Role playing has been part of my life since the mid to late 1980’s. I received the ‘Red Box’ Dungeons & Dragons set as a birthday present around 8 or 10 and had no clue what was actually supposed to happen. I dutifully gathered up my friends and we commenced to LARP… sort of. As this was 1985-ish the concept of role playing was lost on my squishy brain. The fantasy setting was shuffled away and my adolescent life continued.
When my brother returned from his military service he graced me with AD&D 2nd Ed training and I was hooked. This was the Greyhawk hey-day and the idea of participating in a story gave me the escape from reality I needed to grow and imagine. I vividly remember my first character and his death. I didn’t deal well with the development but it illustrated cause, effect and don’t mess with the game master.
Now, here i am in 2017, still gaming. Gone are the days of hand trucks and milk crates full of books but the complexity and stories are all still there. We may use laptops to generate characters and track loot but the energy is still there every game session. Adventure to be had around every corner and loot to be gathered and spent. No episodic TV series will ever replace the character backstories, witty dialogue and perilous dungeon crawls.
Now, by my closest accounting I’ve been actively gaming for around 30 plus years. Does that make me Old or Vintage? I’ve had just as many formative life experiences around a game table in a fantasy world as I have in real life. It’s helped to form the very core of my being. Critical thinking, various math skills and understanding that actions have consequences. We played high fantasy, high technology and so many variations of modern settings it’s impossible to catalog everything. Moral tails, good vs evil, political intrigue, world breaking and god wars, we’ve done it all.
Through the 90’s we met nearly every weekend when jobs and family didn’t interfere. Now we’ve settled into an every other weekend cycle that seems to be meeting everyone’s need for escape. Sure, we could go to a bar or about any other activity but gaming is what we anticipate as the weekend draws closer. Saturday nights are reserved for being someone else, far away from the banality of real life.
My gaming peers are friends, confidants and comrades in arms when a dragon needs slaying or when one of us needs to move a washer across town. I never developed deep social bonds with people other than family outside of gaming. I actually quit gaming for a year or so around 2000 as I relocated 100 miles away and needed to focus on career and family. I eventually found a group in Indy and bonded with them very quickly. I’m back in my home turf now with the group I’ve been gaming with since the 90’s but I still go back and game with the guys in Indy anytime possible.
Some bond over sports, some bond over education, some bond over careers; I’m a Gamer, we bond over tavern brawls and dragon slaying!