A More Interesting Life

Recreating life as I go along

Tag: South Africa

Reflections on TedX Cape Town – Session 3

This is my overview of the first afternoon session of TedX Cape Town 2011.

If you are interested in reading the rest of the entries, you can find them here:

Justin FriedmanFor Love of Water

I came back a bit late from lunch, and missed the first couple of minutes of this presentation. Here Justin talked about For Love of Water. And encouraged all of us to be for the love of water, and to try to understand and appreciate its power and impact that it has on us.

Edwin RobertsShare the Vision, Dream and Future Realities of Broadband and Biometrics

In this presentation Edwin talks about biometrics, and the use of mobile phones to store and track biometric data, for use in areas such as health and payments. Biometrics can be used to ensure that a person is present, and to confirm their identity, and therefore enable easier monitoring of how resources are used, as well as tracking the effects of various attempted fixes.

Simon de Haan – Making the Invisible Visible

This session was one of the most interesting for me. In it, Simon talks about the fact that a lot of Soth Africans have cellphones, most of them on prepaid contracts. As he pointed out, even though they often cannot phone or sms out, the fact that they have a cellphone means that they can still be reached. They are invisible, and his foundation makes sure that they do not feel undervalued.

The first project he spoke about is simply sending reminders to people for when they need to come in to take their retrovirals. Apparently this simple steps resulted in reducing missed appointments from 30% to about 5%.

The second project he spoke about was a system that would keep farmers updated about the sales of their crops by agents, also using sms.

The third and last project Simon talked about involved a mobile site for young people about sex and relationships.

I really think that mobile is the future, and it was interesting to see the uses that people are putting mobile technology to.

Ard Matthews Loop de loop

This was the surprise guest of the day, and he performed two songs, Shallow Waters and Redemption, both very appropriate to TedX Cape Town.

Between the songs, Ard spoke about the fact that he uses very few chords in his songs, and that by keeping things simple, he is able to make beautiful music.

Claire JanischThe Genius of Water

This was a short presentation about biomimicry, the idea of seeing how thin

My Roleplaying History

I was born in Belgrade, Serbia. I learned to read at a very early age, and really enjoyed reading the choose your own adventure books, as well as all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on. As early as I could remember I had an interest in gaming, making primitive boardgames in my spare time. Luckily for me, none of them have survived to embarrass me.

When I was about 6 or 7, I moved to Kenya for a couple of years with my parents, from the roleplaying perspective, the most important aspect of my move is that this is where I first learned English.

After spending three years there, we moved back to Yugoslavia for the next three years, and moved to Zambia, where I continued my interests in Science Fiction and Fantasy. We only stayed there for about 6 months, and by the time we moved on, I am pretty sure I had exhausted the science fiction and fantasy section of our school library.

The next country we lived in was Botswana, and this it where I first discovered gamebooks, a bit like the Choose your own adventures, except that you occasionally rolled dice.

During a visit to a bookshop, I picked up a copy of Dragon Warriors. This was the first roleplaying game that I encountered in my life, and I loved the concept. I soon managed to get a couple of friends interested as well, and we played, with me as the GM. We did not even have dice until later, and so we used the spinners made from the back of the book to generate the random numbers.

Sometime later, I actually met other players, who introduced me to other games: Traveller, Shadowrun and Paranoia to start with.  Even AD&D for one session, but we decided we preffered others.

During this time, my collection grew. First, I got Marvel Superheroes, since I loved the comics, soon joined by CyberSpace, and later Rifts and Beyond the Supernatural.

During a trip to France, I picked up a copy of Vampire: The Masquerade (first edition). The emphasis on story and character in that book where completely new to me, and I fell in love with the system, but my couple of attempts to run it did not go well. In retrospect, I think this was due to my own lack of life experience.

After a while, we moved again, this time to Nelspruit in South Africa, a small town. IK could not find anyone to play with, so my roleplaying career was put on hold, until I got an internet connection.

Once I did get one, I discovered a ton of other roleplayers all over the world. I read just about anything I could find, mostly focused on the World of Darkness.

When I finished high school, I went to study at the University of Cape Town, where I joined CLAWs, the Cape Legion of Adventurers and Wargamers.

Since I now lived surrounded by roleplayers, we spent a lot of our time playing various games. This is also where I discovered theatre-style LARPs, and I played in a lot of them, and wrote and organised a couple myself.

I continued playing a lot of WoD, with occasional forays into other genres. At this time I took part in the longest running campaign I was ever in, of Ars Magica (3rd Edition). Alas, it broke up due to tensions due to the soap operas in the player group.

I also started attending conventions, Dragonfire in Cape Town, organised by CLAWs, as well as travelling a couple of times up to Johannesburg to attend ICON.

After I finished university and got married, I continued doing some gaming, including a rather interesting and satisfying WitchCraft campaign.

I also started getting interested in more indie games at this time, specifically Universalis and InSpectres.

For work reasons, I had to move to Johannesburg. There, I managed to find a group that played Star Trek, and had great fun with that. I continued attending conventions there, including ICON still, as well as UPCON.

The birth of my daughter interrupted my playing, and I tried to keep it up, trying to run campaigns of Unknown Armies and Dark Heresy, but they all lasted a short time as the pressure of being a father took its toll.

Two Years ago, I moved back to Belgrade, Serbia. Here I have pretty much become an armchair roleplayer, listening to roleplaying podcasts, and reading a ton of roleplaying blogs, but doing very little actual gaming, besides a couple of forum games, all of which ended prematurely.

I did try to join in a 4e tournament here, but I found it too much of a dungeon crawl to enjoy.

Soon, I will be moving back to Cape Town. While a lot of my old friends have moved on, some still remain, and still play, so I hope that I will be able to find a new group, and finally get back to the games I love.