Saturday, January 28, 2012

Of Bounty Hunters, Knights, and Alpacas

This morning my son and I were playing with one of my Star Wars figures--the bounty hunter Dengar--and some toy farm animals. At one point I put Dengar on the back of an alpaca, pretending that he was riding him.

A little while later my wife called me back into the living room, excited about what O had just done. He stopped playing, went into his room and found a library book, opened it to a specific page and pointed to the picture and then to Dengar. The book is from the "I Spy" series, the picture of a knight on horseback. Dengar, looking sort of knightly in his pointed head gear and grey/brown space armor, had been riding the alpaca, which looks a bit like a horse.

I love seeing old and familiar things through my sons 19 month old eyes. Stuff that I have known for most of my life--like Dengar, whom I first encountered in 1980 at 8 years old--can take on new roles when viewed out of context, with no preconceived notions of what is or isn't "correct".

Isn't that really what this gaming hobby I love is really about, anyway? Roleplaying games are just "let's pretend" with a set of guidelines to let multiple people partake of the same story without stepping all over each other. We take something familiar--like medieval knights, mythology, or outer space--and give them a spin with friends to see what falls out. Playing with my son is like gaming, where things old and familiar to me are new again and take on unexpected roles in his hands.

Long live Dengar, Knight of the Alpaca!