Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Letting Off Steam

The big Steam Summer Sale came and went this past week and much to my wife's delight, we won't have to cut up yet another credit card.  This year was especially dangerous.  Many of the games I expected to go on sale were not already in my library, and some of the games I own have seen the release of a few tasty bits of DLC.  Believe it or not, I may be one of the few gamers out there who has never even touched Skyrim!  Also, I was on vacation last week which meant that I could check the sales whenever I wanted, be ready for flash deals, and even pop over to GOG.com occasionally to see what their summer deals were like.  This year was different… For the first time since discovering Steam, I was not a big spender.  In fact, the total hit to my credit card was right around $15.  I picked up the Witcher and Witcher 2 for myself and Don't Starve along with it's associated DLC for my trio of gamers-in-training. 

Great deals!  But should I have purchased more?  Does this mean I'm losing my geek-credentials?  Have I finally... *gasp*... grown up?

Well have no fear, dear readers!  Despite having a wife, three crazy children, a very full career, and a rigorous daily exercise routine, I'm still a die-hard gamer.  In fact, I'm probably playing more games than I ever have in the past, and yet, you'll barely find me on my Xbox or logged on to my Steam account anymore.  My console of choice has always been an open table, my favorite controller a dice-bag, and in 2014 (a..a "THE FUTURE") I'm playing whatever, whenever, and wherever I want!  This week alone I have two Savage Worlds games scheduled, and am playing The Strange tonight!  

Eighteen months ago I was lucky if I had one pen and paper RPG session scheduled on a given week.  If I was really lucky I could convince my wife to play Three Dragon Ante or kids to sit down for a D&D Basic game out of the old Red Box and Rules Cyclopedia.  In between these rare moments I was slaying mutants and aliens in Borderlands, leading away missions while serving on the Normandy in Mass Effect, or getting the whole family together for something wholesome like Super Smash Brothers. 

... and then the entire family started watching Tabletop on Geek & Sundry and everything changed.  It was slow at first, that Settlers of Catan game we bought my eldest daughter for her birthday in February of 2013.  By the summer of 2013 we just couldn't get enough gaming in our circle of friends and family so my wife and I decided to reach out to the local community and start a family-friendly gaming club: The Norwin Game Knights.  Since our first event in September of 2013 we've grown to over 100 members on our Facebook page and a monthly attendance of around 25-35 gamers.  If you are ever looking for a game in the Pittsburgh area, and have a few kids in tow, look no further! 

We've also been able to use boardgames as a portal for the uninitiated to the greatest form of tabletop gaming: role-playing games!  Most likely because they are my favorite selections, we've featured the wondrously weird Ninth World of Numenera, the many settings and genres of Savage Worlds, and the delightfully inexpensive yet amazingly nostalgic Basic Fantasy RPG.  Even my wife Jen has been fully converted to RPG'ing, something that she swore she would never try again after playing AD&D 2nd Edition in college.   

If I can't find a group at a real table, there is always Google Hangouts, Maptool, Skype, Roll20… the list just goes on and on.  Sometimes a GM needs a recharge, some time to sit on the other side of the GM's Screen.  Were it not for modern technology, I would not have been able to play some wonderful games of MouseGuard this year, or take part in an ongoing play-test for The Strange.  Just this past week I had to turn down an invite to jump into a last minute Dungeon Crawl Classics game since I was packing for a vacation...  

...I can't tell you how much I wanted to tell my wife to just pack all our stuff herself that night!


In a roundabout way the point I'm trying to make is that there is really no excuse anymore to NOT play the games that you want to play as much as possible, even if those games require other people and dice.  I know that many of this blog's readers already have established games, campaigns, or groups, and that most of you out there already know about virtual tabletops, or playing over Skype, or even just how to find a local gaming group on Meetup.com.  But if you don't, you owe it to yourself to unpack those favorite hardback books from the water-resistant containers in your closet, jump on Google+, and start looking for a group.  

Because nothing on Steam can compare to a tabletop game with friends.