Last weekend, we got to play the Greenhill Campaign face-to-face. It's a 4e Dungeons & Dragons game with several close friends. We've been playing since 4e came out, and it's been nearly all played via Google Hangout + virtual tabletop. We've done "Greenhill Live" a grand total of twice, now.
And it's always weirdly magical.
Gaming face-to-face is just different from gaming online. It doesn't matter if it's role-playing or boardgaming, either. I actually spend a fair amount of time on BoardGameArena.com these days - mostly watching games, but occasionally playing. And it much prefer the direct human interaction. Which is strange, because I really don't like people all that much.
I've played via BoardGameArena with a Hangout in another window - and that helps a bit. In large part because the people I game with tend to trash-talk a fair amount. Even when role-playing.
Maybe it's because the face-to-face interaction included food. Like Maple Bacon chips. And steak sandwiches. And a fair amount of alcohol ...
Kinder Surprise, for those two or three of you who don't know, are chocolate eggs which include a capsule with toys. And the toys are every bit as good as Cracker Jacks used to be. But, because the toy is surrounded with food, it's illegal to import these into the US. In fact, they can apparently fine up to $2,500 per egg (according to Wikipedia). Because - as we all know, American Children are dumber than children anywhere else in the world.
The chocolate isn't terrible, but it has an inner lining of white chocolate that is pretty bad and makes the milk chocolate hard to get through.
But the toys make it worth eating the chocolate much of the time.
Game itself was fun. We started around one and continued until almost 11pm, at which point I was crashing pretty hard. We started the evening at 18th level, and bumped to 19th by the end of the night. It's the first time I can remember taking a character from start to 19. I've played high-level characters before, but they were generated at those higher levels more often than not. And I don't know that any games I played as a kid lasted more than a very small handful of sessions.
Jim - our DM - has told us he has an end for the campaign in mind, and I'm always sad to see a game end (even if it's to create an opening for another game).
Our Dresden Files game is close to wrapping up, too. I have - at times - felt out-of-place in that game, but that's because I have a few Aspects that I need to cycle out, due to their not fitting the direction in which my character grew. I've learned a lot about my character in this game - which is an unexpected thing for me. I'm not used to my character steering me.
One of the highlights of that game has been the potluck nature of dinner. Someone will, on Friday or so, start a "food thread" for the weekend, and someone will claim one aspect of dinner - main dish, dessert, side dish. Usually the Main Dish folks will state what they're bringing so that we don't get odd flavor clashes with the side dishes. We've had some really good food with that group, too.
When I was younger, we'd make snack runs or order a pizza as a group. Or split some of Mama Weas' Chili Dip.
There's something about the ritual of sharing food together than brings a group together.
Every year, on the Tuesday before GenCon, the Asmodee crew gets together for dinner and trivia. After the show, we all go out for dinner together again. The Tuesday dinner allows us to reacquaint ourselves with these folks that some of us haven't seen since last year. It also allows us to meet the new people. The wrap-up dinner reminds us how much we like and appreciate these people we've just spent the last four days with.
It's odd to me that food and good gaming are so closely tied in my mind, but with very rare exceptions, food is often one of the first things ignored in games. I see "rations" listed, but no real details on day-to-day food in many many games and settings. I think that probably bears some thought ...