PLATTSBURGH - Chuck Henry loves a good board game. So much, in fact, it prompted him to start what's today known as the Nonchalant Gnome Gaming Society.
The group, which recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, was started with a simple mission: playing board games.
"I've always been a fan of board games," said Henry, who added he never imagined he'd take his hobby beyond something he'd do in his spare time sporadically.
However, after the birth of his first child, Henry joked he was "looking for an excuse to get out of the house."
"So, some of us decided to get together and game on a regular basis ... We've been meeting every two weeks ever since," he said.
The "gnomes" in the group have changed over the years, with people coming in and out of the group, but Henry said that's part of the fun.
"Some people just wander in and wander out, which is fine," said Henry. "The point of the group, for me, is not necessarily playing the game, because, let's face it, I don't always win. It's all about the interaction. It's about getting together and talking to people. Human contact."
Through the group's Web site, www.gnomegaming.com, and its listing on Boardgamegeek.com - which Henry said is a site considered to be "the center of the board gaming universe" - many people have learned about them.
"Last summer, we had a gentleman stop in ... I can't remember his name, but he was hiking in the Adirondacks and found us on-line and he just dropped in," said Henry.
What makes it easy for people to simply stop in, said Henry is how new games are played each time the group meets. Many times, the majority of those who show up are unfamiliar with the night's selection.
"We tried different methods over the years. Initially, when we were meeting in people's homes, the way we did it is the person whose home was hosting chose the game," explained Henry. "Now, everyone just brings a pile of games and we just randomly choose a game."
The games are "a little more complex than Monopoly, but not a whole lot," said Henry, which adds to how much fun people can have.
Ian Carney considers himself a "newbie" to the society, coming to the group with his long-time friend Jed Thone. When Thone heard about the group, he suggested they check it out, said Carney.
"We've always played games, whether it be board games or video games," said Carney. "And, it's great to get a bunch of people together to just play. I like to interact with people."
"I think it's fun. It's a lot better than some of the computer games I play," said Thone. "With those, you may talk to the person, but you don't see them unless you video conference with them, which I used to do with some friends I have out in England."
"I think a lot of people spend a lot of time together watching TV, which really isn't interacting with each other," said Henry. "This is about meeting some interesting people, playing some board games and talking ... It's fun to get together."
As for the name?
"I'm not really sure where I came up with it. I think it's semi-related to Gerome the Gnome," Henry said, referring to a gnome figurine his mother handed down to him that sets atop his office desk.
(Editor's Note: The Nonchalant Gnome Gaming Society's next meeting is Thursday, Dec. 23, at 7 p.m. The group is always looking for new members. Check out their Web site or e-mail Henry at email@example.com. They may also be found on Facebook by searching the keywords: Nonchalant Gnome Gaming Society.)