Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open Gaming Meet

I had no idea what an OGM was until I read this article - sounds like a lot of fun.  I wonder if they have such things around here???

Back to board games at the Open Gaming Meet
10/27/2010 | 10:10 AM

When you think of your childhood, usually you think of the games you used to play. Whether it was taguan or patintero, Chinese garter or checkers, Snakes & Ladders or Sorry, Games of the Generals or chess, you’ll always associate after-school afternoons with fun and games with friends, neighbors, and siblings. And then you grew up, you went to college, got a job, and stopped playing games.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Many grown men and women find much amusement in games of all sorts nowadays. For some, it’s a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Others prefer PC games like StarCraft or Call of Duty.

Personally I prefer consoles: my husband has an Xbox, and a rewards program got us a free Playstation 3. I know a lot of people who play all sorts of CCGs—collectible card games, like Magic: The Gathering, The Legend of the Five Rings, and Fight Klub.

Now everything’s digital, but when you were a kid, most of your games were analog, offline. Don’t you find yourself wishing for the good old days sometimes? You could just go out and play with your friends; no need for batteries, high-powered computers, the Internet, surround sound. Well, you can still do that. Just visit the monthly AEGIS OGM.

AEGIS OGM defined

AEGIS stands for Alliance of Eclectic Gamers and Interactive Storytellers, a band of merry men and women of varying ages who all love offline gaming in all its forms. From classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble to more recent releases like the Battlestar Galactica board game, AEGIS men and women devour role-playing, board and card games with the hunger of a growing adolescent.

OGM stands for Open Gaming Meet. Some people have swap meets, other people meet up to show off their cars or their bikes; these gamers have gaming meets! According to one of the current organizers, Vic Cabazor, “The OGM's objective is to allow people to try out various tabletop games that they don't own, share their love of the hobby to those not familiar with it, and to have a good time."

Back in the day

Initially called the Open Meets, these events were created by Adrian Martinez, one of the founding members of AEGIS. It was intended to encourage AEGIS members and friends to meet up regularly and socialize, “to have the various Game Masters meet and discuss anything and everything about RPGs (role playing games) — from narrative techniques to adventure ideas. It later expanded to running RPGs during the event."

Live social interaction - what a concept!
 Nathalie Lim, another of the OGM organizers, says that offline gaming, or analog gaming, or whatever you want to call it, is the central idea at the OGM. “We insist on it being unplugged so as to promote face-to-face interactions. Socializing is becoming a lost art, even more so for geeks—este, gamers," she says with a grin.

The first open meet was held in May 2002, at a cafe on Jupiter St. in Makati. Later meets were held at various food courts, coffee shops, even function rooms of various condos and commercial establishments, as the open meets grew not only in attendance, but also in scope. Adrian recalls, “It was Vic who thought it was a good idea to invite the allied hobbies of boardgames, card games and miniatures games as well."

“At that time, the Internet was not as pervasive as it is now, and the sites we take for granted like Facebook and Plurk or Twitter were not around yet. So I thought that it would be good for people who are into the RPG hobby to have an event to meet others who share the same passion as they," Adrian says.

It also helped that AEGIS was a member of the New Worlds Alliance, a caucus of fan groups interested in science fiction and fantasy of all sorts—Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Buffy, HP Lovecraft, the list goes on. While some members wanted to ally with gamers of different genres (like wargamers), others suggested inviting other geeks to simply try out RPGs with a game related to their favorite book, movie or TV show.

Thus the Open Gaming Meets were born, and are still going strong after eight years.

True believers

Adam, a member of AEGIS and an RPG veteran, is an American trainer who has been working for various call centers since he first came to the Philippine several years ago. He recounts, “I had discovered them on the Internet, so I just showed up. I'm glad I did, because I've met many wonderful friends with similar interests through the people at the OGM."

Games as a way to make new friends? Kind of sounds like your childhood, doesn’t it? Adam says, “I originally went due to my interest in RPGs. Being new to the country, I was looking for other people who shared interest in the hobby and found AEGIS by doing a Google search. From there, I went to the OGM as well as the New Worlds Scifi/Fantasy Convention and got introduced to a host of people. So at least one draw for me is the social aspect. Now I go pretty much every month and often bring various role playing games such as 7th Sea, DC Heroes or others with me. I'll play board games or card games if there's not an RPG being run at the time."

Alex, another AEGIS member, remembers the early days. “It was really open to anyone interested, but due to our early success with recruiting gamers from the Anime fandom by getting demo booths at anime-related events, we tried to showcase RPGs related to some of the other TV shows and movies popular in fandom. It wasn’t that hard, since we were fans too and had a good collection of said games."

OGM: Open to the Gamer Masses

Few groups and events have the stamina to last a whole year, much less near a decade, and can still have the capacity to grow and evolve. Fortunately for those seeking amusement of the non-electronic kind, the OGM is here to stay.

Worried that you won’t fit in? Fear not! Gamers—and people who don’t realize they’re gamers—of all shapes and sizes come to the OGM. The monthly gathering now has an average attendance of 30 people, coming and going at various times within the day-long event. While fewer in number, female gamers do attend, whether to play or simply to tag along with friends and family. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating them: whether they’re newbies or veterans, they can be deadly, ruthless players.

According to Nathalie, the regulars include, “Students, call center people, professionals, bums, the gamut!"

And if you’re worried about being too old for games, you worry in vain. Adrian and Vic say the youngest attendee they’ve had was only 5 years old. Adam says, “I've seen people at the OGM ranging from their teens into their 80s. It's really for anyone who enjoys games."

So bring your dice, shuffle your cards, polish off your miniatures, dust off the rulebooks, and get yourself to the next OGM! - GMANews.TV

The Open Gaming Meets are held in the function rooms of Regalia Park Towers along P. Tuazon in Cubao, Quezon City, from 3:00 PM to midnight. Tentative dates for the next OGM are November 27 and December 11. An entrance fee of P100 per person is charged to cover the rental of the venue. Stay tuned to the OGM Facebook group or for announcements.

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