Tomorrow at 7 AM I board a Jetblue flight to Southern California for an extended-weekend vacation with my wife, who (by virtue of being gainfully employed) is financing all of this (along with some very generous friends). We're going to meet friends whom I've known for quite some time. Some of them I've met in-person before, and I'm looking forward to reconnecting. Some of them I've never met or seen, and I'm looking forward to putting a voice and a face to the personality I already know. Some of them I consider colleagues and heroes and I just want to give them whatever support and cheering I can.
It's odd, though, because as I get older and grayer, I get more interested in playing games and thinking about the games I play, and less interested in identifying as a "gamer" as a significant indicator of my personal identity. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd make the grade, as it were, as a gamer in most circles: I came to videogames pretty late in my life (like, late-20s late). It was my mother and my sister who were really into videogames when I was a kid. The Atari 2600 and the TRS-80 and the Commodore 64 that lived in our house weren't mine and I wasn't particularly engaged with them. Even when I was lobbying my parents to shell out the cash for a 56K modem, it wasn't to play games on BBSs, it was to make connections and share recipes and programs and stuff like that.
I've been playing tabletop games since I was eight or nine, and I started playing euro-style boardgames when I moved to San Francisco and got involved in that, but again, that was in my 20s; before that, I was mostly about rolling dice (though I didn't really engage with Dungeons and Dragons until 3rd Edition, and I know those words probably don't really mean much to most folk but trust me I just forfeited my "nerd" card with that statement).
I read a lot of genre fiction but that doesn't make me a "fictioner"; I've watched a lot of movies and TV but that doesn't make me a "movier" or a "TVier". I play games, but that doesn't really make me a gamer. And I've spent a non-trivial amount of time distancing myself from the "nerd" and "geek" subcultures because they are often fantastically toxic and frequently unwilling to even admit to the toxicity.
The thing is, though, I'm a male and I'm white and I work in IT, so I get a pass on a bunch of stuff by being emblematic of the norm in all of these subcultures. I wear glasses and t-shirts and jeans and I can quote Monty Python so my gaps or quirks are overlooked. No one challenges my right to engage in the conversation about Batman despite the fact that I've only read a handful of trade paperback collections by only a couple of authors that I really like, and none of the historical stuff. I can pass, so I get a seat at the table. I don't have to produce my bona-fides.
This got really dark and maudlin so I'll just finish up by saying that I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends. And I'm glad I get to make this trip with my wife, who loves and engages and invests in all of this and thereby makes me want to love and engage and invest in it, simply through her force of will. I'll be back next week with more musings, and probably a couple of days of cursing at python.
I promise I'll have fun storming the castle!