Reposting this from the JIGG Kansai Facebook Group
Happy 10th Anniversary everyone! To celebrate the occasion I’ve done a little research.
In 1992 Steve Brown and Kevin Burns start JIGG (Japan International Gamers Guild) by placing an add in the local English language paper in Tokyo. It’s a club, probably the first ever in Japan, for playing roleplaying games and miniature war games in English in Japan. Board games are played occasionally too. Their first digital presence is a yahoo email group made in 1999.
In July of 2005 the Work Abroad Aussies Yahoo Group is renamed Kansai JIGG and our little cadre of gamers was born. Well, nearly, at least. By 2007 this group was defunct, no longer in use. At this point our all mighty founding father, Ryan Thomas stumbles upon the group while looking to start his own Kansai-based analogue gaming community, this time very much about board games. He and Linda Jane Hicks use the group to start up their famously generous gaming days in Moriguchi (with meals provided). This, I argue is the start of Kansai JIGG, the board gaming club.
To continue the story by 2009 Ryan is the moderator of the group and gaming is taking place weekly on Tuesdays (as well as other days, sporadically). The big events continue to happen at Ryan’s 3 story house but most of the gaming is happening at people’s apartments with a lot happening at Kobe’s Port Island. A variety of games are played but if there was one quintessential JIGG game it was undoubtedly Battlestar Galactica, with every old time member having a story or five about betrayal and deception.
The club’s GW conventions are so popular that private space needs to be booked out to contain everyone. Gradually, JIGG moves away from people’s homes and into regularly scheduled rented spaces run by Keith Ibsen and JIGG is pretty much how we know it now. The JIGG brand is sufficiently reinvigorated by this time that in 2011 people like Mandy Tong start up Tokyo JIGG continuing the tradition where the whole thing originally started.
Now then, you might think that the story ends there, but no! During my research I discovered something quite amazing. The Steve Brown who originally started JIGG in 1992 is also the person known as “Stan! Brown” online. He’s a game designer/editor/illustrator at WOTC working on D&D and has worked on all sorts of classic games at TSR and West End Games. You can even hear him talking about the creation of JIGG on the official D&D podcast here at the 1 hour mark:
I’ve contacted the dear fellow and if we’re lucky he may get in touch. So that is how we got here and here is to many more decades of future JIGGing! To all those who were actually there at the time please do tell me if I made any mistakes!