Hero Time

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Part 1 of 1, by Jay Watamaniuk

My first official D&D game was run by my older brother when I was in Grade 5 (it came in that sweet box with no dice, but chits you pulled out of bag for random numbers). That first D&D game evolved from another game that I bought while looking for something to keep his spirits up while he underwent surgery.

He was stuck in the hospital for several weeks and, as the little brother, I was feeling powerless and small. Seeing my distress and my brother’s increasing restlessness due to his captivity, my mother dragged me to a game store located on the university campus next door.

We found a game called Dungeon! It took forever to set up, but would draw us both into a lifelong love of gaming. We both got to be heroes for the day, despite the dire circumstances.

A slippery slope indeed. Some 30 years later I find myself in a 3.5 edition D&D game, a Shadowrun game and even an All Flesh Must Be Eaten zombie campaign set in the Vietnam war. I keep on playing these games and they keep fascinating me, each serving its purpose.

That is why I still do this after so many years. Yes, I am fortunate that I have been able to pursue a kind of adventure with a life of travel and living abroad in one place or another, and the odd athletic pursuit, but gaming allows me to write different stories in widely different settings with my friends along to share the danger and excitement. I know I have romantic notions about gaming that might seem a little crazy, for some view gaming as merely a mechanism for socializing. As I picture my many treasured friends I met through gaming I have to agree, but when you pursue a hobby for 30 years, you have found something fundamental to what is important to you.

Gaming in whatever form is my chance to right some wrongs about reality. I think I should have been a gruff ex-cop who smokes too much and wears a bandage over his knuckles, or a bestial bandit king who sacrifices himself to save the last druid, or an eccentric spymaster with too many secrets, or a terse Paladin who can’t admit he is painfully lonely or many more. What other pastime allows you this?

It was a revelation when I realized all these characters over the years were just facets of me wanting a little hero time. It makes me wonder how some people can stand to live their whole lives without being – just once- the guy who saves the day.

Jay Watamaniuk has lived in such faraway and make-believe places like Thailand, Greece and Japan but has always returned back to Edmonton, Canada to put down some roots and to avoid the fricken’ huge insects that lived in those places. He has been BioWare’s Community Manager for over 7 years and has never once- not once- dressed up like a pirate at work. Shameful.