I missed another blog post on Friday, probably because I was overstimulated by the most amazing gaming experience I’ve ever had. I was invited to NOTCON by my good friend Chris, who has been hosting this private gaming convention for the past six years. Essentially, it’s four days of nonstop tabletop games, RPGs, video games, croquet, logic puzzles, great food, and fantastic beer. It was held this year up in the Poconos at a massive house with a pool, amazing grounds, and plenty of space for the forty or so people who came.
It’s always interesting when you get a large population of people who like similar things together, because you start to notice not only the obvious trends, but more importantly the subtle differences. For example, we had some computer experts there; actually, quite a few. During a trivia event, when someone mistakenly thought that city in which “you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,” was the “bar on Degobah,” cries of outrage rang forth from the crowd that could mostly cite Star Wars by heart. And I was not at all surprised to pass the TV and see first Goonies playing, then Princess Bride.
As always, the differences were much more interesting. There were some excellent chefs who made breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts. There was a sommelier who brought his homemade wines (one made with Earl Grey tea called Captain’s Quarters), and some beer homebrewers as well. There was a military man (or if he wasn’t he sure looked and acted like it). There were women gamers. One freak even brought an accordion and played The Final Countdown and Eye of the Tiger repeatedly. In short, there was a wide spectrum of humanity that could not be pigeonholed and marginalized into one stereotype.
I encounter this sort of bias most frequently in the classes I teach. When my students in Microsoft Excel class learn that I have a degree in music, I often get knowing nods followed by,”well no wonder you’re so good with computers.” I remember back to my days at Eastman. We all loved music, and we all knew quite a lot about it. From there the paths diverged widely. Some of us were valedictorians, some struggled with academics. Some of us were technology whizzes, others had difficulty turning computers on. There were kind people and bullies. Sports fans and athletics avoiders. The straight-laced and the degenerate. Which is why it’s absurd to me when someone makes that link between music and computers (or music and math, or music and sexual proclivities, etc.).
I was reaffirmed this weekend in the knowledge that in all walks of life, we are individuals with different backgrounds, approaches, and quirks. We can still come together and participate in mutual experiences, even if you prefer to play in the pool and I spend my time in front of the Atari 2600. Our diversity is something to celebrate, as it enhances the diversity of our days on earth and makes life more than one endless, plodding march to the finish. Sometimes we get to kill the red, yellow, and green dragons, use the bridge to find the transmolecular dot, and get a better idea of what’s going on before we finally take the chalice to the gold castle and take our boots off for good.