Thursday, February 11, 2010
A Colossal Waste of Time?
Sometime back, I listened to a podcast from All Games Considered on old school gaming. It was pretty interesting and went far to validate a lot of things about the hobby I knew about or suspected that I knew about. Listening to these podcasts also works for me as it makes my daily morning exercise walks a great deal less monotonous - not to mention lifting my spirits as I seem to have to be reminded periodically that I am not alone in my interest in this hobby and a big community of awfully decent and intelligent people out there share all of this with me.
A line from one of the speakers caught my attention at that time, specifically her remark that she entered the hobby relatively late in life on account of her father's adamant belief that role playing games were a 'colossal waste of time'.
Hearing this brought a smile to my lips as many of the people I grew up with shared this belief. For the record, I think they still do to this date- they just learned to watch their mouths more carefully in my presence.
Speaking for myself though, I can't deny how this interest in role playing games went far to help me out in real life.
I can't exactly remember if it was during one summer break in the eighties, late in high school when, finding myself doing nothing at home, I decided to leaf through the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. Eventually, I found myself reading up on waterborne adventures and various sea travel/combat rules none of us ever used before. While none of our gaming group really applied any of these rules, this suddenly got me interested in the peculiarities of maritime travel. Before the week was out, I started reading up on the concepts of longitude, latitude, knots, and other peculiar terms such as starboard, port, fore and aft.
I didn't think much of this at that time and just added all this to what others tended to dismiss as othewise useless bits of interesting trivia I tended to accumulate in my brain.
Fast forward to the nineties, a year after graduation and I land my first job in a firm which handled, amongst others, maritime litigation. One day, the partner-in-charge is giving me a rundown on the nature of the cases I'll be assisting him from here on. He gets to the part about Safety Of Life At Sea, charts and distances.
"Oh you mean nautical miles," I answer, getting on with the discussion. I could see he was pleased as he didn't have to spend so much time lecturing all these all over again to the newbie.
When we got to collisions and allisions, it was my turn to say, "Oh right, the starboard side of the vessel, not the port side."
I guess it was the right thing to say as he looked quite pleased and asked me 'how I knew all this stuff.' At that time, I felt that maybe it was going to be alright working in that firm.
Happily, it worked out for all of us- and it was alright.
The point I'm driving at here is that this interst of ours in gaming opens doors for many of us into a wider and more vibrant world - and many times, we don't know it has happened, until after the fact. I firmly believe that no experience, no matter how trivial is wasted in this life. Everything happens for a reason - the reason just manifests itself to us when the time and circumstances are right.
Taking the time to read up, prepare for and attend games does take up blocks of time from our already hectic lives. This said, I can't say this is all a waste of time. At the very least, the experience of hanging out and gaming with people you consider your friends is always a welcome activity which goes far to regenerate one's spirits and renew one's strength- thereby enabling one to cope with the ever-present pressures in life. If I could put the good I get from gaming in a bottle and market it to the world at large, I wager I'll make myself a crapload of money to enable myself to retire in style.
So in the face of the oft-repeated belief that this gaming life of ours is a colossal waste of time, I say: Game On! I'm a Gamer and I'm proud of it! My kids will be gamers too and I'll be proud of them as well.
I'm sure you all have similar stories where your experiences in role playing games have served you in good stead in the real world and served to advance you in 'real life'.
If so, I'd sure like to hear them.
By the way (I almost forgot this)- that podcast from AGC I linked to above also includes an interesting review of Mutant Future too!