All the World's a Stage

All the World's a Stage

and all the men and women merely players
— William Shakespeare

Halloween is upon us! The time of year, where no one looks twice at a horror movie psycho or a cute human sized piece of candy corn passing by. Ok, so maybe they take a double-take, but it's just to check out the costume and not because it's weird. FINE, not because it is THAT weird! Flesh eating zombie or delectable sweet treat, the holiday festivities give us a chance to express ourselves and often outlandishly. 

halloween-1145367_1280.jpg

Halloween gives us a chance to escape the everyday grind. Just don a mask and be someone else for a time. An opportunity to be creative or share your likes in the form of a costume.  Something to spice up hanging out with friends. The kids love it too! Though, I'm hard pressed to figure out if it's truly the candy or the costumes with them.

Why do we do it though? Halloween, that is.  Why do we rack our brains over what to be. Explore endless costume racks or thrift stores. Spend an obscene amount of money, if only, to compensate for the short amount of thought or time we invested. 

Tradition, right! It's what we always do. How about because it's fun? I mean, it only comes once a year, right? When else am I going to get to dress up? 

Ok, maybe this guy won't miss Halloween anytime soon! 

Ok, maybe this guy won't miss Halloween anytime soon! 

Then how about theater, Comic Con, or Historical reenactments?   

Theater: We pay big money to watch, or maybe, experience theater.  We audition for the opportunity to play a part.  Skits are used on big time shows like Dancing with the Stars to amplify dancing competitions, they preempt Christmas choir performances, and are used in comedy all the time. Ever watched SNL? We prize actors of the silver screen, paying our favorites absurd amounts of money. People pay for the privilege to observe, to experience, to be entertained.

Comic Con: Maybe you've heard of them? They attract thousands, the biggest break over a hundred thousand attendees per convention. Thanks to the internet and our obsession with images, we are inundated with pictures of extravagant costumes. Super heroines, Anime,  cartoon characters and everything in between!  There are even shows, contests, and prizes dedicated to creating costumes.   

cosplay-1759290_1280 (1).jpg

Historical reenactments: There is something to be said about retelling history. Reenactments help us get in the mindset of other times, other places.  Reenactments are a long held tradition and often held in a different purview.  Is time what gives these activities their general acceptance? Is it the value of passing on history?  

english-civil-war-1712677_1280.jpg

So, I ask you, what's your costume? What's your mask?

Let's broaden the topic even further and see just how far the rabbit hole goes. Maybe you like yourself better after a beer buzz. Is that suit you wear to work, for show? Maybe you feel empowered by it.  Do you feel different with the jersey of your favorite team on? What if you were a player on the Chicago Cubs, a police officer, or a doctor? What's the difference between a uniform and a costume? Aren't these just more masks? 

Shakespeare famously said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players".

This has me thinking that many of us are too quick to write ourselves off.  You think you're weird? We are all weird! Can you even imagine what some alien would think of Broadway? It isn't weird that you like to be someone or something else sometimes.  It isn't weird or wrong that you feel different in different clothes. Identity is powerful and we identify with how we look, how others look.   

I didn't even mention Chess Club, you probably got it the worst! 

I didn't even mention Chess Club, you probably got it the worst! 

Many role players who grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s are shy to speak their interests. Not unlike drama club or band camp, Dungeons & Dragons was polarizing and often regarded as a nerd hobby. Any game that resembled it, was often attributed the same stigma. The funny thing is, people are playing role playing games all around us. They always have. When you were young, maybe you had tea parties with your imaginary friends. You played Cops & Robbers or Cowboys & Indians. Maybe, you just sat on the sofa imitating British accents or cartoon voices. Who has ever been to a themed dance or a masquerade ball? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, whatever nerd stigma came of the past is no longer so divisive, so ostracizing. Given how widely we imitate others or mask ourselves, it never should have been in the first place. 

Take a minute to consider how you hide your hobbies. Ask yourself, does it matter anymore?  Worse, am I not including someone else in what makes me happy?

Don't hide your games from the public. Don't make excuses. Times haven't changed, we are just starting to see them differently. Thank yooou, Internet! 

The next time you need another player for your game. Don't just think about who plays the games you do. Consider the kid practicing the British accent. Consider Dad who is reenacting Pickett's charge this weekend. Ask anyone who ever auditioned for theater, or ever wanted too.

Your next player is right in front of you, quit looking past them.

-Pete

Make time for what you love

Make time for what you love

To create a game is to learn that gaming is more important than your creation.  The activity is bigger than the product.  The product is a tool of the activity, not the other way around.  The same could be said about any creative endeavor.

We live in an interesting world.  There is so much to do, so much to see!  I'm reminded every time I check my email.  Hey, more deals from Travelzoo, Tripadvisor, Groupon, Priceline, etc. etc.  Stimulating content is everywhere.  Marketing floods our mailboxes, leads the lists of our search engines, and surrounds our shows.  Cell phones, tablets, and our connection to the internet keep something interesting, something attention grabbing, within arm's reach.  When was the last time you were bored?  I didn't ask the last time you had to replace your cell phone. I mean really bored.  Bored enough to try something new.   

A war is fought, constantly, for your attention.  Your attention is precious, and you only have so much of it.  Think about it.  When do you have a valuable attention span?  What do you do with it?  We are often left to make due after a long day at work, chores, or "taking care" of family.  When do you spend time with what you love?  

If there is a war for your attention, and let's say there is!  Otherwise...yeah, let's just say there is.  Spend time doing what you love!  Everything that you love, is under attack!  In the battle for attention, we must make it a point to spend time doing what we love.  Because when we are not, we are allowing all the distractions, all the advertising, all the junk, to occupy our valuable time.  Look around, it isn't just you or me.  The clutter is robbing us of time with our loved ones too. 

The point is, if you are not standing up for what you love, you are letting it wither.  Letting it fade into the background.  So many things are vying for your time and the time of others, don't lose the things you love.  Maybe you fly kites, maybe you fix muscle cars, maybe you write a column for your local paper.  When people no longer pay attention to the activity, what is left of it?  When people no longer remember the activity, what is left of it?  If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  Don't let your thing go quietly.

I love role playing games.  We have been through thick and thin. Like a constant companion, we have visited dangerous places, taken risks, and faced great challenges.  I have many great friends, and we have many great memories, thanks to these games.  I have been able to explore new worlds and express myself, my creativity, without the judgement of everyday life.  I've been many different characters among many different lives.  

Profess your love, don't hide from it.  Don't hide it from other people.  

Take the time to stand up for what you are passionate about.  Make a point to pursue the things you love, before it fades into the background, behind the noise of notifications or on the other side of a mindless iphone game.

Make time for what you love. 

-Pete

Telling Stories (A clear path)

I know it is not done because I can see my dream with perfect clarity now.
— J.K.

This past weekend, I took Dreamchaser on the road to GrandCon.  Shout out to "We hate bards!"  You guys rule!  I had a really cool demo game there that I want to share.  My players, whom we will leave anonymous for the time being, pitched a personal dream of their own.  You see, they work together on a project with aspirations of a comic, card game, role playing game, novels, movies, you name it.  They wanted to play a game after their own empire building.  So we played that game. 

The story was about running a business out of your home and growing it to the size of your ambitions.  It was a tale about partnerships, and how to work with a friend.  It was about the trials and tribulations that come with any creative endeavor and the people that persevered.  The characters were very much the players themselves, if not a bit fictionalized.  We shared in the sensory feelings of what success feels like.  The pride that comes with accomplishment tempered by the adversity of doubt.  Let's call them Adam and Andrea, they know who they are.  I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to name them.  Pipe down and listen!  Adam and Andrea saved their company from a possible lawsuit that threatened to tear down their little startup.  They shared the story with their employees at their 2 year anniversary.  Even as the characters found success, new problems were realized.  How do I perfect my project?  What does that look like?  In the face of adversity, Andrea experienced her "ah ha!" moment.  Adam got to compose the final song on the soundtrack for their major motion picture.  What was their dream you ask?  They wanted to be thanked by strangers.  They wanted to be thanked for inspiring perfect strangers.

They inspired me! It was really awesome to play out something so personal, so real.  

So, about the quote at the top.  I imagine Andrea struggles with creatively "getting it right" in her real life just as her character did in the first half of our game.  What is the right story, the perfect story for her comics, games, books, and movies?  What is the right way to tell that story or talk about that world in her multitude of mediums?  When Andrea spoke, "I know it is not done because I can see my dream with perfect clarity now," we did something special. 

Andrea bested her own demons, if only for a game session, and got to experience what that clarity was like.  What she could do with it. 

life-862965.jpg

Man, is that cool!  It was a rags to riches story but creatively speaking.  They really didn't care about the money, as long as they had enough to fund their projects.  Most games are not played that close to the chest!  I'm glad to see the game can help people realize their dreams, if they want it to.  Until next time! 

-Pete