I Like Playing Games

Wherein I share a speech I gave for Toastmasters club

I recently joined Toastmaster International at my work, just as they were starting a new chapter. The first speech you are supposed to give at Toastmasters is called your "Icebreaker". It's a 4-6 minute speech where you tell people something about yourself. I decided to speak about how I like playing games  I didn't deliver it very well, but I like what I wrote, so I thought I'd flesh it out and share it as a written version.

I had considered joining Toastmasters several times in the past, but the same reason I thought I should join--that I was way too nervous and uncomfortable doing public speaking--was the same thing that made me not want to join. Like if you were a kid, would you join "Broccoli Club"? I mean, it's good for you to learn to like broccoli, all the vitamins and such...

So the "Icebreaker" speech. As I said, it's a 4-6 minute speech that they have all these guiding materials on and worksheets to help you write. To make it easier, they have it be about yourself, since that's a topic you should be comfortable talking about. So I decided to write about how I like playing games. I started writing the speech, and I didn't give myself enough time to work on it. In the end I had to cut out a lot of stuff, because it turns out I feel like I have a ton to say about how much I like to play games. So I went up there with a less-than-well prepared speech (I also didn't practice it nearly enough). They tell you to write and memorized the opening and the ending and just have notes or bullet points for the middle. So I didn't really manage to write an ending, I just winged it along with part of the middle, the other part which I kept writing too long after the intro. I was going to revise it into everything I was going to cram in there, but I can do that in a follow up entry. This is mostly what I delivered (the bracketed asides are just comments I've added while typing it out):


"I Like Playing Games"

I like playing games. I played games the whole time I was growing up. I think I always assumed that as an adult I would give most of that up, maybe justplay poker socially, or gamble, like my father does, or have more adult past-times like bowling [I grew up watching the Flinstones, okay?] or Fantasy Football. But I didn't give it up. In still make times to play games with friends and family. And it turns out, I didn't even have to worry about giving playing games up at all.

[In my speech, I put the personal intro here, but I didn't need it because the Toastmaster introduced me, which made this part feel extraneous, even though I had a transition worked in here that was like "Well before I started working here, in grade school...]

In grade school, I was playing the heck out of typical American kids' games like Monopoly, Risk and Sorry with my brother and out friends. Then, in 5th and 6th grades, I discovered new kinds of games.  I discovered wargames, simulations of historic battles on big boards marked with hexagons and played with little cardboard counters representing tanks and infantry [Blitzkreig, Afrika Korps, Panzer Leader], and later, space tanks and spacesuited infantry [Ogre, GEV, Alpha Omega]. And I discovered role-playing games --Dungeons & Dragons--with the polyhedral dice and spell books and moster manuals. We'd ride bikes to our friends' houses and take over long dinner tables with it, and we spend our middle school recesses talking about Demogorgon, Asmodeus and Tiamat. It was just like the kids on the TV show "Stranger Things"... but without any of the weird stuff.

In college, I played war games still, and some role playing games, but not as often as I played new games--drinking games(!), like Beer 99, Zoom Schwartz Perfigliano, and my dorm at Caltech's favorite: Thumper. But they were still games, and I loved games.

After college, I spend more time doing other things besides playing games. I would go out to see bands and out to night clubs. But during this time I had a group of friends that weren't as into the music scene as I was, and they were spending time on the weekends playing new games. European board games like Settlers of Catan, Carcasonne, and Power Grid. And so I started playing more with them.

As a kid, I had lots of time to play fewer longer games over and over again. As an adult I had a lot less time, but I had more money. And with money, I could buy and collect games. I now buy more games than I play, which isn't quite as fun as playing games, but it is still pretty fun getting games and having favorite games that have gone out of print.

I do have other past-times now, more "adult" ones. I play poker occasionally, but I'm not punctiious [this was the word of the day at the TM meeting] enough for most players, who get kind of tight about the rules and etiquette in games where money is involved. And I play Fantasy Football. I have a dirty secret, though. I don't watch football. It turns out that Fantasy Football is a great game! The drafting, the long season, finding subs and setting lineups is really entertaining for me. 

And nowadays there are game pubs that serve beer! Playing games is now socially acceptable, even in public. I no longer am with my friends in the nerd-corner playing games. If you have any questions about games, please feel free to ask me. I know a lot about games, and I'd love to share that knowledge with you.

So, it turns out that I've never had to stop playing games. And if you have stopped or haven't started, maybe this is a good time to start.

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