I’ve been terrible about writing lately – not only here but on ALL my blogs. It feels really lame but I’ve been busy/on the road and need to rethink my workflow. A lot of the time that’s what it comes down to for me – my workflow. It’s true with photography, with brewing, with work and even with writing. One thing that doesn’t require workflow is fun and one of the things I do for fun is play games. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time now.
I was playing Dungeons Dragons as a teen years with friends from my town – David Shimberg. Teddy Lazotte, Mike Beaton, Dwayne Officer and my brother Dave. My parents gave my brother and I the first boxed version of D&D for Christmas one year and we were off and running. It didn’t have real dice, only paper chits to cut out and pick out of an envelope or something. We eventually moved to early console and computer games and continued to have fun.
In the mid-80s I went out and bought Nintendo specifically to play Zelda and had an awesome time doing it. I hung on to that for almost 10 years, dabbling here and there with computer games but rarely finding that perfect match of game and system capability. By the mid-90s though I’d made the jump to pure PC gaming (I’d given the Nintendo away while I still lived in SF). I was firmly embedded in PC gaming – willingly shelling out each year for new video adapters and one of the first on the block with a broadband connection.
In the late 90s I get back into consoles with an N64. That was a good system – but for all the improvements, it didn’t measure up to the original Nintendo so I stayed largely a PC gamer. Increasingly I was playing online – Operation Flashpoint, Total Annihilation, America’s Army, etc.
Then in the early 2000s I got an Xbox and Xbox Live. I got it through work for a project (though job) and managed to hook up several of my friends as well. With online multiplayer and voice – it was pretty good and I found myself sitting at the PC less and less for games. That trend accelerated as my kids got into gaming and we found titles for them on both the PC and Xbox.
In 2006 I replaced my PC with a MacBook Pro and so essentially decided to stick to console gaming. Late in 2006, when the Xbox gave up the ghost, we replaced it with a 360 and were happy. We also got a Wii and were happier still. Oh sure, I would install a game on the Mac every now and then – WoW, Lord of the Rings Online – but I just wasn’t cool with spending money every month to play (even though I am willing to pay for Xbox Live).
Then last week Gary Gygax died and there was a whole lot said and written about him and about D&D. Several years ago I’d found the original boxed set my parents bought me as a boy at a yard sale for a quarter. Everything was still intact – including the uncut chits. I decided it would be right and proper to have a game with friends so on Saturday we did.
My brother-in-law Matt agreed to be the DM (he still plays from time-to-time), my other brother-in-law James and his girlfriend Chesley came over as did John Johansen, one of my social media pals. For all of the advances and improvements in my gaming life over the past almost 30 years, sitting around a table with friends and paper and pencils and oddly-shaped dice again was terrific.
Making choices, letting chance play its part, making up the rules as we went along was all great. Working cooperatively, laughing at each other’s expense and taking breaks to eat or talk – it all reminded me what attracted me to gaming in the first place. All of us want to play again and I hope that we will. If you haven’t played around a table in years (or ever) you should give it a try again. There’s something innocent and immediate and engrossing about it that you just can’t get anywhere else.