Guess what? Like Nigel, I love games too!
Hardly a revelation I know - but the fact that I love the foundation of everything I do for Imagination Gaming is important. So no matter how hard we do work, it means it doesn't feel like 'work', and that comes across when we engage with children and others.
Aside from the fact I was a very good chess player from a young age, unlike Nigel, games certainly were never 'my thing'. To be honest I'm not really sure what was! Like many of the children I engage with now, I looked at my peers who all seemed to fit into one stereotype or another, wondering which box I was supposed to fit into... at that age these things are important and the more I can help people to understand their own value (as opposed to a group identity) the better!
School was a wierd one for me, certainly high school, where I was fortunate enough to have a private education. However going to a 'good' school had its issues too. Sure I was 'smart' enough, I had got there on merit, but the lessons were very strict and relied on basic skills that I struggled with. For example I was a slow writer and in many lessons copying information from the board for 30 mins straight left me 10 minutes behind the rest of the class. While everyone else had time to discuss the subject, I missed out on valuable information and interaction and felt the pressure of impatient teachers and classmates. Homework always took much longer and was that much more forboding. A perfect example of how the method of learning not only impeded my ability to learn, but also eroded my self confidence and self worth. All because I couldn't write quickly. I left school with a good education, but not the grades I could have. Rightly or wrongly, I have always felt that the effect of a series of seemingly innocuous barriers was was enough to deter me from the classroom and significantly change my future.
A perfect example of how the method of learning not only impeded my ability to learn, but also eroded my self confidence and self worth.
Further education didn't work out for me and I quickly left. At this point I'd love to be able to say a chance encounter with games suddenly changed everything - and they did, but not perhaps in the way you might expect. I found a job at Toys R Us! Granted it was different from watching my peers succeed at University and go on to very successful careers, but it gave me experience they weren't getting, work and life. I enjoyed being around lots of people, working hard and being good at something. I quickly took on a supervisory role and realised that my reliability, honesty and sense of humour were much more valuable traits than I had imagined, and that coupled with a bit of common sense, you didnt need to be the boss to be listened to. The confidence was back. I learned an awful lot working for a big company in a number of areas, but ultimately realised that a long term future there was not for me.
It was at Toys R Us I met Nigel, my now partner at Imagination Gaming, and it's founder. He was the one person who, like me, struggled with the concept of not being able to effect changes where we saw it being necessary - to the point of knowing the 'big machine' was not for us. He took a leap to the other end of the spectrum and joined a small family company run by a friend, and he pestered me over time to get out of my comfort zone and join him there. Once again we found ourselves working hard, going the extra mile, but soon questioning the direction the company was going. Too often we found ourselves thinking the exact opposite to everyone else in the room. I left the company and went back to playing it safe at Toys R Us and picked up a family along the way, while Nigel stuck it out a bit longer.
Getting Back In The Game...
Skip forward a few years, Nigel had set up Imagination Gaming and got to the point where he thought he needed an extra pair of hands. Now games were really going to change my life, but first I had to learn a few! I genuinely leapt from occasionally playing a game of cards with my mates into a world of games I'd never heard of. It was surprisingly easy, the rules were always relatively simple, the gameplay was intriguing and the interaction a revelation. I was amazed by just how different these games were from anything available on the high street. How had I never heard of this stuff before?! I always loved talking to new people and explaing how to do things and couldn't wait to get as many people playing these games as I could.
Four years further on, here we are. I look over that time and can't believe how rewarding the experiences and time have been. At first I was nervous about going into a school, after all I wasn't a teacher. Now I realise that I have already been in more schools than most teachers ever will in their entire career. I have seen an incredible spectrum of children and abilities, establishments and methods, all of which help to not only to arm me for any situation but also enable me to pass on the wealth of ideas I have picked up along the way.
We continue to evolve in this manner with every experience helping to formulate and refine the next project and enhance the value of Imagination Gaming. I have seen every single one of our ideas flourish year on year, not just through hard work and dedication, but because our clients keep coming back for more. And they tell their friends.
I feel proud to look at the effects our approach to games based learning has had on the children, families and educators we work with. I enjoy the amazing comments and feedback. I feel proud that we have created the opportunity for that to happen when it simply didn't exist in the first place, and that we continue to improve. Most of all, I feel proud to be part of Imagination Gaming and to be helping to drive the company forward knowing we make a difference in the lives of those we are lucky enough to interact with.