Games, as a hobby, have been with us ever since we refined our hunting and gathering techniques to the point where we had more than ten minutes of spare time in a day. They have ranged from simple children’s pasttimes to enormously complex rulesets that simulate entire fictional worlds. Some favour intellectual prowess; some favour physical ability. Others allow you to thrive through creativity and unorthodox thinking. Whatever form they take, games have accompanied us throughout the ages, and we have loved them for it.
Today we are in what I consider an unfortunate place when it comes to appreciation of games. Western culture – by which I predominantly mean American culture, as they produce such a large proportion of our mass media – is biased quite strongly towards games that reward physical prowess. There is less appreciation for the intellectual, and those games that thrive on creativity are not only treated with little respect but at times feared and reviled for phantom fears conjured by scaremongers. This is an attitude that is changing, but only gradually; like many elements of societal change, it is one that is happening over generations. Intellectual and creative games are more popular than ever among youth and young adults, and as these generations age and assume control of the centres of media and governance from our forebears, the views of society as a whole will shift with them.
While I had a brief engagement with physical games during my formative years, including dreams of highschool football glory, my lasting hobby has been with the virtual and tabletop worlds. I have whiled away hours on the PC and in the pages of gaming books, sometimes alone, often with friends, exploring the fantastic landscapes and scenarios on offer.
Exploration and discovery were always the driving forces behind my interest, to do what I could not in real life, to see what lies over the next hill, beyond the next mountain, within the next galaxy, without petty concerns like frostbite, inventing a working FTL drive, or bleeding to death from bear-related complications. In a world that we have a species have exhaustively explored and largely tamed, where our greatest danger is most often from each other rather than the unknown, the ability to experience a life in a universe that is wild and unpredictable is a great adventure. That we can do so without personally risking life and limb is greatly underappreciated.