Starting this last winter I jumped on board and played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time since I was a young teen. Why write about this on a health and fitness blog? Well it's my view that with computers in our pockets, social media 24/7 and digital dating/friendships we've lost something. At least I have. I noticed last year I was craving face time. Most of my 'in person' social time used to be with friends drinking and joking while eating bad food. That clearly doesn't fit anymore so outside of my home my social interactions where limited to work and running partners. What I wanted, what I was missing, was conversation. The non-digital kind.
So a friend was starting a roleplaying group and asked if I wanted to join. To be honest I was a little intimidated. Eight months later I'm still learning the rules. However I also own several books, multiple sets of dice and even a little metal character guy I place on grid maps. I'm learning to talk "in character" and how to tell a story by being someone else. It's been a blast, a huge learning curve and I always look forward to our weekly game. In our home calendar I have it squared away as "nerd night" so my family knows I have a commitment. It's become non-negotiable. Lately we've even been playing enormously complicated board games with rule books that look like textbooks. They come in 20 pound boxes and have hundreds of tokens, cards and board pieces. I'm having a blast.
Blame it on pop culture like Stranger Things or The Big Bang Theory but being a nerd is pretty cool in 2019. A roleplaying podcast just raised millions of dollars to get turned into a live animated series. D&D hosts huge conferences that sell out and there are destination gaming retreats. What does this all mean? Has the world gone back to 1980? Well I think people want that, at least on some level. I know I did.
The reason I've decided to put this here, on a health and fitness podcast is for what gaming has done for my happiness and mental health. It has created friendships with people I likely would have never spent time with in any other way. It has encouraged me to lighten up a bit and have some junk food. Has forced me to shut down my phone (no phones at the game table) and focus on real people. We need more of that today.
Im not trying to be prescriptive about playing any certain game. What I am saying is that analog is where it's at. I recommend finding your non-digital, hopefully social hobby. There is really something for everyone, model train-building clubs, chess clubs, knitters groups and of course gaming circles. If you're an athlete and you find most of your friends are the type you sweat with I hope you branch out a little. It's great to be well rounded. I found myself having one type of conversation with people in my life.....running. Even my non-running friends would ask me how my training was going. It was a point of conversation. But I was more than a nipple chafing, running shoe drop, pace split talking person. I wanted other topics and politics are out for me, that's too tough in the Trump climate. I can't pass my time talking about the weather and pro-sports like it matters as much as we all pretend. Yes, I wanted old fashioned friendships. I'm happier for it. I hope you give it a try.