By Chris Stanton, Writer and Designer
You may not know it to look at me now, but I was one of those kids growing up – the outcast, the social pariah. I’d been the new kid too often to be anything else. By the time we finally settled down, I had no interest in playing by the cool kids rules. In fact, I embraced my inner (okay, in my case outer) geek wholeheartedly. And one of the ways I did that was playing Dungeons & Dragons.
“While I was proud of being different, that didn’t mean it was easy. For me, part of the appeal of D&D was getting to play someone that wasn’t me at all.”
While I was proud of being different, that didn’t mean it was easy. I was teased a lot, and bullied. So for me, part of the appeal of D&D was getting to play someone that wasn’t me at all. And I don’t just mean non-human, though I played Elves more often than not. I was a Thief, a Fighter, or even a Priest. I got to go on adventures, be the hero. It was a chance to explore sides of me I’d kept hidden, safely couched under a layer of pretend. I was free to be coy, saucy, super-serious, or even downright mean. I looked at it as a chance to act, without the terror of going onstage. Sometimes I didn’t do so well, but other times I rocked. And it really helped me get out of my shell.
It also changed my life in ways that I never would have expected. I met my now ex-husband playing D&D. We’re still friends, and we have two amazing children. And there are a few other folk I gamed with over the years that I still see, though not as often as I used to.
“It was a chance to explore sides of me I’d kept hidden, safely couched under a layer of pretend.”
Over time I realized that creating back-stories for the characters was another huge appeal of the game. I spent time I should have been studying or note-taking doodling on my papers, or scribbling out character notes. If I could incorporate the game into a project, I did.
That hasn’t changed. My favorite hobby now is writing, and the story I’m currently working on is based on Dungeons & Dragons, and includes a race of lizard-folk I created well over a decade ago.
And I don’t do this alone. I found a wonderful new community – a writing community. We play with words instead of dice, and a lot of it is, sadly, online instead of in person, but it’s just as fun as D&D ever was.
“I’ve been labeled a lot of different ways over the years: artist, singer, writer, bi chick, voracious reader, goofball, gamer, annoying big sister, entertainment trivia queen, comic book nerd, horror nut, Trekkie… the list is endless, as I am incredibly proud to let my Geek Flags fly. My favorite thing to answer to, however, is Mom.” – Chris Stanton