Friday, March 19, 2010

Seven Years

The fucking war has been going on for seven years.

The American war. The stupid war. The fear-mongering war. The war that I wish had never been.

When the Two Towers came down in 2001 I was at work, at the same job I have today. I and my co-workers were all sent home as it was a government building and no one knew what else might happen. I didn't own a car at the time (I would buy one two months later), so I bussed home. The wife and I watched the news all day on TV. I'm sure we got something to eat. I smoked a few cigarettes (I would quit a couple months later...the car was, in part, a reward for my wife and I giving up the habit). I called my father that night, the only phone call I remember making.

I told him I hoped to hell we didn't end up going to war over this stupid shit. Yes, someone was guilty of a horrific crime, but you don't go blow up sovereign nations for the actions of a handful of assholes.

Two years later, the fucking war started...and it's been going on ever since.

To me, the last seven years have been only a portion of my life...I'm 36 years old, and my formative years were long behind me when 9/11 happened. My growth and upbringing were mostly behind me, the shaping of my core beliefs and values already done. Yeah, there's constant "polishing" that goes on every day, and I learn new things and incorporate new things (consciously and subconsciously) into my psyche. But for the most part I'm the same guy today that I was seven years ago. A little fatter. A little "thinner on top." My lungs are certainly clearer. And I'm doing some actual writing, actually trying to contribute something to the role-playing hobby that has given me so much enjoyment over the years. Hell, I've gotten much more in contact with my gaming roots the last few years, not just playing, but discussing, reading, teaching, and sharing with others...being a part of a gaming community, even if it is mostly an on-line community.

But I am still (mostly) the same guy. Having opted out of the military many years ago (I nearly joined ROTC prior to college, and decided against it), the war hasn't affected my life except in the peripheral way it does other non-military Americans...the economy has been fucked and there's more fear and anxiety floating around the culture. That's peripheral to me...the death toll over-seas is like the scores of a sporting event or something. After all, no one moved into my town and blew up my water filtration plant or anything.

What blows me away, though, is that for many of my fellow gamers...the young ones, the ones in college, the ones under 25...the last seven years have been during their formative years. Kids that couldn't drink or legally drive in 2002 are married or have kids. Kids that hadn't even graduated middle school are now in college and perhaps part of a gaming group...certainly some for the first time ever.

How does the last seven years color their game play? I have no doubt that it's affected their personalities...has it affected the way they play and use role-playing games?

Do they cling to Pathfinder because D20, first released in 2000, is a rock of sanity and stability and an opportunity to enjoy a little (well supported) escapist fantasy?

What about the kids that have gone on to join the military itself? The guys (and gals) I knew that enlisted pre-2000 were certainly no strangers to RPGs...some played more games after joining up than they ever did before. How has the war affected the games played by U.S. soldiers? I know of at least one promising game designer that sold his company and joined the military back in 2004. I wonder whatever happened to him...

Ah, well...I've got other things to work on today. My mind is going to morbid places and it's a beautiful, sunny day outside. Time to get out of the coffee shop and walk the beagles!


  1. Very sad indeed. Here's hoping they bring our armed forces men and women back home very soon!

  2. It's a stupid war, but it's not just America's stupid war.

    My co-worker lost a cousin (Afghanistan), and another co-worker almost lost a brother + sister-in-law (in the Twin Towers... they went across the road to buy cigarettes). My brother's friend lost one of his cousins in one of the towers (or was it one of the planes?). One of our friends who we used to play D&D with is about to head back for his 4th tour. Another friend's husband is over there right now.

    Anyway, lets hope the stupid war is over soon and all of our friends and family come home safely.

  3. I remember the leadup to war. I remember talking about it at lunch with my friends - Hussein was a scary dude, no doubt about it, but was this the right thing to do?

    My friends and I are examples of the gamers you mention. We were in sophomore year of high school when the war began. One of my group will likely be going to Afghanistan next year.

    As for our gaming habits, I stuck with 2nd Edition AD&D rather than switching to 3rd Edition and d20, since I already had a huge bunch of AD&D materials. Since I was the DM, the group stuck with 2e for the most part. I never got on the d20 bandwagon - I have a few books, but not too many. In the past few years I've been moving gradually from 2e to 1e AD&D, and points earlier (BECMI, B/X, OD&D).


    Anyway, lets hope the stupid war is over soon and all of our friends and family come home safely.

    Well said. Amen.

  4. Just wanted to make sure that you know some gamers think you're dead wrong about the war. That's all I'll say.

  5. Actually, it's been going on for almost nine years. You may have heard of a little country called Afghanistan? It's doing even worse than Iraq. I mean, less people are dying there from the war, but that's because it started with less people and there are mountains and stuff.

    One intractable pointless conflict isn't enough, you have to have a few to really ruin the economy, preferably against former allies.

    But you should write more about rpgs, that's more interesting.

  6. Thanks for this post.

    I was visiting Seattle on 9/11, preparing for a move that I made some months later (and still here - I should buy you a beer.)

    After I finally made it home because my flight had been canceled, I returned to work at a telephone utility. A couple of months later, our military bombed the telephone utility in Kabul.. because it was a military target. I felt like it was an accident of birth that I was alive and so many Afghanis were dead.

    These days I'm lucky enough to be gaming more, with people who like similar games, on my way to a new career and generally happier in my own life.

    But not so hopeful about the future.

    To Kilgore and others: I respect the integrity and sacrifice of those who are trying to serve our country. But both before the war and now I do not think that our leaders are giving orders that make us safer or bring justice.
    I hope that somehow these wars will be ended. But they won't unless the people or the soldiers make that decision.

  7. I have been contemplating how to respond to this post. I don't use this term personally but it sums up my feelings in this case:


  8. @ Kiashu: Yeah, I wasn't one of those people saying "we should be in Afghanistan, not Iraq." I was saying, we shouldn't be bombing anyone for something a handful of criminals did. You don't invade Sicily because the Mafia are an organization of criminals inspired by certain traditions.

    @ Kilgore: I know. But it's my blog.

    @ Red: I'll take a beer any time. Thanks!