Changing The Habit Loop

Last night we played Mystamyr for the twelfth session after a month or so of not being able to meet. I’ve spoken and written before about the problem that a game hiatus gives me as a GM or player – namely losing motivation to continue – but I wanted to share some thoughts after last night’s session.

Before we played, I was not very keen and I was highly anxious. I had been anxious and worried for more than 3 weeks. The anxiety was a barrier and I was relapsing into an old habit loop:

  • TRIGGER: I felt low motivation and felt unable to sit down to prepare.
  • BEHAVIOUR: Worrying about the game instead of sitting down to prepare.
  • RESULT: Inaction was fuelling the anxiety about not being prepared; the anxiety was increasing.

This was all compounded by distracting and also worrying personal events and issues that arose on Monday evening after work. Add in the tiredness after Day One back at school and I was very anxious by 7pm.

But I did show up.

Here’s what I did: I followed my own advice as far as I could.

I thought about which players were coming and their characters. I thought about their stated intentions – actually pretty simple because they were in the middle of an extended combat scene from last session and I just needed to run that scene first. I thought about who was left from the antagonistic NPC side of the scene and decided what their plan was going to be to stop the player characters. I grabbed the notes and stats for those NPCs. I started the scene.

New habit loop:

  • TRIGGER: I felt low motivation and felt unable to sit down to prepare.
  • BEHAVIOUR: Following my simple prep formula as far as I could in the 15 minutes I had.
  • RESULT: Had enough to run the extended fight scene… which lasted most of the session time = felt good.

Post-game, my motivation is increased. I remembered why I like spending time with these particular players – they are all great folk – and I remembered that I do enjoy this game. The world is one I am familiar with (because I designed it) and I recognised that I usually need far less prepped than I think I need.

The learning? Try the new habit loop. Do what you can with the time you have. Play.

Game on!

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