I don’t have the long history of being a gamer geek that many with my favorite hobby seem to share. The overlap with the goth scene and gaming introduced me to the idea of it, but it was meeting my husband that sealed the deal.
Since I was a little girl I have loved storytelling, and back in 1993–1994 I played a written role-playing game over Prodigy, back when the way to get unlimited email was by signing up for free trials everywhere and sending emails that got returned to sender. (Totally hardcore) The seeds had already been planted for when my future husband would introduce me to RPGs.
I remember the day of my first game so vividly. It was a one-shot Cthulhu game, and I played a young firestarter, a 14-year-old girl who somehow ended up the only one in the bunch who didn’t go completely insane. It was an amazing experience. That led to the first of many campaigns, and I was hooked.
People love gaming for different reasons, but as a creative I live for the stories. Nothing satisfies me quite as much as developing a rich backstory for a character I get to bring to life every week. I experience that character so completely. I’ve cried at the gaming table or over a written story. I’ve become so immersed in a story I lose track of the time and setting completely. My heart races during dramatic moments — like when my character leaps onto the dragon in an attempt to take him down and save the world from certain destruction, for example.
There’s no experience like it. I’ve been blessed to have had game masters who are brilliant storytellers who weave an immersive tale and can describe a setting that’s so real I feel cold when it snows, or hot when our characters are wandering through a desert. It’s like the best book you’ve ever read, coming to life before your eyes and changing constantly like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.
We all explain our favorite hobby to people who smile awkwardly or make condescending comments about the nerds they knew in high school. At the gaming conventions we’re surrounded by people who understand, and who think “cool” means the same thing we do. We whip out games at a restaurant or at the bar without a thought and if people are staring, it’s because they want to know what we’re playing!
In the past few years I’ve been able to take my passion to the next level. I’m a graphic designer and art director for print and electronic RPGs, and I’m now fortunate to call some of the best writers, developers and editors in the industry my friends. The more I learn. the more people I meet, the more games I play, the more I love this hobby so completely. I’ve never met a group of people quite as creative as the gaming community — gamers and designers alike — and I know my life is richer for it.
It’s why I continue to announce proudly at work when I’m going to a convention, even though it inevitably elicits a weird look. But that’s okay. I do the same when they start obsessing over the Bears’ loss and how that affects their fantasy football stats.