Techies chill out playing an old school game

Wow. Talk about what was old is new again.

In this day an age where everyone and their brother it seems is snuggling up on things like Facebook and playing all kinds of social games it seems that there is a new kind of social going on. It has nothing to do with computers, coding or poking people and you manically respond to friend and follower requests.

No, this kind of social is all about a close knit group of people getting together by invitation only and sharing a few beers or a bottle or two of wine and play Settlers of Catan. Not the computer game by that name but rather the original board game that was launched in 1995 by Germanboard-game maker Klaus Teuber. Within companies like StumbleUpon and Facebook there are regular planned get together's with Settler competitions.

It is a deceptively simple game that consists of a board with 19 hexagonal cardboard tiles that you arrange to form an island. The people who are playing the game then take turns rolling real dice in order to gather real resource cards from the island. These resource cards consist of ones for sheep, brick, ore, wheat and wood and are used to build settlements. The first one to 10 wins the game.

So who's playing this game that is taking Silicon Valley by storm?

Well there's Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), John Lilly (Mozilla), Auren Hoffman (Rapleaf), Mark Pncus (Zynga Games) and that is only a start as many more have been brought into the game by these Web 2.0 leaders. The game has also become a regular event that is planned for at companies like StumbleUpon and Facebook.

It has become the new meetings on the golf course where introductions are made and deals start to develop just ask Glenn Kelman the CEO of Refin where even the mention of Settlers of Catan to Greylock Partners' Mr Hoffman provided some instant bonding. Two months later Redfin raised $10 million in funding with Greylock being the main investor.

The new meeting ground is becoming so persuasive that high tech executives who don't play are beginning to feel left out.

Ben Elowitz, a co-founder of online jewelry store Blue Nile Inc. and now CEO of Web start-up WetPaint.com Inc. in Seattle, says he recently heard about the board game from several Internet CEOs. Interested to learn more, he tried to get the group to teach him how to play but has repeatedly been denied because he's a newbie.

"I feel like I have to pledge to see if I can be accepted into playing Settlers," says Mr. Elowitz, 37. "I'm definitely on the outside looking in."

To learn the game in a hurry, some Silicon Valley executives have fallen back on their usual crutch: technology. After start-up investor Aydin Senkut was trounced at his first Settlers match last year, he was so upset that he resorted to playing an online version of the game for practice.

"I didn't have a base to play the game well, so I told myself I was going to get there in a week," says Mr. Senkut, 40, a former Google Inc. executive. Jousting with other Settlers fans online, "I ended up playing 200 online games in three nights."

Source:Wall Street Journal

You know for all our love of technology and the hype that surrounds Social media and social networks when it comes right down to there is nothing better that real people getting together and having real fun with friends. Beats the electronic version anytime.