Gamers and geeks unite Saturday at Game Jam 6  

By Kelly Terpstra,

Enter into the world of Geekdom, if you dare.

There’s an open invitation this Saturday in Charles City for anyone interested in “getting their geek on,” or those who might even be looking to “nerd out.”

There’s no registration required and a pocketfull of shiny quarters isn’t necessary to play along.

For the uninitiated, it’s C2G2’s “Game Jam 6” – where tabletop board games and retro video game consoles collide.

“If anybody has any nerdy inclinations, come on in and join us. Join the club,” said Jeremy Chatfield, an avid gamer from Charles City.

Friends and fellowship will be the central theme, as well as face-to-face competition this Saturday at the Zastrow Room in the Charles City Library.

C2G2 — an abbreviation for Charles City Geeks and Gamers — is a group of like-minded individuals over 100 members strong who enjoy getting together every couple of months to battle it out over various games.

The recipe for this party is one dash “Halo,” two parts Nintendo and XBox, all mixed together with a side of “Monopoly” on steroids.

“I want local geeks to be able to connect, communicate and come together. And to fill what I feel could be a missing element in Charles City,” said Jacob Gibson.

Gibson, the founder of C2G2, teamed up with Jeremy’s brother, Andrew Chatfield, and thus was born Game Jam.

“The Internet has kind of made gaming with other people kind of impersonal,” said Andrew, a 2001 Charles City High School graduate. “This is just an effort on our part to get a little of that socialization element back into gaming.”

Over the course of the last year, five such Game Jams have taken place — three in the Bethany Alliance Church’s social and recreational building called the BAC Shack. C2G2 has also held one of its events or “summits,” at the Charles City Senior Center.

The last one was held at the Zastrow Room, where the latest incarnation will also be held all day and into the night on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“We pretty much make sure that people know that anyone is welcome,” said Andrew.

“You need to be old enough to understand the games, but we have several people who bring their kids along and they jump right in.”

There will also be a Smash Brothers Tournament that is run by Caleb Williams. There is an entry fee in that tournament and prizes will be awarded to winners. Entrants will play the game “Super Smash Brothers,” a crossover fighting game from Nintendo.

Several tables will be set up for board game play in the Zastrow Room, along with plenty of space for monitors and game consoles to be set up. Snacks will also be on hand.

“I don’t play games very much anymore but enjoy helping organize these events, meeting new people and learning more about games,” said Gibson, a 2004 graduate of the Gospel Lighthouse Academy in Floyd.

Andrew said that part of his goal is to get the younger people — who are so used to playing video games by themselves online — to step outside that box and actually play another human being in the flesh. That seems to be somewhat foreign to them, he said.

“Right now, a lot of the younger kids, if they’re into video games they’re into the online aspect of it. The idea of leaving their house to go play video games is almost an alien concept to the younger generation,” said Andrew.

Then there’s the “old-fashioned” or “old school” board games — specifically “Settlers of Catan.” That’s the tabletop game that the Chatfields, along with millions of other followers across the world, have been hooked on for quite some time.

“In the past 20 years, there’s been a literal explosion of new games of all different types,” said Andrew. “This is probably one of the more famous ones.”

“Catan,” created in Germany in 1995, is a game where settlers try to build colonies on the island of Catan.

First one to 10 points wins — that’s the simple explanation.

“It’s not super complicated, but at the same it does have a lot of nuance to it,” said Andrew. “It’s one of those games where it’s easy to learn and it’s hard to master.”

As far as labels go, the Chatfields and Gibson are fine with anybody who wants to place a moniker or tag on what they love doing — playing games and hanging out with friends.

If that’s what constitutes being a nerd, then so be it, said Gibson.

“People aren’t ashamed to say it,” Gibson said with a smile.

Andrew has heard most of the talk, but also understands that his love of nostalgia and games does come with a price, and that’s not a negative thing.

“Ever since I graduated high school, the term geek has become more and more positive because people keep saying they’ve got their geek cred and their geek sheek,” laughed Andrew.

Is there a link between a “nerd” and a “sports nut?”

Jeremy seems to think so.

“One of things that I like to see referenced is the similarities between D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) and fantasy football,” Jeremy said. “You’ve got people that are making characters with stats. It’s all about the stats. I’ve got a character with this stat so he’s going to be really good.”

Doesn’t sound like anybody is going to be standing on the sidelines this weekend at the Zastrow Room.

“There’s a lot of toxicity in the online gaming culture, especially in the first-person-type shooter genres,” said Andrew.

Gibson agreed.

“When you’re playing with strangers online it’s so easy to run into people and just say awful things. When you’re in person, it’s less likely you’ll say awful things. There could be physical consequences. Minor point,” joked Gibson.