Saturday, September 3, 2016

Non-Gaming Things That Remind You Of Gaming

Earlier today, I was at the local grocery store picking up a few necessities. As I walked through the laundry detergent aisle, I saw something that reminded me very strongly of my first roadtrip to Gen Con. What was that item that has such a strong connection to a gaming memory? This bottle right here...
I'll explain in a moment, but it's funny how memory works. A piece of music, a specific smell, anything can trigger a memory, even if that trigger is only loosely connected to the event. For example, I think most of us recognize this:

But how many of you are wondering, "What the hell is that bottle of booze doing in that dice bag?" That's what we're discussing today: non-gaming items that, to you, are absolutely connected to your world of gaming experiences. Here are mine:

1. A disc-firing plastic gun
When I first began playing D&D with my friends, we often played in Roger's basement rec room. There were always toys, games, gadgets, and gizmos scattered about as Rog was a bit of a collector. During one game, he had one of these guns on the table, playfully firing it here and there. I picked up one of the discs and began chewing on it absent-mindedly as I considered an action -- kinda the way you might gnaw on a toothpick. Anyway, I picked up that as a habit and, during future D&D games, I had a handful of those stupid discs nearby whenever I considered any character action.

2. Toto's "Africa"

One of my favorite D&D books is the Fiend Folio. I absolutely love that monster book, as it's filled with the most gonzo and bizarre fantasy creatures I had encountered in my early gaming history. I bought my copy at Waldenbooks (remember them?) and raced home to pour through it. As I plunked down in my bedroom to read my new treasure, I turned on the stereo. This song was just starting as I began to read. During the 4-minute runtime of this song, I flipped through the book, looking at the pictures and glancing at the names of the monsters: The Bonesnapper, The Sons of Kyuss, The Crypt Thing, The FLAILSNAIL. Ever since that day, this song reminds me of Githyanki and Xvarts.

3. The smell of Gain laundry detergent

Told you we'd get back to this. In 2011, I went to my first Gen Con. It had been a dream 20+ years in the making to get there, so I was super-pumped as I packed my stuff and prepped my car for the roadtrip. One of my little travelling quirks is that I have to scrub my car inside and out before any long trips. I dunno -- a clean car runs better, feels more "comfortable", and just makes the trip a bit better. Early that morning, as I climbed behind the wheel for the trip, I placed one last item in place -- a car air freshener I had picked up. I thought I had grabbed a pine-tree scented freshener as it was green. Wrong, I had picked up an air freshener that was scented with -- you guessed it -- Gain laundry detergent. I didn't even know Gain was an official "scent"! So, for 4+ hours as I drove to Indiana, my car and my sinuses were filled with the smell of Gain. My clothes smelled like Gain. The gaming materials in my car smelled like Gain. When I got to Gen Con, I forgot about the smell of Gain...until it was time to come home. My car still reeked of Gain so, for another 4 hours, all I smelled was Gain. That was 5 years ago. And, since then, the smell of Gain is absolutely connected to one of my favorite con experiences.

So let's hear from you. What non-gaming thing is forever connected to gaming in your expereinces?

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