Thursday, May 28, 2009

One shop, two worlds

It may surprise you to learn this, but I'm a huge nerd.

My love for comics might be the most obvious evidence, but my capacity for nerdity knows no bounds so I'm a pretty active gamer, too. And when I say "gamer" I don't mean the semi-cool console gaming. Oh, no. I'm talking about the old-school paper-and-pencil, character sheet-filling, buying yet another set of funny looking dice kind of gaming.

(And 'cause I can tell you're dying to know; a half-orc warden, thank you very much.)

There have been a few superhero role-playing games that have floated around, and I wish I could've played this one:

Doesn't that look awesome, in a kinda cheesy way?

But coming across this ad reminded me of something I noticed while working at a comic shop a few years ago. The shop was equal parts comics and gaming supplies, complete with dice, miniatures and sourcebooks for a ton of RPGs, as well as comics, trades and manga. It was like heaven ... siiiigggh ...

Ahem. Anyway. After a while something was obvious; the gamers had no time for the comic book geeks, and the comic readers sneered at the gamers. It was a Cold Geek War, with both factions tolerating each other but rarely interacting. Depending on what side of the store you were on determined what kind of snotty remarks you would hear. You would think two groups whose hobbies are based largely on imagination and over-the-top adventures would be like blood brothers — especially considering all the comics based on games available — but that wasn't usually the case.

What made this weirder was the fact that most of the employees read comics and gamed, and did both fanatically. Personally, I could never understand the riff and scorned both equally (I kid because I love!).

Has anyone else ever experienced this? Was it some sort of goofy peer pressure, with Ponyboy peering over the racks and sharing meaningful looks with Cherry Valance over in miniatures? Was it all my imagination? And how many of you fellow comic book readers are also gamers?


Thunderlips said...

I have the majority of the DC Heroes rpg modules. As reference.

Actually, I really dug the Marvel Super Heroes rpg system.

Scott said...

I've noticed the rift. In fact, some of us were talking about trying to integrate gaming into one of our next comic cons, and we weren't sure whether we'd be able to get the comic fans and the gaming fans to play well together.

The only superhero game I ever got to play was a single session of the classic Marvel RPG. Always wanted to do GURPS Supers, always wanted to do Mutants and Masterminds.

Anonymous said...

I played in a long lived Superworld campaign (purchased from a split shop much like you described). My brother's gang played Champions. We also dabbled in Villains & Vigilantes, both the Marvel & DC games, and a few even more obscure games. I have nearly all of that stuff boxed up still.


Luis K. said...

I wrote a whole article taking off on this subject for the online comics magazine Savant ( I believe) some years ago. :) It was an account of an afternoon spent with my Dungeon Master at a mall.

Tried to find the link just now but apparently the Savant archives have been taken down. :( Does anyone know if they're still somewhere online?

rob! said...

I loved/love comics, but I could never get into gaming--even when they DC-based games.

Not sure why, maybe I'm too impatient for how long those games take to play? I want to start building hotels immediately!

Maxo said...

Thunderlips: Have I ever mentioned how envious I am of your job? And I had that Marvel RPG! I could never figure it out, though, which sucked. I remember liking the cardboard tokens, though.

And I've been meaning to tell you — Best. Sign-on. EVER.

Scott: I've heard good things about the GURPS game (hell, people love the system in general), and Mutants and Masterminds is supposed to be solid.

I liked your post! I tend to go back and forth about it, too - the two fandoms aren't mutually exclusive by any means, but when it is there the division seems pretty distinct. I've seen the same thing with readers of superhero comic readers and manga readers; for some reason, there just doesn't seem to be as much crossover as you might expect.

Jim: Jealoussss ... Hey, just out of curiosity, which superhero RPG have you enjoyed most?

Luis: It's too bad you can't find that — I would've liked to have read that!

Rob: They can definitely take some time. The game I'm in now is set for five-hour sessions, which seems pretty typical. I used to be in one that usually went for 8 to 9 hours!