Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
Welcome to the first installment of Geek Week here on my blog. I have decided to make a slight deviation from our regularly scheduled blog for something a bit different, maybe a bit more light-hearted than some of my previous posts. Some of the things featured this week are near and dear to my geeky heart.
Our first topic of geekdom is Dungeons & Dragons, or tabletop gaming in general. If you play Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, White Wolf, Star Wars, Shadowrun, anything D20, homebrews, or anything else, please feel welcome here. D&D is just one of the earliest and probably best well-known pen and paper role-playing games (RPG).
Sure, there are lots of skill you can develop through RPGs. Telling a story and telling it well is an undervalued skill. People who are entertaining can often gloss over weak points in that weekly management meeting and can draw some of the best talent to their team. Selling your idea to others through improved communication skills. When you have to sell the group on why they should agree to do your side-quest first, you know how important selling to others can be. Just remind them of all the experience and loot they’ll get too. Becoming more organized is obvious for GMs, as well as herding cats, er, I mean managing people. Players are a diverse group, and represent all personalities under the sun. Unlike recruiting for a company, you can’t always choose your gaming friends. (I can’t explain the phenomenon, but sometimes that one friend who is great to hang with ends up in the group and things just get weird. You know what I mean.) So reaching consensus to open the dungeon door can sometimes be a challenge.
I work in a very traditional industry. International logistics is not what the cool kids are talking about in school (although, if you want to have a job when you graduate, it is a good place to be). When I am in situations with non-geeks and they ask me what I do, I talk about food that I cook and my daughter. I don’t dare tell them that I play games – board games, video games, tabletop games, card games, computer games. Oh, lions and tigers and bears, oh my, I don’t. I’ve been mentioning the writing thing in select circles, but that’s a topic for another day. If you are under 25 or a guy, I feel like you get more leeway with the “gamer” rep, but they’d look at me like I’d sprouted displacer beast tentacles.
Seriously, I feel like I’m getting outed every time I explain to someone new to ATL what Dragon*Con is. I think tabletop games bring out some of the best qualities in people, and you can have experiences unrivaled by any other type of game. There is storytelling, but there are also surprises along the way, and watching your characters and the world grow is amazing. When a group talks about a long-running game, they talk about it like that have been through a challenge together. They are a better team and are linked by their commonly shared experiences. I want to tell people how fun it is, and that they should try it, but it doesn’t match my business-suit and patent-leather pumps persona, so I discuss something more palatable. /sigh
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this. Do these kinds of games help us practice skills that have “real world,” or at least workplace, application? Or are we just wasting our time like our parents told us, and should have watched TV instead?