Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mishelved: The Neverending Story

By Frank Gori



It happens sometime in the pubescent period in junior high or high school. For males it strikes usually when the boys start noticing the girls… For females its usually sacrificed on the altar of being popular or normal… For most people imagination dies when society tells everyone to “grow up.”

For a gamer there are tons of cool elements in The Neverending Story to plunder. Luck dragons, carotid columns that fire laser beams, terrifying wolf/worg style beasts, and swamps that kill your mount are all there for the taking. But for a moment I want to step out of the shared imaginative world wich lies in the mind’s eye of every gamer and look at the world around us. If there is a real applicable message in The Neverending Story, it is that we need to fight The Nothing every day.

In America we encourage children to dream then make fun of them when they still try to do so as adults. Somehow our society went from a place that makes things to a place where when people go to work they sit in cubicles staring at screens and generally spend most of their day doing, Nothing.

Chances are some of you reading this are at work now, sitting in that cubicle, seeking distraction for the tedium that is working in an office. I don’t blame you for reading, likely some of your colleges are on celebrity cult sites or shopping so good for you for reading something that at least has a chance to enrich you.

They stopped teaching Moby Dick. Allot of the more imaginative enriching works of fiction generally aren’t taught in high school literature classes anymore. I’m all for learning the history for fiction period pieces but I think that books that explore the supernatural or take place in other worlds have lessons that are equal to the themes in Death of a Salesmen or The Diary of Anne Frank. Somehow as a society we have lowered the standards of our education to a point where we can’t teach it all. We’ve gone from teaching Greek and Latin as a part of a well rounded education to getting confused about there, their, and they’re. Reading The Odyssey or A Mid Summer’s Night Dream with a high school kid is fighting The Nothing.

While the closeted geek culture seems to be coming out, it’s more focused on sci-fi and comic books then gamers. I’m starting to feel more and more that our conventions are more about commerce then creativity. We let the suits start running the show and they have brought The Nothing with them. Imagination is acceptable now as long as you keep it bottled in conventions and wear your Hollywood approved Avengers costumes.

I guess I’m hoping for a day when I see more families gaming together, or a jock standing up for his GM against bullies, or a day when we as adults are told its good to have an active imagination again. I think tabletop roleplayers are in many ways the front line in fighting The Nothing. I guess I just want to say if you’re staring at a pile of bills, you work in some place that’s eating your soul, and maybe you’re with that significant other  that seems to have an axe to grind with your hobby… Don’t quit. You are not alone, name a princess and fight The Nothing with us.


  1. I agree.

    The best way to fight the Nothing IS to name the princess, is to create things, to make. Create, create, create, write a story, publish a blog, run a roleplaying game, paint a picture, create and make the world more beautiful and interesting for yourself and for others.

    I Named the princess and I Became her, and now I create every day, whenever I can. You fight the Nothing by giving the world Names and Beauty and Meaning and Love and breathing Life into it. It's good to hear that someone else understands.

  2. This is great and so true. I've been DMing since I was 14. I'm 37 now. The one thing that has got me through all the toughest times in my life was gaming. It has always been my creative outlet, my place to escape, the birthplace of legends that only few know. My wife makes fun of me and thinks we sit around a table and literally play with the miniatures. It makes me chuckle to imagine what she thinks is happening. My friends and I have saved worlds. Not once but several times. For me those world saving moments are more than that. They are the great battle against growing up. The fight against the Nothing. Over twenty years now and I still find nothing as satisfying, nothing as fulfilling. Someday I will DM for my kids and it is my truest hope that one day they will DM for me. One can only hope...

  3. I agree with your point and I feel a little bit awful about doing this but I just can't let go. I'm just that pedantic. Don't hate me, I probably need medication for an undiagnosed problem. Oh well, here goes.

    You mention in one paragraph about schools not being able to teach "their," "there," and "they're," then in the next paragraph you use "then" when you should have used "than" not once but twice. "Then" shows chronology, "than" is for comparative values.

    I appreciate and sympathize with your message.

    1. A buddy also pointed this out to me... I left it alone mostly because it further demonstrates the point.

  4. This is a first, but straight from one of the other Wizards at the Flying Pincushion, that is, me, I have to say its kinda of awesome the response that the Neverending Story elicits in people. I can't help but wonder what our world would be like with more creation and less of the Nothing. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and comments, we at the Pincushion really do appreciate them.

  5. I fought the Nothing by struggling to keep my sense of wonder at the world. Even now I see all the beauty out there and I realize that I got much of that appreciation from reading The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit and other works of fantasy. Intellectually I had an appreciation, and even thankfulness, for it all; but it was when I saw those things through the eyes of the fantastic and realized what COULD be that my mind started to wonder if I might ever see Gurgi peeking his head around a corner tree, or the Unicorn watching from the distance. I see them in my dreams and in my heart, and there they will always stay.