After my highly controversial post last week, as to the Walking Dead and zombie gaming, I’ve been putting a little thought into what unites us as fans in each genre, where the cross-over happens, and what the differences are. I’ve often mentioned that my short career at the table sits opposite to a lifetime obsession with comics, but they seem to intersect. There is a synergy for lack of a better term. I’ve sat at tables with like-minded fellows, who both roll dice and turn the pages. It becomes clear that both species can exist in the same environment. We’re brother geeks, or sister geeks, or whatever we want really. There are things that surround us, link us, and bind us together (sometimes in handcuffs). These are my things.
1) We know how to party
There are hundreds of events and conventions that take place in North America every year concerning both hobbies. Gen Con set a new attendance record in 2015, with what they describe as “a unique attendance of 61,423” and “a turnstile attendance of 197,695.” San Diego Comic-Con in 2015 maxed out at 130,000 due to limited space. We like to get together, and when we do we make it rain; bigger conventions to the tune of 50 million dollars into local economies. Free swag is always great, but the truth is this: we buy, we drink, we eat, and we dance (poorly). We’re high rollers.
2) We can marathon
Last night I sat down and read 72 issues of DMZ before I went to bed. This summer I have a 72-hour long weekend date with 10 intrepid heroes and the Tower of War. I’ve heard a lot of good things about obsession and I’ll sleep when I’m dead. How much do you love all-nighters? Gamers and comic readers can suffer for love. That being said, we’re also adults, parents, and professionals, but when we have the time, we go for it! No excuses, carpe diem.
3) Our intelligence is balanced by our imaginations
As I said, some of us are adults, parents, and professionals, making us pretty quick on the whole. Some of us are just brilliant to begin with, although there are some exceptions to the rule. Regardless, there are aspects of both hobbies that promote intelligence and wisdom. For some, it could be explained by being “book smart” - but I think it’s more inline with “fluid intelligence.” This is the ability to solve problems, understand fundamentals, and detect patterns (except grammar in my case). The beauty of this is that we take “fluid intelligence” to the next level and apply it to imaginative scenarios. I’m not saying that we’re pushing any rational boundaries here, but I think that the majority of us are geared to be critical thinkers when it comes to narrative, and tactically observant to what goes on around us.
4) Gamers are definitely better at not being dinosaurs
Comic book store closure affects us all. Not only are these businesses usually crossover points for comics and gaming, they represent real world hubs for connections. In terms of comics, store closure is usually blamed upon growing digital content. However, in 2014 digital comics only represented what is estimated to be 11% of the market. While this number is continually going up, paper comics still dominate in terms of overall distribution. Maybe it’s the grey market, maybe not. But for the most part, the majority of comics aren’t sold online. Alternately, I’ve noticed that gaming culture seems to have a more progressive stance to online content. While the group I play with loves their hard copy books, we’ve really put on movement when buying digital content, especially with games like Dread and Fiasco. While you can find independent comics on Kickstarter, they haven’t really been able to optimize it’s potential as RPG’s have. Essentially, what I’ve noticed is that gamers are just more open to online content and usage.
So we’re cut from the same cloth right? Yeah… maybe, but they’re not the same thing. I know it. I can never say that gaming has brought be more happiness than comic books, but I’m sure some of you can. As much as they’re similar, they arrive at different destinations, (though destinations never really mattered to me). In the end, whether you’re caught in the pages of Action Comics or deep in a session of Rifts, I’m hoping you’re staying up late for what you love, because it’s really just about having fun.
About Ryan: So I try to read about 50 comics a week, depending on my ability to pay the power bill. I try to read as much new and independent works as my tried and trusted favorites, and I’ve been doing this for years. Thus, I can roughly say that I am pretty decent at comicology, however I hold no formal degree. Luckily, degrees are no substitute for common sense and that’s how I got this gig.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.