During a recent conversation with gaming friends, the topic of “what games most influenced us over the years?” came up. It was so interesting to hear how games we played as kids, in school, and later in life influenced our gaming interests today and led to some of us working in the game industry. This Monday series will take a personal look into my history as a gamer with my #Top10InfluentialGames. This week we focus more on the people who are playing the game rather than the game itself.
During graduate school, I found a couple different gaming groups, as I had time between classes, research, and a young marriage. One introduced me to Vampire the Masquerade in the World of Darkness. First I had heard of that or the Storyteller System it utilized. I enjoyed that for a time, but then that group fell apart so I set aside the World of Darkness for a while and hosted the occasional game at my house of AD&D or a home-brew RPG I was messing around with for fun.
As my plans changed, I moved away from graduate school for a while and accepted a position at my alma mater, Taylor University. Soon after moving to Upland, I got to know a student who worked in our department who was struggling a bit. As I got to know him, I found out that he enjoyed roleplaying, so we often chatted about that hobby. He mentioned he was playing in a Vampire the Masquerade campaign based on a book called The Hunters Hunted and asked if I might want to join him. As I saw this as a way to get to know him better, I thought I would join if allowed. My friend asked the storyteller, and he allowed me to join. They helped me create a character out of the Demon Hunter X book that I named Mr. B. (That name has a long and storied history, and my current gaming group still talks about his many incarnations in various game systems.) To shorten a long story, I got introduced to that gaming group and enjoyed gaming with them through this campaign. That introduction to the players in that gaming group changed my gaming life and my personal life.
Over the years, members of that original “The Hunters Hunted” gaming group have formed the core of gaming groups I have been a part of and hosted for almost twenty years now. A few of them have become very close friends well beyond the gaming group. Others have drifted in and out of my gaming and life, but I still considered them friends. The World of Darkness games will always hold a fond memory for me, for they were the genesis of some great friendships and years of incredible gaming. And in an interesting life twist, I am now, all these years later, working as a freelancer on the new Chronicles of Darkness books from Onyx Path. So the World of Darkness and Storyteller system introduced me to lifelong friends, offered me freelance work decades later, and taught me quite a bit about myself and gaming.
- Players matter more than the games. This may seem obvious, but I think it can easily be overlooked. Sometimes we get so stuck on winning board games or so passionate about our favorite RPG system, we can forget that the games are social, and these are our friends and family. Video games face that issue more often because you can play online anonymously, but tabletop games struggle with that as well. We need to respect those we play with, especially when you think about how they could become lifelong friends and a gaming group.
- Games can lead to lifelong friends. My introduction to this roleplaying group when I started working at Taylor has led to almost twenty years of gaming with various members. Not only are they my gaming group, but quite a number of them have become close friends. I have been at their weddings, celebrated the birth of children with them, commiserated with them about lost jobs, been accountability partners through life’s challenges, cried with them, celebrated with them, and now love them as family as much as friends.
What about you? What game have you played the most over the years that had a huge impact on you? I would be very interested in others writing about their #Top10InfluentialGames. Next week, we look at a classic game that rekindled my passion for board games.