Tuesday, February 22, 2005

New in the Israeli Gaming scene

So, the new Board Game club, which started a month and a half ago, after starting a forum on www.tapuz.co.il, is meeting its last meeting in Reut this Thursday. This is the first week that I've heard of the group altogether. Someone added a link to my site onto the forum, and I was then contacted by the owner, Gilad.

Gilad is now starting a more centralized game club (entrance fee) in central Tel Aviv in a location that is regularly used by a bridge club. Good luck to him.

I see that there are now a few stores that sell these games in Israel. In addition to SilverStars.co.il, there is Freak.co.il, in addition to Sportel (the original Magic importers and Magic league organizers). Got to add their links to my side pages.

On the one hand, I'm please to have these games available in Israel. On the other hand, like many other Israeli endeavors, what should be a simple markup with regards to shipping and VAT (17%) turns the game into a huge cost for the average Israeli. The games are generally not too much above retail (e.g. a Magic booster costs something like $5, T&E costs $55, Settlers costs $45), but most Israelis earn something like $1250 a month, we have high rent, a 60% tax bracket, etc...

The result is that even in Israel it is cheaper to buy the goods over the Internet and have them shipped to Israel than to buy locally, assuming you are getting more than one game. Still, it is nice to support the local stores (not local to Jerusalem, but local to Israel, at least).

Debates about this have ranged on Spielfrieks, Gamefest, and BGG, so we'll leave this one alone.

Gilad promised to come by our club tomorrow to check us out. I am not going to be able to make it Tel Aviv regularly (travel and expense). But Reut is closer, so, if I'm able to, I'll try just this Thursday, if only to meet more people and spread the love.

I have moved to cable Internet, instead of ADSL, so less money to the state monopoly, Bezeq (Note to self: if I ever apply for a job at Bezeq, remove this blog entry.) I had to change my email address, so I got me a Gmail address (shadejon at). I then had to change about a gazillion web pages, mailing lists, shopping sites, contacts, etc... to the new address. Most situations were not too much trouble ... except for eBay. It took me a week of emails every day before I got pointed to help in online chat, and an hour and a half of chat to determine that I can't do that. Why? Because a) my account was registered in America, so even after changing my address to Israel, they won't accept a credit card with an Israeli address b) I need to give them a new credit card to change my address, because c) Gmail is not a secure email address, unlike aol, msn, or any .org . Scritch scratch.

Well, I tried to start a new account registered as an Israeli, in the hopes of merging the old one into the new one after 60 days, and they still won't accept any of my three credit cards. Urgle. Amazingly enough, they are - literally - unable to change my email address themselves, even after presenting enough personal information to verify my identity.

The other problem was getting my old address to forward my email for a month - that also took a week, and in the meantime, I was bouncing emails.

Otherwise, things went pretty smoothly. Gmail is pretty neat - you can pop it, forward it, webmail it, just about anything, and the interface isn't too kooky, even if you have to get used to working with "tags" instead of folders. There are still some things I don't want passing through eBay, but what can I do? Receiving email at a local pop isn't any more secure - it is just more of an illusion of security.


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