Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Gamer

My brother started playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons around the time when I was 7. It seemed like every weekend, a group of teenage boys gathered around the dining room table and spoke in such strange tongues: THAC0, d20 and hit points, experience and loot. They cast spells and killed monsters. It was exciting and thrilling. I always tried to linger when they played. Here was a game I thought that suited me perfectly: one with words and imagination. I might not have fully understood the concept, but I longed to play.

“Can I play with you?” I would ask.

“No. It’s only for boys.” He told me.

Despite being told “no” I would sit in the corner, next to the out of tune piano, hoping for a chance to play. To my mind, it wasn’t fair that Erik got to have all of this fun. If he was my big brother and supposed to watch out for me, I reasoned, then surely, he should allow me to join them at the big table. Occasionally, he would let me play with some of the miniatures or his dice. I loved the heavy weight of the tiny characters. My brother would painstakingly paint each one; the colors making them come alive. The clatter of the dice rolling across the table and the boisterous laughter from the boys always filled me with a longing to join in. I would sidle up next to Erik’s chair and ask questions. Typically this resulted in me getting banished from the dining room.

Years went by and my brother continued playing with a core group of friends and I still wished I could play. I would ask occasionally, but as I got older, so too did my big brother. He went to college, moved out and was suddenly a grown-up. No longer just my brother, he was an adult, with adult responsibilities.

In high school, one of my best friends had a younger brother. Donald was three years younger and although annoying at times, I adored him as a little brother. By the time he started high school, I had all but given up on ever playing D&D with my brother or anyone else. None of my friends ever showed an interest in it. But suddenly, Donald and a few of his friends started talking about and I begged him to let me play with them.

Maybe it was because I was always at his house and had gone on vacations with them, but whatever the reason, Donald agreed. In fact, he seemed enthusiastic about it. That was the year I spent more time with my best friend’s little brother than I did with her. It was weird at first, but I quickly adjusted. We did just what my brother had done: play D&D. I got to use words like THAC0 and make imaginary heroes that would save the day. Characters died and we mourned. Villains were defeated and we rejoiced. We played through the night, and since I had a car we would often end up at the local diner at three in the morning looking for snacks!

After I graduated I spent more time working than socializing and out little group fell apart. I went to college, hoping to find a group to play with again, but it wasn’t until I met Scott that I found kindred gamer. Ironically, even though D&D was one of the deciding “should we date” factors, we never really played together until after Cyra was born when I assembled a group of gamers out of new friends I had made at Flagler.

I am lucky and grateful that both my girls are interested in gaming. They have their own sets of dice and are ready to start rolling!


  1. My husband, daughter and I all love games. They're heavily into videogames but I avoid them because I know I'd get sucked in and addicted and I'd never get anything else done. :-o

    We also love board games, mad libs, trivia games and anything that makes us laugh. :D

    1. I was big into video games, but I'm finding that as I get older I just can't be bothered. I was mega addicted to Sims 2 and now? I tried playing a bit this week and I think I maybe played for 15 minutes and lost interest.

      As for the board games? Holy moly we've got all the classics! I'm working on increasing Cyra's attention span so she'll willingly play Risk with us. But we love them all. Especially RPGs!

  2. I was never interested in RPGs when I was young. Now that I'm over 30, I would LOVE to learn. Except (perhaps not surprisingly) I can't find anyone else who might want to learn with me. I figure I'll have to breed and raise them to play with me. Ha!

    1. You should! If you are interested there is a messageboard on Paizo (they make the Pathfinder RPG) where you can find people to game with. That's how I found a former group and my current one.

  3. I get so confused with the term "gamer". I have more love for people who do the D&D style gaming (no hate for anyone, just more love) because it seems like there's more of a human interaction element. So shouldn't there be a different term created to differentiate life-gamers versus video game gamers? How about appropriating the name playa'? Like "I'm an RPG playa"? I don't know. It's cool that you use it as a way to bring the family together.

    1. You know, I thought about that before I published this one. I thought maybe I should hold onto it until R for "roleplaying" but this is what I decided: I grew up thinking of "RPG" as "gaming." That's what my brother did, he gamed. When we play, my husband and my group say "we're gaming," or "game on." When I ask the girls to help me clean up on Saturday night because we have game in the morning, I say, "the gamers are coming."

      I think it is those lousy video gamers that need a new name. Unless you like video games and you play RPG as well then that's okay - like me! How about we call them "Videors," "play-techs" (oops that sounds like a type of girl thing).

  4. Hi Heather, I'm enjoying playing games on my new Samsung Galaxy!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

  5. Did you see the movie Mazes and Monsters with Tom Hanks (1982)? That's kind of what I imagine reading your post.

    I could see D&D in my daughter's future. Her brain tends to work that way.

  6. The extent of my gaming starts and ends with Mario Party. lol
    I do have fond memories of playing board games with my Dad as a child.

    I really enjoyed your post today.

    Stopping in via the A-Z blogging challenge.

    Bev @ Blue Velvet Vincent

    1. I remember playing Mario on the NES! And now my girls have it for the Wii! Man times change!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I was like your brother when I was a kid, but you know I grow up in so many aspects.
    Anyways do check out my G at GAC a-z.

  8. The older brotherApril 9, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    First, a couple of factual corrections:

    I started playing D&D when you were 2 years old. You may not have noticed it until you were seven, since we mainly played at school or at a friend's house.

    Second, I never said it was only for "boys". We had several females in the group during my high school years. I think I said you were too young, and in the older brother protection mode that you thought was not there, I was actually keeping you away from some of the people in my group, who were cool enough to play with, but not cool enough to hang out with my baby sister.

    Third, and this is a minor point, but your other brother did all the painting of the minatures. My hands were always too shaky from drinking large amounts of Mountain Dew, to ever be able to paint a miniature.

    Finally, I would be honored to have you and Scott join a game the next time you are in the area, although the games I am involved in have a very strong PG-13, or R rating, so the girls will have to go sit by the out-of-tune piano during the sessions.



    1. Okay, I will accept your factual edits regarding the age and Karl painting the minis, but I would swear that at one point you did tell me "boys only." However, I will allow that I was quite young at the time and what you said and what I heard might have been two different things.

      As far as the older brother protection thing going on? I totally knew all about that! In fact, I counted on it!! Still do, truth be told!

      And Scott and I would be equally honored to jump into a game session next time we visit. Thanks!

      Love you Big Brother!