I am and have been for some time a war gamer. It all started with chess, which I was determined to figure out and which was a little difficult for me but I became a chess player on the Internet and played with various people. There was one old fellow, a retired veteran in British Columbia, and we sent each other a move a day by email for years. We had a lot of good games. He won some and I won some. We were about the same level, so that was a good thing.
When I was younger, not a lot younger but a bit younger, I got interested in a game, called Dungeons and Dragons, that was entering its ‘craze phase’. There was a kind of institution in Toronto called Mr. Gameway’s Ark that had all kinds of games, board games mostly and they had a Dungeons and Dragons section. I used to haunt that section. Then I found out they had kids who played on site. You could come there in the evening after hours and go upstairs and play. I joined in and the kids were a little weird about playing with an adult but they tolerated me and I learned some stuff from them.
I discovered another place that sold D&D stuff. I got invited to one of their games and I went out on a very rainy night to someplace nearly in the suburbs in a high rise apartment building. I was taking my life in my hands but I found out that war gamers were, as it says in Douglas Adams book, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, mostly harmless. I guess they take out all their frustrations in the game. We sat there and played but I decided that I was a damper on the party. A significant part of their playing was smoking weed and I wasn’t really into smoking weed with strangers, miles from nowhere on a rainy night. So I trekked off again having learned some more good pointers from these gamers.
I studied the Dungeons and Dragons manuals and formed a group at my local church hall. There were some young people, my nephew amongst them, who were very intelligent (they were all boys) but they were unsocialized. They didn’t fit in anywhere. They didn’t fit in at school. They were halfway to delinquency. The Minister’s son and my nephew pulled in other players and we started a game.
D&D is is a great socializing mechanism. It brings together folks with brains and imagination and lets them play in terms of the game. These boys went on to become friends and associates and they still keep track of each other. I would say that it made them sane. Instead of being outsiders they were insiders with a special clique of their own. Friendship and other things came out of it, so it was a good thing, a really good thing.
There was one kid in the game. I won’t name him by name but he was what I call a ‘splodger’ . People don’t believe in telepathy and empathy and that sort of thing but I have to explain it in those terms. A splodger is someone who’s mind is broadcasting static continuously because they’re in a negative state. This lad came from an abusive home environment where the kids got hit and then the kids hit each other and so forth, so he was in that mind set. I took about as much of it as I could but I could feel it in the game. When he got excited he just dumped mind waves of agitation over the whole thing. Finally I said, look, this is what you’re doing and I can’t handle it because I’m sort of an empath and I hear this stuff you’re sending out. I have to put you out of the game for a while. That was a big tragedy for him because the game was very important to him. It started him on the road to controlling the mental static he projected. Now, he’s a new-ager and carries around big crystal rocks and stuff like that. Go figure.
Another kid was a (too smart for the group) shit disturber. I ran an in-game voodoo ceremony and transferred his mind into head of a chicken. He was stuck as a chicken for quite a while there. Didn’t like it. He quit eventually.
Again this was in the interest of the game gestalt (an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.). Everybody’s got to play together in a certain way, as a team. Friendships are formed this way. I went on to form a second group, which the first group hated, made up of little kids. Bringing them through and they just loved it!
When I went to visit my sister in San Antonio, my young niece and I, started playing. She was using her smaller toys as avatars (an icon or figure representing a particular person or creature) for the various dragons and monsters and knights and so forth. She really got into it. We sat to play every day and playing became a very big deal. I don’t know if I had any influence but she’s now in graphic design and has worked with Electronic Arts in British Columbia.
In my Podcast on CB Radio I went into some detail on playing D&D over the CB radio but that’s a whole other story.
In short, I like war games. I like Diablo, Dungeons and Dragons. I really liked Guild Wars once but I have moved on to World of Warcraft which I play with my sister in British Columbia for an hour each morning over the Internet. I like killing pixelated monsters while we Chat.
© Sonia Brock 2005