I have written before how much the Inklings (especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) have impacted my life. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share about that impact with others at the 2018 Lewis & Friends Colloquium. I was asked to set up a display in the Center for the Study of C.S. Lewis and Friends and give a workshop on the Inklings and Gaming. If you had told college me that he would decades later be presenting on the impact the Inklings have had on gaming at a conference at Taylor University, he would have just rolled his eyes. Being a gamer back then was not a respected hobby and was looked at as very niche and weird. Now, I am teaching courses on gaming at Taylor and being asked to present workshops on topics I am very passionate about, gaming and the Inklings.
As I prepared to lead my workshop, I was asked to set up a display to help drum up interest in the Colloquium, and show another perspective on the Inklings’ impact.
When I was approached to present, it originally was proposed to be a Panel Discussion, but we struggled to find others available who were knowledgeable about both gaming and the Inklings, so the session transitioned into a workshop but became a discussion among those in attendance. The official summary for the session was
The first time I opened the pages of The Hobbit, I was transported to a world of fantasy that I would happily never return from completely. Soon after The Hobbit, I was introduced to The Chronicles of Narnia, and my journeys in the fantastical realms of story grew. The worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia built the foundation for my passion for fantasy literature, art, movies, and GAMES. As an avid tabletop gamer and roleplayer, I was thrilled to find my favorite worlds created by the Inklings reflected in games for me to play and to create my own stories in those fantastical worlds. That early excitement became tempered as I experienced the various games over the decades. Let’s discuss the impact of the Inklings on Gaming…creative inspiration, legal challenges, financial success, failed attempts, and gaming enjoyment.
My presentation was the first evening of the Colloquium. I focused on how the Inklings have influenced gaming over the decades. This transmedia timeline slide gives you an idea of how my discussion progressed. We discussed which Inklings’ creative works have found their way into the gaming hobby, how the various books influenced the birth of the roleplaying hobby, some of the legal impacts of the intellectual properties, how various animations and movies inspired tabletop and video games, the successes and failures, and what might be coming on the horizon.
We also discussed at length the fascinating full circle that is the relationship of D&D and Middle-earth and how that had long term impact on the roleplaying hobby. Gary Gygax argued in the late 70s and early 80s how Middle-earth did not influence D&D nor could Middle-earth ever be played in D&D. Today, we have Adventures in Middle-earth which allows you to campaign in the world of Middle-earth using the D&D 5e rules. This spawned a side discussion on the overall impact of Tolkien’s writings on fantasy roleplaying and boardgames in general.
After my presentation, we had a lively time of Q&A running the gamut of topics. Some of my favorite topics were the concerns regarding how the Shadows of Mordor video game represented Tolkien’s writing, how would games (especially RPGs) work in Narnia when Aslan could show up at any moment to save the day, do we feel Tolkien has experienced wargaming in school thus explaining his understanding of large scale battles, would we like to see Lewis’ Space Trilogy made into a game, and why don’t we see games influenced by Owen Barfield or Charles Williams. I wish I could have stayed even later to continue these discussions.
This year, I had not planned on participating in the colloquium as I had scheduling conflicts with work and Friday/Saturday my family are attending graduation open houses. Thus, when I was asked to do the workshop I was willing but could only attend the workshop itself. I had such a great time with this workshop and the conversation after that I wish I was attending the entire event and will plan to do so in the future.
If you attended the workshop, what other questions do you have? I would love to continue our conversation online or perhaps pick it back up at the next colloquium.
For those that were not in attendance at the workshop, how have the Inklings impacted your gaming?