Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ebb & Flow

 A great life is to be able to ebb and flow.”

Robin Wright

People’s involvement in the adventure gaming hobby ebbs and flows with the tides of their lives. Many enter when they have leisure time to spare, often in middle or high school, sometimes in college. Others immerse themselves in it as an adult hobby, a relief from the trials of everyday life. Some people drift away from gaming and never return; many set it aside for a period and return to it later with renewed energy and a different perspective. For some of us it’s a creative outlet whose output fluctuates depending on inspiration, energy, and opportunity. Although I’ve long cultivated an interest in the adventure gaming hobby across the wide gaming spectrum – roleplaying games, board games, wargames (both with boards and miniatures), even card games – my focus has ebbed and flowed depending on my own life’s circumstances. As I look back on my gaming activities during the past pandemic year – limited as they have been by social distancing and other precautions – I realize I’m undergoing a shift in my gaming tides.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Frustrated Pandemic Dreams

 All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Our subconscious works in mysterious ways, as evidenced by our dreams. Sometimes they’re strange visits to past episodes of our lives, other times nightmares, and often strange and frustrating situations, for all of which wakefulness offers some respite. Goodness knows 13 months of pandemic controversies, news, anxiety, and precautions have weighed heavily on our minds. The media is rife with stories that seem almost routine now: tips on working from home; how students can make the most of distance learning; simple ways to beat the pandemic blues; and typical covid-fueled dreams about precautions and privations we’ve endured. So it should come as no surprise that the pandemic has infected my scarce peaceful hours of sleep at least once a week.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A Contentious Hobby

 The moment we want to believe something,

we suddenly see all the arguments for it,

and become blind to the arguments against it.”

George Bernard Shaw

I’m reading Jon Peterson’s The Elusive Shift: How Role-Playing Games Forged Their Identity and cannot help notice similarities between the early debates about aspects of the hobby and the arguments gamers still have about those same issues today. These go beyond the foundational tensions between storytelling and game mechanics one expects between roleplaying games’ early adherents, the wargaming and speculative fiction communities, from which the hobby coalesced. They seep down into the minutia of nearly every base concept of early Dungeons & Dragons...concepts that have over time continued to provoke debate. The adventure gaming hobby community seems just as contentions now as it was 40 years ago; except now, instead of printed APA fanzines and house-organ magazines, most folks argue their points in any number of blogs and forums online (each with its own bias and self-supporting echo-chamber mentality).