May 19th, 2015

Why Board Games Are Back

board-game-529586_1280I’m not a long-time lover of the hobby but I fell hard and fast for it recently. By total luck, right now happens to the most exciting time to be a board gaming enthusiast. When most people think of “tabletop” games they think of either casino gambling, antiquated board games like Clue or Monopoly, or worst of all, the fantasy dice games from the 1980s, often stigmatized as being played by Middle Earth-loving, Dungeons & Dragons outcasts. Well, that’s changing. A lot of cross-pollination has been going on recently, putting us in a new golden age of social table games.

For me it started a little over a year ago. On a total whim, I was in Christiana Mall and picked up a strange and clever-looking game: Forbidden Island—a cooperative game where the players work together to collect treasures on a sinking island. I was summarily swallowed alive by this new world of what is now called “modern tabletop gaming.”

Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fame is exhibit A. He has over one million Youtube subscribers for his weekly internet show “TableTop” where he plays card, dice, and board games with B-list actors and internet celebrities. Exhibit B is the spike in sales. Since 2012, annual industry-wide sales have gone up 10-20% by major companies, and attendance at gaming conventions have increased by thousands. Some of the reason for their success is sheer business—brilliant designers making fresh games. These companies have a broad spectrum of games appealing to diehard-gamers and non-gamers alike. Some are inexpensive, easy-to-learn, 30-minute family games while some are hundred dollar behemoths taking hours to learn and hours to play.

But why is this blowing up now? Exhibit C: I think there is evidence accruing that people are tired of their technology. Friends who only see each other on Facebook and social media are beginning to quietly revolt. Humans are social animals, and rather than spending hours playing XBOX or texting each other, there is a movement gaining momentum for in-person gaming. Tabletop gaming scratches that itch for families and friends alike.

For proof, I urge you to go to Barnes and Noble or Target and just look at how retailers are responding to the evolution. Games that were never carried 5-7 years ago now pack the shelves. Instead of just Apples to Apples and Risk, retailers are now carrying elegant, creative games with quality components, knock-out artwork, and unique game mechanics. You’ll find games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Zombicide, Sheriff of Nottingham, King of Tokyo, and Sushi Go!

If you’re a geeky adult, or have kids over eight, you should consider reaping the benefits of this new golden age. And if you want to try to win one of these games, attend the 4th Annual all-ages sci-fi and fantasy event “Magic, Space, & Swords!” this August for your chance to go home with one of these boxes of fun. Don’t forget to check out “The Dice Tower” on Youtube for weekly reviews, or for industry news, trends, and ratings.

Lastly, Mr. Matt, that’s me, will be exhibiting family-friendly card games at the Library Con on Saturday June 6 from 10am-12pm at the Perryville Branch. Come play a sample game!

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March 2nd, 2015

CECILWOOD 2015: Teenage Moviemakers Unite!

Cecilwood teaser 2015You can make anything. Think about that. You just write it, film it, edit it, and it exists. A story that had never been told before is now a reality. You did that. You took something abstract and foggy from your head and brought it to life with a little style and some heart and now it’s a permanent thing. Friends and family watched it, applauded, and gobbled popcorn beside you. You heard a stranger say, “That was cool.” You might have even won the grand prize. Doesn’t that sound like a good way to kick-off the springtime? Doesn’t that sound like hard work well spent?

It’s Cecil County Public Library’s 6th annual festival of short films! This year’s theme is “Time Is Running Out!” Participants must tell a story about a person, place, or thing where time is an essential element to the plot. You can do a comedy, an animation, a drama, a documentary, or an action scene (just to name a few). Film-loving directors between 11 and 17 years old must register at any CCPL branch by March 31st before they may submit a film. The film submission deadline is April 30th. Some or all of the films will be publicly screened at Elkton Central Library on Thursday, May 7th at 6:30PM, but remember—you must submit your film on a flash drive with all the pertinent paperwork! Contact any branch for more information or click here. Gift cards will be awarded for first, second, and third places, as well as an “Editor’s Choice Award” compliments of the Cecil Whig.

Mr. Matt’s recommended reading: “Digital SLR video and Filmmaking for Dummies”, “Filmmaking For Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts”, “Story” by Robert McKee, “How To Make Animated Films” by Tony White, “Acting For Young Actors” by Mary Belli, and “Picture Yourself Directing a Movie” by Eric Nicholas.

Good luck, now go forth and film greatness!

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