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The second question in the series:


Most computer and table top gamers talk about "The Good Old Days", is this true for your gaming life and why so? As a follow-up, do you think you can recapture the "good old days," or do you think they're gone forever, if they aren't just romantic memories to begin with?

Honestly, I'm not being at all political when I say that I think there are both good old days and good new days, at least for video games. I am glad to have been around at the dawn of the video game -- to have seen the whole evolution thus far. I think it gives me a context that younger gamers just don't have. They have no idea how remarkable those little pixels were when they first appeared in the arcades. Heck, for that matter, they don't remember when arcades were in their prime. I loved Pac Man, Space Invaders, Centipede, Defender, and other quarter-eaters. I feel partially responsible for raising my dear Dad's blood pressure by forcing him to compete with a 12-year old's reflexes on our Atari! *laughs* I still dust them off and play them from time to time.

However, there is so much more that can be done in gaming with the technological advances that have occurred. Designers can realize almost anything they can imagine, without being confined to the degree that they once were in terms of graphics and memory. Entire virtual worlds, like Dark Age of Camelot and Anarchy Online, have been created. Rich storytelling and interactivity is now possible. In fact, that interactivity brings me to the other sort of gaming you mentioned: the tabletop genre.

From what I have observed at conventions, there seems to be a certain core group of tabletop gamers. Now, if you're talking traditional RPGs, for the most part, that population is aging. It's still a loyal market, but I don't get the impression that it's a market that's attracting a great number of new players. If we include CCGs as tabletop games, then that changes things: there are definitely younger gamers willing to dedicate their time there. It's a bit ironic: it's so hard to get people to commit and to schedule; to dedicate themselves to a regular tabletop RPG session, and yet I see people spending hours playing a CCG (I've done it myself), because there's the perception that it's easy to have a quick pick-up game with a deck, and then they have another game, and another, and often times they've spent as much, if not more time, than a pen-and-paper session would require!

I'm not saying that there aren't new roleplayers coming along: they definitely exist. I've met them. They just won't have the heritage, the history of the true pen-and-paper experience. Roleplaying online removes the obstacles of traffic and distance; there's no need for dice and pausing to calculate this roll or that roll, and the storyteller doesn't have to spend time describing the background, because it's all there on the screen.

While it's true that computer games have yet to meet the flexibility and personal attention of a good GM's imagination -- I'd be surprised if they ever did attain that! -- I have had online roleplaying experiences that met and exceeded anything I have experienced in a tabletop environment. Both have their strengths and weaknesses -- you miss the nuances of tone and expression in online play, for example -- but overall, I think the convenience of gathering online, for better or for worse, is going to continue to trump the personal get-together.

I miss tabletop in sort of a nostalgic way, but it's so hard to find a good group, and then to keep said group going with all the demands of our adult lives . . . maybe when we get a house. If the time ever jells again, I can tell you this much: I'd definitely make use of Campaign Cartographer to sketch the world out. In my opinion, it's a really nifty tool for the serious GM.

Sakes, talking about it, I'm suddenly having this wistful longing for a cozy basement with the gaming staples of pizza and soft drinks. *sigh* Not enough days in the week, it seems, and too much else to do right now in our lives. If we did get it going, we'd have to isolate the poor cat, as she has a fascination with gaming dice. She's batted several of my husband's favorites into under-sofa oblivion. *grins*

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