(As I mentioned in yesterdays post I’m having a streak of nostalgia with all things gaming and how I came to be a World of Warcraft Druid.)
Thinking back to the 80′s (ouch…how does 20 years flit by like that?) I recall that a pretty fun night was sitting around a table with a bunch of guys (girls? meh) with stacks of books, papers, piles of dice and enough caffeine and sugar to kill a small horse. It’s amazing we’re not all diabetics today…
The typical evening would have everyone showing up at someones house lugging along backpacks full of Player Manuals, character sheets, their favorite dice (“Anyone bring a 20 sided?”) and maybe a Dragon magazine or two. The first obstacle to our little gatherings was obviously getting there as we were not of driving age. Living in the Great White North it often took some convincing and bartering of household chores to get a ride back then in the winter.
Secondly came the gauntlet of the Parents. This was the mid 80′s, remember, and there was much in the news of the Evils of Dungeons and Dragons. It was a pretty new thing back then and our parents generation did not like it one bit. D&D was on 60 Minutes, in the newspapers and schools were sending special notes home with kids on the dangers of this occult game. And, to be fair to our folks, there was some wild happenings back then however the vast majority seemed to be blown out of proportion by the media (some things don’t change).
Growing up in an Irish Catholic family proved to be a hindrance to having games at my place which stunk as we had the best basement. My mother goes to Mass 7 days a week so you can image how that was. We actually had to change the name to “Q&Q” for my folks (I think we told them that it was “Quests and Queens” or something) so they would let us gather. “Oh no, no demons or wizards in Q&Q. No Ma’am. It’s more about puzzle solving and Medieval Knights.” The books we kept hidden in backpacks until we were safely down in the basement. The little white lies we tell…
We were pretty normal kids who played sports in school and didn’t take the game for anything more than it was. Just a fun thing to get together over, use a little imagination and have a good time. Like playing cards but 100 times more complicated.
There was a great deal of good natured arguing over the game as everything took so long to accomplish. Today in the World of Warcraft everything moves pretty quick…about the only bitching you’ll see is a Druid “need rolling” on a good cloth drop or a bad Instance pull. But back then there was lots of time to anguish over stuff. It seemed every time someone tried something out of tune the books would be opened, different references checked, cross checked and analyzed.
But it was a hell of a lot of good clean fun, pretty much. As we got into our teens we spent a bit less time actually playing, tended to sneak a few beers out of the fridge now and then, and had deep and intense discussions over which girls at school got better looking over the past summer.
All in all it kept us out of trouble. When other kids we knew were getting busted for smoking weed or arrested for vandalism at the school late at night there we were, a tight little knot of buddies, harmlessly rolling dice, scribbling on paper and arguing over the intricacies of Strength vs Agility when it came to Elves…and, of course, talking about whether Lisa or Diane looked better in a sweater in Social Studies last Friday.