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.