Keeping on keeping on

I find the way different people work to be fascinating!  I will often dream up big ideas easily but it’s a whole different kettle of fish making them happen.

I’m glad to work with my wife, Amy.  She is an Implementer and Completer Finisher – somebody you would want for organising a project and seeing it through to the end!

I on the other hand, am a bit more of a Plant and Monitor Evaluator.  I think outside the box and will suss out ideas and plans quite easily.

These titles are roles that I found in the Belbin Team Roles.  It’s all very interesting!  I’d heard Amy be called a Completer Finisher before, but didn’t know where it had come from.  Immediately, I wanted to know what I tend to lean towards!

belbin

Thank you BBC Bitesize for this lovely diagram!

The reason I talk about Plants, Implementers and all that jazz is that I can often find myself beginning projects and then finding it ridiculously hard to see them through to the end.

Maybe I find it difficult to complete making ideas real because it’s hard work to finish a project, but sometimes it’s because I get distracted!  There are so many shiny things that go on in life.  And new ideas to explore!

One of the things that I know can hold me back is discouragement – and I know that it shouldn’t.  Working on ideas when there are so many other people doing the same can get me comparing myself with others.  Even when I’m secure in myself, it can be a test of grit to (sometimes publicly) create things.

The desire in itself to see my Dive board game completed has put the pressure on in itself!  Because I want to see it real, I know there are certain things that need doing – a written rule book, art drawn for cards – and this, in a strange way, leaves me feeling a kind of pressure.  Even though there are no ogres waiting to club me on the head if I don’t deliver!

I imagine that this is where writer’s block comes from.  The feeling that you need to create – and, even though you can, struggling to do so.

So my quest for today is to create a single card.  Today I will make a draft for the Big Momma Pearl.

Thanks for reading – I really appreciate the support!  Seeing a project through to completion is not my forte, but with the help and support of others, I know that we can do it!

I’ll leave you with my favourite Yoda bible verse, Romans 3:3-5.

yoda

For those who don’t know, a Yoda bible verse is one that needs to be read in his voice.

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Testing times and thick skin

When you find or create something that you love and then expose it to the world, you need to be ready to have thick skin.

My prototype game, Dive, has been played and enjoyed by a lot of my friends back in Sheffield. My wife, Amy, especially loves it (although she may be a little biased).

I’m good friends with a gamer group called the Hairy Gamelords. They had a crack at an early iteration of a ballroom dancing game – a theme I’m confident none of them would tend to buy into – and so I knew they’d support me with testing anything!

The Hairy Gamelords enjoyed Dive and gave some helpful early feedback and encouragement. Dreams were sowed of producing the game and maybe even seeing a polished version our local games shop’s shelves…

However, this last week I attended my first board games conference (see earlier post) and met about 40 other gamers!

With trepidation and excitement (mostly excitement) I unpacked my game and shared it with small groups of people I didn’t know.

After explaining the rules, we had some great playthroughs. I’m pleased to say I haven’t had a bad playthrough of Dive yet, come to think of it. During games, I often wrote plenty of notes on questions, clarifications and nitpicks.

Writing notes and comments is a must.

It wasn’t too long before learned that I had to be quick to listen and slow to speak during feedback. Not only did I need to make sure I gave people freedom to question and critique, but I realised that other players would often come out with answers for themselves!

I decided that at the end of each game I would leave the players with pen and paper and ask them to fill it with thoughts, questions, critiques and ideas. This proved very helpful and there was a lot of crossover in feedback that confirmed my thoughts.

I’m currently on my trip back to Sheffield and am glad to return with a further developed game.

We came up with a significant improvement to make the game more balanced regarding storming ahead and catching up, various minor yet helpful tweaks, and plenty for me to chew over as we take steps to further improve the game.

I’ve tried my best to humbly listen to feedback and opening up the development process to strangers who are now new friends has been a very positive one.

It could have been very easy to have been too scared to let others in – either because of insecurity or mistrust – but I would have missed out on so much in the ways of growing Dive and might’ve personally lost out on meeting such lovely and supportive people.

If you’ve got a dream, don’t be afraid to share it with others!

Whether you want to basket weave the Statue of Liberty, start a cheese farm or be the MP for Upper Ramsbottom, don’t go it alone. Share it with somebody today!

You can even share ideas and dreams in the comments. I’d like to believe that I’d never laugh at another person’s dream. Although I’d find it tricky if it was about something Upper Ramsbottom.

Dream big!

Bienvenue to board games paradise!

In sleepy Midwest France, la Vendeé holds host to a relaxing and inspiring holiday programme called Spring Harvest. The penultimate week of the summer attracts a full deck of gamers – from sun-seeking shufflers to hardcore dungeon crawlers.

A selection of the games brought by visiting gamers.

It’s my first time here and I’m loving it! I’ve come with Amy and a good 15 or so other friends from Sheffield.

It’s like being a kid in a sweet shop! A heated onsite pool, beautiful summer weather and French countryside, gorgeous wine, bread and cheese and – to top it off – hundreds of awesome board games and 75 other gamers to get to know and to play with.

I enjoy a good board game and with so many around, it’s hard to know where to start! We’ve played some nice light games such as Kingdomino and Patchwork but I’m looking forward to playing something a little more involved!

We’ve spent some time each day enjoying the local area, eating BBQ and spending time in the pool. Being here has made me more aware of what I prioritise. Whilst I love board games, I also love spending time with my wife and friends doing other things. I thought I would have gamed a lot more but in no way feel like I have lost out.

It’s brilliant to gather friends new and old around a board game to have a laugh and get to know each other in a different way.

Whether playing cooperatively to save the world from disease, filling some time with a light bite of sushi, getting paranoid about a potential traitor in your midst or mercilessly eradicate your opponents, board games are a great leveller, often showing a different side of people and offer some incredible moments and shared experiences.

Here’s to a great week of getting to know new people, friends and good times!

Prototype dice – a fist full of bubbles

The way we understand board games has exploded in recent years! I love the variety of styles and themes and mechanisms you can see around. Who would have expected how popular they would become!

There are now shops dedicated to board games, such as Patriot Games in Sheffield – with walls and shelves packed with colourful and beautifully decorated boxes. There are board game cafes popping up – but then again, there are cat cafes now too…

And crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter have opened up the floodgates to vast numbers of small, often first time, game designers and companies. The boardgamerenaissance is here! With hit games with exploding kittens,games that fit in mint tins(check out the sequel Mint Delivery that I am backing!) and even games about space that I enjoy, Kickstarter has given my love for games a great shot of adrenaline!

After an unexpected but very welcome holiday to Zakynthos with my wife, Amy, I had an idea for a game on the flight home. I absolutely love snorkelling and throughout the holiday kept diving down to find treasure to give her. Unfortunately all I found was a pink hair bobble.

However, it was enough to get my cogs whirring! A game where you snorkel for treasure and push your luck to see how far you can go. By the time I got home, I had sorted the mechanism, the way the game would work, and had jotted pages down. Spreadsheets were made and numbers were crunched (who knew that Maths degree might be useful!)

All that was needed was a prototype to test. I drew out 54 cards on sliced up card and scratched my head as to how to make 9 custom dice.

Amy loves to do pyrography so we ordered a batch of moth repellent cedar cubes (we somehow got 48). We drew them out in pencil, then Amy burned the design onto them beautifully!

The cubes were originally quite strong smelling but chilled out since. They’re quite large and some people find it difficult to roll all 9 at once, but we’ve made our own dice! So good!Bubbles, flippers, sharks, fish.. no moths.

We’re currently on our way to a board games and bible holiday in France – Spring Harvest. I’ve never been before and am excited to meet some new board game friends and to chill out.

I imagine Amy will chill by the pool whilst I play new board games. I wonder how many books she will finish…

Bring in some colour!

At 12:30am last night, Amy and I finished putting up the fake stained glass window at Spa View Community Church. This week has been a whirlwind of building, decorating, designing and creativity – I’ve loved it!

When the church building was acquired 25 years ago, it was decorated beautifully… it’s about time that it got a refreshing inside! The curtains came down, the floor was sanded down, and the decoration started.

The pastor, Chris asked me to make some large banners to share the church’s vision – I had already been given the go-ahead to put something artistic up in the large boarded up space where the old stained glass window had been.

New paint, new banners, new art.

The church was finally complete when the congregation themselves arrived – after all, the church is the people, not the building! There was a great buzz this morning, with lots of excitement and fresh enthusiasm.

We practiced learning the vision for the church and what that means for us. Spa View Community Church: a family on a journey to know God and make Him known. The bible verse to the right complements it nicely – life in all its fullness with Jesus.

The window itself is inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, some of my favourite bible verses. It says how, in Jesus dying on the cross, God was reconciling the world to himself. God brought a messed up world back in line with his own goodness.

In the stained glass window, the pieces become less broken and jagged the closer they get to the cross, and the brighter the colours appear. The closer I pull myself to Jesus, the more fixed my life becomes, and the more vibrant my life becomes.

The window is made up of 94 pieces, all sized A3 or less. We printed them, cut them out, laminated and trimmed them and then stapled them to the board.

Amy held the ladder and I had to keep reminding her not to bounce along to the songs in her head. I’m alright with heights but did fear for my life a couple of times!

I’ve loved doing this job and all of the late nights and hard work has paid off! Thanks especially to Amy for her help and support.

Thank you, Past Me

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I don’t remember half of the things I say. Well, that’s the feeling I get from talking to my wife.

The worst is when I’ll have been talking with Amy (my wife) and have expressed a really strong opinion about something. We’ll be heading towards a meeting and I’ll be adamant that this is the way it should be done.

And then we get to the meeting the next day and I express the complete opposite opinion. Sometimes even the polar opposite! And as the words come out of my mouth, Amy will watch in amazement.

I’m not sure why it happens, I don’t mean for it to! I must just keep processing my thoughts and cooking them over. And when the oven door of my brain opens, out pops a tray of SURPRISE!

 

Sometimes, Past James isn’t too helpful. But sometimes he is. There’s the odd moment where I stumble upon something I’ve set in motion and think to myself, clever girl. The similarities between myself and a velociraptor may stop there though.

Being a person who forgets what he does and says is actually kind of fun. It can feel like I’m trailing behind the wake of a bumbling but well-meaning creature, either benefitting or not from what he’s said or done.

Maybe I should remember more of what I say and do – but I don’t think it’s that bad? It’s not like a drunken rampage that ends up with me stealing Mike Tyson’s pet tiger. At the end of the day, I often get to benefit from the things I’ve set in motion earlier on.

So I say, thank you, Past James. Thank you for all of the good things you tried to say and do. Your good choices, thoughtfulness and bravery make way for good things now and in the future.

Whether you are forgetful like me or not, what you do today and tomorrow set you a foundation for what you’re going to build on in a week, a month, maybe for years! Don’t undervalue the little things you can do and say now.

And when you look back on the trail of destruction your past self has made, may you be able to say, ‘thank you, Past Me’ and not be picking up the pieces of regret.

If your past self has dealt you a bum hand, don’t throw it all away. If anything, God can turn the worst stuff for good.

And remember this:

 

Present You is Future You’s Past You.

Testing, testing.. one.. two…

Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy it here and that you get something out of it! I’m up for feedback and making it better/more useful.

I plan to write about the things I get passionate about – mostly games and God. It might be the case that one of the two is currently a big turn-off but I ask that you remain open-minded and stick with it.

I’m a Christian who’s been (pretty much) wholeheartedly following Jesus for about 13 years (on and off). In recent years, my faith has exploded and I’ve actually dedicated my life to spreading the word and helping people to question and get closer to God.

However, the longer and more consistent devotion in my life has been games. First stupid made up games with my brother and friends, then video games and, most recently, board games. Pretty much any kind of games really. Maybe less of the kind where I have to run around though.

Love it!

Are you still reading? Much appreciated.

Then let’s get cracking!