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This Gaming Life

A WASTED YOUTH?

by Ian O'Rourke (editor, Drew Meger)
May 9, 2001  

It's a Friday, and it's 12:30 in the morning.

What am I doing at this late hour? I am typing at a keyboard, rather than being 'out on the town' in some sweaty, heaving nightclub full of scantily clad women. You see, I have made a habit of doing 'less than cool' things on a Friday and Saturday night, and this is just a continuation of that. I may not be alone in this, as I can't imagine I'm the only gamer to have spent the majority of his Friday/Saturday nights, during his teens and early twenties, sat around a mate's house playing role-playing games? I know I'm not, as on average 3-6 people were with me at each and every one of those nights spent pretending to be someone else rather than going out on the town.

The weird truth is, while pretending to be an arcane sorcerer might be taking it to the extreme, the majority of the nights spent in nightclubs on a Friday night are an exercise in role-playing, and pretending to be someone you're not (in England it's usually a footballer who tried out for Manchester United).

Do I regret the time I spent gaming, watching genre TV and going to Science Fiction conventions instead of clubbing, getting drunk and sleeping with a horde of young, nubile women? No...honest. I have to admit that my lack of any serious debauchery during my 'nightclub' years (that 15-25 zone, and if you're lucky you can push it to 28 before feeling a complete twat) had little to do with gaming, and more to do with being uncomfortable in such situations. I was shy, reserved and not an outgoing person, at least in the former half of that zone (14-22).

Shy? Reserved?

You don't know me, but take it that many people don't believe me when I tell them I used to be shy, very shy. I was the kid in the schoolyard (this is during the ages of 5-11) who pretty much used to keep himself to himself, somehow keeping myself occupied by whatever was in my head (and I don't remember specifically what, but it must have been interesting). During those pre-teen years I rarely went into shops to ask for stuff myself, I used to get my brother to do it, who is four years younger than me. At that time, the thought that I would be able to handle doing presentations, arguing my case in high-level meetings and be an IT Manager for an international group of companies would have been met with ridicule - most of all by myself. As I got older this slowly changed, two major elements contributed to a newer bolder me in my adult years: role-playing games and Star Trek conventions (and my parents, but that's not so much a topic for this column).

Role-Playing Games take a lot of flack, especially in the US, as many believe they get people into 'the occult' and engender an individual to lose touch with reality. I find it sad that these people cannot see the great good that these games are doing, and that for many young adults they become a way to break down social barriers. Role-playing games helped me become more confident, articulate and increased my writing skills no end. You see, running role-playing games demands skills often associated with public speaking, you have to learn different ways to deliver the story to the players, play different roles and in many ways develop an ego the size of a house. The job of running a role-playing game is not for the meek, the easily swayed or someone who can't argue himself out of a corner and deliver an oratory to a small group. As I ran more and more games (as telling the tale was more what I wanted to do), my shy nature was cast aside, not without a great amount of pain on my behalf (each game I ran turned my stomach in knots) but I was determined to make a success out of it. I did, and the skills I acquired to run good role-playing sessions have an abundant number of uses in real life, never mind the confidence boost.

Star Trek Conventions? How on earth could Star Trek Conventions have helped me become the confident, outspoken and imaginative soul that I am today? I know what you're thinking: 'Star Trek Conventions are a haven for the introverted and sad who are interested in all things NOT real'. This is true, some very sad individuals, people who will always exist too far into a fantasy world, populate Star Trek Conventions but this is not everybody. Every night at a Star Trek Convention some of the best parties ever take place, full of people with few inhibitions. Think about it? These are people who will dress up in elaborate costumes for fancy dress parties and not feel stupid; they do not need Halloween as an excuse. The Star Trek Convention environment brought me out of my shell, and made me confident enough to get involved, wear a costume for a fancy dress party, dance at these parties and be an all round sociable individual. It is true that Star Trek Conventions send some people the other way, making them more introverted, but for a good number of people they have a positive effect.

I also met my wife at a Star Trek Convention, and I owe them a lot just for that.

A wasted youth? Hardly, I owe role-playing games and Star Trek conventions a lot, they gave me more confidence and fed my imagination, and it is that very imagination that allows me to be successful at my real world job (and we all need a well paying job regrettably). At times my gaming life has been strange and surreal, but overall I will defend it against any detractors. This column is about Gaming Life, but it's for all those who share its strangeness. Each month this column will provide a look into my Gaming Life, or possible someone else's, and hopefully through that an interesting, funny and insightful (to discussion) column is created.

See you next month...


Ian O'Rourke www.fandomlife.net, The e-zine of SciFi media, and Fandom Culture TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

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All This Gaming Life columns by Ian O'Rourke

  • Reality TV by Ian O'Rourke, 18jul02
  • The Rise and Fall of 3E February 14, 2002
  • Defence System August 10, 2001, guest column by Steve Darlington
  • Gaming in the Modern World July 4, 2001
  • And It Involves Rubber Swords June 6, 2001
  • A Wasted Youth? May 9, 2001

    Other columns at RPGnet

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