At the far end of the panel freelance games writer and general man-about-town Rob Zacny is speaking and saying entertaining things like he usually does. He is currently describing his experiences having been on his high-school football team, and the audience of some few hundred gamers seems largely engaged and responsive. It’s been a good PAX East panel that seems to get better with each anecdote and joke, and the topic “Dorks vs. Sports” feels largely like fresh and fertile ground.
But, I begin to detect a growing dissonance between what Rob is describing as his high-school experience and the reality of my own. Rob is talking about playing D&D with his football teammates, and beginning to draw lines to what he describes as the myth about jocks stuffing nerds into lockers and the artificial social stigma of being a gamer. It’s largely BS, he is saying, and around him there are some nods of agreement.
I have no reason to doubt this mirror’s Rob’s experience, and judging by the tacit and in some cases active agreement, it appears to be a shared representation of what many experienced. But, it stands in stark contrast to what I remember of high-school. I turn my head to look at Bob Salvatore who I am sitting with and who is my partner in middle-age on the other end of the panel. I am somewhat relieved to see an equally puzzled expression on his face. I begin to realize that somewhere between the world Bob and I existed in, and the one that the younger panelists on the other side of the table experienced is a line where Things Changed (tm).