Monday, September 12, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out - But Where Are the Elves?

Let’s talk a little bit about the world’s most popular role-playing experience. A group of friends gets together on a regular basis to hang out. They’ve spent all week talking about it. Some of them set up laptops at the table. Some of them come prepared with notebooks and pencil. They spend a few moments trash-talking, ordering food, getting drinks. The host calls everything to order and soon, the table is off to pretending.

No, it’s not Dungeons & Dragons.

No, it’s not World of Warcraft.

I’m talking about fantasy football.

I’m from Milwaukee. I was sad that Gen Con moved away and even more sad that nothing has come around to take its place locally. But one of the best things about Gen Con Indy are the Saturdays. On the Saturday of the con weekend, there is almost always an exhibition game for the Indianapolis Colts. The convention center and the RCA Dome share a common hallway. The best part of the whole day is watching hardcore football fans and hardcore gaming fans mix and mingle. The guy with his face painted in white and blue is looking at the guy dressed as his Vampire character and thinking “What a weirdo.” The guy dressed as Starke Crimsyn is thinking the same thing about Peyton Manning’s #1 fan.

There is more common ground between tabletop roleplaying and fantasy football. The excellent FX show The League is about a group of friends who live for a fantasy football league. But the characters are perfect archetypes for any hobby. The Guy Who Just Shows Up. The Guy Who Plays For Himself. The Guy Who Drags His SO Along. I’ve seen all of these guys at my table at some point.

These similarities inspired me to run a game for some co-workers. Watching people who have never played before is a wonderful experience. Seeing someone’s eyes light up the first time they come up with a great plan, or make the critical strike, or even fail a dramatic roll is the way to get people hooked on the hobby. (One of my co-workers still talks about how she should have tried for the lower difficulty when sneaking past the goblins. Next time, Abby.)

Both gaming and fantasy football are social activities. I’m excited at the opportunity this week has for people sharing positive experiences with their hobbies. It’s not important how you get together with friends to spend time with them, whether you’re the leader of Starfleet’s NCC-1702 or Milwaukee’s Black and Brew football team. It’s that you spend that time together creating memories.