Fog is setting in. Knifey McStab, Charlotte, and Marla have their hands full against a horde of zombies. Having retreated in a previous turn, I wan’t close enough to help my allies by stabbing a zombie with my rapier. Digging deep into my repertoire, I grabbed some tinder off the dry ground and use magic to create four makeshift torches. Before ending my turn, I launch them towards the heat of battle, allowing my party to finish the fight with a clear view of our opposition. As icing on the cake, I kick on the Auto-Tune to sing the song that a bard would when lighting the battlefield for their comrades.
This past weekend, I had an amazing time playing and streaming Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. Thank you Jason, Kris, Rachel, Mat, and Jon for sharing this experience with me. Though it’s literally taken us years to set this session up, my journey to get here goes way further back.
10 years is a long stretch of time. From the moment I started this blog on this very day a decade ago until now, I’ve experienced the majority of my 20s and am now deeper into my 30s than I’d like to admit. In that time, I established my career, got married to my college sweetheart, and we bought a house together. I also gained weight, sleep less, and heal from injuries a lot more slowly than I used to. It’s not all wins, but thus is life.
During that time, I’ve grown and changed as a gamer as well. On this day, being the actual 10th birthday of the site, let’s look at a few ways in which I’ve grown as a gaming enthusiast.
During my formative years, the Woodbine Centre mall just outside of Toronto was the most magical place on Earth. Featuring an amusement park inside, I loved playing in the ball pit, sliding down the tall slide that starts three stories up, and riding on the park’s iconic carousel. Had to ride the horses that bobbed up and down, of course.
As a kid, my mom took night school courses in the area for a few years. Because the timing didn’t work out for my dad, brother, and I to go home, we hung out at Woodbine Centre instead. My brother was peak age for the amusement park, while we both got a kick out of playing at the arcade. This arcade is where I got my first taste of such classics as Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, and NBA Jam.
Since those days of making regular visits, I’ve seldom returned. I’m rarely in the area and haven’t had a reason to go back. That is, until the mall’s Baskin Robbins got converted to Scoops Ahoy for a limited time. Re-themed to match the look of the ice cream shop prominently featured in Stranger Things 3, my wife and I made a visit to the mall that was a pivotal piece of my childhood.
“I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” – Toby Keith
That guy on the left in the grainy screen grab is me, circa 2003. Back then, being the best baller I could be meant the world to me. I put in countless hours to make the best of my abilities, which I put to great use as a member of house leagues, school teams and on streetball courts around my city. Heck, I even took part in the And1 Mixtape Tour’s open run when they came to Toronto, where I got to play in front of thousands at the Air Canada Centre.
When I step on the court now, my mind still thinks that I’m 18 years old. However, I’m struggling to come to grips with the fact that my body clearly isn’t where it used to be.