What Gaming Has Taught Me For The Real World
After an enjoyable conversation with my nephew, yes Logan that would be you, and my son Jon, which tossed me back into my days of gaming. I was happily reminded that all those years of fun and games were more than just fun and games. Back in my early years of gaming, I discovered graph paper, dice and Dungeons and Dragons, and a world opened up to my imagination and to writing. Dragons were quickly pushed to the side with Klingon and Starships in a similar game, Star Fleet Academy. Trust me, Captain Kirk is not the only one to beat the Kobayashi Maru and live to tell about it. As years, and technology progressed, my graph paper and mounds of character statical journals found dust as I discovered World of WarCraft, Spore and Vampirates. My heart still longs for the days of graph paper and the random roll of the dice and praying “don’t be a one, don’t be a one”.
But I happily digress. All those wasted hours were not wasted at all but in fact the foundation of who I should have been all along, and lessons that perhaps I should have listened to a little more carefully outside of the college library meeting room were right there. First, however, allow me to introduce you to someone. Her name is Romilly Rhonane Elserves. She is a Drow elf warrior, exiled priestess, with a chip on her shoulder. Romilly is well, a no nonsense, always planning, craving the battle bad-ass. Now when she was rolled into existence that late August evening in 1982, she was a “non-player character”, I had to bribe the Dungeon Master to let me play her as my character with my share of pizza that night. Eventually, and against his better judgement, he allowed Romilly to step forward and so her existence began. Here are the lessons I’ve learned through Romilly about life through gaming.
Lesson #1: Never, ever, ever wear your heart (or soul stone) on your sleeve for everyone to see. For obvious reasons once you are sized up and decided what kind of character you really are, especially a soft-hearted girl, it is a struggle to gain any other reputation over top of it. Hearts and soul-stones are easily broken if they are left out in the open. Both are bad.
Lesson #2: Never carry anything you can’t use. Romilly was a traveler, if it had no use, it had no place. Well, that went for people, creatures and anything else as well, but especially for items. If you don’t use a potion, trade it, if you don’t need that second sword, sell it. Hording is best left for trolls and Ferengie.
Lesson #3: If it has eight legs, leave it the heck alone! Romilly, being Drow, is very respectful of the Drow deity, Loth, but she also knows that spiders mean trouble. Spiders are not friends, they are predators. Smile, don’t turn your back and walk away slowly.
Lesson #4: If you are approached by that Knight in shining armour, a paladin, his hair perfect, his smile shining, his armour so bright it could blind the sun itself. Put your guard up, immediately. He’s a fake. Hero’s do exist, but they look like us and you can bet their boots have as much mud on them from real battle as you do.
Lesson #5: Never get too cocky. When you are on top of your game, someone in your own group is looking for the chance to steal your gold and knock you off your high-horse. If you think you are the best, keep it to yourself and constantly prove that you are what you think you are, but don’t be so bold as to announce it to the world.
Lesson #6: The fates have a sense of humor. If you are suddenly surrounded by ghouls and skeletons, you WILL roll a dreaded 1. You will drop your sword and run away like a total dork, screaming. You will also be reminded of this feat of amazement for approximately six campaigns by your own group, if not by the Dungeon Master himself.
Lesson #7: The more you practice, the better you get. Romilly would use any time possible to practice her art with the bow and long sword. Thus avoiding the dreaded, role of the one, as much as possible. No one picks up the game and starts rolling perfect hits, defensive tactics and potions. Practice, pay attention, know your surroundings. Practice, practice, practice.
Lesson #8: Do not steal from the members of your own group. So, the druid has a really cool robe of invisibility that you would love to have. Even winning this item in a ‘friendly game of cards’ could be considered stealing if it is not done on the up-and-up. Point is, payback is not kind. You may find your quiver of arrows empty at just the wrong time. Just saying.
Lesson #9: Ogres are bullies. Every campaign runs into one, or a dozen. They are big, stupid, bullies. They can also ruin a game quickly. Don’t beat them at their own game, think above them, get around them, move on. Take joy if you can topple one over on the way.
Lesson #10: NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER Tick-off the Dungeon Master/Game Master. Be grateful to his sage advise and hints and take your lumps like everyone else. Otherwise, oh pompous Human male Knight of grand stature, you too, can be turned into a purple, hobbit with ta-ta’s the size of cantaloupes.
And thus are the ten most useful things I learned from all those years of gaming. So, it wasn’t just a waste of time and graph paper, it was learning about life.
Until next time, may your dreams become your wings and may they take you to new heights of imagination.