He didn't play them as an adolescent because he was raised religious in the 80s and so, y'know, Satan
. But in an attempt to sample all the geeky things he has not yet experienced he spent four days at a gaming convention and immersed himself in role-playing games. And he loved it.
VanDerWerff is easily my favorite AV Club reviewer. I look forward to reading the heck out of this series.
#1: Dungeons & Dragons | Games | Nerd Curious | The A.V. Club
At first, I have trouble letting go, letting myself be someone else. The idea of narrating all of the actions my alter ego is undertaking is strange to me, and when people keep asking me to describe what it looks like when I do something, it strikes me as incredibly odd. I’m a writer, of course, and I’ve written my share of fiction. But this is so… naked, so improvisatory, so out-there. There’s no way to go back and edit, and when other players keep trying to draw my character into conversation, there’s that remove, that sense that I always have that I’m me, but also someone standing behind me and watching what I’m doing. I keep trying to deflect the game itself with easy jokes—in Apocalypse World, about a goat I’ve invented for myself as a pet. It’s a way of coping with the fact that I’m still slightly out of my depth, I imagine, but it feels almost as if I can’t give myself over to the spirit of the thing.
But in Dungeon World, it all clicks. The GM asks me about Lenore’s history, and I invent the bullshit about her abbey being destroyed by the horde and the god I worship. And then Mike—who’s playing this one with me—writes it down on an index card and pins it on a board. This is because the game I’m in is part of a series of games, constructed to build a shared universe that will develop all through the weekend. It begins to snap into place for me. What I’ve just said is real, or as real as any fiction ever is. The other players over the next few days will see that card on the board, and Lenore’s abbey will still be destroyed for them. I’ve invented a building full of people and killed them all, and as it goes up on the board, it’s thrilling.
I finally start to lose myself. When my compatriots raise the necessary gold to restore me from the gem in which I am imprisoned, I cheer.