Lockdown has taught the world many things, but one affirmation I will always take with me is that Nerds/Geeks/Fanatics will flock together... even if we have to do it virtually.
Take my love of D&D for example. I only recently got back into playing Dungeons and Dragons after a 10 year hiatus. I used to play in California with my college friends before I moved to the UK.
The group I hung out with tended to gather in a large section of the cafeteria at our community college, and someone would always set up shop early in the morning and there would always be at least one of us who would stay until the end of the day to stake out 'our spot'. It was a safe haven for all us 'weirdos' and outcasts to come and go throughout the day, hang out, play table top games, eat meals, study on the odd occasion, have a nap if need be, and leave our stuff for safe keeping while we were elsewhere on campus.
I was a casual player of D&D at best; mostly I was the one jumping in to play someone's character so they could actually attend some of their lectures for an hour or so. These sessions would more often than not be ALL day and a lot of us were spectators while the game and the banter rolled on. I wasn't too into watching the game, but I did enjoy jumping in and learning the rules and praying I didn't mess up someone's character.
Fast forward to 2011, I got married and moved to the UK, so I stopped playing with my school chums. It took me quite a while to find another group of friends that played D&D for me to pick it up again, not that I was actively looking.
One of my work colleagues, Lucie, had never played D&D but her husband Simon is a full-on fanatic so a few years ago we devised a plot to start a new campaign. :) With a few seasoned players, and a few complete and utter noobs (and me, who hadn't played in nearly a decade), we set off on an adventure! This became a once-a-month Weekend session(due to us being adults and ya know...real life stuff getting in the way) for the better part of a year I reckon.
I got pregnant and played nearly up until my due date (where many a joke was made by our Hosts-Lucie and Simon- about worrying I'd break my waters on their living room floor during a session). After having baby boy(NOT on their living room floor), and being sleep deprived, new parents, etc.... I didn't really feel like I could slot back into driving 45min away to play D&D, baby in tow (although I'm sure that would've been welcomed). So I went without and I was missing the hilarity of sessions.
THEN Covid happened....and lockdown....and the D&D group wasn't able to meet up in person, so they turned to a new campaign, on a new platform. They started playing on facebook chat/video, and somehow I weaselled my way back into the party. :) I think it started out as a one shot, a short term solution to get our D&D fix, but over time, it's turned into a weekly game for over a year during lockdown.
Virtual table top gaming is possible....annoying at times, but completely possible. There were trials and tribulations, not only with sound and audio connections but also with sharing screens, building online Maps, and getting used to asking a million and one times 'so, are they 5ft away from me?' or 'How close am I to them?' without having a physical table top marker to eyeball proximities. It's just not as fun as sitting in the same room and having banter.
Throughout the year we bounced between Facebook video and discord, lost some players who had bandwidth problems and other issues, gained some new players who had never attempted D&D before and overall kept each other sane during lockdown. Strangely enough it was only the other week when outdoor events could take place with masks & social distancing that I met one of my party members in real life for the first time! I had been playing D&D with Gareth for over a year and I've never met the guy! It's a strange world we live in, and when we are finally allowed to play again in person, I can't wait to give all of them a great big hug-- even a guy whom I only know by his character roleplay!
Further than this close-knit little group, D&D has brought me closer to an online community of D&D players across the globe. My friend Stacey got me listening to a D&D podcast called Romancing the Dungeon and I couldn't be more grateful. I binged the 24 episodes of the show and almost instantaneously became invested in the characters and the players. Last night they had a Season 1 'wrap party' on Discord and it was great to meet, not only some of the people involved in the podcast itself, but chat and have banter, with other fans of the show.
Proving once again, that fanatics will always find a way to flock together and discuss their favourite things... even while there's a global pandemic going on.