Sunday, 10 May 2020

Losing Track of Time

I think we're all quite aware by now that things are not situation normal at the moment. I know I said I was aiming to have a quieter year this year, but a pandemic wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

In many respects, my life hasn't really changed - I worked from home anyway, and often didn't go out from one week to another. But in so many other respects, things are different. My husband now works from home alongside me. My hieroglyphics course was cancelled, the Lit and Phil closed, talks and conventions I was due to attend or teach were cancelled or postponed, businesses I loved supporting shut down - hopefully temporarily, but perhaps not. Friends have lost their jobs or are watching their businesses teeter on the brink. I worry for them all.

And yes, while I miss going out and visiting places, especially as the weather improves, I'd much rather be at home, protecting myself and protecting others, than swanning about in public. What inconveniences me a little could make all the difference in preventing someone far more vulnerable from getting ill. The level of some people's selfishness when ignoring lock down is disappointing, even if it's not even vaguely surprising given the various clown shows currently masquerading as world governments. We can, and should, do better.

A lot of gamers we know have had, or are suspected to have had, COVID-19. Some have been very sick and may suffer long lasting effects as a result; others, thankfully, got off relatively lightly. It is a shame that numerous conventions are no longer happening, but as everyone who's ever been to one knows, they are massive disease reservoirs, so much so that we always joke about the dreaded "con crud." Many of the people we know who've been ill caught it at an international event, one much smaller than the mega-conventions some people are complaining about being cancelled.

But, nothing is ever that simple - small companies often depend on convention revenue to get them through. While no conventions and shutting non-essential shops is the best way to protect everyone's health, it is hitting some people right in the wallet. So, if those companies are online and you can afford to, please support them. Get behind your friendly local games store or cafe or bookshop and help them financially in whichever way they've set up for you to do so. Same goes for everyone who is streaming content for your amusement - gamers, performers, etc. - donate to them if you can via the platform they've chosen. They're giving their time and creative energy to keep you from crawling up the walls and they need your help in return.

As far as roleplaying goes, I've never been busier prepping material for Chaosium or taking part in online games. So busy, in fact, that I've fallen way behind in writing this blog and I'm doing very badly at taking time off to recharge my batteries. In all other respects, though, I'm incredibly lucky. My revenue stream is, for the moment at least, secure so I'm doing what I can to pay it forward to those who aren't so fortunate. We've been there in the past, and worrying about where the money to pay the next bill is coming from is a headache people really don't need on top of everything else right now.

We gamers are part of a community. For all its faults - and let's not pretend they aren't many and varied - we are capable of creating great things and doing great good together. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but now is the time to support each other in whatever way we can so we, as a community, can come out of this stronger and richer - creatively speaking, at the very least - than ever.

Be good everyone, be kind, and above all, stay safe.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

What Do You Mean, it's March Already?

This year has been a bit of a whirlwind. Nothing new for me, I hear you cry, but January and February were somewhat crackers even by our standards. We were home for all of two weekends in the entire two months, which meant finding time to do anything other than laundry - like writing blog posts - was never going to happen.

Our first foray of the year, after seeing 2020 in with gin cocktails and numerous episodes of The Witcher, was to Bellevue and OrcaCon. As always, it was a wonderful, welcoming experience, full of games and lemon curd fry bread. It's always lovely to see old friends again, and to make new ones over shared gaming experiences. And, as has become something of a tradition, I was interviewed by the Geeks of Cascadia podcast team, who are always lovely to talk to.

After the convention, we went down to Tacoma for a change, and stayed at a thoroughly crazy hotel: McMenamin's Elks Temple. Multiple bars and restaurants on multiple floors (including a hidden one), with live music every night, and a suitably off-the-wall design aesthetic that made it a very entertaining stay. We walked down to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, as one does if one has been raised watching historical documentaries. It was very impressive on what was a freezing cold but beautifully clear day, and thankfully not attempting to shake itself apart.

We were also fed and watered very well, as Tacoma is an excellent place for eateries and bars: Red HotsIce Cream Social, Devil's Reef Tiki bar, Puget Sound Pizza, Hob Nob, and a lot of other cafes I can't now remember the names of. And there was the Tacoma Glass Museum, a very chill way to spend a Monday afternoon recovering from a convention.

And then there was a trip down to Olympia for a tour of the State Capitol, given by none other than Senator Steve Hobbs, one of the Geeks of Cascadia podcasters and also board member for OrcaCon. I got to wield the senate gavel, which was a lot of fun. We know some wonderful people, which means we get to do some cool and different things, and that trip was certainly one of them!

February didn't exactly slow down: proof of concept playtesting for the Rivers of London RPG, Maya on the Thames to learn Mayan hieroglyphics for the weekend (which confirmed I really only have room for one dead language in my life), and a blackwork workshop for the Ponteland Embroiderers Guild one very snowy afternoon.

And in amongst all of that, working on numerous projects for Chaosium and keeping up with my Egyptian hieroglyphics, including back-translating Peter Rabbit!

So, I know that's twice now I've covered two months in one post, and I hope to do better for the rest of this year. I certainly don't have as much planned at weekends as last year (or the beginning of this). Mind you, I didn't have much planned for last year, and look how that ended up!