This feature’s purpose was to chronicle my teens through mid-twenties through the various role-playing games I played or purchased during that timeframe. That product-plus-personal-anecdote formula breaks down when it comes to the stretch between the December 1989 and October 1990, when my interest in the hobby took a steep nosedive.
There were many overlapping reasons for this long hiatus.
A couple weeks before Christmas, the staff at the hospital where I worked (washing pots and pans) were informed that the place was going to close at the beginning of the new year. Some of us were given the option to relocate to a sister institution two towns over, but the commute wasn’t feasible for my car-less self and the single shift I pulled at the place (on the night Bush Senior invaded Panama) made it clear that management didn’t really expect anyone to take them up on the offer.
The job had been my primary source of discretionary income, and losing it necessitated a good deal of belt-tightening. Finding a new gig turned out to be more difficult than I assumed it would be, especially in an era where punk rock still held a degree of exotic menace in the suburbs. That, in turn, led to an escalating feedback loop — I couldn’t find work because of my punkiness, so I had nothing to lose by further embracing the style. What money I could scrape together or beg from my relatives went toward more pressing priorities like comics, music, clothes, and the occasional second-hand videogame cartridge.
Role-playing games probably would have figured into that economic calculus, but the interest just wasn’t there. The small group of hold-outs I played with had drifted apart by that point. Of the old crew, only Damian and I remained, and even that friendship had begun to show signs of strain. While I got more and more into punk rock, Damian embraced the hard partying vanity of the hair metal scene. Each of us thought the other was becoming a joke, and both of us were probably right. What time we did spend together was spent playing videogames, hitting the local arcades, and fighting over which movie to rent.
While my relationship with Damian continued to deteriorate, I started spending time with a new group of friends I was dragged into after my mother’s death. For some reason, my plight touched the hearts of my high school’s clique of bohemian types. They were nice kids for all their drama and pretense, and I repaid their kindness by being a nasty little prick to them. I also made a point of carrying over those underdeveloped social skills and unfocused rage into some pretty disastrous attempts at adolescent romance, both requited and otherwise. Not my proudest moment, for sure, but it was yet another distraction from the world of character sheets and percentile dice.
And that’s pretty much how things went through the end of my senior year through the first half of my first semester in college…when things took a turn for the life-changing, but that’s a story for another time.