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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

The Value of Unplugging

October 10, 2016 Comments off

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So after observing that our kids fight constantly when exposed to a lot of TV and Video games, we decided (okay, my wife decided) there’d be no electronics during the week (with a few very specific exceptions) during the regular school year.

Harsh.

I was waiting for the kids to drive her nuts, and for everyone to then drive me nuts, and for that rule to be abolished and things to go back to normal.  To my surprise, after a day or two there were few complaints. The kids starting fighting less, and started actually “doing” more.  They slept better, got more exercise, and generally seemed less cranky. And best of all, we started spending more time together, with them taking an interest in RPG’s and Board games.

If you’re reading this and you’re a millennial tabletop gamer, I salute you.  The discretion to play role-playing games or board games when you’ve grown up with a plethora of media options was an unlikely one; streaming video, various video game platforms with multiplayer functionality, not to mention cell phone games and apps… it took a lot for you to even care enough to try to play a role-playing or board game where humans had to assemble in person around a table after learning rather complex rules.  If you’re older, you may understand that in the 80’s, when G.I. Joe went off the air for the day at 4:30, there was only the news and later Miami Vice or the A-Team to look forward to.  That downtime needed to be filled with something that wasn’t TV, and there was a limit to how much ATARI you could play before ragequitting.

Hence, in my day, tabletop role-playing games, board games , and war games were what we turned to.  And of course, books, sports, etc.  But on your basic rainy day or evening, we poured over the books and made characters or pulled out Talisman or O.G.R.E and had at it. Unwittingly, my wife has re-created that experience for my kids, and now they’re looking with renewed interest at my hobbies as a way to pass some enjoyable time.

I previously blogged about how my son showed some enjoyment from playing Dungeons & Dragons, but since he’s not quite old enough to be literate, he’s not catapulted into it like I had hoped.  My older daughter is a voracious reader, however, and after finishing Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle books, she’s showing a lot more appreciation for the concepts in fantasy RPG gaming than she ever has previously.

Both, as it turns out, love painting miniatures.

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I’ve had to set some restrictions to make sure they don’t paint things I have plans for, and not everything is a gem, but some are actually quite good, from both the younger one and the older.

Moreover, they’ve both become eager players of board games.  We’ve finally been able to start working through my massive collection of board games, half of which have stayed in the shrink-wrap due to the difficulty finding time with other gamers when we’ve got an RPG schedule that doesn’t allow the time.  Exposure to some of the board games like Wizards of the Coast’s Temple of Elemental Evil has got her interested in a more RPG-like experience.  It’s helpful her friends have read the same books and also enjoy painting miniatures as well (enough to shop for their own figures on reapermini.com).  For better or worse, we may just have a tween girls gaming group in the making.  You can bet I’ll blog about that, should it happen.

The time we’ve spent together has been fun for all of us, and we’re talking and sharing and growing closer as a family when this is going on, which is contrary to the quietude of zoning out in a show or game that doesn’t invite the distraction of conversation.  Of course, you don’t have to unplug to share this time, but you may just find that there’s peace that comes with cutting out those unhealthy distractions and getting back to a simpler time before Netflix.

I got on today to write board game reviews from the new games we have been playing, but realized this was maybe the more important part of the story.  Next week and for hopefully weeks to come, I’ll be sharing more of what we’re playing and how it works with younger players as well.

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Summer Reading

July 13, 2012 3 comments

This is what I’ve been reading recently. While it may not be some underground guide to awesome books, if you haven’t heard of these they are worth checking out.

First up, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. This book is basically a love letter to the 80s, but presented in a very compelling way. Essentially, a reclusive billionaire video game designer has no living heir, so when he dies, his will reveals a contest that challenges players to find clues in the virtual world upon which he built his empire. Who ever decodes all the clues and beats the game first, inherits the empire. For years very little progresses was made, until one dedicated player final captured the first key. The story follows the journey of Wade Watts, as he works to unravel the clues and be the first to unlock all the keys and gates before the evil corporation IOI can.

Throughout the book their are references to 80s movies, music, video games, and even D&D. At one point, Wade has his computer programmed to interact with him like Max Headroom, while flying a DeLorean, wielding a lightsaber, and wearing a ring of protection. It’s basically a geek-splosion. It makes for a very nostalgic, entertaining and exciting read!

Next, the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. The first book in this series, The Name of the Wind, has been out since 2007, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s well worth your time. Rothfuss combines traditional fantasy tropes of magic and coming of age with his own page-turning writing style and richly detailed world. It follows the story of Kvothe, from the perspective of the main character relating his tale to a scribe. Most of the book takes place in the past with occasional interludes in the present. Rothfuss has a very interesting magic system, and magic school, but this is no Harry Potter. This tale is decidedly darker and more varied than ‘boy goes to wizard school.’ I’ve read the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, and I can’t wait for the third one to be released! Not to be missed if you enjoy a good fantasy book.

Lastly, and perhaps most predictably, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. If you haven’t heard, Game of Thrones is kind of a big deal. I’ve really been enjoying the TV series, and readily admit I had not heard of the books before the show. I would recommend watching the show first before reading the book (always a good idea) particularly for this show however, as they faithfully try to hit all the high points of the story, they have to gloss over some things. In reading the book afterwards, it fills in all the details and back stories for minor characters and locations, and brings the world of Westeros alive. I’ve been trying to pace myself with these, as the 3rd season of the show is still in production, and George just recently released the 5th book out of 7. Some long time fans had been waiting years for that 5th book, and it is clear he is an author that will not be rushed. I really enjoy the world he has created with its varied characters and detailed heraldry.

Happy summer reading!

Categories: Books, Reviews Tags: ,