So, having been blathering on about how I don't have much to say for myself these days, I find myself sitting in this armchair of mine, waiting (as I have been for the last thirteen hours) for my World of Warcraft account/computer hardware to let me play the damn Cataclysm beta already, and ruminating on the whole gaming thing (I ruminate quite a lot when I've been eating raisins and drinking tea all afternoon with nothing special to do).
I've been gaming - by which I mean 'playing Nerd Games of the sort that get you laughed at and misinterpreted by the popular kids and at serious risk of turning into Mark Barrowcliffe
*' - for fifteen years this month.
Occasionally, when introducing myself to a new gaming community (especially online, where the social mores that usually shut me up by the time I've reached this stage simply don't exist), I find myself establishing my gamer cred, recalling how long it's been, and end up thinking something along the lines of "crikey, I've grown up!" or "man, and to think my nan said I'd give it up before I turned thirteen".
It's weird, really. I've had friendships, career choices, whole personalities
, be born and grow old and wither quietly away in that time, and yet I have never quite lost my deep-seated affection for painting little pewter men or sitting down with a bunch of amateur dramatists and pretending to be wizards for four hours a fortnight. There have been times where it's been less of a thing in my life - I used to play PC games a lot
more than I do now, and I've given up miniature games for two out of those fifteen years (either because I couldn't afford to maintain the habit, or didn't want to) - but there's been no point where I wouldn't have been easily pegged as a gamer, whilst adamantly refusing to identify as one (I'm a person who plays games and thinks about them quite a lot - it's NOT a lifestyle choice, it's NOT!).
Some of the fastest friendships - in fact, damn near all of them - in my life have either been made or reinfored through miniature and roleplaying games. In the throes of two minor nervous breakdowns, I've still been sitting there cranking out army lists, plot arcs, half-baked fanfiction and increasingly less mediocre paint jobs. I came this close
to being half of a gaming couple (hark
dabbles in WoW, paints the odd figure and plays Dark Heresy with my regular group, but her involvement seems to be on-again off-again, enthusiastic enough whilst participating but not inclined to think about things between sessions) and still frequently find myself wondering what that would have been like.
I'm not sure if this is going anywhere Deep. Maybe this is a very roundabout way of admitting that I am actually a Gamer, that my hobbies are important enough to me to sometimes jolt my priorities away from adult stuff like "thinking about work" and "paying the rent". Maybe I'm just maudlin 'cause I've been wanting to roll up and playtest a Worgen all bloody day and am watching bars fill up.
(You can argue that Warcraft is basically an exercise in watching bars fill up, but at least it comes with eye candy that's quite impressive, in a cartoonish sort of way, and a decent enough instant messaging program.)
Thinking about it, I've also been doing the World of Warcraft thing for a year, more or less to the day (and still don't quite have a character at level 80, although goodness knows I would have if I could have stopped myself re-rolling quite so bloody often). It started as a kind of experiment - "can twelve million people really be wrong about this?" - and honestly it's become more of a serious pastime, if only because I still haven't gone anything like anywhere or seen anything like everything and it's a rare computer game that can occupy me for nine months (stopped when I first moved down to the south west) and still have some space that I've not explored.
Still trying to get in with the actual roleplaying crowd, which was the original point of the enterprise, but maybe the expansion will present an opportunity there, since nobody will have established personal plotlines or rep involving Worgen (or maybe they'll just write me off as a grubby werewolf-fancying Twilight fan... honestly, werewolves come in for so much bloody flak between that and furrydom that it's a wonder anyone has any enthusiasm for them at all).
Patch is nearly done. Let's go and see if this is (finally) it.
ETA: no, it's not. Blizzard, we need to talk. I understand it's still in development and such, and you did have the courtesy to explain to us iggerant casuals that actually it may just stop working
sometimes, but seriously, ten hours of rolling patches and the closest I've got to my wolf is a login screen. I cannot playtest a game which I cannot actually play. My feedback capacity is slightly limited if all I can say is "the blue on the loading bar gives me a headache after the fourth time".
Obviously, my fat privileged arse is hardly inconvenienced by spending a day waiting for something that doesn't even warrant a place on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and people have to spend fourteen hours walking to their nearest source of clean water. I comment out of wry amusement rather than actual vexation, although the bit about the headache is actually true.
* - who actually strikes me as quite a nice chap, in an ironic kind of way, even if bits of 'The Elfish Gene' touched a few nervy nerves when I first read it a couple of years ago and couldn't imagine walking past a Games Workshop branch and thinking "my god, it's full of nerds