Remembering Scott Leighton: 1-900-playdnd

Another memory of Scott, this one poking a little fun at him. It’s possible no one outside his family remembers this one.

When I was in high school a proliferation of 1-900 for-pay calling services emerged. They covered every genre under the sun, including porn. Some of them were even free. Scott was still a little kid back then, and somehow he figured out about a 1-900 fantasy role playing game you could play over the phone. I think it played along the lines of those old fighting fantasy books – they’d read you a paragraph of text like ‘you enter a dark room. You can hear scritching noises. Press 1 to cast a light spell. Press 2 to draw your sword. Press 3 turn back,’ etc etc. I suspect F.I.S.T. was the game, though it could also have been Phonequest – I’m not sure. Anyway I remember him telling us about it at the time, and how he was trying to make his way to the end –  if you managed to get to the ending you’d win a prize. You can probably tell where this is going – Scott managed to rack up hundreds of dollars in fees before his parents figured out what he was up to.

We teased him about it at the time, one of those awkward juvenile moments for him where his older brother and friends gave him shit for not having much common sense, but I remember him standing up for himself, trying to explain how his plan was to win the prize – it wasn’t that he didn’t realize he was racking up a bill, he just figured he could make it pay off in the end.

This sort of captures another fundamental piece of who Scott was for me. He was by no means a conventional thinker, and he knew it. He wasn’t embarrased by this, or mostly not, and he wasn’t afraid to defend his ideas even in the face of withering criticism or the good natured ribbing of his friends. The truth is I really admired him for this. I often thought he was a crackpot, but he was a crackpot with a plan and the willpower to carry it out no matter what anyone else thought.

There’s a gallery of all of my pictures of Scott here. I’ve also written a few other remembrances of him, which you can read here.

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