I was thinking about the idea of role playing the other day, my thought process started as usual from a question asked by one of my students. We had the “what did you do this weekend” conversation and I truthfully told them I was running a D&D game. We got into a conversation about what role playing is and my students concluded that what I do on the weekends is a mixture of the video games they all play with the kind of imaginary games they used to play as children. As 12 to 14 year olds it’s been a very long time since they played those kinds of games and they were slightly amazed at the fact that as their 26 year old teacher I was still playing them. On my subway ride home that night I came to the realization that I never really stopped playing my imaginary games, I didn’t go directly from playing with Barbies or dress up in mom’s clothing to pen and paper games, but I found other less satisfying ways to keep my imagination moving at a faster pace.
I was the grade six student who spent her recesses and lunch times playing games with a group of children who were in grade three. I was the grade eight student who spent her summer before high school playing games of pretend with a group of kids four to six years younger than me. In high school, not having an imaginative outlet in which to partake, I put pen to paper and created a story about the characters that my younger friends and I used to play. In the year 2000 my mom bought a computer and got us THE INTERNET. It was through this new portal that I was able to find my first encounter with actual role playing.
I found myself searching for role playing before I had actually really known what it was, can’t remember exactly how I did it but I found a website where people were creating a character bio and then making posts as that character, I wasn’t able to sign up quickly enough. Soon enough my online role playing would expanded and I found myself playing on a vampire werewolf site, a Harry Potter site, an X-men site, a site based on Neil Gaimen’s Sandman series, and those are only the sites that were successful. It was an obsession but it was a way to engage my imagination, until the next step up the ladder of role play was presented to me.
Thinking back now I can’t exactly pinpoint the exact moment when D&D entered my life, I know that the summer before my second year of university my sister had me join her and her friends in a D&D game, as well my boyfriend at the time had a childhood friend who played and she let me flip through her PHB, but I can’t remember when I actually first decided I wanted to start playing I just know that I did. Personally I don’t think my love for the game started until the day I was asked to run my own campaign. It was only a few weeks after I had rolled my first d20 as a player, but I was more than willing to create my own world. From that point on pen and paper rp became my favourite past time.
For the next two years of my university life I spent every Friday night gaming, sometimes we even spent Saturday and Sunday gaming as well. Even when I had a life crisis, such as my boyfriend and fellow gamer of 5.5 years breaking up with me out of the blue, I gamed. Mind you I wasn’t able to do as much as I wanted to because of my three players one had been my boyfriend and the other was now siding with him. I coped, and I found a new group online even though I usually was so shy in new situations I hadn an anxiety attack when needing to make a phone call to someone other than my best friends. I always seemed to find a way to game, even when I wasn’t really looking. I moved to a city a 24 hour drive away from home, and more importantly my gaming group so I could get my teaching degree. I lived in a dorm with students all younger than me and somehow the rumor that I played D&D was started and before I knew it I had six or seven guys wanting me to teach them. Even now, as a busy teacher I game. Sure it’s not the same as university with the ‘need to game every weekend or it’s the end of the world’, but it’s nice to spend a few hours on the weekend in a different world.
This is my story about how I became a gamer. I’ve heard words like escapism thrown around when talking about why people game, and I won’t deny that sure it’s nice to get away from the real world, however I don’t think it’s the main reason I have and will always game. I have an over active imagination, it’s a true fact and it’s something I would never change about myself. It has needs and it needs to be fed with stories of dragons and faeries. I don’t game because I need to get away from a horrible life, I grew up a very happy, naive little girl and I am now happier than I could ever be with a life I would change for nothing, yet I still game.
I’ve now shared my pathway to the world of gaming, maybe I’ve got you thinking about how you started. Was it similar to my story? Did your love to roll dice start from playing games such as cops and robbers or was it something else? I’d be interested in hearing other peoples’ stories, like I said; I love my stories of dragons and fantasy.
[tags]Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy, Role Playing Games, childhood[/tags]