This past October marked twenty-five years of roleplaying for me. It all started in a small town in Maryland where a nine year old Ken Spencer found no friends and a lot of free time. Saving up my allowance, I purchased the red boxed set of Dungeons and Dragons at a kay-be toy store. Little did I know that it would change my life forever.
That I got into gaming was not mere happenstance, but fate. My father was an avid Avalon Hill boardgamer and occasional miniature wargamer, I had several cousins who played D&D, and unbeknownst to me at the time my sister was also a roleplayer. Both my parents were (and still are) voracious readers and very imaginative people. Naturally I would gravitate to a hobby that played off these factors.
Opening that big red box, coloring the numbers on the dice, and flipping through the pages opened a whole new world (or worlds) to me. From gaming I learned how to write, to tell a story, to see the world through another’s eyes. Critical thinking and decision making skills were taught without me even knowing it, plus lots of lessons about math and probability. I am told by those in athletics that sports teach important lessons about teamwork and integrity. Well, so does taking down an ancient red dragon, saving the princess, stopping the alien hordes, and all those things we gamers do vicariously on a regular basis.
My gaming has evolved since those first nights sitting alone at the kitchen table and wandering through every solo adventure I could find. When I look back at all the games I have played, it is a road map of this hobby and industry. D&D, AD&D, the White Wolf revolution, BRP, Call of Cthulhu, GRUPS, MERP, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Boothill, Pendragon, Star Trek, Star Wars, d6, d20, d100, 7th Sea, L5R, and I could name a hundred more.
Now that hobby has become a career (and a paying one at that), and to think my folks thought it was a passing fad. Best of all, I have made lifelong friends with those I met around the gaming table; one even introduced me to my wife. So here’s a big thank you to all those I shared some dice and bad pizza with (in no particular order): Ted Snider (the Godfather), Jeff Gilbert (and our newest player, Kelly), Bill and Briony Yocum, Dan and Peter Carlin (my first follower), Jeff Luzadas (teach your kids to play), Ralph, Ashley D’Cruz, Marco Silva, Dave Joiner, Tad and Suzanne Wesley, Jeremy Hedge, Jordan Criss, Kyle Hopkins, Eric Decker, Snapp (no hard feelings), Kent, Mullis, Twitch (may you be rolling dice in the afterlife), Lori Tankersly, Krisit Kinnamen, Autumn Knicely, Ben, Kevin Mulloy (wherever you are), Ty and Nick Brewer, Tod Pultz, Big Mark, Art, Cody Wilkenson, Puerto Rico Jim, Dave Seneff, Mondo, Chris Fitzpatrick, Carlos Fernandez (did my order come in?), Tim Hume, Anjie Hillman Richhart, Andy Wilson, Jack Stutzman, Hawk, Keldon Salyer, Crazy Ivan, Amy, Dawn (Big Sis) Spencer, Kari and Chris DeWitt (first of first cousins), and allo the others who have passed through our imaginations.