It’s interesting to think about how you might have ended up being a radically different different person if certain influences in your life were absent.

A friend of mine invited me to Gen Con today, a massive gaming convention in Indiana.

It’s unlikely that I’d be able to go even if I wanted to because I’d have to take a couple of days off work to travel to and from the weekend-long event. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure that I even want to. And that made me think.

I’ve never been to a gaming convention before, which is strange. I love gaming and I love the culture that surrounds gaming. Not just video gaming but board gaming and RPGs as well. It seems natural that I’d have been to a ton of these by this point in my life. But I haven’t. Why not?

I think the problem is that I used to (and arguably still do) bend too easily to peer pressure, and between the ages of 12 and 18 when most nerds are embracing who they are, the people I hung out with thought that board games and RPGs were lame. As a result, even though I thought that RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons were cool, I never pursued them as a hobby. I kept up playing video games because those were socially acceptable, but I never ascended to that 2nd tier of nerdness where tabletop RPGs and superhero comics and gaming conventions lie.

Instead I became a half-nerd. Put a controller and a good game in my hands, and you’ll keep me occupied for 80 hours. Give me a good soundtrack and I’ll remember it forever. Put on an anime and I’ll probably watch it, though its been a few years since I’ve done that.

But I’ve never been more of a nerd than that. I still look at cosplayers and TCG devotees with a bit of wistful emotion, but I do it from a distance. I never jumped into that scene when I had the chance.

And it’s weird because I’m dimly aware that in an alternate universe where I was left to my own devices or had a different group of friends in my teenage years, I probably would have gone full nerd at some point in high school and started going to various cons and played Dungeons and Dragons and done all of the other things that come with the territory.

Instead, I’m watching hockey on a Saturday night. I don’t think that’s any better or worse; just different.

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