It’s a young man’s game
In 1990, when I was 24 years old, I moved back to central Virginia, where I grew up, from the Washington, DC suburbs. This brought me back into touch with a crew that I had done pen-and-paper gaming with whenever I was back home from college, or visiting from DC. We always met and played at the same house, out in the middle of God-forsaken nowhere about four miles from civilization, down a quarter-mile of steep, rutted, bodywork-busting rock-and-dirt “driveway.”
Oddly enough, none of us ever drank much booze. We loaded up on Diet Coke and Mountain Dew and tap water, on gigantic bowls of popcorn and gobs of fried rice and bags of Doritos and the occasional supermarket pizza as a “real meal.” And we gamed. God, did we game. AD&D much of the time, with rotating DMs through a whole series of homebuilt adventures mixed in with some classics like the old Against the Giants modules–probably still my favorite packaged AD&D adventures of all time. Sometimes, we’d shift over to FASA’s Mechwarrior. Weekend after weekend, the floor was cleared off, the 30mm hex grid was laid down, miniatures were placed, dice flew, and the saga of the First Guardians Mercenary Mechwarrior Company unfolded in imaginary fire and steel. I was the GM, most of the time. And I always lost–not just because the players were supposed to win, but because I am, quite probably, the worst Battletech player of all fricking time.
We did this most Friday and some Saturday nights. If we got done before 1 am, it was early. 2:00 was about average. And several times, after some particularly epic adventure or tense roleplay, we’d stagger out into the damp morning air down by the James River, jittery with caffeine and reeking of cigarette smoke, and drive to our respective homes with the Saturday or Sunday morning sun to greet us. I’d get home, stagger down to my apartment, throw my stinky clothes in the washer, and faceplant into my pillow. And about six hours later, I’d wake up, cocked locked and ready to rock, feeling like a million bucks, ready to do it again.
That was a long time ago.
Now I’m 42. I have a three-year-old daughter, and a job where they occasionally expect me to be coherent. I 25-man raid two nights a week, 9:00 – 12:00 Eastern on Thursdays and 9:30 – 12:30 Eastern on Fridays, with occasional 10-mans about 8:30 – 12:30 on Saturdays. Afterward, of course, there needs to be some time to chill and slow the brain down, so I’m rarely in bed before 1:00, sometimes as late as 1:30. Minimal snack food, minimal caffeine (but some, I’m still an addict), just me and my wife at our computers and 23 friends on the other side of the screen. I hit the sack, and I get up six hours later…
…and I feel like shit. I’m sitting here right now thinking that I really should be doing some work, or at least finishing up an RP forum post I owe my Alliance guild, or working on next month’s budget, or reading Iron Council strats in case we finally get by Ignus tonight…and all I can do is sit here in a half-stupor and bang out this semi-rambling post about, well, sitting here in a half-stupor.
I have friends who seem to be able to get by on ridiculously small amounts of sleep–not just “get by,” but function fully. I’m not one of them. I have no idea why.
I very rarely wish I was 25 again. I’m pretty comfortable with who I am and where I am, and try not to look back and second-guess things very often. But this is one of those times. I remember those days of being able to shrug off 11 solid hours of D&D in a smoke-filled living room like it was nothing…and wonder why 3 1/2 hours of a WoW raid kicks my ass so hard.