On one level, roleplaying games are a pastime whose role is to provide frivolity and an opportunity to “shoot the breeze” with friends. They are focused on interaction and discovery with others. These games are a vehicle for friendship.
During my life, these games have also provided another role: a pastime which allows me space from people and distance from work. As a young teen, the escape was from school and the bullying I experienced daily. As an adult, it’s release from the pressure of a high stakes career in which, at times, the work is simply too much to process.
Play has always been the means by which I roam free to discover new ideas, places, and people. I have found adventure vicariously through the lives of countless player characters, both of my own creation and those run by other people. These games have opened up points of connection and meaning with other people, young and old.
What I am discovering as I get older is that my roleplaying hobby is much more rewarding when I focus on those activities which enrich my own and others’ enjoyment. Too many times I have deferred to someone else’s vision of play and been carried along when I might have enjoyed a simple conversation to a tortuous game I didn’t enjoy.
As I narrow my focus, bringing greater attention to not only the games I am running for others but also the way in which I spend my time alone, I am finding greater clarity and purpose. While I recognise the duty to serve the players at the table, I am also giving myself permission to say no to activities which I simply dislike.
The risk and fear I face is that people will reject me in response to my frank and honest choices about what and how I play. But I rather suspect that the majority of my fears will prove unfounded. I think it is foolish to try to hold on to play with people who do not enjoy my style and method of roleplaying.
I begin with this: run the game you have and run it as well as you know how; podcast and blog about what you are doing; allow space and time to create and explore play alone. Ultimately, I seek to transition to play with a primary game system – including rules, methodology, and world – with people who enjoy what I have to offer.