Just Playing Around

One of the great things about an unconference is that we can make them what we want them to be. It’s true that the theme of a THATCamp is an emphasis on the combination of The Humanities And Technology, something that is conflated–too often, perhaps, and on occasion incorrectly–with the digital humanities.

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot of origin stories from those working in DH. And one of the things I’ve learned from these tales is that people often get their start down this path through screwing around in their spare time. It’s what Steve Ramsay has called the screwmeneutical imperative. For myself, I more or less stumbled down the rabbit hole when I read Franco Moretti’s Graphs Maps Trees while finishing my dissertation and decided that I should start making maps. It’s not what my dissertation needed at that moment, but it was a doorway into thinking differently about everything I’d done prior to that point. Fast-forward five years, and I’m a full-fledged digital humanities tactician.

DH, as well as other combinatorial excursions into the humanities and technology, in other words, come from just playing around. For this reason, Ethan Watrall and I would like to propose a session dedicated to play. Specifically, we’re thinking games – non-digital games (card, board, miniature, etc). We’re each going to bring one or two with us, but we’d like to invite you to bring one along.

A few ground rules:

  • Given the length of sessions, the games you bring need to be able to be taught and played in less than 60 minutes. Less than 30 minutes is perhaps ideal. So, this means no crazy 8-hour sessions of Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition.
  • We’re primarily interested in designer (ish) games (some info on what a designer board game is). This means no Monopoly, Risk, Clue, etc. We wouldn’t have time anyway.
  • If you bring a game, you’ll need to be prepared to teach it.
  • Bragging rights must be CC-licensed.

What do you think? What will you bring to play? To start things off, here is what we will bring:

Brian: Incan Gold, Carcassonne, Small World Underground (for after parties, only)
Ethan: at least Munchkin (the original card game)

Profile photo of Brian Croxall

About Brian Croxall

I’m the Digital Humanities Strategist in the Robert W. Woodruff Library and Lecturer of English at Emory University. In this position, I’m helping to establish Emory’s new, Mellon Foundation-sponsored Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS).

12 thoughts on “Just Playing Around

  1. Plus-one for Carcassone. Wishing I had space in my carry-on for my favorite Eurogames, but none of them are playable in an hour anyways. :(

  2. Can anyone local bring Apples-to-Apples (again, too heavy for me to carry-on)? It’s a good icebreaker, IMO.

  3. Pingback: Launching a Center/Initiative + Archaeology and DH – Ethan’s Mixed Bag of Topics | THATCamp CHNM 2012

  4. This sounds like a session that could also continue at the Mason Inn with food and beverage included!

  5. While not a design game (I don’t think), Pit is another wonderful game based on strategy (however simple), and (loud) communication. If no one’s played it, I may consider bringing it because shouting in groups of people happens to be a great hobby of mine.

  6. @Jana: Apples to Apples is a lot of fun, but my set is also way too big and heavy to bring in the carry on.

    @Kimon: Food and beverage might be an appropriate accompaniment…if we can keep Tom from flipping the table when we clobber him.

    @Nigel: Pit, now there’s a game I haven’t played in a while. Could be interesting to have it going on in the room with everything else.

  7. Hey all-
    Don’t know if I’ll be coming to the session, but I’ll have copies of Settlers of Katan (with 5-6 player expansion) and Citadels (the latter of which would be a better fit for one hour, and is an absolute blast). You can reach me at @historyshack.
    [PS – I’d be down for playing afterwards, perhaps over some beer].

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