Rather ironically, I am (once again) experiencing some of the work-induced, invasive, and destructive feelings that inspired the Roleplay Rescue podcast in the first place. In short, I feel like work is killing my hobby.
For those who don’t know, I’m a high school teacher and, contrary to popular belief, we don’t just work from 9 until 3 and then go home. According to research done by the NASUWT, the largest teaching Union in the UK, the average teacher works around 55 hours per week. I can remember times when, especially in my first year as a teacher, I was working nearer 80 hours.
Right now, in the current pandemic-ridden UK, under orders to bring all students back into school full-time, we’ve been having to cope with more new regulations and changes to the school day than I can count over the past two years. I am knackered beyond belief, daily.
Of course, judging from what my friends tell me, I reckon that there are very few working adults out there who don’t know what doing too many hours feels like… so, even if you still harbour the, “Those who can’t, teach” attitude to my profession, you can probably relate to working too many hours and having too much on your plate.
How does this impact the hobby? The story is simple: we find ourselves very active throughout the working day and, by the time we get home, we’re shattered – tired and worn-out. Be honest: how creative do you feel at the end of a busy working day?
As I have said before, roleplaying games are a creative endeavour. They are also a social hobby. For me, running a game as the Game Master is very demanding of my mental energies. That is further compounded by my naturally introverted nature – the need I have to recharge my batteries on my own. But even if you are a rabid extrovert, you’ll probably admit that your energy levels are going to dip right after work.
The reality of 21st Century life, at least in Western Europe, is that we work far too many hours and far too hard, even under the former non-pandemic regime. We end up crashing at the end of the working day. Our days off are spent recovering.
That is my situation, right now. It’s also the very situation I spoke about in the very first episode of my podcast. It seems the problem doesn’t go away.
But I need to call myself out on this one: I chose this career, this vocation. This is the price of admission to the classroom, where amazing communities of discovery are forged. But it’s also necessary for me to place boundaries around my work. I can’t let it rob me of roleplaying.
Certainly, over the past few weeks, I needed to face the facts: I can’t play three sessions a week. Nor is it optimal to play on a school night. But I can play. I am still playing. Just not quite in the way I might ideally want to play.
The changes I have made include:
- Planning more gaming during the school holidays.
- Focusing on playing over the weekends whenever possible.
- Removing myself from games that, while good fun, are not fully hitting my buttons.
- Reducing the number of games that I run as a Game Master.
- Giving myself permission to play solo to allow for recharge.
- Recognising that sometimes the prep doesn’t happen as you expected.
Adaptation is the key to survival.
As so often happens with your podcast, this entry hits home home for me. I’m a teacher in Canada and we are going through similar upheavals, uneven distribution of workload and unrealistic expectations from administration. Luckily, I have my RPGs to escape to. More than ever, the gaming in my life plays a significant role in my overall happiness as a human being. Game on.