So, in the time before Internet became a major part in everyone’s live there was Play-by-Mail. No mistake, not by-email, but by-mail. I played some space combat game with a few people, this was fun. The company running these games organized a day in Utrecht, where ppl could meet and where PbM-games where hosted on the spot: you had 15 minutes to enter your orders, handed them in and received your new status report a little later.
I decided to go there and meet with a guy I had never met to play as a team, which we did as Play-by-Email. We did meet, got acquainted and took an immediate liking toward each other. We played a game against another team and got butchered, but it was just fun to meet him and we talked a lot. We got to talk about board-gaming, which I did not do up until then. I did not know anyone to play with. We talked about playing together, for he had a similar problem, though he had a brother to play against. The games we had heard about needed several players, so what to do?
Someone next to us had overheard us and pointed us to a fellow sitting at a table at the other side of the room. So we went over there, spoke to him and asked about gaming. He told us enthusiastically about Diplomacy, which he organized about every two weeks, and of course we where welcome. Now I had never heard about this game before, but I was willing to give it a try. Yes, it was a gaming evening for adults, not children, and Diplomacy certainly was not a children’s game, no sir!
And there I went for my first gaming night as an adult. As a kid I had played games, mostly with my mother. Though she was not a gamings-person at all, she taught me the basic games like checkers and Halma, some more games most of us know from childhood. In my early teens I got to visit an aunt of my, who was artistic and intellectual and considered a bit loony by the rest of my family, no offence intended!
I liked visiting her, got to meet all kind of people I never saw at my place or in my social circles. There an elderly gentleman taught me Chess. Chess now I considered an adults game, not really for children, sorry, that’s how I was brought up.
But Diplomacy, my first evening as an adult gamer, and my first game where cheating and deceit was allowed, yes even necessary to win! I have played Diplomacy for a while, but it is not my kind of game, I found out. However, in the following months I met some other fellows, who played other games: war games! I enjoyed those more then Diplomacy and started to play those games, forsaking Dippy.
So when I once told my sister I had other plans for a certain day, she asked what I was going to do. To play games, I said. I got this peculiar look, which I would see more so in the years to come.
‘But.. gaming is for children, is it not?’