I got into gaming on December 31st, 1987. There's a reason I remember so specifically, but I'll leave that for later. I was in middle school, and that's about average, right? I took the last semester of 8th grade to ingest, digest and expand upon my gaming library, my idea of the hobby, my interests within it. High school came and brought me other gamers, and I was off like a rocket.
Something drew me to gamemastering right away; it may've been my interest in storytelling, or just that I wanted to be a filmmaker and saw this hobby as a ready substitute for the time being. I just kind of fell into the role, and I dug it; man, did I ever. My Mom even bought me a copy of Gary Gygax's Master of the Game, "Because it seems you're always the gamemaster". Now how cool is that?
I stumbled a lot on the way, like you do with anything, but before long a couple of things were becoming screamingly evident, even to me:
- I was getting good at it; and
- I wanted to get better.
I also got Mage.
Look, I loved Mage. I still have a warm little spot for it in my heart, by a side-table with some bon-bons on it. It was my fault, really, that I took all of White Wolf's ideas about storytelling, mood, theme, etc. pretty danged seriously.
Wait, no. I meant to say too seriously. Next thing I knew, I was approaching the hobby not as a pastme but as a craft. My head became like a freaking Jo-Ann Fabrics, full of gew-gaws and gizmos and reference materials, and it was all whipped into a frenzy by that single idea that I'd had for the last, oh, 5 or so years:
I MUST IMPROVE. And "improvement", at that time, seemed to require ever greater sophistication.
[Remember -- this isn't Mage's fault, or even Changeling's. I did this to myself. Theatrix helped, though.]
Mood. Theme. Setting. Three-Act Structure. Foreshadowing. Story Arcs. These things could be done in a game, and the nuclear-powered OCD engine in my brain demanded that they should be done. By me. Because to do less would be to cheat myself.
I must forge myself into an enlightened, nigh-omnipotent god of gamemastering excellence!
I have determined that this is not much fun.
Little things, many of them, have crept up in my life (as it relates to gaming, and as it doesn't) to make me aware of a simple fact -- a fact so obvious, I ignored it: I've been thinking too hard about gaming, making it feel less like play and more like work. Lest it lose its luster, something must be done.
There's an old Buddhist proverb: "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha". Hell if I know what it means, but one reasonable interpretation is this: don't do something just because someone who ought to know tells you that you should; take the teachings, get rid of the teacher, and explore the world on your own.
I don't need gaming to be an art. I can make it that; I know how. but I don't need to.
In this weblog, I come face-to-face with my gaming Buddha. He and I shall do battle.
I have a vorpal sword, and I'm rolling intitiative.
Let's go, Buddha.
PS: Today is my Birthday. Hmn. Symbolism...?