The above pictures are of myself (aged 4) and my son (at the same age). I often look at him and wonder if we would have got on had I been the same age and we’d met at school. He actually goes to the same school that I went to, which makes me very happy and regularly makes me think of Hogwarts (though I’m no James Potter – I think I was more like Tom Riddle). My wife says I sometimes act like I’m 4 years old, so there’s every possibility that we get on so well now because mentally the little dude and I are the same age. Still, the thought lingers…..
I’ve yet to find out if he’ll be in the same house as I was….but if he DOES get the blue robe, I’ll definitely start to read him Harry Potter so that he gets a sense of the Generation Game. I’ll do the Ron Weasley voice particularly well – and I have convincing hair.
That stuff is important. I remember a lot of my childhood being magical, up until the age of about twelve or thirteen when mum went into hospital, secondary school was kicking in and things started getting a bit dark and serious.
My son is certainly more dapper now than I was at four, but my own outfit was – as they say – acceptable in the 80s. Actually, I’m having a bit of a lust for the 80s and 90s at the moment: I’m genuinely starting to believe that life was a lot brighter and better then. Let’s look at it from a geek’s point of view:
* Terry Pratchett was writing the best Discworld novels.
* Red Dwarf was brilliantly funny, as both Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were still working together.
* Labyrinth and The Princess Bride were created. The Jim Henson company was creating incredible puppets.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger was making movies with booming soundtracks like Conan the Barbarian and Predator. I loved Total Recall far too much: we all agree he was still in the chair at the end, right?
* CITV was running Knightmare – the best children’s TV gameshow of all time.
* Computers like the Commodore 64 and – later – the Commodore Amiga were throwing up gems like the Dizzy series and, eventually, the awesome Secret of Monkey Island.
* Fantasy RPGs were roaring: Dungeons & Dragons had arrived, spawning Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Call of Cthulhu, two of the greatest tabletop roleplaying games of all time, while the Eye of the Beholder series was proving that all other computer RPGs were pale imitations.
Look at all that. Seriously, just read through it a couple of times: it’s pure gold, it’s Kelly Brook naked, it’s total geek custard.
Nowadays…..I guess we have X-Factor, I’m a Celebrity and Facebook. No, that’s not fair: the geeks aren’t watching that sh*t. Well, maybe for the girls….
But what DO we have now? Well, any roll of honour would have to include the Lord of the Rings movies, Minecraft, the Elder Scrolls gaming franchise….possibly World of Warcraft? But the RPG stuff……just forget it.
RPGs are on the decline.
I can only speak for the area I live in: Thanet is a small community, comprising of the towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs. Apart from a few groups here and there, people don’t seem capable of tabletop gaming any more: the idea of sitting across from other human beings, talking face to face and playing a role in a world of pure imagination……well, is just unthinkable for most of today’s ‘gamers’. They’d far prefer to sit at a computer with a headset on, occasionally even in the same room as the people they’re playing alongside and/or against. It’s sad, and it’s taking its toll on the amount of social confidence that geeky teens can muster: something they were well in short supply of to begin with.
I once handed out some D&D flyers at Costa Coffee (yeah, I am THAT guy) and tried to spread the word about just how much fun fantasy RPGs can be. The responses I got from both guys and girls (shockingly, more girls asked about it than guys) were a mixture of horror (“My thinks it’s witchcraft!”) and pride (“I wouldn’t do anything like that in case my friends found out…”), but – mostly – bafflement (“You’ve explained it really well, but I just don’t have a clue what it is. It sounds REALLY complicated.”)
In fact, if you’ve ever attended a murder mystery party at a hotel or at someone’s house, you’ve pretty much played a very childish version of Dungeons & Dragons. If you’ve always wondered about RPGs and want to give them a go, find out where your local groups are and get in touch with the folks that run them. They’re usually good people who end up becoming great friends. Here’s our bunch over a span of five or six years: we’ve been gaming together for nearly a decade! Avast!