Andonis is the new addition to our team, broadening the audience of our cause to Cyprus. There, the game community is fairly small. Andonis intends to change the perception that people have about board games and promote their values so that everybody can accept them and see them as the great learning tools that they are.
I remember that board games played a big part in my life when I was a kid. Surely there was not the plethora of games that exist today, but neither were mobile phones, the internet and technology. Back then, meeting with friends and spending several hours playing together was something wonderful. We were having fun, laughing, creating memories that we talked about for a long time after - even today - and without knowing it we sharpened our minds and built our self-confidence and our skills.
Growing up, games were unfortunately replaced with homework and the hard work needed to keep up with the intense school program. But I never forgot the feeling that board games were creating at every meeting with friends.
Several years later, when I returned to Cyprus from my studies, I heard about the “Cyprus Boardgamers” group that had weekly get togethers playing board games and did not miss the opportunity to take part. After a few meetings with them, my interest was sparked and I began to search deeper about the subject - it was obvious that things had changed. We now lived in the golden age of board games.
For the next couple of years, I continued to be a member of this group and wanting to spread to others the joy and the fun I saw in the group’s faces whenever we played, I decided to create my own board game. As a future goal, I also wanted to get the opportunity to help the children in Cyprus discover the magical world of board games and learn from them, putting their mobiles and tablets aside for a while.
After completing my game, I took part in a board game contest in Greece, in the UK Games Expo in England and in the world's largest board game convention Essen Spiel, in Germany. Through these experiences I discovered the love of tens of thousands of people for board games. These exhibitions were full of children and adults alike but also many families who had the opportunity to spend quality time with their loved ones, testing some of the hundreds of new board games of the exhibitors like me.
In the UK Games Expo is where I also met Nigel Scarfe, the founder of Imagination Gaming. I wanted to talk to him about the board games program he was running in English schools and he wanted to talk to me about using my game in those schools. Since then, we begun to discuss the possibility of co-operating with the introduction of its program in the schools of Cyprus. It wasn’t long until we came to an agreement and before I knew it I was in England, teaching to children of elementary schools as part of my training.
It was an amazing life time experience and I was impressed by the fact that although I and Nigel taught Math, English, general knowledge and other lessons to children, the classes were absolutely quiet and the students were excited and wanted to participate. I also saw the power that board games can have on children with learning and other difficulties and how much they could be helped through them, increasing their self-confidence and skills, but also putting their minds to work in a variety of ways, helping them to understand things that perhaps it would be difficult for them to understand otherwise.
After a week of training I returned to Cyprus with my suitcase full of games, experiences and dreams. Cyprus should not miss this opportunity to make children better students, but above all better people.
The work that we have before us is difficult, but I know that every small step we take will highlight the values we want to convey. Various Municipalities, Organizations and Clubs have already integrated us in their activities, programs and events, recognizing the potential of our program.
And although the time we are working in Cyprus is relatively short, the results have already begun to emerge since, in addition to several weekly meetings, we have already been able to help children with hyperactivity, attention deficit and other peculiarities such as Asperger syndrome.
With a strong team, like Imagination Gaming , supporting us, that has been working for the above purposes for the past 10 years, I'm sure we can change the way people face board games in Cyprus and make it part of our education and culture.