Hi. My name is Dan, and I’m a nerd.* This should come as a surprise to no one who knows me, or has ever had a conversation with me, or has ever read a word I’ve written. And that’s fine. I embrace my nerd-hood.
On Tuesday, my oldest son took me out for an early Father’s Day. We ate out, saw Thor (highly recommended), and spent time at both a book store** and a comic book store. It was a lot of fun. One of the things we bought at the comic shop was a Dungeons and Dragons starter kit.
Yep, the truth is out: I role-play.
Actually, I haven’t role-played in nearly twenty years, but in my youth I played everything from Heroes Unlimited to Cyberpunk to Paranoia. It was a lot of fun, and in the pre-online, internet, X-box world, it was how it was done.
Comic from XKCD.com
For those of you not familiar with role-playing, here’s how it works. Anywhere from three to seven or eight guys (and, yes, they’re usually guys, but not always) get together with their game system of choice. One guy’s the Game Master, which means he runs the adventure, and the rest play characters. Essentially, the GM narrates a story in which the players are the central characters. They describe in detail or even act out their actions, the GM gives them a goal to accomplish, then throws conflict and obstacles at them, and they work together to accomplish the task set out for them. In the process, they build a story together, a tale of personal growth, conflict, triumph of the will, yada yada.
In short, role-playing is like acting out your own book.
Say what you will, but role-playing truly stimulates the imagination. These days all kids have to do is plug in an internet connection and stare at screen all day, a screen filled with a ready made, pixelated world. Traditional role-playing requires you to use your imagination, to work together with your mates to create a world unique to that place and moment. Traditional role-playing is never about the objective; it’s about the experience.
Anyway, I want my boys to have they same experience. I want them to lift their noses out of their computer and X-box and iPhones, and not only see the world around them, but also the fantastic worlds that exist inside their imaginations. Imagination is a muscle,*** and it’ll atrophy if not used. Or worse, it’ll never develop in the first place.
Speaking of nerds, I want to give a plug to my friend “Lennon” (don’t know if he wants me to use his real name, he’s kind of incognito). He recently, with my urging, started a blog called Titan’s Folly. It’s all about Geekdom: Sci-fi, horror, comics books, role-playing. Anything nerdy is fair game. If you’re into that kind of stuff (and admit it, you are) go check him out. He’ll be glad you stopped by.
** Yes, they still exist.
*** It’s not a muscle.