For 35 years, the Gamers have never stopped playing. Listed on the college’s summer events schedule as the “Gamers Reunion,” this was not a gathering of those surnamed Gamer. Rather this band of men in their mid-50s was a subset of the seven who originally gathered weekly on Saturday nights to play board games in the early '80s as students at Hamilton.
John Christopher ’83, Alan Sundberg ’83, Steve Valone ’83, and Bill Cooper ’82 were huddled around a game of Eldritch Horror, a cooperative game based on the fiction of 20th century American writer H.P. Lovecraft, in Wertimer residence hall on a recent rainy Friday morning. Another member, Burt Somer ’84, had yet to arrive from North Carolina.
They were settling in for three days of historical strategy board games including those involving the Napoleonic Era, American Civil War and Polynesian exploration of the Pacific, as well as ancient to futuristic simulation games, among many others.
On clear days they alternate between the golf course and indoor board games. “We love to play golf here. You can see the whole college from the course, and every day brings new challenges of uncut grass and streams,” said one of the members.
Since graduation, the group has been gathering continuously, first in the summer at parents’ homes and on campus during what was the “winter term.” It soon became event that seven grown men along with the occasional visitor needed more space than a normal-sized home could accommodate, so summer reunions moved to Roger’s Estate. The June meetings grew as the men, including this year’s absentees Dan Carpenter ’85 and Drew Winner ’84, married and had children.
“Rogers was great. We’d have scavenger hunts and that’s how we got to know the cemetery,” said Vallone. The last one to arrive was forced to scavenge for his key, which is how the group dealt with tardiness. Out of the seven “gamer” children, two attended Hamilton. Alana Christopher graduated in 2014, and Ryn Winner is a rising junior.
“We’ve been doing this so long that we mentally block out the time in June,” said Sundburg. "Some of the games are cooperative; others are competitive. But the competitive fire has matured. It's easier to lose," said Christopher. The others laughingly pointed out that Christopher was the consistent winner in the group.