By Richard Bleil
Trying to think of a topic for today’s blog, I jokingly asked a friend about what I should blog.
She suggested gaming.
It’s an interesting choice. I do enjoy some games. I like a nice game of chess, but usually I like role-playing games, the best known of which is probably Dungeons and Dragons. Don’t worry, I’ll write this for a general audience, not just fellow gamers.
What I enjoy about role-playing games is that there are no “winners” or “losers” among the players. You win as a team, or you fail as a team. I have known some people who are difficult to game with, to be sure, those players who insist that their character be the star in every story line, but generally speaking,, this is a relatively rare occurrence.
These are storytelling games, but the storytellers are the players. There is always one “game master” who controls the overarching story line and the challenges for the players, but it is up to the players themselves to figure out how to overcome these problems.
The game is based in magic, so the players create characters that have a special skill set. Fighters are tough, magicians cast spells, rogues are thieves and so forth. One of my favorite characters was named “Peace”, a cursed Warforge. The Warforge were basically robots built to fight, but somehow managed to gain self-awareness, and thus became sentient beings. My character’s “curse” was that he could taste. I certainly had fun playing with this curse.
I had a habit of ticking off my game master. As a wizard, we were in a water trap. One door wouldn’t open until the other is closed. Easy enough, close the door we entered in, and open the door on the other end, but the room was under water, and the door opened inwards. The rushing water made it impossible to close that door, so the trap was drowning. To inhibit the power of the wizard, the wizard had to choose spells at the beginning of the day, and there was a limit to how many spells they could cast. That day, I had an ice-wall spell memorized, so, I cast on ice wall against the wall on the ocean side, blocking the door. Close the door, and re-open the one we entered in.
“I expected that to be more of a struggle,” the game master lamented. Sorry buddy.
I learned a lot from playing these types of games. For one thing, it greatly enhanced my self-confidence. My gaming community got me involved in the local renaissance fair group, and before long I started dressing in “Ren garb”. Eventually I was so comfortable with this that I rather enjoyed wearing it on my hundred mile drive home. As I would stop for supper, I would walk in and greet the other patrons. I loved it when somebody would say “Oh, did you come from a Ren fair?” I would look at them quizzically and reply, “no…why?”
The interesting thing about gaming is when I started drawing parallels between the fantasy world, and the real world. Back in the ’80’s there was a propaganda movie made, designed to scare people off of role-playing, where one of the main players goes insane, unable to distinguish reality from game play. I know, it sounds as if I might be suffering the same thing, but if you think about it, there really is not that much of a difference anyway. Each of us have a certain skill set, some better at somethings than others, and we have a set of challenges that we need to overcome. We apply our skill sets as best we can to overcome these problems, just like in the game.
Periodically, I create a character to play when needed. Richard Bleil never taught chemistry; that was Professor Bleil. Richard Bleil was never the leader of a school, that was Dean Bleil. These different personas had skill sets that were well-matched to overcome their obstacles. For example, Dr. Bleil was well versed in chemistry (which, honestly, I am), so there was not need to have problems with public speaking.
We all play various roles like this. We are different around our friends than we are around strangers, or parents, or at work. We use different skill sets in different settings to help us be successful. Billy Joel recorded a song called “The Pretender” that addresses this phenomenon. Just keep in mind, all of these personas are you. My recommendation is to “play them” to be honest to the way you believe they should be. And by all means, use their abilities to supplement your own. For example, that character that wants to speak to that person to whom you are attracted is respectful and confident, right? RIGHT?