Insider 10/12/2010

Today, we’re taking a break from the usual staff Insiders to share a few words from Press Ganger Dr. Norbert Brunhuber about FOODMACHINE 2010!

About 30 years ago, I remember watching an “after school special” on TV. The details are very fuzzy and I can’t remember the whole story, but there was one thing that stuck with me after all these years. The story involved an elderly white lady in an urban neighborhood. She was alone and a number of years past retirement. She walks into a supermarket and does some browsing near the dairy case. All of a sudden, she picks up a jar of cottage cheese, opens it up and begins to wolf down a few bites with a spoon she had hidden in her pocket. She closes the lid, moves slowly down to another section of the case and proceeds to do the same with a jar of yogurt, whereupon the manager catches her in the act.

The point of this story is that I remember watching this and being utterly confused. I couldn’t understand why she was acting so bizarrely. Later in the story a social worker shows up to the lady’s apartment and the only scene I remember is when she opens the refrigerator to get her guest a drink and the only thing in it was a stick of butter. That’s when it dawned on me: this elderly lady didn’t have enough money to buy food.

Now I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family, but my parents certainly worked hard enough to provide my sister and me all we needed and that included plenty to eat. Sitting where I am now, I can trace my initial incomprehension of the elderly lady’s plight to the fact that I had food around all my life and couldn’t imagine not having any. How could you possibly not have enough money to buy food?

Here’s a number that all gamers are pretty familiar with: 1 in 6. Think of how many times you’ve toyed around with the statistics in WARMACHINE and thought about the percentage chance every 1 in 6 represented. As it turns out, according to the 2008 U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service annual study, Household Food Security in the United States, that’s also the number of people in the United States that are “food insecure,” that is, they can’t reliably buy food for themselves and their children on a day-to-day basis. This is a rather shocking statistic coming from the wealthiest country in the world, and it exists in suburban areas and not just in cities. The numbers only get worse when you move outside of the industrial world.

Clearly the problem is widespread, but this is also one of the easiest social issues in which you can make an immediate difference. Charitable food pantries exist all around the nation, and the best part about them is they work on a very local level, meaning the food you donate will most certainly be used to help the neediest in your own community. But wait; let me entice you a little bit more. How about combining your love of gaming with helping out the hungry? How about creating a way where the harder you play, the more donations are generated? Let me introduce you to Foodmachine.

For four years already, Privateer Press gamers around the world have held Foodmachine charity events, combining their love of gaming with their desire to help the needy. This year is no exception and everyone can get involved! A Foodmachine event can be any kind of tournament format with this one twist: built in cheating! By donating canned goods, players can “cheat” during their games. The more cans you donate, the more you can cheat. To get started, visit foodmachine.njsobs.com to download a packet with a full list of suggested cheats. The website also has additional information on how to contact the local media and coordinate the event with your local food pantry to make your event a huge success.

To bodge Foodmachine up to Page 5 standards, Privateer Press will be awarding banners to help recognize the donations. Your gaming group can fight to win any or all of the prize categories which are: most cans donated overall, most cans donated per player, and individual player’s highest can donation. Additionally, the group that donates the most cans overall also wins the traveling Foodmachine trophy, currently in possession of the New Jersey SOBs for the past two years running.

Schedule your event anytime between October 30th and January 2nd and then submit your results to results@njsobs.com to enter. A running tally will be kept to show how groups are ranking. Don’t worry! Only rankings will be shown, no totals until the end.

If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of others while playing a game you enjoy, host a Foodmachine event at your game store. For additional information, email foodmachine@njsobs.com. Donate like you’ve got a pair!