I was watching David Hewlett's vid about playing D & D, It's funny, because I was very much the same as a kid. I loved fantasy and always wanted to play, but didn't know anyone who had the same interests. I too ended up playing and programming on my C64 (which I still have!), but it wasn't really the same.
Fast forward 30 years and I got the opportunity with my gaming group for some role playing action.
A rather blurry shot of the first role playing game (not D & D) that I tried with my group. As you can see it includes the all important pizza! I enjoyed coming up with my character and working out her stats. It should be noted that I always play as a woman. I'm typically the only female at our game nights, and have spent the past twenty years working in predominantly male environments and where possible I insist on playing female characters in our games. Now this might seem an aside, but actually I think it's quite important.
Turns out that when I had to improvise what my character said and did in this world, I was useless! I felt very self-conscious, and totally lost. It was as if I was dumped into a world that I knew nothing about, but should do and I struggled with it. I'm naturally quite shy, and when put on the spot I clammed up. It was an uncomfortable experience. Possibly if there had been other women in the group I might have felt less freaked out by it. This campaign ran for quite a few months and I honestly began to dread going, but didn't want to let my friends down by dropping out. I was rather glad when circumstances changed and our GM wasn't really able to run the game on a regular basis anymore.
I didn't let this put me off though. My group's next venture was into the world of Warhammer.
Here you can see another map, this time on wipe-clean grid paper. with various figures, snacks (of course!) and also my lovely Chessex aquerple dice, and at the top of the picture one of the many big books of Warhammer. Now, it turns out that most of my group were very familiar with the Warhammer world and I was not. They are more of a sword bent, and whilst I enjoy that, I tend to drift towards laser. that said, even without knowing the world I still enjoyed making up my character.
Yet again though, even in a different and more structured world, I struggled with with role playing. It's not a lack of imagination, I'm perfectly capable of making up stories in my head, but having to verbalise them in front of others is just something that I find intimidating when it's out of the realm of my personal experience. It's not something i'm comfortable doing anyway, although I can do it and do it well.
[As another aside, during the board games expo two different people told me I should think about doing stand-up. I really cannot imagine anything worse. I've had people laughing at me my whole life, and the thought frankly terrifies me]
I do wonder what the experience would be like if I were gaming with women, or if it was in an environment that was perhaps more tolerant of my shortcomings, but I think it's probably not something that I'm going to explore again in the near future.
Still, I do have all those dice though...