Now, I didn't totally give up MMOs. I had a stab at quite a few - Guild Wars, EVE, Lord Of The Rings Online - but I couldn't quite get into them, The only one I had any success with, and truly loved, was Warhamer Online: Age of Reckoning. That was brilliant, and as a lover of Warhammer it gave me all kinds of fun.
My game of choice was Dragon Warriors, a game recommended to me by James Wallis, the publisher, who sent me a preview PDF to tip me over into the game. I bought it, and the supplements, and ran it. It was highly successful and I felt that I was getting back into gaming proper. After this I ran Buck Rogers XXVc, and then Jason took over with a Pathfinder game that we're still playing today.
This year also took me into an area of the RPG hobby that I had always wanted to do. Own my own hobby shop. So, with my friend Richard, we opened an account, located a small store in an indoor market and got in the stock. My dream had come true - Hard Sixes: The Hobby Shop was born and opened early August. It was a much smaller enterprise then an idea that my wife and I had envisioned earlier in the year, a full gaming shop with gaming areas and clubs. We were going to call it 'Halfling House' and had even registered it as a limited company and secured suppliers, right before the money people ripped the financial rug out from under us.
Now, I had spent a couple of months on the pulse of the local gaming community and the support for the shop was great. As far as I was concerned, this was the greatest thing to happen for gaming in my local area and now gamers wouldn't have to travel for miles and miles to locate a gaming store.
Let's just say that the support was very vocal. Unfortunately, it wasn't backed up by purchases and the shop was forced to close in the following December. I managed to introduce lots of new gamers to the hobby - and they're still gaming today - and met lots of great people and interesting groups. I miss my shop terribly but I knew the risks when I opened. So now, when people accuse me of taking my hobby too seriously, my answer is - 'Yeah, I opened a shop and managed to get myself more than ten thousand pounds in debt. You're damn right I'm fucking serious about it'.
So by the end of the year I was jobless, in debt and in danger of my whole life being turned upside down on every level because of the risk I had taken in opening the shop. Things couldn't get much worse, surely?