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Below are the 4 most recent journal entries recorded in Worlds Apart Blog's LiveJournal:

Monday, November 10th, 2008
10:14 pm
[fireheart]
Sometimes Real Life is the Best Game
We had our bi-monthly General Membership meeting here at the Store today. We did a lot of good work, and during the course of it some fairly complex By-Law questions came up. During the course of this, I remembered that working out these kinds of quasi-legal questions are a lot of fun. When you get right down to it, that's a lot of what Magic: the Gathering is all about. It is a well defined rules set which you seek to understand to the degree that you can work the rules to your advantage.

Hopefully, in an organization like ours, people will not be trying to manipulate the rules, but there are still questions of how the rules should be interpreted because sometimes these kinds of questions have significant implications.

Of course, working the By-Laws is even more fun if there are not significant implications. If the questions are real, then real people are involved, the real fate of the Store is in play, and real feelings can be hurt. If the questions are theoretical, however, then it's just good, logic-crunching fun!

I have started posting By-Law Challenges to the forums so that we can work of these great logic puzzles in theory rather than practice. It also has the additional benefit of allowing us to find problems in the By-Laws before they slap us in the face.

As Dan says, "General Membership Meeting is my favorite game in the store."

Current Mood: pleased
Sunday, October 26th, 2008
5:12 pm
[fireheart]
Halloween is Like Christmas But Better
Some time ago, it occurred to me that Halloween better encompasses the Christmas spirit than Christmas itself.

Christmas is supposed to be about joy and goodwill, sharing gifts with others and getting joy in return. Unfortunately, Christmas tends to be a time of spending money, stress, and work. For too many people, there is so much effort that must go into Christmas, from shopping to making Christmas dinner to family strife that they have no energy left for joy. They huddle down within their own family, not even thinking of the outside world. Pretty far from the Christmas ideal.

Now, consider Halloween. People have fun creating delightful costumes, generally a process that they consider fun and exciting. They spend only what they can afford. They go places to be with friends and loved ones. For one day, the children become the children, not merely of one family or another, but of the community. Children in costumes travel around town, everyone admiring their costume. People spend money to buy candy to give to the children of complete strangers. They open their doors to the community. For some people, this may be the only time of the year when they encounter their neighborhood as a community rather than a bunch of separate houses that happen to share a street.

I hope you will consider this as we approach this most communal of seasons.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
5:54 pm
[fireheart]
Michael Looks Back, Looks Forward
I just wrote the newsletter description for Phoenix Weekend. Phoenix Weekend is the first weekend of November, and is the anniversary of the grand opening of Phoenix Games back in 2002.

Why would Worlds Apart dedicate a weekend to celebrating a store which went out of business? Quite simply, Phoenix Games is the ancestor of Worlds Apart Games. The revolutionary ideas that make up Worlds Apart and the Pioneer Valley Gamer Collective were developed at Phoenix Games.

I first started working on opening Phoenix Games in the spring of 2002, making a business plan and raising money. Even then, I knew that I wanted Phoenix Games to be a resource for the community rather than simply another for-profit purveyor of goods. This thought really crystallized when I was raising funds for the project.

I had assembled my family to make the pitch to them for investment. The pitch focused mainly on sales estimates, profit figures, return on investment and all the rest. I was feeling pretty good about myself. Here I was, recently graduated from college and about to open my own business. At one point, during a break, I spoke to my grandfather in the kitchen and asked him what he thought.

“Frankly, Michael,” he said, “I'm disappointed.”

I was shocked. Disappointed? I was starting my own business. I was organized, ambitious, and doing what few had the guts to do!

He went on to explain that he had hoped that I would do something important with my life; something that would improve the lives of others. He was distressed that I would want to waste my time with foolish games.

I realized that he had no idea how much gaming had given to me over my life. I explained to him that gaming was responsible for much of my education in everything from math to history to writing. I explained that it was the core of my social community and was likely to thank for much of my socialization as a kid. Gaming had given me the chance to hang out with much older people with interesting stories to tell and lesson to teach that I would never have had the chance to hear without games.

I explained to him that I wanted to pass the opportunities that I had through gaming to others. Then, he understood. I had not strayed from what he had hoped for me. I was taking a very different road from what he might have imagined, but the destination was the same. He ended up giving me half of the money that the store was started on. He did not give it as a loan or investment, but as a gift. As he explained, at his age, financial investments meant nothing to him. He was investing in me to do something good for the world.

I always remembered when running Phoenix Games that half of my investment was expecting a social dividend. Even when Phoenix closed, I wanted to continue paying that dividend, and that is where Worlds Apart came from, the desire to use our resources to do good for our community.

This November, we will celebrate six years of the dream of using games to make the world a better place, and together we can look into the future, changing the world, one die roll at a time.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Saturday, October 18th, 2008
4:13 pm
[fireheart]
Welcome to the Blog
Welcome to the Worlds Apart Blog. The purpose of this blog is to give you a little insight into the twisted interesting minds of the people that make Worlds Apart tick.

In this blog, you will hear us discuss new games that we have come across, talk about how games can be used to improve our community, explain how our impossible little experiment of a non-profit game store works, and anything else that happens to suit our fancy.

I actually run into confusion about what Worlds Apart is. People get the idea that we are a game store. That's pretty simple. We have games; we sell them. They get a little more confused around the idea of non-profit. How can a business be non-profit? The whole volunteer aspect totally baffles people. People have been so trained that work must be paid for that they cannot understand why someone would work for any other reason.

The fact is, however, that not only are there a few people who help run Worlds Apart, there are many. We have numerous volunteers who cover the register. We have people who help run events, help do promotion, even help clean and take out the trash. What do they get in return? Credits! What are credits worth? They can be spent on snacks and membership. Likely the value of Credits is not what brings people back to keep the store going.

Why do they do it then? Likely, they do it because they enjoy being part of something. In today's society, we are very separated. We are separated from our neighbors, our community, even our food comes from anonymous farms and factories. As people become more and more separated and isolated, I believe that they want to be part of something. They want to do something that makes the world a better place. They want to give back to their society, and Worlds Apart gives them the chance to do something.

In the few short months we have been here, Worlds Apart has managed to create a stable business which supports a fantastic community space. Going forward, we hope to reach out into the community and help those that we can with all that games can do for them. Especially in these lean economic times, we hope to be able to step in where the government might not have the wherewithal to do what needs to be done.

In lean times, those who can should help those who need, and Worlds Apart is lucky enough to be in a position to do so.

Current Mood: pleased
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