I have a confession today. I am almost 47 years old, but I am still more than a bit of a little boy when it comes to games. I tend to be a monogamist when it comes to games. As a child I went through phases with many different board games like Monopoly and Battleship and Scrabble. As a new computer user I got really hooked for several years on Tetris. And then I went online for the first time and stumbled into Multi User Dimensions. It was a sort of Dungeons and Dragons– but played with people all over the world and with none of that tiresome fixation on various-sided die and no need to continually buy additional sets to keep the game fresh.
I spent hours and hours every day using Telnet to connect to quark.gmi.edu: 4150. Honestly, I had never been real big on Dungeons and Dragons; some folks took it so seriously that it was hard for a casual player not to exhaust their enthusiasm, long before the perpetual arguments about what a particular roll Really meant in terms of game play or just how the words in the book should be interpreted could get fully underway, let alone resolved. In my real life experience, D & D people were dull because they rarely wanted to talk about anything else. The wonderful thing about Timewarp was that it was a place I could constantly chat with an ever-expanding roster of good friends that I talked to every day, and whose real lives I was a part of, as they were a part of mine. Online friends, and particularly people I met on Timewarp changed my life, perhaps as much or more as any other experience.
My friend Mangus, it eventually developed worked in Tech Support at Microsoft. When I pissed and moaned about my job one day, he said to me “Why don’t you move out here, Outofit. I could help you get a job with a tech company.” I had long decided that Boston was not the right place for me. And when I kept on talking to him, and he seemed to honestly believe that I could get a much better job in Seattle, I quit my crappy job and my crappy apartment, leased a new Toyota for three hundred bucks and set off down the yellow brick road to Oz. In Chicago I stayed with one online friend (on Christmas Eve– she took me to her sister’s dinner and they made me feel like family, even though I had never before met them face to face). I detoured to San Rafael, California to visit and stay with a friend who had fled Boston not too long before me and had a great job with a Marin software company. After a breathtakingly beautiful and deeply emotional, almost spiritual seven day journey I docked in Tacoma, Washington and spent three month’s camping out on my incredibly generous and wonderful friend Loofa’s couch. All of these people were just “folks I played games with”. But they all gave me food, a place to stay and a real chance to change my life so much for the better, that I know I will never, ever be able to re-pay them– except of course to the extent that I too extend love and kindness to people around me who are in need at the moment they pass through my life.
Today Spiggi told me that “friends and games are unrelated.” This post is to reply, in friendship and without rancor that that is the most asinine thing I have ever heard.