Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"It's Just a Game"

The game has put me in contact with many people all over the world for almost a quarter of a century. I met my oldest friend on this planet because of the game. Whenever I move to a new town, whether within the same country or in some far corner of the world, it's the gamer community that I find people to hang out with and find things to do with.

The game has been the gateway to much of the literature that has shaped my mind. Howard, via Conan comics, came first, but the game opened the door to Tolkien and then to the TSR hackwork novels and eventually to the works of Leiber, Moorcock, Howard (proper), Wells, Verne, Lovecraft, and a growing list of fine 19th century and early 20th century authors. Now I read it for its own sake, but the game was the gate.

The game has been my creative inspiration since I was a child. It inspired me to write, first the fiction (I should post it, some of my 1997 stories have recently been recovered... awful), which led to the metal zine, and now to RPG work.

The game allowed me to actually have an intellect. The fantastic wordplay and frequent use of mathematics (and I'd come up with house rules that required ridiculously more complex math than anything in the rules, but I did it because of the game) increased my appreciation of English and math, and I excelled in those classes. Trying to be more "authentic" within the game led to my love of reading history books, for fun, outside of any classroom or academic reasons. The game showed me that mainstream society could be completely full of shit and that authority figures were never to be blindly trusted, because as a child I was able to see through the Satanic Panic as a complete farce. As it turns out, not only did the police, teachers, "journalists," clergy, and the "good kids" not know anything about D&D (while claiming they knew all about it and how dangerous it was)... but as I learned later they didn't know very much about Satanism, either.

The game is how many people, in the thousands, formerly in the millions, spend time with like-minded people exercising their minds in a social situation for the pure joy of it.

No. It's not just a game. And if that's all you think it is, you really have forfeited the right to be taken seriously on any matters concerning this hobby.


  1. Absolutely!

    It's the word "just" that screws it up, of course. It's dismissive. Monopoly is just a game; over in a few hours, pleasant enough if you like that sort of thing, but entirely forgettable. Monopoly doesn't set your imagination on fire (well, not mine, anyway...) D&D does.

    I still remember my first D&D character.

    Thanks for a very insightful post.

  2. I'm not sure if the mind set I have brought me to D&D, or if D&D helped shape my mind set. I love history and literature. I don't think D&D had anything to do with that.

    I detested math in school. I found it boring in that it was totally uncreative and bound by rules, BUT my appreciation of games in general (which was spurned by D&D) drew me to reach a basic understanding and working knowledge of probability and statistics.

    I will positively admit to the fact that a one Mr. Gygax expanded and influenced my vocabulary and my love of words. The dude could write. Gary was an erudite, adroit wordsmith. Unfortunately, many "D&Disms" have actually led me astray...for example, I never knew the true meaning of the term 'Troglodyte' due to my D&D background. I will forever think it means subterranean, smelly, reptillian bad guys.

    I think the question is whether D&D attracted a certain mind set, or formed that mind set.