Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Season of Thankfulness

 “We count our miseries carefully and accept our blessings without much thought.”
-- Chinese Proverb

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches I find myself reflecting on the numerous things in my life for which I’m thankful…and many of those revolve around gaming, both as a player and a creator. Some come thanks to the communication wonders of our Internet Age, but many still rely on good old face-to-face interaction.

Like so many positive messages holidays promote, we really should remain thankful throughout the year. It’s easy to succumb to the overwhelming negative issues in our lives, even as gamers and creators: a general uncertainty and lack of self esteem; producing work in a hobby with such a vast scope and seemingly innumerable others promoting (to various and often more successful degrees) their own product; the challenges of channeling creativity into workable products, through the stages of design, text, layout, playtesting, and publication; and above all (for some of us, anyway) the urge to compare ourselves and our accomplishments to those in our field who seem more popular and successful.

So for at least this month -- and with a mindfulness to reflect on these boons more often throughout the year -- I consider the many game-related aspects of my life for which I’m thankful:

Positive Community of Gamers: The internet has enabled me as a gamer and creator to reach out to gamers across the world: the many customers who’ve purchased Griffon Publishing Studio game titles from my e-storefront at DriveThruRPG.com; intelligent playtesters who provide constructive criticism, new ideas, and some encouragement for my efforts; gaming friends and colleagues, many new, some lifelong, who continue our engaging correspondence; clients like the folks at Wicked North Games who gave me the opportunity to contribute creatures and adventure ideas to their sci-fi steampunk Westward roleplaying game and to D6 Magazine; friends and fans who offer positive comments on my blog and social networking posts. I try very hard (and don’t always succeed) at keeping these interactions positive, but overall my involvement with an encouraging gamer community online has lifted my spirits this past year.

Internet Opportunities: The internet has also exposed me to some opportunities beyond the ability to publish my games in PDF and reach out to gamers, fans, and customers. Kickstarter has brought to my attention several fantastic game-related projects I’ve backed, games that inspire me and encourage me to pursue my own game design work. I’ve also learned of fellow gamers and friends in need and -- through crowdfunding websites -- donated to their charitable causes to do my very small part in helping others.

Family Gaming: I’m thankful to game regularly with my family. As my toddler son -- the almost four year-old “Little Guy” -- learns more about his parents’ geeky obsessions, he’s wanted to take part in such games as the X-Wing Miniatures Game and King of Tokyo(albeit modified for simpler play). It’s only a matter of time before we expand to more involved games, including some basic roleplaying game experiences. (I recently discussed my family gaming experiences over at Hobby Games Recce.) Our weekly game nights offer us a chance to turn off the television and computers and spend some quality time face-to-face enjoying games and learning some lessons along the way. I’m also very thankful that my family allows me the time, focus, and energy to pursue my game design projects.

Local Gaming: This past year I’ve had the opportunity for some local, face-to-face gaming, both with a group trying out new, primarily indie roleplaying games and with some friends who gather occasionally for good food and board games (including the Little Guy when we can). Both have occurred sporadically, but hold the promise of more gaming in the coming months.

FLGS: A new gaming store (with comics) recently opened within a 10-minute drive of my house…it’s already posted a schedule with some interesting events (notably X-Wing Miniatures Friday nights and board games all day Saturdays). It holds some promise for more face-to-face gaming and the chance to expand my gaming horizons. I’m also thankful for the FLGS I’ve frequented over the past few years at a slightly inconvenient 45-minute drive from home; it offers a different selection of gaming product and events as well as staff that remains friendly to a stay-at-home dad who often brings his inquisitive and talkative toddler son into the store.

In reflecting on all these factors that have enriched my life I’m reminded to remember and appreciate them throughout the year. I’m inspired to help others discover gaming as a worthwhile and enjoyable pastime in their lives; indeed to use games as a platform for positive interactions among us all.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
--  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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