22/01/2014 07:22 GMT | Updated 24/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Genealogy Is Nothing but a Game!

Genealogy is Nothing but a Game!

"Scott. You look like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Lighten up, kiddo!"

I must have heard this phrase from my parents a million times. Now as I spend my career working in the field of genealogy at Onward To Our Past®, I think it is an apt phrase for many who pursue their ancestry, genealogy, and family history.

Far too often I encounter people in genealogy who work, act, and comment as though genealogy is a burden rather than a game. So to these folks I reiterate my folks' comment and say:

"Lighten up, kiddo!"

Additionally I will offer some easy to follow advice for keeping genealogy as a game.

Play with gusto! All that I can really say about this is held within the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word 'gusto', which is "great enjoyment, energy, and enthusiasm." 'Gusto' has become my motto and I like this word so much I have it taped to the corner of my computer monitor. It reminds me each time I sit down to have fun, enjoy my time discovering our family history and to not take myself all too seriously as I do it.

Follow the rules. Just like Clue, Pick-up sticks, marbles, or mumblety-peg if you want to play the game, you need to spend a bit of time learning the rules. It makes it easier, more fun, and when you get to the point of declaring a 'victory' it gives you the credibility to back up your claim. The nice thing about genealogy is there really aren't all that many rules. Just document each of your discoveries and you are 99.9% of the way there.

Learn the lingo. Just like you have to know your shooter from your cat's eye and your lucky taw from your aggie, you need to adjust your language to include just a touch of the lingo of the game of genealogy. You know when to toss it into the dustbin. While I have learned the difference between agnate and enate, I never use them when I speak aloud. I follow the same rule when it comes to the term 'genealogy'. I use it with certain colleagues, but when I am speaking with family and friends I only use 'family history'. As our eldest grandson told me "Grandpa, genealogy sounds like some dumb, old school subject. YUCK!" So from then on 'family history it was. It even helps with adults. Far fewer folks scurry away from me when I chat with them at a cocktail party about my work in 'family history' than when I say 'genealogy'.

Seek out hints, tips, and experts. Remember that even the Lone Ranger had Tonto to help him out! No one really goes it alone in life and so it is when you are working on your ancestry. So seek out the amazing number of the hints and tips that are out there. Likewise seek out those who are expert in the particular area you need help with. No one ... and I mean NO ONE is an expert in all aspects of genealogy (so watch out if they say they are) and seek someone who specializes in the area you need help with.

Always watch for those Easter Eggs. Admit it. We all have spent time searching for those fun, hidden Easter Eggs in movies, video games, and the like. So do the same in your genealogy. It is these hidden treats that your 'gusto' will be renewed over and over. For instance when I am researching in newspapers I always look at more than the single article I am interested in. Our learning experiences can be so much richer when we gain better insight into the times of our ancestors. Heck, I even take time to read the adverts.

Play nice! Final bit of nice! I mean really, really nice! Remember genealogy is a game. Not a winner-take-all, earth-shattering undertaking. It's a creation that should be fun, enjoyable, and result in bringing a smile to your face each time you revisit it!

Onward To Our Past®