You Need your Hobbies in Japan!
Pictured: The boardgame Lunar Rails, distributed by Mayfair Games
by Kevin Burns
You have left your home and your family. You have no friends. Your apartment closes in on you and the cockroaches are huge, black, and they fly; your boss is a jerk who cuts up goldfish to feed to his piranhas. You need to get your mind off things. You need a hobby!
Some of the greatest people I have ever met in Japan have been the friends I have made through playing games. I enjoy historical simulation games, usually called wargames. These are games about history or military history, that are played on a board or a table.
Before you run away from your computer sceaming war monger! Let me just say that most of the wargame players or "wargamers" I meet are some of the most peaceful people on the planet. Usually they are pacifists in stance, or at least anti-war. Perhaps because we have studied war in detail, we may be more aware of how terrible it is than the general public. Indeed, some of the most kind, and caring folk to grace our planet in fact, are game players:
role playing game players and wargame players.
I have also played role playing games, but I don`t like these nearly as much. Dungeon and Dragons is perhaps the most famous roleplaying game. It has received a lot of bad press from a sensational media and some players with obvious psychological problems. However, roleplaying is in no more dangerous than acting. To some extent roleplaying is like putting on a drama. You each take on the role of a character and go on some kind of a quest. You probably need to play a game to see what I mean.
We also play boardgames. Some of the games we play are: Settler of Catan and the whole
series of Catan games, Puerto Rico, Axis and Allies and that whole series, Games Workshop
or GW Games, Chess, games made by the companies: Fantasy Flight, Eagle Games and
Milton Bradley. There really are too many to list. Come on out and see.
One dear friend I met about twelve years ago is Steve Brown. Known to his fans as "Stan!" He is a great guy. The man is intelligent, funny, creative and a great humanitarian. He can always make me laugh and think. Steve taught English in Shizuoka Prefecture before going back to the states to design games and write. He still does so at present. He proudly showed me the books he authored when we went to Chapters in Vancouver. He now works as a manager for a game
and comic book company in California. I hope he continues his writing and cartoon work as he
Steve and I started a games club called JIGG: Japan`s International Gamers Guild in 1992 and it is still going strong.
Link here: http://greatpowers1.googlepages.com/jigg%3Ajapan%60sinternationalgamersguild
Here are links to our two main forums for JIGG though we have forums for members in
most parts of Japan, check the homepage for a link to a club near you.
JIGG Tokyo: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JIGG
JIGG Kanagawa: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HisSimSouthKanagawa