How have I not done a post about gaming yet?? Something very serious seems to be wrong with me if I’ve missed that particular blog subject…
And I’m not talking console or PC games here, though I enjoy both when I have the opportunity.
Talking old school, tabletop gaming.
That’s right. Roleplaying.
Maybe I should have titled this instead “Roleplayers Anonymous”…?
So I’m a second generation gamer. If you’ve attended one of my panels at a convention or talked to me much, you may have heard this story. For the rest of you…
My parents used to play Dungeons and Dragons when I was little. I’m pretty sure my mom was likely talked into it, looking back. I remember when I was young, they would have the occasional Saturday night game. We’d be ushered off to bed just as people were getting there, and we could hear them talking in the living room.
And oh, the stories they would tell!
My sister and I – being exceptionally sneaky children – would creep out of her room and lay in the hallway, just where the shadows cut across, listening to them.
That’s how “hide in shadows” worked, right?
I couldn’t tell you many details from their games – gimme a break, it was over thirty years ago now! I remember listening to them fight their way through given dungeons, discussing tactics, and the best way to clear the level. And oh yes, how to get the most money for the treasure that they found.
That tends to effect a gal.
This sense of adventure was reflected in the way my sister and I played with our own toys. The baby dolls were always running off into some unknown fantasy world, and the Barbies… I’m pretty sure we managed to wipe out kingdoms and blow up the sun at least once.
… maybe twice.
This story had to be in second, maybe third grade. So my father was in the Air Force during this, and we lived in base housing. I’m not sure why – maybe this happened a lot in many neighborhoods – but the little girls would always get together to play Barbies en masse. They’d gather in someone’s garage – usually hosted by different families – and play for hours. They’d break out all the big fancy stuff. Some had the Dream Houses, others Dream Mobiles.
They invited Jen and I over once.
They would brush their Barbie’s hair, pick out different clothes and shoes (how they didn’t manage to lose all the shoes was beyond me… I can’t remember ever managing to keep a pair of those things intact growing up…). They were doing things like going to brunch, shopping, getting their hair done… all to impress some Ken.
This confused us. Quite a bit in fact.
So when they turned to the two Ervin girls and went ‘So what are YOU doing…?’ you better believe we had an answer!
That answered involved storming the gates, defeating the dragon or evil wizard (perhaps both) and rescuing Ken’s sorry ass.
We were never invited back…
That was fine!! We did our own thing! We had plenty of fun and many years worth of adventures. We eventually outgrew playing with dolls (though I still have our two baby dolls from when we were young perched on a shelf in my bedroom), but we kept playing. Think diceless tabletop. We wove stories together, both of us working on the overall story, and neither of us knowing where it was going until it was done.
All of this were building blocks for writing. Afterall, I was already writing, and talking it out was a way to help me plot overall.
Now to college! (the first time)
I met all new people, many extremely different from the small school I graduated from. And yes, they introduced me (officially) to the wonderful world of gaming. It was very easy, actually. I took what I already knew, what I had already been doing, and just applied stats. I always focused more on story rather than the system, as such, I could play in any system out there.
And oh dear, there were a lot of them.
I’ve now been gaming regularly for just over 20 years, playing in countless different systems. My first official game? ShadowRun. I’ve always had a love for the world because of it. Something about that futuristic, distopian world makes me inordinately pleased.
Probably a large part of why the next series I’m working on has the same feel.
I even got into mushing for a bit. That’s text-based, on-line role-playing, which was about well before MMOs became popular. Because geeks will be geeks!
It all amounted to this overarching enjoyment of roleplaying itself – not just dungeon delving. It’s the interaction, the story building that you can enjoy with friends. There’s something very cathartic to it all, and very addictive.
Sure, if you make a random reference to spot checks or spending a willpower point, most will not get it, but by golly, I still do it!
My gaming group recently wrapped up a 5 year campaign to complete the DragonLance Chronicles. Considering it took 4 different tries with (mostly) different groups (my dear GM – Travis was with me throughout the attempts), but we got there!!
I strongly believe that gaming has helped me with my writing. Jo was originally a character from about, ooooooh, 14? 15 years ago? Something like that. Rolled her up in a Marvel tabletop game. She’s been one of my favorite characters to play for many years, so it was ridiculously easy to write a book with her taking the lead. Admittedly, the world is completely different from the one I had played in. I always start with a character, and build the world up around them.
The Nasaru were born of my love of mythology mingled with me trying to come up with a world where people would have powers without being mutants.
But ShadowRun is still my favorite sandbox to play in – hands down.