Friday, January 25, 2008

Some geeky thoughts

This post will probably increase my dork factor by a large magnitude, but what do I care? All four of you readers can judge me as much as you want.

Earlier last year, I was reading Shamus Young's synopsis of his Dungeons and Dragons campaign as he wrote it on his blog. It sounded neat, like something I might actually enjoy. So, back towards the beginning of the fall semester, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons. I actually have two games going; in one I'm the game master (Note to my players: Don't follow that link above, I'm using his campaign as my basic outline), while in the other I'm just a player. I've never played an RPG aside from video games, and those have almost nothing in common with their tabletop brethren.

The point of this post isn't really to talk about the games themselves, but more to talk about the things I've learned since starting.

First and foremost, I can understand why people have a hard time picking up the hobby. Bad press over the years and obnoxious, stereotypical fanboys already stack the cards against it, but most people don't have a soft spot in their heart for reading text books. When you first start out, you typically have a lot of rules to learn. Now, that's not to say that you can't do it in easily digestible bits; nobody starts out learning chemistry with the equations for electron behavior. Still, it's intimidating. Ideally, you'd have someone who already plays introduce you and hold your hand through it.

But that directly contradicts my next thought: There's really a lot of people these games should appeal to. Dungeons and Dragons was spawned by The Lord of the Rings, and that's pretty popular since the movies. Even if fantasy isn't your cup of tea, most people have a fictional genre they love (historical, sci-fi, horror, etc.), and there's an RPG out there that would probably fit that bill.

I realize that some people liken it to being an 8 year old "playing pretend," but I like to think of it in other ways. It definitely gives aspiring actors/actresses an outlet for practicing their craft in their spare time. Writers also get to put their skills to use. If you've ever watched a movie or played a video game and thought, "Oh, I wouldn't have done it like that, I'd have totally done it differently," well, these games give you a chance to play that out. Did you ever read those "choose your own adventure" books? It's a lot like that, except instead of a book you get a live narrator.

Hm . . . I have more thoughts, but this post is getting quite lengthy already. Perhaps I'll add more in the future.

5 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Although I was a skeptic, since experiencing the game first-hand, I will (though somewhat counter-intuitively) admit that it was fun. As I've already expressed to you, it's not something I can rationalize investing the time or money into, but my "mind has been opened" to appreciate the many positives the game has to offer its players.
No longer boo'ing and hissing at its mere mention, I can now say "It's not as bad as it gets billed." :-p

Anonymous said...

I lost a boyfriend to this game. It engulfed him. His guild took over all his time and it was put before everything, including me (strutting around in Victoria's Secret stuff didn't even faze him in the middle of a quest). He even got into combat club, a live action role play where you don't know anyone's real name, only their character.

I play video games, right now I'm battling may through Chronicals of Norrath, so I'm not totally on the other side of the fence.

Moral of the story: if it's a hobby, as weird as it is for a grown man to do, great. Knock yourself out. If it becomes a lifestyle, that's a problem. Well, it's only a problem when you have to interact with people in reality. Please don't lose yourself.

/rant

Hal said...

Nonny, I think you might have the games confused? I wasn't aware of the existence of guilds for DnD, and since it's a social game, your strutting of Vicky goods seems highly unusual. Unless his friends just really like you now.

Still, I've never been one to lose my grip on reality. It's something I do for fun. Real life always comes first.

And don't worry; I will never be a LARPer. Those people are just wrong.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I wasn't as clear. DnD is like marijuana - a gateway drug. It leads to EverCrack, which leads to guilds, which leads to dressing up in a skirt to hit people with your 3+ foam sword of repressed teenage angst.

The VS show was during an EverCrack quest, at hour #6, lol, not in a DnD group. Sometimes I type faster than I can think. I did join his DnD group once, but I couldn't keep a straight face and he got very offended.

You're a really cool guy and I very much enjoy reading your posts and take on life. I'm glad to know that you're not going the way of my psycho ex. He too was a chem major.

Best of luck to you and may you stumble upon a chest of many gold pieces.

Hal said...

Heh, sorry Nonny, I don't play online RPGs. I don't play well with others on the webernets.

Thank you for enjoying the posts. I hope you'll stick around and chime in on other posts as well. Feel free to take up a pseudonym as well. I feel silly calling everyone Nonny.