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Playing as a Parent: Misha B.

I am continuing my quest of trying to figure out what life is like being a parent and a role player with an interview with Misha B! She'll be ever so eloquently answering my probing questions into her role play life :D! You can find part one of the series HERE.

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I met +Misha B  while doing a panel about romances in RPGs for +Indie+ . And while I am convinced that she is a mind-reading vixen for always stealing my answers to 'what RPG would you recommend', she is wonderful and I knew when doing this topic I needed to have her on the blog!

Liz: Misha before we start could you please tell us a bit about yourself and also your kiddies^^.

Misha: I'm Misha. I'm a database analyst and mom of two, a seven year old daughter and a four years old son. I've been gaming for more than 20 years with a brief hiatus of about 7 years in the middle of that.  I've been back for about 4 years, and I'm enjoying it. My kids are avid video gamers. They especially love the Lego series of games. We've taken them to Camp Nerdly for the last couple of years, where they've participated in some kid friendly LARPs and my daughter is starting to get into the idea of tabletop stuff. 

Liz: Oh! Camp Nerdly? That sounds like something awesome that I wish I had when I was a kid! Could you tell us more about it?

Misha: Camp Nerdly is a family friendly gathering of old and new friends each year to play role-playing and board games and to experience nature. It's held in May, usually at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, VA. There's a separate kids' track that I spearheaded last year and this year where we keep a couple of parents and volunteers in charge of the younger ones so all the parents can get some gaming in too.  We run some kid friendly LARPs, board games, and activities for them.  The kids are encouraged to create and pitch their own games too.  We've had some budding young designers come up with some great stuff. It's cabin camping, communal cooking, shared chores, and all-in-all just a great weekend of fun.

Liz: Misha, logistics, logistics, logistics - every time we are on a Hangout together you tell me you have been banished to the basement (or what I like to think of as your Batcave)! I can imagine finding time to play in RPGs is difficult when you have kids. How has having kids changed your play scheduling?

Misha: The biggest difference is that I can no longer just spend every Sunday playing for 8 hours. I mostly play in the evenings after the kids go to bed, because my regular group is also mostly parents in addition to being strung across 3 states. Hangouts has been a blessing because it has allowed me to keep playing when I usually can't make it in person. I get to play in person a couple of times a year at cons or house cons but it's mostly Hangouts for me nowadays.

I joke about being shuffled into the basement, because I used to have an office on the second floor next to the kids' rooms.  I have a tendency to get into character a bit and something about mommy waking them up with obscenities being hurled at her screen wasn't a great idea. So then I moved to the dining room, but then no one could watch TV in the living room, so I've carved an area for myself in the basement.  I call it my 'Mom cave', it's also where I keep my crafting and sewing supplies. I've got 3 large desks, a couple of monitors, I hung curtains to help absorb the sound and have a heater and a rug and a comfy chair.  I even have makeup down there for when I'm going to be recording a Hangout.

I am seeing starling similarities between the batcave and what she has just described. Super suspicious!

Liz: Monsterhearts! We both love that game. Who wouldn't love a game about pubescent supernaturals falling in love with each other? How does it feel now that you have children to play through those emotions?

Misha: That's one I haven't thought a lot about.  I recently played in a campaign of Sagas of the Icelanders that ran for over a year.  I played the woman and in the second saga I was the mother to three of the characters and mother-in-law to a fourth. Talk about feels.

One of the characters was a child on the cusp of manhood so there was the struggle of allowing him to grow up, while still wanting to protect him. Another struggle was watching a different son start his married life and coming to grips with my character's changed status of no longer being the most important woman in his life. One character was my shield maiden daughter, so there was the struggle of raising a kid who doesn't conform to the norms of their gender. All these scenarios are heady stuff that I'm glad I got the chance to work through ahead of when I might actually have to deal with them.  Sure, I made some mistakes, but I think having games and friends that you trust to share some of that vulnerability with can be a transformative experience.

Liz: That is interesting! I must admit I always play something so different than myself when I role play, mostly because I want to escape my life and plunge into fantasy. However, it is also a really cool idea to make a character who is going through what you might go through in the future. From the sounds of it, that wasn't intentional for you, but a really cool outcome. I wonder, do you think the types of characters you play has changed since you had kids?

Misha: I'm not sure how much having kids has changed the type of characters I play versus just maturing has changed it.  I have a habit of playing cerebral, decisive characters, sometimes with a creative streak, but always with an understanding of their own agenda and a confidence about them.  Right now I'm playing a neighbor in Monsterhearts, which is about the furthest thing from that as you can get. She's smart, talented, etc, but is used to being found wanting in comparison to her older sisters so she's very insecure about it.  It's a bit of a stretch for me really, but in a fun way.

Liz: While I am fully acknowledging your kids are not teenage fey or undead - Does playing teens, with their crazy ranges of emotions, help empathize with your kids?

Misha: I'm not as sure as you about the fey part, my kids are pretty kooky in a fun way (most of the time). On the one hand, I'm work through some of my own teenage issues and on the other, I'm trying to prepare for teenagers.  Sometimes something will happen, like another character totally misreading a situation, that will get my character in trouble somehow, so I can kinda empathize with 'but he started it' and other things I hear from them.

Liz: And vice verse has having kids helped your role play?

Misha: Anyone who has ever had to lay out a new rule for a very literal 5 yo will have no problems negotiating a fae contract or dealing with a faery in darkest self. Kids, my daughter especially, are tiny little rules lawyers who can find a loophole or technicality in anything you say. On the other hand, it's helped me writing rules for things, because they make me think of stuff I probably wouldn't have on my own.

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I want to thank Misha so much for answering all my questions and being great to interview! Next week I will have my lovely friend Karijn on my blog talking about role playing while pregnant.


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