Games with friends | tidings

Board games have brought family and friends together for decades, and newcomer and Athens gaming enthusiast and collector Steven Bates has created a gaming group for those who want to connect with others and have fun. The Athens Adventurers meet every other Saturday at the Athens-Limestone County Public Library and the public is welcome to join in the fun.

Steven Bates, a disabled Air Force veteran, moved to the area in December 2020 from Cheyenne, Wyoming after his wife’s job moved him to Redstone Arsenal. The move came just a month after Bates underwent total knee replacement surgery.

“We got here and started looking around trying to find a way to teach people and neighbors. I went to the local library because I had just come out with a new book,” Bates said.

Bates also runs a non-profit organization called Poems Speak, which reaches out through poetry to those affected by PTSD, depression and suicidal thoughts.

After meeting with library director Jennifer Baxter, Bates suggested creating the playgroup as a way for people to connect with others. She liked the idea and invited the group to use the Teen Room as a place to play.

“We have a huge variety of games. At first we were playing D&D, as well as board games, card games, dominoes… just whatever someone wants to play,” Bates said.

Bates brings as many games as he can fit in his car for each game Saturday, as well as food and refreshments for everyone. “If people want to bring their games, they can bring their games. We just enjoy ourselves, normally I bring food, but if people want to bring their own refreshments, that’s great too,” he said.

Bates has always loved games of all kinds. “I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons since 1979, when it first came out. I’ve been playing chess since I was knee-deep in a grasshopper. I always played board games with my family. This was always the way for the family to get together and enjoy games like PayDay, Sorry and all those classic Milton Bradley games. This was a way for our family to spend time together and bond. So playing games, for me, has always been a great experience of connecting with people,” he said.

Bringing together new and old friends, regardless of age, in Athens is something Bates hopes the playgroup can help others achieve.

He said, “Our group now has children ranging from ten years old and younger to Mr. Paul Irons, who is 86 years old and plays dominoes with us. This is a great way to connect. I think it’s a great opportunity to have some interpersonal communication that the devices of today’s society prevent. We have lost quite a bit of our communication skills because our faces are immersed in monitors, phones and devices. We’ve lost a lot of face-to-face and face-to-face communication skills.”

The bundle is also a great way to try out new games before you buy them and discover new games. “You can ask in our Facebook group, ‘Does anyone have this game and can we try it?’ “If we have it, we’ll bring it,” Bates said. “We’re getting a lot of exposure to games we’ve never played.”

Whether you like classics like Monopoly, newer games like Apples to Apples, strategy games like Jeopardy, cards or RPGs, there’s a game for everyone to enjoy. “It’s all about mutual fun and that’s the most important thing – make it fun for everyone.” Bates said.

The Athens Adventurers will meet on Saturday, September 3rd from 9:45am to 2:00pm in the Teen Room at the Athens-Limestone County Public Library. There are no requests to donate or bring anything. “The only requirement is to come, have fun, enjoy playing games and meet new people,” Bates said.

To keep up with announcements and events visit “Adventurers of Athens!” on Facebook.

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