In a word, Botswana…that’s the beginning of my journey with Nigel and Chris. It was the first game that Chris taught my family to play. But it’s not the beginning of my love of gaming.
I’ve always played games. As far back as I can remember there were always games at home. From Snakes and Ladders and Ludo when I was very young to Monopoly, Cluedo and others as I got older. My brother and I would always get a game for Christmas or our birthdays and we would play these together to entertain ourselves, or we would make up our own board games. I remember designing one after watching the Commonwealth Games on TV one year. My wider family played games, though mostly cards, cribbage, pontoon and whist and we played for matchsticks (of course). It was a great honour to be considered old enough to play cards with them. So, games of all sorts were definitely part of my DNA.
I went to secondary school in 1977 and I’d done a bit of WW2 wargaming, but I’d never heard of roleplaying games. I suppose they were very much in their infancy at that point, but I clearly remember a friend coming up to me and asking if I’d be interested in playing a game where each person played a hero in the game and I said I’d like to give it a go. That was my introduction to Traveller and the three iconic little black books. After rolling my first character (that didn’t die in character generation – old school Traveller players will feel my pain) I was completely and utterly hooked. We played in the library at lunchtimes, my brother and I started a games club at school, I went over to a friend’s house on a Sunday to play, I wanted to play all the time. The idea that you took control of an alter ego and went on adventures and that I was only limited by my imagination, not by a board or pieces, was fantastic and I absolutely loved it. I played Traveller, Dungeons and Dragons, Runequest and Call of Cthulhu. I still continue to enjoy roleplaying after nearly four decades. Some of the games have changed, but I still enjoy the games I first played in the late 70s and early 80s, though the rulesets have been updated in most cases.
So, this is where I came in. I went to the UK Games Expo in 2010 with my family for the first time. We headed to the Family Zone, sat down and were approached by Chris who asked us if he could show us a game. Naturally we said yes, and he proceeded to teach us Botswana. It was an instant hit with us. We spent the entire of that day in the Family Zone and Chris showed us loads of other games, explaining how games could help teach children a whole range of skills. Since then we’ve been back year after year to UKGE and we have become, dare I say it, regulars in the Family Zone, eagerly looking forward to seeing what new games Nigel, Chris and the Imagination Gaming team can show us. I think a good 95 percent of all the children’s games are those that we’ve enjoyed at the show.
Since meeting Nigel and Chris several years ago, I have always been amazed by their enthusiasm for, and knowledge of the games they bring along to Expo. I can say hand on heart that they inspired me to set up a games club at my children’s’ school. I also took games into my children’s classes for ‘golden time’ and on occasion I took tabletop games along to their Cub and Brownie groups. I really enjoyed teaching the games to the children and often thought how great it would be to do what Chris and Nigel did for a living, but at that point I didn’t take it further.
Fast forward to November 2016 and after some considerable thought that I’d been talking the idea over at home and my wife suggested that I drop Chris an email about becoming involved in the business and see what happened. What followed was a series of emails and phone calls with Chris to ask if I’d be interested in coming on board with Imagination Gaming. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I said I would be very interested and the rest is history. I am very proud to be involved with Imagination Gaming and want help more children have fun and learn from the games and services we offer.