Saturday, December 3, 2011

Goodbye To All That....

(....Or, Why I Can't Get My Gaming Mojo Up Any More)

I was stumbling around a gaming web site tonight,, and I found a thread that spoke deeply to me: a fellow gamer, now in his fifties, was complaining about the fact that he just didn't give a damn about gaming anymore.

His name is Patrick Carroll, and he posted, back in July, the following:

Around 1995, I realized I'd outgrown wargaming. I'd been into it for twenty-five years or so, but I simply could not set up or play one of those games anymore. I'd been mainly into ASL up to then, but I was sick of looking up rules. I looked at the other wargames on my shelves, and there was no way I could make myself open one of those 22-by-34-inch mapboards and start sorting unit-counters out onto setup sheets. Maybe I'd been spoiled by the home computer already; I don't know. But I was definitely through with wargames...

The weird thing is, part of me was sure that must somehow be possible. The memories were so alive that surely, if I just had the game and could return to the old gaming spot and link up with an old gaming buddy, it'd be just like old times. I'd be eighteen again, and wargaming would be fresh and new and wonderful. Yet, there was another part of me that knew it wasn't so....I think I'm getting too old to let that happen many more times. Somehow, I've got to get my dreams or gaming desires lined up with reality.

Boy, do I know *that* feeling.

I posted the following response; I'm posting it again here.

Amen to all of the above and then some. I'm an adult professional at 50 this month (shudder!) but still have time to game... kinda.

I have three sons, all of them high IQ autistic/aspergers', ranging in age from 15 to 8. Games is what we do on Saturday.

But it ain't the same.

We play D&D and D&D-derived games (Steve Jackson's brilliant Munchkin and the hilarious Ninja Burger), play a lot of Magic the Gathering (called 'Kerspluppery' in our house, as it is traditional for the losing player to fall forward on the table in mock collapse shouting "KEEEERRRSCHPLUPP!!!"), plus some very modified classic games (somewhere on this board I did an essay about "NAPOLEON IN EUROPE FOR FIVE YEAR OLDS" for which I still get occasional attaboy emails).

But the classic stuff? Not so much.

I have (MULTIPLE!) copies of every edition of Third Reich from 1st to Advanced, plus the two editions from Avalanche Press, plus a copy of A World at War. I read the AWAW message board religiously... and I haven't invaded Poland since 2001.

I sold my entire collection of Squad Leader in the 90s to pay for a new computer.... and bought an unpunched Squad Leader Second Edition for more money than I got for the SL collection. And aside from one desultory attempt to teach it to my sons, nada.

It's like you all said. I no longer really care very much if I have all the applicable die roll modifiers in place before rolling on the 20 Factor Column of the To Hit Table when rolling against three Russian squads and a leader in a stone building on the Eastern Front in 1943 while firing through smoke while carrying unused flamethrowers on a Tuesday at night in the rain.

I no longer am impressed that the French manage to live until Fall 1940 before collapsing to the Nazi onslaught.

A Pearl Harbor strike that sinks all the carriers in place on Turn 1 gets a "meh" out of me.

I. no. longer. care.

I no longer have the patience to look up rules--I'm a lawyer, and after having to read the Code of Federal Freaking Regulations 40 hours/week, the prospect of determining the proper methodology of LBA Attacks vs. Carrier Groups in Port leaves me cold. I have no desire whatsoever to research the new maximum movement point rate used to move infantry along paved roads while fully encumbered with support weapons while being led by a Leader counter.

And as for the thought of actually uploading the 340 page A World at War rulebook into my noggin (when Third Reich Second Edition, on which I cut my teeth, was only 28 pages long!)... well, let's not go there, shall we?

There's also the problem of finding gaming opponents. Nobody around here, nobody I know, plays Avalon Hill games anymore. I feel like Count Dracula in "The Monster Mash"--'Whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist?'

Finally, there is something else that happened between the days when I gamed daily and now. I went to a real war or as close to one that I ever wish to see. I was a peacekeeper in Bosnia for two years, was there on 9/11.

And somehow after seeing what I saw, the famous bon mot about how "Lead soldiers do not leave lead widows and orphans" no longer comforts me.

It struck me especially a couple of years ago while showing my kids how to play Squad Leader: the first time I took off a stack of squads eliminated in an ASL KIA that the cardboard survivors back home would not be happy about this.

You can't go home again, you can't turn back the clock, and you can't really enjoy what you did as a youth. I suppose it's less pathetic to be a fifty something exgamer salivating over unbuyable games at the game shop than it is to be a fifty something dirty old man salivating over a some sweet young thing at a bar.... but the lack of stamina, ability to pursue our avocations over as long a period of time as we could back in our 20s, and the inability to find mutually interested, er, playmates, is probably the same.

I'm not ditching any more of my unplayed wargames, but I don't expect I'll spend my retirement moving counters around a table. Alas.

Alas, indeed.

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