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Tabletop Gaming: Creating Worldwide Friendships

International Tabletop Day, organized by the fine people over at Geek & Sundry is coming up in just over a month. As part of the run-up to the event, they've asked me to be part of a group of bloggers who would share a bit about their experiences with gaming.

So in the first TGN Editorial, I'm going to talk a bit about my history with gaming and the great friendships it's created all over the world over the years.

A friend from middle school, Jared, one day introduced me to Magic: The Gathering. That entry into a whole new world could probably be listed as one of the greatest influences on how my life evolved. It might sound like an overstatement, but, considering that the next 20 years or so has been dominated by gaming, it really is the case.

For years there on, my second home became The Fantasy Shop, St. Charles. It was the community there that really kept me going. Friendships created there are still maintained. Though, it does make me feel rather old when I see that friends’ kids, who had been just knee-high when I moved away, now have kids that same age now.

The local gaming community really is paramount to the continued success of tabletop gaming. Along with The Fantasy Shop, I've also called places such as Heroic Adventures, Patch and Crowes Nest (unfortunately now closed) and Giga-Bites Gaming Cafe as home. At each one, friendships have been forged in the fires of friendly competition.

That’s the local scene. But hobby gaming is truly a world-wide pastime. The internet gives us a glimpse of gaming’s scope. For me, it was shown when I became a regular poster on the Privateer Press forums. That forum, and other forums like it, create sort of their own virtual Local Game Store. It’s quite possible to talk with other forumites more regularly than those at the real store. These Imagined Communities (as author Benedict Anderson would put it) can be every bit as real and long-lasting as the ones created face-to-face.

Gaming conventions are another place to meet new friends and create new relationships. Events like Adepticon and GenCon bring together gamers from all over the world into a single mass of nerd-dom. Here, gamers who have only known one another online can meet and finally game together. Many forumites I only knew in passing have become great friends due to hanging out with them at a show.

TGN has offered me another great opportunity. Since I have to be in contact with basically every gaming company manager or media officer, I’m constantly interacting with the people out there making all the games I love to play. It’s a really crazy experience, to be honest. I have fanboy moments all the time when I’ll get a notice from various companies.

While we all are a bit eccentric in our own way, the friends that I’ve made through gaming are some of the best I’ve ever had.

The photos are all of people I’ve met through this hobby. This is, of course, just an exceedingly small subset of people I know in relation to gaming. I’m thankful for knowing each.
Find yourself a gamer, and you’ll find yourself a friend.

But where can you find yourself a gamer?
That's easy. Just head out to an International Tabletop Day event in your area (or heck, go to several). Events like it are a perfect place to meet your newest best friend.