If you’ve ever been to my house, talked to me about gaming, read my blog for any length of time, or listened to my podcast you’ll know this is true: I have a problem when it comes to buying game books.
The stacks in my “hobby room” – the space dedicated to housing the rat cage, the computer, and the gaming books that I feel the need to keep close to hand – are ridiculous. I counted six stacks of tomes, four of which are about 5 feet tall last time I paid attention. There’s a six foot bookshelf full behind them. I have arguably wasted more money on gaming than anything else in my life. Honestly, I have come to believe that this is an addiction.
The paragraphs above are a slightly edited version of some words I wrote in April 2019. Things are only marginally better as we enter August 2020.
Well, that’s a bit harsh – perhaps – because since writing my allegedly click-bait-titled post about throwing out books in May, I have at least held the stacks to the same generally ordered size.
I am buying fewer titles and have given away, sold, or otherwise chucked out plenty. But still… there are still six stacks in the hobby room and they are still about 5-feet tall.
This week I finished reading John Naish’s, “Enough” – the book subtitled, “Breaking Free from the World of Excess” (it’s an irony to me that I have put a link to the book on Amazon into this article, but hey…)
Looking around me at a British society desperately trying to get back to the pre-Covid clamour for more, the desperately over-worked and underpaid people around me seem to not see the opportunity to slow and to stop consuming as we once used to do.
As Naish points out, every item we buy costs us not just money but also the time it takes us to earn that money. For me, every £20 I spend is another hour I have to spend at work to pay for it. If I was to spend £160 less per month, I could work one day fewer. That is a sobering reality.
And I do have enough. In terms of my lifestyle, we have enough food, water, and clothing. We have a shelter and a bed to sleep in. We have access to medical care should we need it. Beyond that, we have a raft of entertainment and knowledge to explore. Even before I seek to step outside our home, we have an abundance of stuff to enjoy.
When it comes to my gaming – what is supposed to be a hobby – I have more than enough. Having begun to grapple with GURPS, I have all the game rules I need to run any style of game, in any genre, and in any mode of play I could wish for.
Honestly, that is enough. But add to that ideas from published settings and supportive products filled with suggestions, I have an abundance. In truth, the abundance has created another problem: I don’t know where to begin or what I want to do next.
My hobby has devolved into a cycle of trying out new things and then casting them off when I am distracted by the next shiny-shiny. Before you suspect me of self-loathing, no, this is not about telling myself to stop. It’s just an admission that something needs to change.
Starved By Excess
As I wrote back in May, I need to shed the excess. As I wrote then, “I buy a lot of products out of a desire to support a creator. I collect materials that I am unlikely to play because I am trying to encourage what I think is good stuff.” But this behaviour is costing me too much and leaving me starved for depth in my gaming.
Nothing sticks. And the rich immersive experience I crave won’t come without a committed run of play in one World with one group of Players. I need to commit, to make my hobby stick, and to stop running around looking for something new.
Consuming is consuming me. I have enough. It is time to stick.
But I’ve said that before, haven’t I?
As I enjoy the break from work this summer, I wonder if looking backward from next summer anything will be different?
Despite the fact that I feel a deep sense of self-doubt, I believe that I can affect tiny changes that, over time, will add up to a new reality in which I consume less and enjoy more. One thing is certain: I want to make the change.
Though in all honesty, I know exactly how you feel. I try to justify my spending to myself all the time, but I really should rationalise it more. Just don’t tell my wife about the spending less/working less thing. She’ll make me do it.
Although you probably jest, yes this is heresy. In the modern consumer culture, especially in a time of economic disaster, it is seen as an imperative – politicians even state it is a duty – to buy more stuff. So, yeah, I am speaking against the majority.
On the point of rationalising our decisions, yes, we are humans who choose emotionally and justify ourselves after the fact. This is natural and nothing per se to feel ashamed of. My desire to change comes from the very real sense that I might, as my wife jokes, meet my end under a stack of books. Change is coming in tiny steps, however, because any other way is not sustainable. Game on!
Very good post. I was once in your situation as well. I found the more I collected the more it degraded my creativity. In the 1970s there was not the massive amount of supporting material as there is today. This, IMO, made for better games, DMs and Players since there was far less fluff/shiny stuff to distract from the actual game itself.
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