The Art of Play

May 15, 2011

You Are What You Play

At heart, I think most science fiction and fantasy fans are great big kids inside. We love to play with big ideas, and have those “That’s SO COOL” moments. And there’s a part of us that just… likes to play. Period. Video games, RPGs, Collectible Card Games, Arkham Horror – fans love to play. It excites a part of us. And the things we play say something about us as well.


Embarrassing admission. I think the reason I prefer science fiction to fantasy is because the toys are much cooler. Don’t get me wrong, I do love fantasy, but given the choice, I gravitate more to the SF than to the Fantasy end of the spectrum. As a young boy, I did not play with horses and swords, and not much with dragons. I played with spaceships and lasers. I HAD a toy dragon, and it was regularly the target of a bombing run of a cheap plastic rocket ship. In my head, I was running scouting missions for the Galactic Federation, and I’d land on strange and exotic worlds that mostly consisted of my front lawn. Upon arrival, I’d disembark, discover some giant monster, and it was time for an emergency take off and looking for greener pastures.

And I’m a little embarrassed by the admission, but I’ve bought my share of toys as an adult. You get me into a Target, and chances are I’m going to swing by the Star Wars section looking to see if they’ve released a new line of their mini-spaceships. I have a Venator class Star Destroyer. There’s a small model of the USS Farragut from ST:TNG that sits on my desk at work. I don’t have any Lord of the Rings figures, but I have an A-Wing.

Even in video games – I like RPGs, and most all of the time you’re going to be playing a fantasy RPG. That’s just life. And there are some great titles in the genre – Chrono Trigger. Final Fantasy VI. Neverwinter Nights. But between having the chance to play Dragon Age and Mass Effect, guess where my money’s going?

And that play extends into my writing. At my personal blog, this week, I was challenged by a friend to write 1000 words by Friday. I made it 2000 words, and it’s a martial arts demon fighting extravaganza. I know, it’s not science fiction. But today as I was thinking about how I write and what I write about, and looking over my toy collection to see if there was a connection, I stumbled across my Stikfas collection. Which mostly happens to consist of martial-arts monks and ninjas.

Draw your own conclusions, readers. And ask yourself – does your childhood toy chest have a connection to what you read (and maybe write) today?

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