Saturday, July 17, 2010


So last night I stayed up way too late and made the picture above. I really had no reason to other than I found it fun and challenging to create. I started thinking back, while I was looking at this picture, about the reason I play MMORPGs. It really goes back to the fact that I was raised in a home that valued creativity. When I was little, we would go to church on Sundays and my Mother and Grandmother would take little pads of paper and give to me and my brother to sketch on during the church service. I do not know if this is the right thing to do or not, but it kept us occupied while the preacher would talk about what was on his mind. I can remember during the service I would draw these scenes of houses and people conducting every day activity and as soon as the service was over I would run around the church and hand them out to the people that were friends of the family. The years have certainly passed and many of those people have also passed, but one thing that they would always talk about was how they loved those pictures and looked forward to them. These individuals also fostered that sense of creativity by encouraging us and thanking us for the work that we put into drawing these little pictures.

As I grew older I definitely gave up the drawing, even though my Mother would always try to get me to keep drawing. You see my Mother is a very good crafter in her own right. She can crochet like no one I have ever known. I am not saying this because she is my Mother, but because people from all over call her to make baby blankets, baby sets, and all those other little crafty things that people like to give expecting couples. I remember when I was a little kid, she and my Grandmother would go down to the church they were attending and they had this crafting social club where the crafters of the church would get together and talk about events and exchange ideas. I would go and find something to do with some spare wood or take my own toys (GI Joe anyone?) and spend the afternoon just imagining these huge battles and far away places. All the while developing my creative side unaware. My Mother got her creativity from her parents. My Grandmother (who is 95 and still crafting) and my Grandfather (who I did not get the pleasure of knowing) were both very creative individuals. They fostered that in my Mother who passed that on to me and my brother.

My Father on the hand was extremely bright and talented, but did not have the supportive environment that my Mother was fortunate to have. I am not going to say anything either way since he has passed and he and his parents came to terms and seemed to move on with their lives together. My Father though struggled all his life with feeling like he was special and talented. He grew up being told he was a failure and that he couldn't do anything. When I hear his parents talk about raising their kids, they tend to make it sound like they were hard on them to make them better off and maybe that was the case. It however gave him a complex and so he never saw how special he was or creative he could be. My Father was big into gaming. He ran with a crowd that changed the gaming industry forever and while he never got involved he definitely helped define the gaming genre for generations to come. That is not what truly set him apart as being creative. To me it was all of his lead figures that he would use for gaming. He had the hands of a surgeon to be able to paint expressions on the faces of those little figures. I remember being little and he would take us into his room where he worked on and stored these figures and there were probably thousands of them that he had spent hours and hours working on making look perfect. I consider myself fortunate that he taught us how to paint and I am envious that I was never anywhere near as good as he was at painting. My point is that he invested a lot of time in us to make sure that we never felt like he did and to make sure and teach us to appreciate the creativity of others.

I remember the very first table top/role playing game that I truly fell in love with was called Battletech. We use to plan these huge campaigns with my brother's friends, my Father, and occasionally some of my friends. We didn't play with just the maps you could buy from a store, no sir! We created entire towns and country side out of railroad models to play. We would use rulers and play by the rules for conversion of movement points and what not. Sometimes it would just be a grand melee and other times one of us would create a campaign to be played over several settings. I poured myself into this game. I created entire units and wrote background stories for key members of the unit. I painted my Battlemechs to colors that were specific to the unit. We would race to the local gaming shop and buy the newest source books and figures as soon as they were available because we loved to immerse ourselves in the world that we had helped to create. Some of the best memories I have of my Father were had during these times. I can remember how he would raise his bushy eye brow over his dark tinted glasses while he thought about a particular move as if the very victory or defeat would hinge on this move (quite often this would be the opening move). Those were probably some of the best times I ever had. I wish we would have had more time to make those memories.

While in my college years, my brother had moved on to playing more role playing based games and occasionally I would go and play with him and his friends when they invited me. I often times found these games to be fun and would throw some crazy decisions at the folks who would be running the games. I didn't play with them regular enough to really remember the games, but I remember one game where I led half of this elite combat team to a 70s style disco in an attempt to locate this demonic legion that we were suppose to be after. In truth, when the guy who was running the game described the town he had briefly mentioned this place and I thought it would be funny. It did turn out to be a lot of fun, but I was told I had way too much of an overactive imagination. Looking back, they were right but every time I saw those guys after that they always would laugh about the fight against hell in the disco! Hell, if any of them were to read this post, they would know it were me in a heart beat because of how funny I made that evening. A lot of good times I have had in these alternative realities.

So why the walk through the past? I honestly do not know the whole reason, only part of the reason. You see while I was creating this picture, I was trying to capture the arrogance of Emprius. My wife and I often joke about the personalities of my characters and in truth most of them have a background story and full biography all in my head. A lot of times my wife will sit around and try to pick it all out of my head. I don't know if she thinks the backgrounds are funny or if she thinks I am funny, but never the less she enjoys it. So while attempting to capture the essence of Emprius in this picture, it made me realize why I love World of Warcraft. To me it is an avenue to carry on the creative side of myself. I don't just roll a character and play it for eighty levels. I created something that was as unique as my unit in Battletech, as fun as role playing a battle against demons in a disco, and for a moment makes me feel like that little kid sitting in my Father's room staring at the little lead figures. My wife has often teased me that I should write the backgrounds of all of my characters and some day I may very well do that. As for today, I am going to just sit back and enjoy the little lead figures and hopefully pass on the creative jean that flows through my heritage to my son. How about the rest of you, why have you stuck around for so long?


Eus said...

You cannot tell me that there is not one single person who plays WoW does not have a background story for their avatars. Now, it doesn't mean RP'ing, just an idea about their avatar. You know, what they are about, their past and how they got to the present.
The moment you registered to the game and started creating the avatar of choice, you are making a choice. The class you are playing, the race that class will be, the face, hair type and color, skin type and color and other addional feature. All choices. So, already there is a connection you are establishing. When you look at that avatar, you can see them come to life, inside your head.

Which brings me to the next part.

This also includes their personality. Emprius is the single most pissist, crabbiest, most arrogant warlock ever. Matrona is close second, and is the apple of Emp's eye. Even though he would never admit it, she is.

RatherNotSay said...

My toons would all be the old guys in the corner cursing out the younger toons and chasing after the female avatars!

I guess that is why I don't write role playing posts!