I recently had a conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and though I did not get much of a chance to wander around and get a sense of the place, I was acutely aware that I was in the place where my favorite hobby was essentially born. It reminded me that within a four hour drive south one could also find the birth place of both GDW, creators of Traveller, in Normal, IL and Judges Guild in Decatur, IL.
Recently, James over at Grognardia asked the question if there was such a thing as “California games.” He cites Runequest, Arduin and Warlock and now (thanks to Dan of Gobinoid Games) Wizards’ World is also part of that tapestry.
In Orthodox Christianity, there is still a very strong pull towards the pilgrimage. I myself have done so on several occasions — to Mt. Athos, Thessaloniki (to follow the footsteps of St. Paul), and the island of Aegina and the tomb of St. Nektarios. There is a personal presence that accompanies these places because of the people I went to see — the various saints of the Orthodox Church. There is also a very powerful sense of the holy.
Lake Geneva, Normal and Decatur are not Mt. Athos, Thessaloniki and Aegina, but I cannot help but wonder what it is about the plains of the Midwest that inspired such a creative explosion in the 70s. It is a reverse of James’ question about California: Are there common themes in gaming cultures that coalesce into a certain kind of game? I would ask: How much does a sense of place have to do with these expressions?
Given that the primary place for gaming culture is no longer something one can find on a map, is this question even relevant any more, or am I just waxing poetic because of a deep sense of nostalgia?
As G+, FLAILSNAILS, Kickstarter and POD become the new gaming norm, what sense of place do we as gamers have anymore — if we ever had one in the first place?
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