Thursday, July 3, 2014

Everywhere I Go...

...gaming is there.

This morning, I got off the Metro outside of the National Archives building to pick up my new Federal ID badge. It's July 3, late morning. The skies are partly cloudy and its hot, though not unbearably so (yet). There are tourists everywhere already, traveling in packs of families, staring at everything with that tourist-y blend of fascination and confusion. Right in front of me, maintenence men are working on the Navy Memorial, this beautiful fountain right before the majestic yet intimidating, vault-like fortress that is the Archives.

It takes me a few minutes as I begin walking to the Archives, but immediately the thoughts begin entering my head...

"...This would make a great scene in a zombie apocalypse RPG..."

"...The players, as robbers, could plan their heist right at the Navy Memorial, ready to break into the Archives and make off with the Declaration of Independence..."

"...That homeless guy asking for change isn't homeless at all, but in fact a secret agent protecting the building..."

"...Deep beneath the Archives, in a secret chamber in the basement, documents unknown to humanity are kept. The records of the first alien autopsies...reports of the crash landing...documentation of what we really did find on the moon..."

This happens pretty much every time something outside of my regular routine happens to me. I "case the joint" wherever I go, but instead of trying to find out when the security guard goes on break or who has the combination to the safe, I'm wondering how a fight scene would work, what kind of monsters would "look good" in this setting, little details about everyday life I should be sure to include in my descriptions, and so on.

This happens on the boardgaming side of my hobby, too. Based on a story my wife told me once, I began wondering about a boardgame where the players are all employees in an office and have to peer review each other. You need positive reviews to get a promotion, but there are only so many promotions. So you have to try and wheel and deal your way into getting your co-worker players to give you a good review, but knowing full-well there are limited promotions, you can't give everyone a good review. The reviews are always anonymous, so you just have to trust that if someone is going to say you're a good worker, that they did. So there's politics and backstabbing and stuff. I didn't go further than the concept, but still; that all happened within seconds of my wife telling me this story about peer reviews at her office.

This, to me, is why having a hobby is so important. It gives life color. It makes the unimportant shit important. It makes you care about things you would never normally care about. It makes you look for patterns in the chaos.

It's not all good, though. A certain degree of discipline is involved. Not every idea that pops into your head is a keeper. You also can't let yourself get so absorbed in new ideas that you abandon old ones. You have to learn what to stick with and what to let go. As the old saying goes, there's nothing more common than people with talent. It's the drive to do something with all of those ideas that matters, in the end.

My problem has always been talk. Talk is cheap. Everyone has ideas. Go ahead and post on G+ or Facebook about the great new idea you have. Ideas are always great, when they don't exist in the real world. I'm not saying you can't share your ideas...but I think an important part of cultivating one's hobby (especially a hobby as wildly creative as tabletop gaming) is to make the distinction between a good idea and something you're actually going to do. It's hard to do that when you bring every idea to the table as "potentially" the next big thing. Your own common sense has to be the first barrier to entry.

Anyways...I love that I do this. I don't talk about it much for the reasons I just brought up in the last two paragraphs, but this is a great little perk to being a tabletop gamer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting to go to...and I'm wondering if the conference room will make a good barricade against zombies...

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