So, I’ve always been a bit of a geek. I remember seeing Star Wars when I was 5 (I don’t have that many memories from that many decades ago. At that point the die was cast. Of course the geekness takes different forms as I grew up. Star Wars to Comic Books to Programming and everything in between became my things.
The reason I bring it up is because I’ve been revisiting some of my former geekness recently and it all started with a discussion I had with a friend. This friend has recently (or not so recently) become convinced that any form of competition is evil. I saw things a bit more gradated. I agree that the amount of time, and virtual worship, people give their favorite sports franchises is not good, collectively. There are many reasons I feel this way but it’s not the main point I won’t get into it here. He, however, feels any activity that has a winner and a loser is wrong. So, when my son wants to play checkers I should not. Even though neither of us care who wins (I do, but he’s 9) we shouldn’t play. In our discussions my friend said that if there was a game that all players worked toward a common end, and that nobody had the goal of defeating someone else, he would be okay with that game. Well it occurred to me that there was such a game (still is actually). I began playing it when I was about 12 and it was something most geeks worth their salt have at least some familiarity with. It was Dungeons & Dragons. This is funny to me since my friend is a very conservative Christian and would never play such a game. It made me laugh that the game that was designed with his ideal scenario in mind would be that one.
Well after making the joke, I dug up all the old books I still have and let me tell you it was a true bit of geek nostalgia. The Monster Manual with the red dragon and pegasus on the cover. The Dungeon Master’s Guide with the piles of coins and the man in the green hood on the cover. And then there was the Red Box. Those of you familiar with D&D in the early eighties know what I’m talking about. Two books and dice in a box with solo and group adventures built in. I remember trying to figure out how to make the group adventure into a solo one. There were never enough solo adventures for me. I remember the red and black bag I used to keep it all in. I remember staying up late and waking up early just to read the books. In truth I spent more time reading the books than actually playing. There were never many people I knew who were willing to play. I haven’t looked at these books in 20 years but it was as if I had never put them away. Just to sit in my big comfy chair and read through them, I was that 12 year old boy again.
I am now questioning if I should introduce my boys to the game. It was such a big part of my childhood that it seems like I should just to give the boys a glimpse of my childhood. Not to mention it’s a game that is driven by their imagination, not a computer. But do they need the distraction? Do they need to be introduced to something that, realistically I don’t want them to get hooked on? There are elements I don’t feel are compatible with my world view. But then again, there are elements of the DC Universe that I can say the same thing about, but I let them watch those cartoons.
In the end I probably will at least show them what it was (not sure what it is today) so they can get that glimpse of a 12 year old boy at his kitchen table, books all over with the DM screen up, ready to take on whatever beast might lurk within the dungeon.