Months ago when I was first trying out for a spot in the Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra, I remarked that we were playing pieces from games I had never played. The fellow sitting next to me looked vaguely surprised and replied with, “What do you play?” I don’t exactly remember what I said. It was one of those situations where you end up coming up with the brilliant responses while you’re attempting to fall asleep that night. I know that’s not just me.
So, what do I play?
I grew up when video games were starting to become a “thing.” We didn’t have gaming consoles in my house. I know I mentioned that in last week’s installment of Me Monday. My mother didn’t feel like we needed a game console because those were purely for entertainment. At least she could delude herself that we were doing educational stuff on our computers. I played all kinds of computer games: Myst, Command & Conqueror (I always played the Soviets in Red Alert), Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island, King’s Quest, 7th Guest. . .yeah, I played all kinds of games. I was (and still am) a Sims addict. I’ve since become a Bioware groupie with love for the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises (Dragon Age is my favorite if I was being honest). I’m still primarily a PC gamer, but I’ve branched out into other gaming mediums.
When I turned 18, I was working at my first desk job. With my retention bonus, I bought a PS2 so I could play Kingdom Hearts. Since then, my parents gifted me with an Xbox 360 for Christmas (a reversal of the position they held while I was growing up), and I bought a Playstation 3 (oh! and we have a Wii in the house). I’ve played all kinds of games from role-playing to ultra-violent fighting games. These days, I’m more into games that tell a compelling story like The Last of Us, but there are days when I need the stress relief of just shooting things in the face (I’ve found Rage to be really useful for that purpose). I’ve never played a Zelda game and I only have a passing acquaintance with the Final Fantasy series of games. I’ve played Mario stuff at my friends’ houses. So, yes, I’ve played all kinds of video games.
Tabletop and Live-Action Role-Playing Games:
While I’m talking about games, I need to mention that Dungeons & Dragons just celebrated its 40th anniversary. I have a lot of friends who got their gaming start with pencil and paper in that system. I didn’t play D&D until well into my twenties. I started my pencil and paper role-playing at 11 when we had an exchange student from Sweden who was fond of White Wolf. My first character was a Cultist of Ecstasy who was a stripper in a Mage: The Ascension tabletop.
I was a precocious child. What can I say?
Most of my tabletop gaming experience has been within the White Wolf realm of games. Though, I’ve played all kinds of other things like GURPs, Exalted, and some random indie stuff. That’s just the tabletop stuff I’ve done. Let me tell you about LARP.
My brother is three and a half years older than I am. When I was in my second year of high school, he was starting at the University of Maryland in nearby College Park, MD. He’d come home and tell me about all of these awesome things that he’d done in this new hobby he’d acquired: LARPing. After some begging on my part, Mom let me go with him to my first ever game.
It was March 17, 2000. I was 15 and they made my parents sign a permission slip so I could play in the Vampire: The Masquerade LARP out there. The following weekend, I played in the Changeling: The Dreaming game on campus. Ultimately, Mom said I was only allowed to be in one LARP at a time. I chose Changeling. I mean. Come on. I was 15. There were faeries. It made total sense.
Since then, I’ve played in campaign games, one shots, and weekend-long games in a variety of systems. I attend a yearly LARP convention called Intercon up in Massachusetts where I play in many games and, on occasion, write and run games of my own.
I think it’s the theater geek in me that just loves LARPing. When I was little, one of the careers I’d dreamed of having was being an actor. Being a LARPer lets me live that dream for just a little bit at a time. It’s also a great way to make new friends and be social.
What do I play?
I play card games, board games, video games, computer games, role-playing games, and live-action role-playing games. Gaming is such an important part of my life and I can’t imagine not instilling the love of playing them in any kids I someday have. Playing anything is just such a vital part of the human experience and it should not be over-looked.
The better question here would be: what don’t I play?