I'm a little early for Father's Day, but I really wanted to support the community Monthly Musing initiative linked here!
People that met my dad when he visited my school could often tell, right away, that we're related. Our look, posture, mannerisms and disposition are similar. That similarity goes a bit beyond those easy genetic linkages, even. Even during my "rebellious" teenage years, though I denied the truth that suspenders are actually very cool and practical, I had always looked to my dad to set the tone for the type of person I was supposed to be. So, then, its no surprise that my dad's hardcore gaming habits had a profound effect on the type of gamer I've become.
Graph paper is probably the biggest part of my early memories of dad and the way he gamed. Though I've never know him to be an active participant in pen and paper D&D, dad used to really get into a good, mathy, dungeon crawling RPG. Eye of the Beholder for SNES, Might and Magic for Genesis, even back to Phantasy Star for Sega Master system, dad would hunker down at the TV with a clipboard and tracks of graph and computer paper. As he went, he'd make the chart, with notes about traps, treasures and really tough enemies.
As a kid, this should have looked like work to me. But dad was discovering these worlds and making these maps out of necessity. It was part of these games, before the convenient conventions of auto maps, suggestive art direction and ultra-linear design. To play was to discover and, if you didn't want to get lost, to record your progress. The benefit to me, as the kid jumping into these worlds only after he did, was this wealth of cartography and notes. While I didn't ever need to pick up this skill of charting, I appreciated the craft of doing so. To play can involve investing some "seriousness" into the hobby. Its absolutely OK to invest yourself into your games.
He had, for a while, been investing in games like this. My dad, beyond the video variety of gaming, is actually a well studied chess player. I hadn't realized, but he had a foot tall stack of chess books that he kept on a night stand in the downstairs bedroom, all of which he had read. Years ago, he set up a chess board and taught me how to play. To this day, I haven't bested him in it. Though admittedly, I haven't tried very hard. My study in chess lasted about a month, I would guess, and I'm pretty sure my dad and I moved on to other things. You know, the attention span of a child and all. But in that time, he taught me alot about competition, strategy and playing to tactics.
Maybe, in that psuedo -sciency sort of way, that's where I get this big enjoyment from complex tactical gaming, like from Final Fantasy Tactics or Street Fighter. Maybe realizing that, with enough know how, you can win a game of chess in three moves set me up to love complex gaming as much as I do now. I've got no charts or data to that effect, but I really think my dad played a big part in that.
Today, my dad enjoys his retirement with a little less pen and paper involved in his gaming. While his go-to gaming now involves 2D map shmups on his computer and picture puzzles, he'll still enjoy a good JRPG now and then. But now, if there's a strategy guide, he's buying it, or printing it out from GameFaqs if he has to! When you've spent as many years playing and studying games as he has, your gamer cred is written in stone.
Play on dad, and thanks for the gaming!
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