Friday, April 17, 2009

Of Faith and Gaming

I'm writing this post for two reasons (i) I received an invitation to go visit a church I haven't been back to in 15 years from a friend who doesn't know my history with that church and (ii) another friend is writing his master's thesis on RPG's, the pen and paper kind.

How are these two events even related?

Read on.


I started playing Dungeons and Dragons at 7. I played it out of the back of a school bus, and the DM was a friend's brother. My first ever game was as a Magic-User, out of the Dungeons and Dragons Red Box Set. In many ways, Dungeons and Dragons was my first real hobby. Everything that came after, the avid reading, the comics, the drama, the computer gaming, the swordfighting, it all sprang from my love for pen-and-paper RPG's. Arguably, I owe a lot of my thoroughness and skill in law to my love for debating rules in Dungeons and Dragons.

From there, my first gaming group from Primary 2 to 6 was lead mostly by my then-best friend. He introduced me to the wider world of Pen-and-Paper Role Playing Games. My second game, and the one that is still my favourite, is Marvel Super Heroes, then TMNT, then Ninja and Superspies. I remember skipping lunches and saving up pocket money and gorging myself on dinner when I got home to afford the books. I still have them somewhere.

I gave myself gastric by the time I was 12.

I remembered that my gaming group spanned almost half my entire class, and after school we'd run monster marathon sessions where one group would take on another group. It was pretty magical.

Then I went to secondary school.

You see, my P6 class was incredibly bright. A full half of them went into GEP. Many of them went to RI. The other half went to ACS, and we got split up into many different classes. In a year, from 12 to 13, all the people I knew and loved and were cool with suddenly turned into a class of hostile people, most of whom I barely knew, many of whom tormented me endlessly. I got shot at with paper pellets when I got off the school bus every day. That's how bad it got.

I remembered that I met a pretty inspirational teacher back then. He seemed to be the only person that would give a damn, and under his influence I started going to church, and converted.

I don't know if anyone remembers but during the late 80's and early 90's, there was a satanist scare involving Dungeons and Dragons. I must have been Christian for about a year or two back then. I remember the event that finally stopped me going was when the teacher tried to "counsel" me into stopping the "black magic practice" of Dungeons and Dragons.

On a related note, I also remembered how, suddenly, having parents that were Buddhist and being unbaptised were also looked on unfavourably, just because I played Dungeons and Dragons.

It was the first of many tests of faith I got, and also the event that built a lifelong distrust of Christians who were took quick to condemn others.


I was fortunate that I managed to find friends that gave me hope during this very dark period of my life. These people literally watched me grow up from a gawky teenager to a gawky almost-adult. They introduced me to books and writers that I've never heard of, but swear by these days. They also gave me my first real writing gig. Four letters made a world of difference.

This group, and the offshot gaming group that came with it, formed the foundation of my gaming experience for a good 7 years, from 14 to 21. The game ended, as it must, when several members started getting married and having kids.

Along the way I met some people at Thomson CC. I was there first and foremost to interview the then-president, but we ended up being pretty good friends. The Thomson CC crowd formed the nucleus of my next gaming group, and some of its members are now my godbrothers through my mom. One in particular, though, is responsible for some of the worst heartache I've ever felt.

This group still games with me now, at a place that they have gamed at for the past 10 years or so. The group, like the members, have grown propsperous, experimented with different styles and genres and have generally seen the whole gamut of gaming, and reverted back to its core - good characters, good storytelling.

Except that I'm now at the helm. I don't game much nowadays - by choice, I'm now the storyteller.


Why do I still game? I think the answer should be obvious but here it is.

Without it, I would never have found friends that I care so much about.

Without it, I would never have questioned my faith at so young an age. Without those questions, I would never have known what it was like to be an underdog, or to have to find and refind faith, over and over again.

Without it, I would never have been half the man I am now.

Without it, I would not be me.


Paper Man said...

I agree with you. People are the most important.

As an ex-cell leader, I've to say organized religion makes people lose sight of those around them.

They're perennially busy with this prayer meeting, that evangelistic event, cell group, service, there's never time for anyone outside of work, family and church.

I've lost many friends to church. That's one reason I upped and left.

Quick to condemn and judge. There is the one overused line I really hate. Do not be yoked with unbelievers. Totally quoted out of context mostly.

On an unrelated note, I'm so glad your blog is still around, even after I stopped reading blogs 2 years ago. I remember the shock at news of the divorce some years back because to me, it came out of the blue. I thought you both were well on the way to a new life stateside.

I identify with the pain and suffering you went through, because my life fell apart this past 5 years too.

Anihoos, with the limited archive browsing I've managed to do, I'm glad to know you've closed the sad chapters of your life one by one and trudging ahead, determined to one up on this crazy life.

I'm doing the same myself.

Doesn't count for much, but from one cyber stranger to another, gambate kudasai neh.

I'm cheering you on towards happiness, which is a state, never a destination.

Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Almost Infamous Anthony said...

Hey chum! Long time no see.

Yeah, it's been a while. The blog's changed, I've changed. But it's good to have you back.

The Horny Bitch said...

You don't have to go to a church to have faith in a religion wat... hm... Anw, 15 yrs is long. If it isn't renovated, maybe it is a donation drive...

Trebuchet said...

Hey man... I had this silly grin thinking about the old days. And we STILL do all that. And pizza even.

Almost Infamous Anthony said...

THB - no you don't have to go to church.

The point is that I don't want to go back to THAT church, because THAT church represents a level of...anger, I guess, for not practising the tolerance they preached.

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