Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Gamer that I Once Was

I was catching up on my blog reading and came across a post titled The Most Annoying Gamer I've Ever Met over at the Rule of the Dice blog.  I thought it was amusing that he'd come to realize that he was 'that guy'.  That got me to thinking of what kind of gamer I was back in school, in the 80's.

I started in winter of '79, I was 12 in 7th grade.  On the precipice of adolescence.  Like today, I wasn't much of a social guy.  Stayed to myself.  Most of the gaming people I was introduced to was because of Dwayne, he is the one to blame for me getting into this hobby and the only reason I met other kids who played.  We'd meet at the public library after school and squeeze in a hour or two of a game.  I never DMed.  I was a player.

The group of gamers back then was made up the smart kinds.  I was a football player, general athletic guy who enjoyed throwing, jumping, climbing and hitting things (baseball, tackling ect... not fights).  I was not to be confused with a jock.  While jocks played sports I did not belong nor did I want to be within that group.  I played sports with them so I had first hand proof how big of assholes most of them were.  So I was the big one of our group.  I'm no giant, but I'm not a small guy either.

My size and my general knowledge of the other jocks came in handy.  While I was not a fighter, I couldn't stand when the jocks would bully my gamer friends.  So I would tell them to knock it off.  Most of the time it worked.  Especially if we were in the middle of some sport season.  There was only one time I can think of where I got physical with someone.  One of the jock heads jumped my best friend in high school because he was wearing a D&D shirt.  I knocked the shit out that kid and the two friends who were helping him.

In a way I guess I saw myself as a protector of our small group.  We were outsiders.  In the 80's when all the religious nut jobs were claiming that D&D encouraged Satanism and evil behavior in general.  Luckily, my mother didn't buy into any of that bullshit and gave me access to her office supply closet which was like a gold mine back then.

I played the gamed because it was fun and didn't understand why people would get into fights over the rules.  Most of the guys didn't argue with me too much because I was the big guy in the group, but I would have never used my physicality to get a better ruling.  The only time I can think of when I got mad at someone was when another guy stole my dice.  I'd been missing my dice for two weeks and that was a huge hardship back then when dice were very hard to find.  Hobby shops only kept a set or two available and sometimes it might be months at a time before you saw a new set.  In addition, the cash was not there.  Anyway, we got together to game and the guy who stole my dice brought them to the game.  What a gonad.  My anger flared and I resisted the urge to pummel him.  He was half my size, but I was pissed.  Dwayne came to the rescue.  He just reached over and said "Aren't these your dice?"  Then tossed them over to me.  That was it.

As I mentioned above, I was the constant player.  I loved rolling up characters.  I had a manilla folder with dozens of guys I rolled up.  I was horrible at drawing so I would find pictures in books and try and trace them.  I was a lousy tracer.  Still looked like shit.  But I was the player that tried to get the others to work together.  I don't know if that was the sports state of mind where you needed to work as a team to succeed or not, but I tried to get an idea what the DM was trying to do and then run with it.  I wanted to enjoy the adventure as the DM visualized it.  That worked most of the time.  Some folks come to a game trying to establish themselves as an individual.  I came to the game wanting to accomplish something.

Later on I wanted to DM.  I would run one-off adventures.  I made adventures and with access to my mother's office supply closet I had manilla folders, carbon paper and graph paper...and access to a Xerox machine.  That was high tech equipment back then.  I had a series of adventures within manilla folders that I used as a DM screen of sorts with the maps and random tables stapled to the folder.

Here was the problem.  Most of the time I was the one that helped keep the group in a cohesive unit.  When I DMed it turned into a Donnybrook.  Every man for himself.  Players killing one another.  Back then I didn't have the skill to go with it.  I'd get frustrated.  I'd spent a lot of time on creating a cool adventure and I felt they shit all over it and couldn't control themselves for a few hours to see what I made.  I always went out of my way to see how they wanted their adventure explored, and they couldn't return the favor.  A huge gamer and life lesson.  It sucked.  So I stopped DMing.  I still made adventures, but they just sat around.

By the end of high school, with everyone going to college or the military, my gaming group vanished within a matter of days.  While my gaming came to a halt at that time, I still sat in my room with my graph paper and college ruled notebook paper and wrote adventures that no one ever went through.

While I don't think I'm all that much different of a gamer these days.  Still I am a player more than GM.  I'm still not all that social.  And I'm the one who gets our group sorta organized and bring them together.  I'm not the only one, but surprisingly I was the one who brought in the two newest people.  And these days I can DM...seems like the results are still the same though, lol.  But these days I have a little better skill set to deal with the chaos.