It shouldn’t be a big surprise that I frequent game stores. I like all types of game stores from the ubiquitous video games stores to the personal favorite RPG stores. We have a local store nearby, The Days of Knights, in which I have spent much of my formative years in. I have seen it in no fewer than four locations in my time on this Earth, and while I don’t get the opportunity (or disposable income) frequently enough to go as regular as I once did, I find myself there on occasion still to commune with my fellow gamers.
On my last trip in, I was in the back of the store and I overheard a conversation starting and could not help but listen in with the acuity of Sawmise Gamgee. The conversation was between a middle aged fellow and his tweenage daughter. It went something like this:
Daughter: These are the games?
Father: Yes, these are the games.
Daughter: Dad… you know… these are books.
Father: Yes. The books are the games.
Daughter: [silence] How…?
Father: You have the games in the books. You just have to go through them and, you know, make them.
Daughter: And you said you played them?
Father: Yes, I used to all the time.
Daughter: [first sign of real interest] With who?
Father: Lots of people.
Father: A long time ago.
I was touched. I was getting to see something happen between a parent and child that is sacred, at least to me personally. I’m a second generation gamer – my dad taught me the basics via Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. He taught me how to GM. I still bounce stories off of him when I develop plots as he so infrequently can manage to show at the table regularly these days. So I felt kind of privileged to be hearing it, at least at first.
There was a brief period of time here where my attention flagged (cause you know, I’m in a game store and I found something shiny), and then I hear something that kind of made me step back for a second and question whether or not this father might be the best person to explain RPGs to this youngster. They cross my path again and I hear this exchange:
Father: You could be a fighter, or a knight, or a wizard –
Daughter: [Hopeful] Or a unicorn?
Father: [Exasperated] You’re not getting it.
On the face of it, it’s funny, but on the other hand I found a part of my inner gamer a little bit cross. While on the father’s side in my own terms of gaming, who says that his daughter couldn’t play a unicorn if she really wanted to? In the age of FATE and My Little Pony, I’m thinking that somewhere there’s a niche roleplaying community and market for second gen gamers to play unicorns to their heart’s content. Her dad might not be able to provide that for her (nor could I really), but someone else could. Since gamers are communal in nature, it’s entirely possible there’s someone her dad would trust that could do that for her, or at least he could incorporate a unicorn into the game as a companion animal. Roleplaying Games aren’t really meant to be constrained – people play the things they want to play. That’s why there are so many. Creativity can grow out of it, and limitations on it can stifle the imagination in those wonderful younger years of gaming.
Ultimately though, the dad was trying to share something he loved with his children – and I suppose that’s good enough. I just hope the girl can go off and find a game where she can be a unicorn all she wants.
UPDATE 11/28/14: Apparently, there’s even a Pathfinder supplement for the guy’s daughter: Ponyfinder.