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Julie Sutton hadn’t really played games before meeting her (now) husband. The first modern title she ever learned was Uwe Rosenberg’s famed worker-placement game Agricola… and she was only 1 point short of a victory in a five-player game! It’s safe to say she enjoys finding ways to navigate and problem solve, and that tabletop gaming has allowed her to flex that muscle in new and creative ways.

“I’m a math professor at a University in Texas. We’re real nerdy at our institution; there’s an official ‘D&D at school’ event and a big gamer community there.”

With a busy work schedule and home life centered around raising her young daughter, Julie doesn’t have a surplus of extra time for gaming, but about once a quarter, she hosts anywhere from 15-50 people at her house, closes off the garage door, and sets up tables for gaming. She hires neighborhood “kid-wranglers” (babysitters) and orders a mountain of barbecue, allowing the crowd she and her husband introduced to the hobby to game all day and night while relishing in each others’ company.

“We’ve had a bounce-house, a water slide, everyone brings a side-dish. I consider it a personal victory when people ask me when we’re having another game party at our house, or when they offer to host one themselves.”

Above all-else, Julie finds value in the relationships and bonds forged over the game-table. Hosting gatherings has allowed her to foster community among people who might never have spoken or spent time together otherwise, and she firmly believes that gaming enhances social skills that have begun to show atrophy in the digital age.

“I like the fact that we can all sit around a table, learn something new, engage our brains, and when it ends: we’re all closer together. Food brings people to the table. We talk about gathering and breaking bread together, and that’s great – but when it ends, it ends. With a game, we can come together even when we don’t have other hobbies in common, or political ideologies in common, or sexual orientation, or preference, or looks, or ANYTHING: we’re all the same when we sit at the table. We’re all equal, and even though all you’re doing is playing a game, it means so much to everybody.”

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