Seriously now, roll a d20 and add your Creativity skill. Ok, I have no idea what that means, but my husband, an avid gamer, sure does. We have been married for seven years and I have had to listen to groups of people in my basement talk about skill checks, initiative, characters, and a multitude of other strange things that frankly I try to ignore while I watch chick-flicks on TV. My home has become overrun with the accoutrement of “The Gamer.” We own an entire library of books on how to make characters from any number of fantasy races – from elves to gnomes to dragons. There are little plastic figures to represent monsters and giant erasable maps to place them on. I have learned that not all dice are six sided and cubical. I have seen triangular dice, hexagonal dice, dice that let you roll yes-no, and dice that go all the way up to 100. I find them on my floor after the cat is finished playing with them. Now as someone who will not play a game if the directions do not fit on the inside-lid of a cardboard box, this entire world has been very confusing to me. I used to tease him that I couldn’t understand how a group of adults could just sit around a table and play pretend for hours like they were children; then he told me about LARPers and I shut my mouth.
But the longer we are together the more I learn about gaming and creativity. There have been many a car ride where out of the blue I will be asked questions such as “How can someone from the future go back in time and not just kill everyone with superior technology?” or “If a planet were all land on one side and all water on the other, would that throw off its rotational pattern?” He has even told me about a rather successful novel series that was inspired by playing Dungeons & Dragons, called Dragon Lance.
Recently my husband and a group of his friends went to one of the largest gamer conventions around: Gen Con. While he was at this magical land of geek I got a few days of peace and quiet, but when he came back he showed me a few things that I found rather impressive. He attended sessions on how to plan better games, how to build interesting characters, basically how to be more imaginative. He showed me a picture of someone who took a board game, and to make it more fun, reconstructed it three-dimensionally. He told me about this fund raiser where anyone could come and build elaborate creations out of playing cards and on the last day of the conference people could try and destroy the constructions by throwing change at them (the change is collected and donated to charity). It was amazing to see what was built. Attendees of the conference were exploring many of the concepts that we try to highlight in the Center for Creativity, including imagination, creative problem solving, and play. So although you won’t ever find me in the basement with “the group” I can now enthusiastically say go ahead and play pretend!
Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.
Amanda Kepner, Education Coordinator
Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity. Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic. Please share your views and resources with us, as well.