Anyone remember this poster? I think I remember seeing it adorning the walls of every elementary school classroom I happened to inhabit. You could call it hokey and painfully simple and lame and you’d probably be right on every count. But there’s also just enough truth to keep you from dismissing it altogether.
In a similar way, I feel like I have learned a lot about life from gaming. The number of forums I could post this in without feeling the need to take an insurance policy out on my credibility is somewhat limited. But I think that is probably more a function of how gaming is perceived rather than its relative truth.
So here, for your timekilling pleasure, is “All I Need to Know in Life, I Learned From Gaming.”
I never cease to be amazed by the timeless quality of pencil and paper role playing games. Just when I start to ease myself back into my oversized old man armchair, telling tales of the “good old days” of gaming, I am shocked to discover how many people still play Dungeons and Dragons, or Shadowrun, or the White Wolf: The Whatevering du jour.
I mean, it really doesn’t get any more low-def than a blunt pencil and a paper character sheet riddled with erase marks and Mountain Dew stains. Forget high-poly counts, there are no polygons at all. No tessellation, no supersampling, no high dynamic range rendering, no slick user interface, and no high dollar celebrity voiceover work (though my friend Jimmy has a great nasal RP accent which alone made any game he DMed worthwhile). So how is it possible that a game whose engine is built around a series of plastic polyhedral dice can still somehow hold our attention?
As it turns out, tabletop games still own the one critical aspect of immersion that video games haven’t been able to fully duplicate: the gravity of choice.