Grim’s Tales: My Gaming History II & Comments

Telling Stories
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!

***

Comments:
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.

4 responses to “Grim’s Tales: My Gaming History II & Comments

  1. My first experience of an RPG, with a GM, was definitely a LARP.
    I think Shaw’s quote still works if we take your spin of play meaning playing openly or with others. Computer games have much less stigma these days and even tabletop RPGs seem to be viewed less suspiciously. I think games are coming out of the closet and will only do so more and more. Every piece of electronics is turning into a game console.
    Is there a fridge which challenges you to guess the calories of the ingredients you’ve just taken out of it?

  2. I am with Aunty Grim on this… having just joined a new workplace many conversations were about ‘what did you do this weekend?’ To which I reply ‘Saturday I had friends round for dinner and then I ran a game of Warhammer Roleplay for them.’ OR ‘Not much, I played a couple of hours on X (computer game) and baked some cakes…’
    These conversations all go the same way – at first the other person smiles awkwardly and they look like they want to be embarrassed for me and then they screw their faces up and the questions/conversation carries on when it becomes clear that I am not embarrassed (as they expect me to be) and seem happy with the revelation. I usually then explain what attracts me to it – and it ends the same way… “Oh that sounds like a lot of fun, not half as geeky/weird as you made it out to be.”
    There is a clear preconception of adults who play games – and it jars with their previous experience of me in a professional capacity. For some reason unlike tons of other activities – this one has more personality connotations in its stereotype than most, and they are all negative in adults.
    There is a suspicion still- though to be fair it may have lessened, but not if you are a Teacher – or someone in a ‘adult/responsible’ profession.
    I have one player in my group who did not tell his house mates for 4 months that he regularly attended a game at ours… he was always just around for ‘dinner and drinks’ which was only a half lie; because I do cook everyone dinner and we do have drinks.
    He only told them in the end because I met up with another girl in his house and mentioned it – thinking they all knew.
    When I asked him why it was clear that he was embarrassed. My players are all converts (basically Andy and I wheedled till they gave it a go) but it was hard in the beginning and it was clear they all felt a little silly – till they relaxed and got into it.
    Another player in my group refuses to really let his finance know what goes on… probably out of the very real fear that she will not take well the kind of things his imagination brings out (he shocked me more than a few times – but it was cool, though on one occasion I felt that S&M style contracts should be part of my negotiations about what kind of game we want at the beginning of a new campaign)
    A Thrid will tell anyone as long as they don’t work alongside him in the Navy.
    These are all men in their early 20’s doing PhD’s at Durham and other formal jobs. Its not something they like commonly known… and actually that is fair enough, I don’t mind explaining again and again why I am not a complete weirdo… I can see why they do mind.
    I certainly would NEVER mention to a Head that I work with for a few weeks what I do… though I would tell colleagues who see me on a longer term basis. Because I know its only time and exposure that breaks down the stereotype conclusions
    There are big preconceptions with games and adults. Adult men with Xbox’s or who buy toys for their “kids” are seen as juvenile or emotionally immature or at the very least going through a mild mid-life crisis, Roleplayers are awkward, geeky and socially backwards, LARP’ers are – well, they are clearly from Mars…
    But then given how “artists” are seen (people who make a living from their flights of fancy) it is not really surprising.

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