Hey there folks!
Today I want to talk about a hobby of mine that has been a part of who I am since I was five years old, and that is table top role playing games. My Dad was an old school nerd who loved war gaming and fantasy literature. Naturally when he encountered a game called Chainmail he was hooked.
For those of you who do not know, Chainmail was a fantasy miniature war game created in part by the man responsible for the later creation of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax. In fact, the initial versions of D&D required that you own Chainmail just to play them. D&D therefore, was the combination of tactical warfare and storytelling into one game. This meant that geeks like my Dad were in heaven.
Some of my fondest memories as a child are of watching my Dad and his friends play in their weekly campaign. Dad would set up the pool table with a cover and arrange his elaborate miniatures to represent the environments that players were experiencing in game as he wove a tale of heroism and adventure. As long as I was quiet and did not bother anyone I was allowed to sit and watch and listen. Of course at the time I was five so I could only bring myself to sit still for so long and before long I was begging my Dad to be a wizard. More than anything, I wanted to be able to throw fireballs and have a pseudo-dragon familiar as my companion.
Dad held firm for awhile, but if I was anything in my younger years it was persistent and eventually he caved. So that is how it came to be that as a six year old I was sitting at a table of grown men in their twenties and thirties playing a wizard in Dad’s D&D campaign.
As I mentioned in the beginning that began a life long love affair with RPG’s. Through out the years I branched out to all manner of games, worlds of fantasy and horror unfurled before me and allowed me to explore my own thoughts and feelings in ways I never could have otherwise.
I came to realize that what I loved about these games was the aspect of collaborative storytelling. Whereas a novel takes you own a journey as a spectator, watching the drama unfold before you. A role playing game lets you become an active participant. Everyone at the table from the players to the person running the game or the Game Master is coming together to tell a shared story. Every person has an equal part to play and at the end everyone has a shared creation that they could not have had any other way.
There have been best selling novels that began as D&D campaigns in someone’s house. A bunch of friends sat down to play a game and someone decided to tell the tale latter in a novel format. Every gamer I know can sit and talk about prior campaigns like they are old war stories and by the way when I was growing up when someone was talking about being a gamer they weren’t talking about playing a video game, even though we all did, they were referring to table top gaming.
Gaming taught me collaboration, empathy, and most importantly how to use my imagination. The experiences I have had and the relationships I have built through this hobby of mine are going to be things I take to my grave and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. You may look at me and see a geek, but I know I am a gamer and I wouldn’t have it any other way.