Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Went to the local comic shop to pick up a copy of 1602 #2. Back in the day I was a pretty big comics fan, and I still have a box of old favorites sitting in the closet. So a comic shop isn't exactly new territory to me, though last month was the first time I'd set foot in one in close to a decade. Last time, the smell was enough to make me wax nostalgic, but that didn't happen this time. Instead, I headed straight to the rack to browse and eavesdrop.

"...but he can't hurt her even if he tries, so it's obvious they're linked somehow. Personally, I think they're the same person, which means that the meteor is probably what split them up, and it'll be able to join them up again, too. Should be interesting."

The conversation went on from there, but I was distracted by the fact that I wasn't finding 1602, which would necessitate a trip to the other comic shop. And yeah, they were out of it. Dammit.

First of all, the other comic shop isn't really a comic shop. It's a role playing games shop with a rack or two of comics. And RPGs are a thinga apart from comics. Neil Gaiman doing a story about Marvel Universe characters set in Elizabethan England? That's enough to lure me back into comics, at least enough to read the one. And then there are the movies, which take the stories of my childhood and reshape them like the modern mythology that they are into movies that move me better than 90% of the crap Hollywood puts out. But I can't imagine what it would take to lure me back into role playing games.

Yes, I used to game. A long time ago. And my girlfriend used to game. A long time ago. And I have friends who still game. But "game" is not a verb, or at least, it isn't in my dictionary. Not anymore.

For some reason, the conversation of gamer geeks grates on me in a way that comics geeks don't. This is what I heard in the game shop:

"I love philosophy class. Anything that makes people think outside the box."

"Dude, don't say 'outside the box'. I fucking hate that phrase."

"At least he didn't say 'outside the Skinner box'."

"Have you ever heard anybody say 'outside the Skinner box'?"

"No. But we were talking about philosophy, and it's not that far a leap to psychology."

"That reminds me, man, do you have any more of those puzzle boxes in?"

I'm standing here with a very broad brush in my hand, and it'd be easy to use it to paint every gamer the same shade of Egotistical Asshole. But there are loads of gamers out there for whom RPGs are just another way to spend time with friends, one that happens to also be an avenue for creative collective storytelling. In fact, one of the reasons I quit gaming was because it siphoned off my creative juices, and I no longer felt the same drive to create that I felt pushing me to write poetry, take pictures, plot novels, etc. But the main reason I quit is that I got tired of listening to crap like that.

Postlude: They didn't have it either. Good thing I'm going to Kansas City this weekend.

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