Teacher started the event to pique interest in history

Playing war games with miniatures is a family tradition for Jay Haygood.

"I've been war-gaming since I was 13. My dad still comes to events," said Mr. Haygood, of Forsyth, Ga., near Macon, who brought his sons, Ben, 19, and Jacob, 14, to the 18th annual Siege of Augusta gaming convention at the Doubletree Hotel on Saturday.

About 145 people registered for the three-day event.

"We had a really big crowd Friday night," said Norman Schwartz, co-coordinator of the event.

Usually, Friday is slower because people are just coming into town and checking into the hotel, he said. Organizers thought attendance might be down a little this year, given the economic climate, but the numbers were similar to last year's, he said.

Gamers from several states, including Oregon, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee, participated.

Jim Birdseye, a former high school teacher and an Augusta State University history professor, started the event.

"It was a way of getting kids interested in history," Dr. Birdseye said as he set up a game based on a World War II battle.

For his students to play the game, they had to learn the history behind the battles and do a lot of reading. Once they had their facts straight, they could battle with the miniatures.

Dr. Birdseye said he was pleased that the event continues almost two decades after he started it.

While some of the battles played over the weekend were based on actual Civil War or World War II combat, others were futuristic fantasy engagements.

Although the gamers enjoy different parts of the events, the bottom line for all of them is the same.

"I've developed so many friendships," said Drew Gaddy, of Augusta, who has been to every Siege of Augusta and has helped coordinate it for more than a decade.

"It's a great type of friendship. We have friendly competition; all of us are closet nerds."

Reach Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.


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