Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gamers Grow in the Dark

From today's Daily Illuminator over at Steve Jackson Games:

Light + Heat - Dark

Like many kids, my early experiences with RPGs took place underground -- in a basement. In Michigan, basements are common, and excellent places to spend the (relatively) hot summer days.

Now I live in Austin, and the heat index has broken 110 degrees far too often recently. (This summer is falling short of last year's "100 days over 100 degrees," but it's still miserably hot.) Why don't I have a basement now?

And does Central Texas' general lack of basements have an impact on the frequency of gaming in the area? Based on the number of gaming conventions (and my own wildly unscientific analysis), areas where basements are common seem to have more gamers than areas where basements are rare. Any opinions on why this is? Tell me your theory on Twitter (@sjgames) or our forums.

-- Paul Chapman

Growing up in the suburbs, many of my early gaming sessions took place down in the basement. This was simply because it was the closest we kids had to our own private creative space. It was a place were our mothers could be certain we were safe beneath their feet without the need to constantly check up on us. That is, until things got quiet down there. That's when they knew we were up to no good.

The advantage to playing down in the basement was that you didn't have to worry about rain leaking through your treehouse roof or the wind carrying off your 24th level magic-user when the breeze got stiff. I'm pretty certain that there's a percentage of gamers who, lacking a basement, made do with the family garage for the same reasons.

The basement (and garage) as a private creative space goes far beyond the realm of gaming. It's not surprising that these same venues served as the spawning ground for countless teenage bands in later years. In my own case, I later kicked out the jams in the same place that I once guided my friends through hours upon hours of dungeon adventure.


Kilsern said...

I can honestly say I've never gamed in a basement. I grew up in north east PA where there were lots of sprawling cellars. My Grandfather's would have made an excellently spooky place to game. It was sprawling, about five different cold rooms connected by stone hallways. One room even had steel traps hanging from the ceiling (my Grandfather was a fur trapper by hobby); alas, in my neighborhood any children found lounging around inside (basement, cellar or bedroom, whatever) were considered suspect of "being up to no good". Thus, me and my buddies made do with my parents' camping trailer and when we hit high school, an older gamer friend had his own apartment. These days, it's the dining room table for me.

limpey said...

We played in the basement. The advantage was that we were out of the way of adults (but not too far away)and out of the heat... and our minis and the chalkboard we used as a "battle mat" did not annoy my parents... plus we could leave our game set up between play sessions.

And we liked a little privacy... away from the mocking and teasing of older siblings.

Scott said...

My formative gaming years were spent playing in non-air-conditioned trailers in a South Florida swamp. Probably explains a lot.

Monk said...

Growing up in southern California, with nary a basement to be found, we did a lot of bedroom gaming. I'm pretty sure I played for the first couple years, at least, on the floor. Now I rock the barage (bar+garage)--with the proximity of draft beer being a large reason one of the newbies agreed to play in the first place.

BaronVonJ said...

The name of my wargaming group is the Basement Generals, if that tells you anything.