Okay, here we go, wrapping up 2020! “But Brent, it’s almost the end of January 2021, aren’t you a bit late?” Look, imaginary naysayer, 2020 was a thousand years long, I think I have a bit of leeway.
I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that 2020 did not go the way any of us expected. Gaming wise, for instance, 2020 was going to be my Year of the Con! I was going to hit up so many gaming conventions, meet new people, visit with friends, play new games and old favourites…
We all have the shared experience of 2020 tanking our plans to one extent or another. We also have our shared grief. Many of us lost friends and family this past year, whether to COVID-19 or racist/police violence (the Venn diagram on that is pert near a perfect circle), and those losses rippled hard through our friends and acquaintances online. I lost a dear friend I’ve known since high school and her absence, knowing that even when COVID is done and I can leave my home I can never see her again, has left a hole in my heart I may never fill.
But there have been little joys, little triumphs as well. And while life is not a ledger and these do not serve to balance any sort of imaginary books, they still happened and deserve to be acknowledged. In a sea of grief sometimes the best you can do is cling to joy like a life preserver. In no particular order, here are some joys I cling to:
- I played in my first ever actual play livestream, Clockwork Vines. It was a whole new group of people I had never played with before, and it was one of the best things to happen to me in 2020. I consider all of them friends (and hope they feel the same way, but do not ask it), and our Story Keeper, Honey, inspires me to be a better person to this day.
- Together with Francita and Hector we formed the RPG Catalyst Project, helping creators who can’t afford layout, graphic, or editing work get their work ready for publication. It was a rocky start but so far we have helped three creators get their work into the world, with more on the way. I’m excited for us to keep helping folx and seeing what else we can help people create.
- I dipped my toe into video creation with two series of YouTube videos to help promote Indie TTRPG creators. That’s going to continue in 2021 and hopefully beyond, with some edited weekly videos as well as the months of daily videos in June and December.
- I was asked to do Twitch channel moderation by Jason over at Its Probably OK. Jason and I only knew each other from Twitter and me sounding off in chat during their games, so it was surprise when he asked me if I wanted to be a mod for him. But it’s been a great experience, and probably as gentle an introduction to moderation as I could have asked for. Of course it helps to have such good content to watch over.
- I started running a campaign for the Dragon Age RPG for some local friends and it has been excellent. I didn’t realize how much I missed the challenge of organizing a campaign for a game I hadn’t run before, so this has been a treat. And the group is amazing, up for all sorts of shenanigans.
- I again dipped my toe into something I had never done before, this time publishing, by taking part in a few Jams over on itch. Nothing major so far, but it has nudged me into my own game design thoughts and work, which is exciting. I definitely have more things planned for this year, so we’ll see how it goes.
I’m not providing links to anything, because this list isn’t me trying to promote anything I’ve done. I made it to remind myself that some good happened in and came out of 2020. Grief and loss, yes, but also some things to which I can cling to buoy me through.
So as 2020 fades in the rearview mirror I hope to approach 2021 with those joys firmly in mind, even as I grieve for those who did not make it out of 2020. I am reminded of a quote from G’Kar, one of my favourite characters on my favourite show, Babylon 5:
“We are all the sum of our tears. Too little and the ground is not fertile, and nothing can grow there. Too much, the best of us is washed away.”
May our tears be just right.