This is a special week in the Gdaycave. Gdaygirl, my firstborn progeny, graduates from high school, and Gdayboy, already verging on 6′ tall, graduates from junior high. Both will be having ceremonies with caps and gowns and all that stuff, and I’ll get to sit there being all proud and stuff and wondering where all the years went. It’s hard not to be nostalgic during life milestones like this, and I find myself thinking back to my own nascent nerd days, in a different country, in a different time.
It’s hard to imagine, my dear Losties, but there was a time when reveling in your dorkery was not a socially acceptable option for a teenager. Board games hadn’t reached their golden age, and people who enjoyed RPGs were actively persecuted. Yes, I know this still happens for many, but the world has come such a long way since my (then) stepfather introduced me to D&D in … I want to say 1985 (Let me tell you about my Half-Elf Thief-Assassin!). My mind swam with Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance books, Piers Anthony’s Xanth tales, Terry Brooks in Shanarra, Eddings with the Belgariad – all before I even discovered Terry Pratchett.
I got my first Prince August miniature mold back in 1989, and made myself a little viking dude, painted it with Testors enamels, and got a taste for little metal army mans. I even came across some people playing the original Warhammer Fantasy Battles (you know, back when your unit of wood elves would advance and yell “Surprise! Werebear!” before revealing that half the front line of the unit were actually enormous, furry killing machines). 1990 and 1991 saw a lot of AD&D 2nd Edition, and painting the (by current standards) primitive plastics of Heroquest and Space Crusade.
In 1992, my first year of university, I met and joined the university gamers group, UNEGA. I played Magic: The Gathering in Revised edition, and picked up an Undead army for Warhammer back when Nagash had the silliest hat in town. I played more D&D, the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, Super Squadron, Hunter Planet, Shadowrun, and years down the line the World of Darkness introduced me to some of my most intense roleplaying experiences under our Storyteller, Damien. Over those same years we ran multiple full seasons of Blood Bowl as well.
Immigrating to Canada put the brakes on the gaming for a number of years largely because I didn’t have the gaming connections, but the Heroclix dropped, and through running Heroclix events, and making friends through online gaming – Freedom Force and City of Heroes in particular – kicked open the doors to where we are now. Heroclix led to VS System, and then once I became a regular patron at The Hobby Kingdom (may it rest in peace), Gorten Grundback’s battlebox marked my return to miniature gaming. Once Upper Deck pulled the plug on the original incarnation of VS System (anyone local interested in trying the new incarnation? I’ve *got* cards, I’d love to play…), Warmachine became Lost Hemisphere’s focus and there was much rejoicing.
In more recent years Age of Sigmar and 40K have been dabbled with, I’m running a D&D campaign for some coworkers, and thanks to Ninja Steve and the Admiral (Hi, Victoria!) I’ve been able to indulge in the glorious Nerd Mecca that overtakes Indianapolis every August. Amazing games are being released all over the place, I’m learning to fight the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but I’m still keen to see the new offerings – Riot Quest from Privateer, the Fallout RPG from Modiphius, Malifaux 3rd ed, and word on the internetz is that Shoshie will be painting at the Judgement booth.
My gaming origins were small and humble, and it certainly doesn’t escape my notice that a number of my gaming friends weren’t even born when I first picked up a d20, but looking back over the past few decades, there’s been so many geeky good times, and the long and dorky road has led met to where I am today.
Nostalgia is a hell of a thing. Nerdmaste, my friends.