Thursday, December 03, 2009

An Atypical Gamer Girl's Descent into the Dungeon

The summer I was 19, I went to Indiana for several weeks to stay with my brother, Frank, and his then wife, Janet.

The reasons why I was there would make for a very very veryveryvery long story. It's kind of an interesting story and showcases my Stupid Girl Syndrome discussed the other night...but eh. I'll save it for another time perhaps. No need to divulge all my glorious stupidity in one week...right?

Anyway, if you've ever been to Indiana in the summer - or anywhere in the midwest during the summer for that matter - you'll immediately know what I'm talking about when I say it's hot. Damn hot. "So hot in my shorts I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking."1

And not only is it hot but, if you're a girl who's grown up in the middle of the high desert of Wyoming, you will also know the humidity there feels like breathing underwater. And do you know what girls from Wyoming can't do? That's right. Breathe underwater.

So it would be a safe assumption on your part to believe that the whole time I was there, there were two things I tried to do as infrequently as possible...move and breathe.

What I discovered shortly after my arrival is that there was an activity I could do all day every day that fell nicely within those parameters and still kept me totally entertained.

For you see, Frank and Janet had...Nintendo.

And not only did they have Nintendo, they had a ROLE PLAYING GAME called Faxanadu.

Now, I had heard of Dungeons & Dragons, of course. And I remember that summer Janet was supposed to teach me how to play DnD. For whatever reason though, she didn't. I suspect strongly it might have been because I was too addicted to the Nintendo to pay attention to anything else.

And addicted, I was. Mesmerized, I was. I could not stop playing. From the moment I woke up until I'd fall asleep exhausted from the heat and all the dungeon crawls, I was playing. I got so I could beat the entire game in a day - over the course of about 18 hours.I was a Faxanadu guru.

Interestingly, Faxanadu was not a particularly popular game. I rarely run across even gamers who've heard of it let alone played it. Most people who liked RPG's at the time were playing Zelda. I wouldn't learn to play Zelda though until well after I'd mastered Faxanadu and had my own NES2.

Needless to say, after that I was an RPG addict. Faxanadu was my gateway drug and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next console, the next game, the next character. Up until a few years ago after I got the GameCube that is. And then, for some reason, I quit cold turkey. I got rid of all my consoles and all my games. I didn't so much as touch a game in 3 years. And then I moved in with Lex.

Here's the curious part...until just a few months ago, I'd never played an RPG without the assistance of a game console. Seriously. In high school, I don't remember any of my friends playing. If they did, I wasn't aware of it. I found out years later, when N8 the Great and I were finally a couple, that he, in fact, had played DnD for years. But by that time, he wasn't interested in playing offline. Instead, he and I had our computers daisy chained together and we played against each other in Age of Empires and Warcraft II and III.

My theory about why I'd never played a tabletop RPG though is because I'm a girl. And not only am I a girl, but it's come to my attention that I'm apparently not a stereotypical gamer girl. So it's likely that I was never invited to play by my friends who covertly played because it didn't seem like I'd be the kind of girl who'd be interested. Goes to show you how stereotypes aren't always entirely accurate.

Anyway, so earlier this year, Lex tells me he wants to host an RPG campaign at the Grotto. Specifically, he wanted to run a GURPS campaign. And I jumped at the chance to play.

It's different. Of course it's different. I have to use my imagination and there are few visual aids to assist me. But I love it. One of the major reasons I love it, is because, for the first time, the character I play is completely mine. She's got my voice and she does what I tell her to do. Sometimes she does things my mother would think were inappropriate. Like that one time I had to role for syphillis, for instance. But that's all part of it. It's not even the same as sitting in front of my computer screen, isolated from the facial expressions and the out-of-character color commentary provided by me and the other players. There is no computer to restrict movement or social expression. Instead, we've got Lex who, on a whim, can change the game to suit the personalities of the players.

And it's awesome. More, if you please.

As an aside, recently, a co-worker of mine loaned me indefinitely his original NES system and all the games in his possession. In particular, Faxanadu. I haven't hooked it up yet. For the same reason I've not started playing WoW. Because I'm an addict. And I like to believe my friends enjoy seeing me from time to time.

That and I wonder...will it still hold the same magic for me it did 20 years ago?


1: Random movie quote from Good Morning, Vietnam. I told you I was all about the random movie quotes.
2: In my opinion, Ocarina of Time for the 64 was the best installment of the Legend of Zelda.

1 comment:

kk said...

I'm so glad that you finally got to try out RPGing. You are a really fun person to play with!! A natural, as they say. :)