Many people will look at how I'm surrounded by games all day and think I have the most wonderful job in the world. Resumes flow in regularly for a chance at the golden ring. Never mind that the job is mostly about security, cleaning and sales, people want to be in an environment with their hobby. Some insightful people will ask if making my hobby into my business has ruined gaming for me. It must get old after a while, right? Right? I think they're truly curious and want to know. How do you unwind if your work is your hobby? The truth of how it all fits together is a little complicated.
Unlike a lot of people who go into the game trade, I was not a well rounded gamer. My gaming experience was pretty much Magic and D&D, along with your typical Hasborg style board games as a kid. This is a typical range of experience with my customer base, but fairly atypical for a store owner, who tends to be a broad, alpha gamer first. Granted, when I got into Magic or D&D, I got way into it. As I kid I always wished I could have the cool miniatures or books that my friends had, so as an adult, there was no limit to my budget for gaming. I would have been happier with an old-time fantasy store of the 80's. It was only after starting the store that I expanded my gaming interests. Now I enjoy miniature gaming, a variety of role-playing games, board and card games. Because these sub-genres were not on my radar before, they are new and interesting to me. But what about my love for previous games?
When D&D went to 4th Edition, I admit it caused some personal angst. As a store owner, I'm caught between the love for my discontinued game and the desire to move forward towards something new. Remember, I have to sell this stuff, but my motivation for doing so involves my love of it. Is the new D&D 4 better than 3? What will I play? How will that effect my love for the game and my sales in the store? As much as I hate to admit it, there's a personal interest in these games that drives me forward. It's not true, as my business partner once said, that I would be just as happy selling shoes. It's not all process, it's also interest and love for the product. What if a new edition dampens my love for the game? Will it dampen my enthusiasm for running the store? I used to worry about this all the time. I think the solution, like everything in life, is how you approach it.
Gaming is not a religion, it's an industry. This means that no matter how good a game is, even if it's the best game ever, it has a product life cycle. Eventually you'll saturate your market with everyone who wants your game and the company needs something new to generate revenue. Unlike religion, which spreads itself to new people, the game industry needs those same people to buy more, and it's new versions that bring that in, not another supplement. Sticking to the same old game seems somewhat dogmatic. They want you to love their game, but not be so attached to it that you'll never consider a better one.
We certainly have our share of dogmatic customers, those who bought all their 40K models a decade ago and called their collection complete, or those who hunt the used shelves for 80's era AD&D supplements. I roll my eyes as they don't fit my business model or my gaming experience, but sometimes I secretly wonder if they're happier than the rest of us. They seem to seek out gaming enjoyment as much as everyone else, only in a much narrower spectrum. However, I'm finding the key to game enjoyment, and thus job satisfaction, is a more esoteric approach to gaming. This approach seems to be the norm in the game industry. Yes, we're all wistful about games of the past, but for the most part, we're looking for a kernel of truth, of gaming enjoyment, right now, wherever we might find it. We lose attachment to games of the past, while enjoying new ones without forming strong attachments. Many play computer games as well, because being on the esoteric path means you'll find truth across the spectrum of experience. Nothing is forbidden.
There is another group of gamers that I once found equally perplexing, the cross genre gamers that tended to evaluate all new games for their experience value. These are the esoteric gamers, the mythic alpha gamers that are not deterred by things like genre, style, or even production value, provided a game looks like it offers the experience they're after for a good value. They're like wine drinkers, who can find something interesting in every bottle, perhaps a unique taste or a smell.
The esoteric approach breaks down personal attachment to dogma. Yes, the previous edition was great and fantastic, but now we have the new edition, and it has something to add too. They don't necessarily buy everything that comes along, but they carefully sample and go deeper into what brings satisfaction. Am I becoming an esoteric "alpha"gamer? Or maybe like in esoteric traditions, we're already alpha gamers with layers of troublesome dogma that need removing.