Gaming Society Still Going Strong After Decades of Play

The tension is rising. The trains on the Union Pacific are owned and controlled by the stockholders. As the hour passes, they earn more and more money. But, it is all nothing but a fantasy. The stockholders are actually players in Professor Mike Kent’s favorite board game, and one of them just won.

The Gaming Society is a club that meets every Saturday in the Student Center on San Jacinto College Central Campus. Sponsored by Kent, the Society accommodates gamers of all interests, but mostly board, card and role-play gamers.

According to Kent, the games that seem most popular among club members are role-playing games, like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder, board games like Union Pacific, and card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic.

“To me, what makes a good game is simple mechanics and hard choices. The rules of the game are easy, but within that easy framework, you have hard decisions,” Kent said. “It’s amazing how that can just make a wonderful game.”

However, most of the games Kent defines as “wonderful games” are not time consuming or difficult to learn.

“A lot of people think about board-gaming as like Monopoly. Oh my God, that’s like eight hours, and you get into a fight and the game never ends, or Risk, it goes on forever,” Kent said. ”These games aren’t like that.”

Furthermore, Kent said good games never go out of style, but there are those that only attract attention when they first come out.

“In the board-gaming world, there’s always what we call ‘the cult of new,’ Kent said. “The really good games, you keep going back and playing them over and over again.”

The Society gathers every Saturday; however, the members widened the scope in years past.

“After four or five years we decided to get frisky and do a summer gaming convention, so we did the ‘SanCon,’ as we called it, for about 12 years,” Kent said. “We’d have about 150 people come out and we’d invade the Student Center over the weekend, take over the ballroom upstairs and we’d be downstairs in all the rooms; and we’d just have a bunch of different tournaments and open gaming.”

The club’s purpose is best defined by Kent, who has sponsored the group for years.

“As I like to say, we get together, play some games, eat some junk food, crack bad jokes, and have a good time. You get to know people,” Kent said. “The students that started coming to the club twenty years ago, some are still coming.”

Kent said many familiar faces still show up for Saturday gaming sessions.

“We have alumni that come out, former students that have been graduated for years and they still come back out here and play,” Kent said. “Some of them have gotten married, and they’ll bring their kids and they’ll play in the corner.”

However, Kent explained why the Society is not just another San Jac club.

“I’m in the gaming club. I sponsor the gaming club. I guess you could say by definition, we’re a little different,” Kent said.

The club has no fee to join and members do not pay dues. Kent said he encourages everyone to just show up and have a good time.

“It’s a very accepting group,” Kent said. “And it’s nice to be in a group of people who accept you for who you are.”