The other thing I did when I was young was to tell stories and tall tales. Not lying as such, just ‘going off on one’ and spinning yarns, making stuff up and wittering away happily to myself or to any audience that would listen, walls, chairs, the cat or – eventually – my schoolfriends. I would even read to them from a boy’s comic at the time called Spike, which ran various weird stories under the title ‘5 Minute Mystery’ inside it. 2000AD was always the superior comic but the text stories in Spike were better for this.
There was no interaction as such, but I would improvise and add to the stories and when the other kids asked questions I’d make up the answers and weave them into the story. This is a lot of what a Games Master does, though when you’re GMing this happens during the flow of the game, not afterwards. Weaving a story, keeping it cohesive, it’s a lot like lying and keeping your story straight under constant cross-examination.
From there, things got interesting as I started to make up the basis for our make-believe games. Sure they were unholy blends of the various films, books, comics and so on I’d consumed but the other kids would play along and seemed to think some of these games were ‘cool’ enough to play along with… in fact, writing that’s a startling revelation to me because, shame of shame, it makes me realise that one of my first RP-Like experiences could be termed… *choke*… LARP!
said “We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing.” Which is a George Bernard Shaw quote, though and Mr Shaw apparently share initials, at least on the internet!
Shaw was a clever fellow and had a talent for saying quotable things but I don’t think he was quite on the money there, despite being witty and quotable. I think everyone plays, they just get surreptitious and embarassed about it. There’s the old stereotype of the father who buys toys for his kids so he can play with them, but anyone who has ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam and imagined firing missiles out of the headlamps of their Aston Martin or who plays rubbish-bin basketball is playing in their own little way.
In my opinion, what makes us ‘old’ is that we act like this playing, these flights of fancy, are something to hide, rather than something to celebrate and, perhaps, it’s this breach of social etiquette that contributes to gamers being treated a little funny, even in an age when computer game escapism is near universal and genre fiction is all over the TV, those being somehow acceptable.
That’s my take anyway.