I met Joel in person for the first time at Gen con 2012. I was running demos of Robinson Crusoe. I knew him as a YouTube reviewer and was very excited when he came to the booth to learn the game. He didn’t say a word for the whole game, and frankly speaking, I was terrified. He was really silent during the game, and I was pretty sure he was bored to death with it. After the game ended, he said he loved it, congratulated me, and left.
I think the word that describes my feelings at that moment is “perplexed.”
I met Joel the very same day, in the evening. I was invited by fans to play a football board game and when I came, I realized that Joel was invited too. I sat next to him. We played.
He was calm with his emotions again but opened a little more. And he regaled me with super funny comments about football and the game through the whole night. His sense of humor was right at my alley. That game night was a blast. It is still one of the highlights of all my gaming.
I mention Joel today because last week, he recorded a new episode of his vlog, a celebration video – it’s been 10 years since he started his channel. Quite the anniversary! It’s one of the most respected review channels in our hobby, with a great audience. Joel doesn’t go for clickbait content, doesn’t run to review all the hotness; he does his thing, deep, thoughtful reviews of games he plays. I respect that a lot and love the content.
In the anniversary video, he said words that struck me, and I wanted to follow up today on what he said – that is how discovering new games and genres is an important part of our hobby. It’s the search for the spark, as Joel said, it’s entering the uncharted territory as I’d describe it.
I remember myself in 1993 when I read about RPG for the first time. Had no clue what it was, but it sounded so amazing and was like nothing I saw before. More than a year later, after long months of reading about it and trying to figure out how to play RPG, I finally played it, and it changed my life. I fell in love and became obsessed with RPG. And then I discovered something called Warhammer Battle, and that was a new uncharted territory. I discovered miniatures, terrains, rulers, and all that jazz. And then I discovered board games. And then I discovered historical war games. Each step in these unknown territories was like a beginning of an epic adventure, it was Sam leaving the Shire, it was the beginning of something new.
You’d say I saw it all. You’d say there is no uncharted territory anymore. You’d say it is over.
You’d be wrong.
The spark is here. It’s called Rangers of Shadow Deep, I discovered thanks to Joel’s channel. It’s called Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, I discovered thanks to Grant Rodiek. It’s called Risk Legacy I discovered thanks to Rob Daviau. It’s called The Mind. It’s called solo gaming and Arkham Horror LCG…
Been in gaming since 1993. Thanks to brilliant designers, I’ve been exploring uncharted territories for all that time.