When I look back on the last few years, it's difficult to imagine where I would be without actual play podcasts. In a very real sense, I owe a great deal of who and what I am to the medium. And I think it's safe to say, that thanks to a wonderful community and mode of expression that has unlocked so much of the person I want to be, I am happier and better thanks to a decision to try something entirely different.
When I started listening to actual play podcasts, I was in a very rough place. I'd spent a good long while getting a law degree and checking all the boxes to become a productive and happy example of what a legally blind person could accomplish. Then I lost almost the entirety of what vision I had left and all the careful techniques I'd found for being a successful me simply stopped working all at once. I didn't even know why, and spent the better part of a year just trying to figure that out. As part of that journey of self-discovery by way of exploratory ocular surgery, I spent a lot of time sitting around unable to move. During that time, I read a lot of books, I mean A LOT of books. By this, I mean I listened to a lot of audio books. When I started to run out of those, I started looking for podcasts, and that's when I started learning about tabletop role-playing games.
I tried a lot of things very quickly. There are some great folks that I listened to for their coverage of Game of Thrones who started playing 4E D&D as Drunks and Dragons, which was a lot of fun, but I wanted something more along the lines of the sorts of things I read about and gamed over in my old console and PC adventuring days. Somehow, I found Ross Payton's Role Playing Public Radio. It was like a gift from the internet meant just for me. Somewhere, there was a bunch of people who played historical Call of Cthluhu games set in WWI? Through them I discovered Delta Green and my identity as a tabletop role player: and naturally I wanted to share my joy with anyone I could trick into listening. Little did I know what a fateful decision I was making.
I started interacting with folks on Twitter and dared to suggest some folks try a scenario I'd found set on an out of the way Air Force base with future corpses and/or Delta Green friendlies. I found a group of people interested in playing, who insisted I play too. And when logistics proved difficult to arrange for that game, I reached out to this snarky girl from Oregon who liked cats and Cthulhu and send she wanted to play RPGs. I can't believe how awkward my first messages to her look now, or even that I was silly enough to reach out with the opening message for a DG operation, "You are cordially invited to a night at the opera."
That went out to Megan at the end of January and a year and a half later I asked her to marry me on top of Pilot Butte in Oregon. That incidentally was probably, short of natural disaster or serious family emergency, the last time we'd ever miss Gen Con. So what have actual play podcasts given me? They gave me my whole world, and the woman around which it turns.