Kamloops game night builds skills, inclusion

Pathfinder is a popular role playing game that is helping individuals build confidence and connections in Kamloops. (Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Shoemaker via Creative Commons license)

Every Thursday night Dan Seedhouse and Cory Doyle walk into ASK Wellness Society in Kamloops with their game faces on. They’re ready to battle their opponents in a table top game that usually involves role play.

Dan and Cory both work for ASK Wellness, are contracted through Community Living BC (CLBC) to provide one-to-one personalized supports, and are the organizers behind a popular Kamloops community game night. Dan and Cory believe its success stems from the fact that it is in a supportive and inclusive environment, open to anyone who is interested in games that range from role-playing to card games. And it’s free.

“It all started about three years ago when I was bringing a client of ASK Wellness to a local comic book store to play Dungeons and Dragons,” said Dan. “He was interested in playing but shy, and after a few visits he started to come out of his shell. Six months later he started taking the lead on games, whereas before he would sit in the corner.”

Cory knew that this type of game environment could do the same for many of his clients and others in the community. Cory called Dan to see what he thought about hosting a game night for anyone who likes strategy games. The idea was to make it a place for people who may struggle with social apprehension and help them to feel comfortable and supported. Dan jumped at the idea and three years later, they are still hosting game night and helping to make positive changes in many people’s lives.

“These are the types of games where typically the players are people who like structure and rules or may have social anxiety,” said Dan. “It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or if you just want to observe; there are always players there who are happy to get people started or just explain the game.”

“We push peer mentorship and encourage everyone to demonstrate social etiquette,” says Cory. “For a lot of the people who attend, they don’t have a lot of confidence, so we are here to push them, to get them out of their comfort zone. It’s been working really well and its very rewarding.”

Dan and Cory like to switch the games up. “We play a variety of games,” said Dan. “We are playing a game right now called Pathfinder.”

Cory and Dan have learned that switching the games promotes reading and math and outside the box thinking. “With every new game you have to learn the entire system, the rules, the game play. Everything is different from the last one,” says Cory.

“All the character creation, all the stats and skills, whatever you want to learn to build your character, are all math based. Then it’s also abstract thinking because you have to build a character that you have to role play with – so now you have to think, how do I create the character and concept in my head and put it on paper so people understand it.”

Having a safe and welcoming environment where people are having fun and challenging themselves has helped many to come out of their shell not only during game night but in their everyday life.

“We have seen so many people’s gain confidence in themselves just by being here and playing these games, said Dan.” “If you create a player who is a leader then you have to be more charismatic, ask questions and lead the group. “

Many CLBC-supported individuals attend Thursday night’s game night. To make it even more supportive and inclusive Dan and Cory open the doors around noon on Thursdays so that new players can hang out and get used to the atmosphere. Cory is often there painting his figurines for one of his favourite games, War Machine, and people are invited to come down to paint if that’s something they like to do.

If you live in the Kamloops area and want to try your hand at mastering a game, visit ASK Wellness at 433 Tranquille Road on Thursday nights at 6:00pm.

To learn about the games or to do some painting, you can visit ASK Wellness on Thursdays at noon. Feel free to contact Cory for more information at cory@askwellness.ca.

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