How has gaming changed you?
This is not an easy question to answer, & it gets personal. But, RPGaDAY encourages us to open up and share a bit with others, and this is a good thing. Forgive me if parts of this seem a little cryptic, but there are some things that I don’t share publicly on principle. The astute, observant, or initiated among you may be able to fill in the blanks. Many others will surely think they have guessed correctly, but will be way off target. Many others simply won’t care, but I can’t imagine why. Surely I am the most fascinating thing on the planet?
But I digress…
I actually have three periods in the RPG hobby, but don’t worry, this shan’t take long. In 1981 at the tender age of 13 I was first exposed to RPGs and was enthralled. I don’t think that my involvement changed me in any fundamental way. at that time. Sure, I was the typical introverted nerdy kid with not a lot of friends, but I was the same before and after RPGs. They were just another outlet. By 1990 I had put them on the shelf and was getting on with adult life ~ marriage, kids, etc.
My second entry into the hobby was in 2010. That time period, from then until mid 2012, that was the tail end of an extremely dark period in my life. Gaming, online forums like Dragonsfoot, and making YouTube videos were an outlet at that time. A sort of an anchor or stable point. Once again, I don’t think the gaming experience fundamentally changed me at that time, but it gave me something to hold on to. I didn’t have many relationships left by that point, and those that still had connections to me were fleeing in self defense. ~ The online world didn’t have the same exposure to what contact with me could produce at that time.
In mid July I vanished off of the gaming grid & off of the internet entirely.
July 11th, 2012 was a pivotal moment in my life where I made a decision to make a fundamental change in how I navigated life. Best thing I ever did. ~ No, quitting gaming had nothing to do with it! I simply had more urgent priorities at that time. (And I couldn’t afford the internet, but that’s a detail). Well, actually, now that I think of it, not participating in sessions with the local gamers I knew did actually have a bit to do with the changes I had to make, but it had nothing to do with gaming.
Anyhow, I was at this point where I had very few relationships left, and it became apparent that it was a bad idea to hang around with most of the people that I had left in my circle. Fortunately, I was exposed to a group of people that became my new social network. Not bad for someone who had become quite antisocial. I count some of these individuals among my closest friends today, & the relationships that we have are deep & profound. The bonds we share are unique and meaningful.
Now if this was my YouTube channel, it would be time to say “But this video isn’t about that…”
So, for a while I re-learned how to make connections with other people in this “safe” community. Eventually those with a lot more experience than I encouraged me to go pursue interests and other relationships in the world now that my thinking and behavior had been restored to some level of sanity. ~ In late 2015, I started looking into RPGs again, and it wasn’t long before I made a video. Over time, I began to meet gamers online and found out that I had missed when things like the “RPG Brigade” and similar communities had started & been in their heyday, but there were still plenty of opportunities to make connections.
So, slowly by little, I began to develop relationships, I started play games with other people around the world, and I became a member of the RPG community. Connections with other people were never easy for me to make or maintain, but I was able to take what I learned elsewhere & apply it here. In a very real way, this round of gaming has changed me as it has afforded me the opportunity to build real connections with people in a community not based entirely upon support.
Likewise, the diverse nature of the hobby I alluded to in my answer to Day 9 has allowed me to practice some spiritual principles. Which is fancy talk for the idea that I have been challenged to seek to understand rather than simply to be understood. That I’ve slowly learned to recognize and accept the differences that we have, and to actively seek common ground. That the bonds & friendships are worth more than the disagreements or than “being right”.
Not only has gaming allowed me to see the world through the eyes & the perspectives of my character, but the community has challenged me to try to understand and accept the positions & perspectives of the other members. ~ It has helped me to become a better person.