Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why do I need such complicated fun?

So here I am, creating my second blog to avoid having a blog about everything over on Aeron Hemlock.

You see, this is a blog with focus, where the other one is just me rambling about things that I like.

I'm actually still doing that here, but about a more specific class of things that I like: nerdy interests.

Tabletop RPGs, like Dungeons and Dragons. Magic: the Gathering and all the many ways to play it. Vidya games (I don't really know why I find it so hilarious to spell it like that, one day I'll stop). Maybe stories about all these things, which have actually shaped my life in so many ways it's hard to describe. I think a lot of people in my generation are like that.

I grew up playing video games, starting with my NES when I was 3 or 4 years old. My brother and I would play for hours. We tended to leave large gaps between platform purchases in those days, so my first consoles in order were NES, Sega (16 bit), Playstation. I kept up pretty consistently after that, I guess, right up to my PS3 and my not-yet-old gaming PC.

My friendships in my early elementary school years were basically defined by video games. I first encountered a Playstation over at my friend Zach's house, where he introduced me to my first Final Fantasy 7 experience as well. I was 9 years old. We'd spend hours playing through the game and reading all the character's dialog. Mostly him at first, as I was afraid I'd mess something up. That timer in top right corner when you blow up the first reactor was really intimidating to 9 year old me!

I eventually got my own Playstation and my own copy of that game. It still remains a favorite, for all the flaws I'm able to recognize in it now.

I moved to a different state when I was 11, and had a lot of trouble making friends at my new school. During this time, video games were one of my few refuges. I could escape from the daily torture and culture shock that sixth grade entailed.

I managed to make friends, and my interest in video games branched out a bit. I started playing the Pokemon TCG, for example, and I also got into anime. For some reason Sailor Moon started being really interesting when I was 11.

These interests continued into high school. I kept up with the new systems, new anime, abandoned Pokemon for Yu-Gi-Oh, and then abandoned Yu-Gi-Oh for my still present love of Magic: the Gathering.

I met a new group of people in high school, and they introduced me to the wondrous world of Dungeons and Dragons. I played a Paladin in a campaign that lasted nearly 3 years, playing almost every Saturday night. This opened up a whole new world to me, and I'm still friends with many of the people from that game.

I eventually made my own campaign, and my own world to match. Though it started out fairly generic, the world took on a personality of its own as I developed its culture and history and conflicts.

It was when I started working on my second major campaign world about a year go that I asked myself the question, "Why do I need such complicated fun?"

D&D is such a labor of love. You eventually learn to streamline the creation process as a DM somewhat, but it can still take hours of preparation for an adequate gaming experience. Surely there are better ways to spend your time, I'd think to myself. Surely these hours aren't necessary.

But somehow, it is.

The same is true for my other major project, my Peasant Cube for Magic: the Gathering (hereafter referred to as "Magic", because seriously, no one uses the full name that way). It's a big pile of cards that lets you create a custom draft format. It would even take awhile to explain what all that means to someone uninitiated. And creating a Cube is a lot of work as well.

But I do it. Why? Why don't I just choose simpler hobbies?

I think one answer is that simplicity starts to bore me after awhile. There's a part of me that finds the inherent complexity in games like this aesthetically pleasing.

There are certainly hobbies out there with a lot less time investment. But I like my complicated fun, and I hope you will, too.