Monday, August 8, 2011

Reflections on Gaming

This past weekend was GenCon. I'm Facebook friends with many people in the gaming industry, and a lot of them talked about their experiences over the last few days. I have been to one GenCon, and that was a few years ago, as a vendor. I worked for the second largest game-distributor in the country, and I spent my weekend mostly in meetings with game companies; talking about what was coming up, how we could best serve them, and generally trying to cultivate working relationships. Of course, I was fired a couple of months later, but that's neither here nor there. I enjoyed the experience, and kind of miss having an inside track on the industry.

My only regret was that I was unable to just experience the Con as a gamer. My wife was allowed to come with me, and she got to view a lot more than I did. But, neither of us got to participate in any games, or sit in on any panels. We were hoping to make it this year, but money and the economy...well, you can probably see where that went.

The plan is to try to make it next year, and hopefully make a road-trip to DragonCon in Atlanta as well.

This is how it all started.
As always, the presence of GenCon and DragonCon gets me to thinking about my gaming experiences; past, present and future. I was introduced to the hobby, like many of us, through D&D. In 1981, I moved from Kansas back to my hometown in California. I was just entering the 6th grade. One of my new friends there asked me one day "Do you play D&D?" I responded with "What's that?" And thus a lifetime of gaming was born.

Throughout high school I played a large variety of games. D&D, AD&D, Marvel Super Heroes, DC Super Heroes, Star Frontiers, James Bond...the list is rather exhaustive. I even still have some of those old games in my collection. While in the Army, the hobby continued. A lot of Champions (and various other HERO games), AD&D 2E and Call of Cthulhu.

When I got out of the Army, we moved to San Diego, and I started school at a junior college in 1996. While there, I was reading a Forgotten Realms novel before class. This guy noticed and asked if I played. And thus began a friendship that has lasted for years, and has lead to a lot of new friends. And indirectly, it lead to my current marriage, and my moving to Wisconsin (through the City of Heroes MMO).

The pseudo-medieval settings of D&D lead me to explore history, which lead me (and continues to lead me) academically. The interactive story-telling of RP-sessions has lead me to pursue writing. The games I have played have fired my imagination on so many levels, and lead me to read books and see movies I might never have experienced otherwise.

Sometimes it's kind of amazing to think of how much my life has been influenced, directly and indirectly, by Role-Playing Games. I can't even imagine what life would be like if my friend hadn't asked me if I played D&D back in 6th grade.


Paul R. McNamee said...

I wish I had done more D&D when I was younger. I did a bit with a friend, but I realized much later that the whole group dynamic thing is important. One DM & one player isn't that great.

The very first time I played it was a neighbor who was very into (board) wargaming gave it a try on his kids & I.

Never finished it. I think it was the standard adventure in the basic rulebook. We just about managed to kill the troglodyte.

Charles Gramlich said...

My wife did quite a bit of RPG stuff in the early days but I never got into it. Was not available where I grew up. I bet I'd have enjoyed it though. said...

I wanted to play as a teenager, but without a group who already knows what they're doing, it's pointless.

In college, I did find friends who played, and I enjoyed several gaming systems. Later, when I met my husband, most of our initial dates were while playing AD&D.

We haven't played in a while, but we both miss it. As an adult, it's hard to find the time for a regular gaming session, even if we host it at our own house.

Someone suggested recently trying to game via a G+ hangout... I'm interested in trying that! It would be easier to send private messages to the GM that way too.

Loved you #5MinuteFiction today!

bowiefan said...

I miss Gen-Con too. We'll go again I promise. I want to dress up ;)

Andre R. W. Schmeichel said...

I got involved in D&D because my mom brought it home for me. She heard about it first. She was my first DM. She knew I had an imagination that would not quit and thought it might be a way for me to really find an outlet.

After that, it was never-ending. I went to cons, I worked for games manufacturers and distributors, I broadened out to card games, MUDS and MMO's, and have never been without a fantasy based RP/storytelling outlet since that day when my unsuspecting mother brought home the purple 'basic D&D' boxed set from the local Waldens Bookstore.