Monday, December 28, 2009

Gamer's Guilt

Hi.  My name is Sharon and I'm a gamer.  "Hello Sharon."  I've been gaming most of my life.  I remember vividly in 7th grade math class Gordon Culp brought in these small booklets that had the title Dungeons and Dragon's printed on the front.  Those slim volumes were the original D&D set where halflings were hobbits and there was no such thing as THAC0 (to hit armor class 0).  We didn't get to play then, and long I pined for the chance.  It wasn't until college, actually, that I finally got my chance to play D&D and by then the slim tomes had turned into larger books.  My theatre buds and I would play, staying up late into the night and early into the morning.  We'd lead our band of intrepid heroes into whatever dungeon the Dungeon Master had planned for us.  It was all in our heads, and mabye a little bit on graph paper so we knew where we were standing before we attacked the great grendlackian gundlesnark. 

When I moved to New Jersery I found others that played.  By this time there was not just D&D there were many other Role Playing Gamers (RPGs).  We indulged in playing different ones, Champions - where you were a comic book hero.  Traveler - set in a science fiction universe.

While living in New Jersey I met the future - it was a D&D game that you played on AOL.  Your party was other people who were on AOL.  You didn't have to be in the room with them!  And no more graph paper with x's showing who's who.  You could actually see each other's character and interact with the monsters (although squatty pixelized sprits that they were)

It was then that any first person based supposed RPG paled in comparison to this real life interaction...ok cyber life interaction.  But sadly, AOL didn't keep the D&D game for very long and I fell into a gameless void.  I did play first person RPG's and they were ok.  Wing Commander was my favorite of those, but I never looked up on it as an RPG .. not really.  A true RPG you felt like your actions caused events.  I never really felt that with even Wing Commander.  I mean after all you're given 4 options to reply back to someone and it's pretty clear which reply you want to use.

Time passed and I moved to the Pacific Northwest.  A friend back in NJ told me about a text based roll playing game based on a TV show I liked ..Xena.  It was acutally based on Xena and Hercules and was set in ancient greece - the Golden Age as the shows called it.. when centaurs and humans roamed the land and the gods came down and played. 

I liked the game.  I had a character named Chikara who came from Southern Greece - so of course she talked with a drawl.  I made many good friends. And in fact, after a while, I became a Game Master for the game.  Game Masters are the people that keep on-line games runing.  Mine was a voluntary role, but in it I was able to be creative and write.  I hadn't written in years - a prolonged case of writer's block - so it was nice to write little snippets.  You see in a text based game you don't see anything, you have text on the screen describing what you see.   So you might come into an area and see a small park off to your left with a fountain gurgling.  Tall trees create a nice shaded area in the park...etc.  Then there are mechanisims to allow you to "interact" with say the fountain by typing "Look at fountain" then again you'd be told "The fountain is quite beautiful.  It appears to be made out of a single block of marble.  A carved pan rests ontop of carved stones, water trickles out of his flute.."you get the idea.

But sadly, even though it was a fun job, it was a job that didn't pay.  And I finally had to part ways with it.

Again I was without a game, until World of Warcraft came on the scene 5 years ago.  I'd found that friends at work played it and had a guild and so on.  I joined and played.  This was not really a true RPG since no one REALLY roll played, but the graphics were nice and teh story was good and I was playing with a great bunch of people.

When I took Novel Writing Boot Camp I stopped playing.  I canceled all my subscriptions and I concentrated on writing.  It was odd that since I'd spent so much time playing games that had fantasy or sci-fi components that I would choose to write historical fiction.  But heh, I was actually writing again after about 20 years of not.

So why the guilt?  I missed WoW.  I missed the people.  So the other day I loaded it up on my Mac.  Then I found the RPG game that actually, for the first time, made me feel like I was taking part in a fantasy novel.  It's called Dragon's Age:Origins.  I'm stunned at the detail, the characters, everything about it.  Instead of writing about the civil war I've been fighting dark spawn and trying to stay alive after I was torn from everything I've known and cared for. 

I think I also needed a break from research and writing for a day or three.  Now I'm ready to get back to things and not feel guilty about the occasional trip to Azeroth (world of warcraft) or Fareldin (Dragon's Age).


  1. Great blog - and everyone needs fun & a break - just think - yours uses your imagination which helps your writing. Ideal!

  2. Uh oh. Sharon, you may know my brother-in-law from WofW. I've never played any of those types of games, but I have my own time-wasters. As Karen said, at least yours involves some imagination.

    But, you are such a fabulous writer, with that vivid imagination, I do hope you continue your book! I can hardly wait for the next installment.

  3. I look upon my excursion into Fareldin as a Christmas vacation :) Never fear I can't let the characters keep bumping around in my head. And I have to concentrate on PNWA. It needs to be in by 2/19

  4. I've never played WoW, but I still have gamer's guilt. I have about five PS3 games and eight Wii games I've bought or received as gifts in the past year I haven't even cracked the seal on. Damn writing! :)

  5. That, Jason, is the better guilt to have!

  6. This entry reminded me of an article I read a while back re: Google Wave being kicked around as a way for distant friends to play D&D.

    I too fell under the spell of fantasy RPG around the 8th grade. I had always liked knights and swords, but adding on a layer of stats, formulas, gear min/maxing and I have been hooked ever since! I have played AD&D, D&D 3/3.5 and several of the other systems (gurps, shadowrun, top secret, twilight 2000). As I got older, I became less patient for table top gaming. I might do D&D minis if I had any friends close by playing, but the idea of sitting down for 6+ hours at a time for weeks on end for another D&D campaign, not likely ...

    I recently returned to WoW myself. I was in beta (from 4 on) and loved the improvements over my prior MMO addictions (EQ/AO/AC). I have played off and on for about 6 years. I love the dungeon finder system, and the ease at which you can acquire 5 pc T9 gear. I play with a group of old friends/co-workers from Dallas in a guild that now has members from all over the world. During the perfect OR summers, I don't find much of an urge to be inside gaming, but until this rain subsides (May?) I will be in Azeroth running heroics on my latest toon.

    What servers you folks play on?
    I am Eitrigg/Horde

  7. I did post some vids on youtube re:DAO ... I didn't get very far (I think my % complete is 26%)

    I think I prefer the infinity engine (Baldur's/Icewind Dale/Planescape) to NWN/NWN2/DAO/Jade Empire/Kotor.

    I am a big fan of open world RPGs such as the Gothic series. You should check them out if you like atmosphere/challenge ... they are a bit buggy, but tremendously immersive. You can get the whole series for like $13 on amazon ...