Gaming: My Kryptonite or My Muse?

We drove back from Disneyland last week on a Wednesday, putting us home around 5PM.  As it was a Wednesday, I met up with M. Todd Gallowglas and we wrote together.  I expected to be too tired to get much done, but it was a surprisingly good writing session.

After that, I allowed exhaustion to take me, and I pretty much took a week off from writing altogether.  I mostly studied WiX at work on Thursday and Friday, and I dedicated the weekend to basically doing nothing.  I think it was the right decision.  I needed to rest and recharge.

Since I met up with Mr. Gallowglas again last night and had another fruitful writing endeavor, I thought I’d try to make another post here.

So let’s talk about the thing that got me into writing, and the thing that pulls me away from it: gaming.

I’ve talked a little bit before about what started my writing itch.  I had enjoyed something a friend had written, and thought I’d try it myself.  What I didn’t mention is that often, writing was something I did between computer games.  I’d get a game for the Apple, exhaust it, and then fire up Appleworks because I wanted to do something on the computer.

That was the start of the relationship between gaming and writing for me.  Eventually, that relationship changed because the games moved from the Apple to the Nintendo, and there was no vehicle there to capture my attention once the game was consumed.

When gaming changed from digital games to roleplaying games, there was another shift for me.  I would create characters for the games and then find that I wanted to do something with them between games.  Writing stories for them was the answer, and I wrote bunches of trite short stories starring my characters.  Starting in my late 20s, writing became the means by which I would flesh out a character before playing him.  In fact, one of my favorite pieces of writing is a journal written for a character in a game.

It would seem from this that gaming is a boon to my writing, right?  Well…

I don’t have a lot of people to play roleplaying games with anymore.  That type of gaming requires scheduling.  It often requires commitments of time and money that aren’t always in ample supply.  Most of the people I used to play games with either live some distance away from me now, making regular gaming problematic, or their lifestyles have changed such that they just don’t have room for gaming anymore.

That leads us back to computer games.  The graphics are so much better than when I was my son’s age.  The stories in some of these games can be so compelling, too (I’m looking at you, Bioshock Infinite).  Sometimes, the games themselves serve to remind me of roleplaying games and stories that I enjoyed in the past.

That’s what I wound up doing quite a bit this last weekend.  The bulk of the “nothing” that I did was playing Shadowrun Returns, which did an amazing job of delivering on the world of Shadowrun that I enjoyed so much in the past.  I played through it twice, and I’m hesitant to open the game again, lest I get sucked in to play all the way through a third time.