By now, you’ve probably heard of the shootings on the campus of Virginia Tech, the bloodiest such incident in American history. This struck closer to me than you might expect because Pinnacle Entertainment Group, the gaming company I co-founded with Shane Hensley back in 1996, is based in Tech’s hometown of Blacksburg, Virginia.
I lived and worked in and around Blacksburg for more than three years. It’s a beautiful place, quiet, isolated from the rest of the world, just the way you might think a classic college town should be. It was a hotbed of tabletop gaming for many years. At least four different companies were founded there, including Pinnacle, Charles Ryan’s Chameleon Eclectic, Joe Cochrane’s Wireframe Entertainment, and Greg Porter’s Blackburg Tactical Research Center. Many other gaming professionals lived or went to school there, like Green Ronin’s Hal Mangold, Wizards of the Coast’s Rich Baker, and John Hopler, Zeke Sparkes, Angel Leigh McCoy, and other’s I’m probably forgetting.
My son Marty was born when we lived in Christiansburg, Blacksburg’s sister city. Some of the wounded were treated at the hospital in which he was born, in nearby Radford.
I’m shocked, stunned, and numb. Most of the people I knew in the area have since moved on. It’s a college town. That’s how it works. But I still loved the place and remember it well.
Here’s to the Hokies and everyone else in Blacksburg. May the healing begin soon and go fast.