|You and Steve Magan, circa 1985.|
First of all, Happy Birthday! June 15th, 1985. It's going to be a crazy year. How do I know? Oh, I'm you, 30 years in the future.
No. Sorry. No flying Deloreans. No hoverboards (though I hear they're close). We also don't have newspapers, for the most part. I'm sure there are 80s retro-diners around somewhere, though, and our phone technology went through the roof! Hard to explain, but let's say they make tricorders look like WWII self-cranking radios. On the upside, we didn't blow up the planet, so that's something.
Life's going to get pretty tough for you this year, I'm sorry. Sophomore year in high school was a blur, and not the good kind. You'll get more depressed than you likely ever will be and you won't know how to get out of it, I know. So I wanted to let you know, don't give up. Life gets amazing.
First off, you're a geek!
No, no, that's a good thing. Why is that less believable than this conversation coming from the future?! Oh, right. I kinda forgot.
Well, let me tell you, there are a lot of people around the world experiencing and loving the same things you are right now. More than you can possibly imagine. You are living in a renaissance filled with history-changing events. Roleplaying games explode in a...
No, not literally explode.
No, "the Church" doesn't "win". To most people nowadays what you're going through is a historic joke. People figure out they had no clue what they were talking about. Well, most of them do. And what's even crazier? The future is run by geeks who grew up to be rich, influential, and very cool. How?
There's something in the world you aren't aware of yet called the Internet. Now that's straight out of science fiction. Yeah, like War Games, except it's in every home, easily accessible, and has very literally changed the world. That C64 in the gameroom will evolve into a powerful tool that can access a vast well of information on any subject you can think of. Also, a lot of cat videos; it's hard to explain. In 1988, a game called Pool of Radiance comes out for the Commodore. It's based on AD&D. You put together a party of adventurers and play D&D by yourself on your computer. Down the line games like that will evolve to the point that you and your friends can all make your own characters and play together over the internet from your own homes with millions of other people!
Just not buying the Geeks Rule thing, huh? Well, can you guess what the #3 and #5 top grossing movies of all time are?
Avengers and Avengers 2.
No, not the BBC...man, I totally forgot about how much I loved that show. Yes, the Marvel Comics Avengers.
Yeah, I'll wait. Take a deep breath.
Oh, yes! They are brilliant. Computer animation has made it so we...no, it's live action. Well, yes, some of it is animated but it looks real. Wow, I didn't expect this to be so hard to explain.
In the 90s we had a revolution in movies that started with Terminator 2. How could you not know Terminator!? It came out in 1984 so why don't you...? Oh, yeah. It was "R" and you follow all the rules. Anyway, you'll see it eventually and it's great.
Terminator 2 changed everything and now we can put on the screen anything you can imagine. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, they all look incredible. You'll love it.
And they weren't the first. There are a lot of geek movies out there. The 3rd Lord of the Rings movie is #10 on that list. Star Wars? It's there. If you adjust for inflation, Star Wars is #3. Gone with the Wind is still #1. Just ignore #2, it was terrible.
|Captain America will be everything you want it to be.|
Green Lantern? Well...
Forget the geek thing. Let's change the subject. Work? No, you don't become a veterinarian. No, not a biochemist either. Well, you end up moving to California after high school and that...
You're more easily startled than I remember. Long deep breaths, buddy. It's not as bad as it sounds. You love California.
Why do you move? Well, it's a long story, but dad changes jobs and since you want to go to UC Santa Cruz he takes a job there.
No, you haven't heard of Santa Cruz yet. You read a story next year about a professor named Ken Norris at UCSC who studies dolphins and it changes your plans. It changes everything, really. You get a degree in Marine Biology. No, you don't become a marine biologist working with dolphins.
Wait, wait. It's not a waste, just hear me out. You end up working as a veterinary nurse. It's an incredible job and you use your degree to do wildlife and marine mammal rehabilitation at zoos and aquariums around the world!
Oh, man. Do I need to get you a paper bag or something? Forgot how introverted you are. You do great, trust me.
|Burning Man?! You know what, I don't think we have enough paper bags.|
|Who's the girl? That's your first question about this picture?|
You really are 15. Okay, fine.
Remember when mom told you that you couldn't get married until your 30s? Well, you do that. Technically you don't get married until your 40s but you meet your wife in your 30s. Why so long? Well, you just don't meet the right person and, I'm going to be clear about this, that's just fine. You date a lot.
No, sorry, your self-confidence kinda keeps sucking until you meet Megan; that's the woman in the picture. [Oh, now you see the tiger?] Your life definitely has its ups and downs, don't get me wrong, but Megan changes all that. You go back to school and become a critical care nurse. Well, it pays better to be honest. And it's a very cool job. But that's not the best part. The RN thing pays the bills, lets you buy a house, teaches you cool stuff. Anyway, the best part is, you're a professional geek!
You really need to just trust me on this. It means you get paid to write and create games. You write a couple of weekly columns on game design on that internet I told you about. You've met a lot of your industry heroes and can even call them colleagues. Make a note to check the credits in Adventurer's Club magazine in 1992 for a guy named Steve Long. He goes on to head Hero System. You're having drinks with him at GenCon. Also put on that note to pick up Dragon Magazine #106 next year. There's great stuff in there, but there's also a Who's Who at TSR about Steven Winter. You judged a contest with him and Wolfgang Baur earlier this year. Also keep an eye out for...you know what, I'll just send you a list.
Remember when I said that marine bio degree wasn't a waste? Well, along with diving around the world and doing some really cool things in the veterinary field because of it, you're also using it as a platform for gaming. One of your columns talks about how awesome running aquatic games are. You've even been interviewed about it on some gaming podcasts.
Podcasts? Well, think of them like radio shows, except these are all about games. Gaming radio, 24/7. Seriously. It's an awesome future.
|This one's in Australia.|
Yes, you're in your 40s.
No, I'm not old! Okay, I'm a little old, but it doesn't mean the same now; medicine is pretty impressive. Anyway, your kids are awesome, and your oldest is looking like she'll be both an adventurer and a geek.
Yes, she. Yes, girls are geeks in the future. Easy there, bud. Girls are geeks in your century too, they just have to hide it where we come from. You think it's socially unacceptable to be a boy and a geek, you have no idea what the girls have to go through. Blew your mind right there, didn't I?
Anyway, your daughter is pretty young, but she's smart and agile and imaginative and speaks 2 languages and...no, I'm not making this up! She's your kid. I'll send you a few pictures.
|"Dice" and "games" were some of her first words.|
Hey, now. Don't say stuff like that. You're a good dad. At least that's what I've been told anyway.
No, you're not really like our dad. No, you aren't really like any dad you know in the 80s.
Well, the world is different, so dads are allowed to be different. Remember, you are a card-carrying geek and that's cool now. You are free to teach them games, and be silly, and tell them you adore them, and show them your favorite cartoons, and be as much in their life as your wife is. You don't have to be like someone else, you can just be you and also be their dad.
No, you aren't bumbling like in the commercials. Yeah, I remember; not really the best advertisements for dad-hood, or husband-hood for that matter, but you aren't like them so it's okay. And you know what, you're handier with tools than you think. Crazy, huh?
|You get your shoeless wedding on the beach!|
Yup, that's Steven Magan. 30 years later and you're closer than ever.
So listen, just get through this next year. It will be tough, there are a lot of struggles to get through and there will be times that you want to give up. Please don't.
After that you're going to worry a lot about moving from Kentucky to Southern California (no it's not its own state now). You end up meeting an incredible group of gamers in Orange County, awesome friends in college, and some of the best friends you'll ever have in San Diego.
And your wife, I'm telling you, she is amazing. Listen to her. She'll help you make the life you never knew you wanted, and it is amazing.
Oh, and get to the movies. Goonies, Breakfast Club, Better Off Dead, Fright Night, Ladyhawke, Legend, Thunderdome, Re-animator, Remo Williams, Teen Wolf, Young Sherlock Holmes...you'll love it.
Yeah, some of those are "R".
Seriously?! No, it's okay, keep following the "rules". For the most part it serves you well, just, maybe, consider not being such a jerk about it. You'll need to let some of that go to be everything you want to be.
To be, well, us.