term "gaming" refers to legalized gambling.
--> Just to be clear, we're not talking about legalized gambling in this article. :)
There are many different types of gamers in the world. "Gamer" is a high-level term for folks who like to play any of the following genres of games:
- Tabletop games (such as Life, Settlers of Catan, etc.)
- Card games (such as Bridge, Poker, etc.)
- Video games (Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, handhelds, computers, etc.)
- RPG (role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons)
- Trading-card games (such as Magic: The Gathering)
- Party games (such as Werewolf, Cards Against Humanity, etc.)
- LARP (live action role-playing games)
- Virtual reality (such as Second Life, Oculus Rift games, etc.)
- Cosplay (costume play)
- Fantasy Sports (such as Fantasy Football, Fantasy Baseball, etc.)
The above is by no means a formal classification, nor a comprehensive list. I'm quite certain there are more categories out there (take a look at this classification list, for instance). In addition, there are subclassifications within each of those groups.
(Super Mario Bros at a Halloween years ago - Scot's complete gaming family!)
Scot's interest in gaming started young. He played games with his mother when he was just a boy. He started with simple games such as Checkers and then graduated to more advanced games such as Chess and board games. As he got older, he and his friends tried Dungeons & Dragons and strategy tabletop games such as Risk, Axis & Allies, and Shogun. In college he was exposed to Magic: The Gathering, and it has stuck ever since. Settlers of Catan was his gateway game into Eurogames (German and Euro-style tabletop games). Now as an adult with his own family, he finds himself playing more Eurogames and party games than anything else.
(Settlers - United States edition!)
Just to be clear, Scot's interest is way beyond the typical, average gamer. He's not someone who occasionally plays Poker; he considers this hobby to be his obsession. He says his "mind tends to wander towards games all of the time." If he's not directly engaged in a tabletop game with his friends, he's on a regular Fantasy Sports league, attending an annual gaming convention, or collecting games or game pieces. He says he tries to play games with his friends on a weekly basis. Over the years, he's amassed a game collection that hovers between 50-100 games total.
The Awesomeness That Is GenCon
GenCon is the second annual gaming convention that Scot attends. It's held in August in Indianapolis, Indiana. It also lasts four days but attracts over 60,000 attendees. It's where people who love all things gaming go to game out. GenCon is home to a variety of gamers and includes events and vendors for video, card, and party gamers. Plenty of folks even come dressed as their favorite characters. They also have True Dungeon (a life-sized dungeon with interaction), giant animatronics, and puzzles that require that you work in teams. The convention space includes an open gaming area equipped with a full library from which gamers can borrow. All-night Werewolf games are run for the willing. The Dealer's Hall contains a large convention floor with hundreds of booths where you can test out and buy old and new games. Famous gaming companies attend to demo their up-and-coming games. There are tournaments and prizes galore. This event is the highlight of Scot's gaming obsession each year.
(images from past GenCons)
Scot's first exposure to GenCon was quite unique. Back in 2007, Wizards of the Coast (one of America's largest game publishers) tried to start a new social platform for gamers called Gleemax. They ran an Ultimate Gamer Contest to find one lucky "everyman" gamer to put on their advisory board. In order to make it to the group of finalists, contestants were put through the ringer:
- Everyone started with a timed multiple-choice test. The questions covered a variety of topics ranging from Magic to RPG to board games to video games. A group of 50 passed the test.
- Then each individual had to produce a three-minute video about one of their favorite games.
- Contestants also had to create a photo album of "gaming things."
(Scot's winning three-minute video to the Ultimate Gamer Competition!)
Scot made it to the top five, and all of these finalists won a ticket to GenCon. This first experience at GenCon blew Scot away.
Scot and a guy named Evan became the co-winners. They won some money, became board members, flew out to Wizards of the Coast, and got a secret peek into what the team was developing next. Unfortunately, "after that, the whole project fell apart and never produced anything else, but I loved GenCon so much that first year that I've kept going back every year thereafter."
Speaking of Werewolf...
Yes, Scot partakes in the annual Kscope Werewolf game. In a nutshell, this is a party game where you're either on the side of the villagers, the werewolves, or some unique character in-between. There are no boards, dice, or figurines. Everyone has one card that tells them their role, and the rest is left up to moderation and deliberation. Villagers are trying to snuff out and kill the werewolves and vice versa. It's an interesting game that people with any skill level can play. Bonus points if you can deceive people easily and/or you can read people well. It's highly addictive (for instance, my family plays late into the night at every holiday gathering), quick, and easy to learn, and the best part of the game is recounting each person's internal dialogue after each round.
(stock image courtesy of Amazon.com)
The Kscope Werewolf event made its appearance at the Monterey (circa 2009) conference and was started by Edward Roske. ODTUGers play the Ultimate Werewolf edition. The game is formally played several times a week, starts at night, and goes into the early morning hours for the hardcore players. Scot got involved with this conference game early on and was even asked to be the Werewolf chairman at the San Antonio conference (2012). Scot's been pretty impressed with the growth of this gamer group. Kscope11 was the high point for attendance (so far), but interest has continued over the years. At Kscope15, the party was so large that they had to split the crowd into two distinct groups.
What's the Story with Scot and Magic: The Gathering?
There is one more piece to this puzzle called Scot. And this is where Scot hedges his bets for his personal gaming future. Magic is a very special game for many folks across the world. Although flavored as a role-playing fantasy game like Dungeons & Dragons, it's actually a complicated strategy trading-card game. It requires much skill, study, and experience to become Master level.
(stock image courtesy of Google images)
Scot first got started with Magic in college. He played with his college buddies and fellow gaming enthusiasts at local game shops. He went on hiatus for a time when he got into other tabletop games, but he's always managed to find his way back.
In 1996, he was playing Magic at a lot of local gaming shops. He was winning, too. Around that time, Wizards of the Coast started an international player ranking system for the game. They ranked him #27 in the world. He was invited to play on the Magic Professional Tour (which is a tournament that still continues to this day). In 1996, he finished in either 22nd or 23rd place (his memory is a bit fuzzy here) and won $1,500. He was also invited to the subsequent tournament. Unfortunately, he didn't do as well in that one, but he continued playing. He played the nationals in 1997. And in 1998, he qualified for a third Pro Tour. Scot stepped away from the game in the early aughts but has since started playing again at a lower-level competition. He would like to get back into Magic in a serious way.
Scot's other gaming goals:
- Get involved with bigger competitions such as the World Boardgaming Championship
- Attend the World Series of Poker
- Keep learning and playing
Advice for Newbie Gamers
Gaming is a natural segue for those in the technology industry. As Scot advises, "There are a lot of transferrable skills from programming to gaming."
If you're new and would like to pick up a fun, mentally challenging, and geek-awesome hobby, then read on!
(courtesy of the Entertainment Software Association)
When asked what Scot's favorite all-time games were, he listed the following:
- Werewolf (party game)
- Cards Against Humanity (party game that is for mature audiences only)
- Portal 2 (video game)
- Fantasy Baseball (fantasy sports)
- Magic: The Gathering (trading-card game)
- Dungeons & Dragons (RPG)
The games he considers to be his "go-to" games:
Gateway games for those who are interested in taking their simple tabletop skills (Chutes & Ladders) to the next level or branching out to Eurogames:
In addition, if you're new to a game and don't know how to play, here's some advice on how to get started:
- Always play with a good group of friends. There's nothing better than laughing with and at each other.
- If your friends aren't into this kind of thing, then...rethink your friends. <-- Haha, just kidding. But seriously, if you don't have friends who are into this kind of thing, then look for a local meetup or go to a local game store on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It will probably have open play during the day and/or at night. Bring your game and ask strangers if they want to join you (note that this is completely acceptable behavior and expected). It might surprise you just how many people are into gaming. An online search of the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone revealed over 50 meetup groups covering a wide range of gaming interests.
- If it's a board game, see if there's a TableTop episode that explains the game. TableTop is an online-only, reality TV show starring Wil Wheaton (yep, that's where he resurfaced in a big way after Star Trek: The Next Generation). It's a freakishly good show. There are celebrity guests, the interplay between everyone is hilarious, and each game is explained in great detail.
- Read the instructions. No joke.
- Every new game has an initial learning curve. Expect the first time you play to take almost twice as long as the time estimate listed on the box.
- Keep your spirits high and your mind open.
Game on, my friends!