Forever Flaky?

Here’s a theme that I find myself talking about a fair bit: why do I feel so unable to commit to my hobby in a meaningful way?

Why do most gamers seem to play one-shots and short-lived campaigns while I yearn for something longer and deeper? But then, when players show up wanting to play the longer game, why do I lose momentum and enthusiasm?

Why is it that everyone seems so well trained in buying and collecting new game materials but are unlikely to bring many (if any) of them to the table? I am pretty sure I am not alone in this habit, especially as the creative community seems to be exponentially producing great material.

Perhaps I am not committing to my games because, deep down, I am really not a gamer. Maybe I get a kick out of collecting and exploring the products but not playing them? There is a definite proportion of the mainstream gaming population who are being serviced by companies producing adventures and supplements designed for reading rather than playing.

Perhaps the immense choice is paralysing. We know that humans are very bad at dealing with abundance and the continued acquisition of new products simply compounds the problem. My most productive and long-running games were back when I was young and had only a very few choices, and again when I returned to the hobby and could only play in a very narrowly defined set of systems. Each time I get a new game it excites, and I allow myself to be distracted. Maybe less would be more: those who only play one game, such as D&D or Cthulhu, seem to be more consistent than I do.

Perhaps the problem is that I don’t really understand what I want from my hobby. I dearly love to explore so perhaps being the GM is not really the right path to tread. But then I find being a player is often dissatisfying because the games are not hitting the beats that I would like to dance to. I change my mind about my characters more often than I would like to admit. What seemed like a good idea before the game starts can so quickly prove inadequate or limited once play begins – and in a long game, having the wrong character is demoralising.

Whatever it is, I am forever fluctuating in my commitments and easily distracted. I am undergoing diagnosis for ADHD and perhaps, if that proves positive, it’ll help to explain my lack of focus. But I can’t help fear that it’s simply flakiness and a serious lack of character that marks me so fickle. Most of the time, I don’t even know why I change my mind. But it drives other people crazy.

Am I just another in a vast tribe of people who are simply lost in an abundance of choice? Or am I alone and simply unable to commit. Too afraid to succeed, some have even suggested. Others say that I am simply too quick to learn and too much a neophile. Will I ever overcome this push and pull of conflicting desires?

I don’t have any answers. Just questions. Endless questions. And sometimes the questions threaten to overwhelm me.

Game on!


  1. I too struggle with fickleness in my games. I think it’s partly my mind-works, like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. Partly due to my packed work-week. And partly owing to the embarrassment of riches we RPGers have available to us today.

    With that in mind, one life lesson I’ve learned is if one takes a personal weakness and can summon the perseverance to see it through to the end, the potential for personal growth is immense.

    All my life, I’d never been able to run a discrete RPG campaign for more than a month or two before shoving the characters into yet another setting. It was a joke in my friend group.

    Recently, I wrapped-up a 5-year-long Twilight 2000 campaign. I am so proud of it. I think it helped that I blogged about it diligently, had a small group of loyal readers, and chatted about our game in relevant online groups. So I not only owed it to my players, but to the readers as well, to continue. That and I really deep-dived into the T2000 rules and setting to a high level of mastery.

    These days, I’m still casting about for a new game to play more than one-shots. But I still look back on my Poland and America campaign as “This is the Way”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing this – very much appreciated! I think that the way forward for me is something similar… but choosing, that is tough. I am curious how you chose T2000 over all the possibilities and then committed. Congrats on the result! Game on!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My brother and I played Twilight 2000 back in the 80s and 90s. Several different games really. It was symbolic of my problem. I’d run it for a while, and then move the campaign to Footfall setting (Niven & Pournelle). Then I got bored and introduced time travel. Etc. It was fun, but ridiculous.

        In 2017, I was seized with the idea of running the classic Poland Campaign ( with full verisimilitude, true to the source material, and take the party all the way through the Going Home module (when the party leaves Europe for home). I roped my brother and my sons into the campaign. My boys dropped out after a while; they were young and were more into magic and lasers than a gritty post-apoc military game. But my brother and I kept going, all the way to and into wrecked America. I dived into Polish geography, language, and culture to inform the game. I ran the rules mostly as written.

        I think it elevates my creativity to have hard barriers to channel and focus the research and output. It also helped that I was breaking new ground with the blog. There are several Twilight 2000 campaign blogs, but they inevitably peter out after a few weeks. I wanted to take mine all the way.

        The campaign hasn’t really ended; we could pick it up in the future. But I was losing steam. Partly because America in Twilight 2000 lore isn’t well-defined (as Poland). And the Ukraine War started, which made T2000 not escapist, but instead world events were weirdly echoing my game. I’d been doing it for 5 years, and was losing interest. It was a good time to call a halt.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Was in 2020 when I rediscovered this hobby. I restarted with pathfinder 1st ed (due to me playing pathfinder kingmaker) gathering a bunch of friend online and I ran as a GM a terrible but successful campaign (terrible because was a railroad as we played when we were 14).
    After this one I have started to search advice on Internet… I rediscovered mythras and became fascinated with the sandbox player driven style of play but I couldn’t keep a game going… every time I started a game I found something else cooler.
    I don’t think we are doing our hobby wrong (I don’t think there is a righ way to enjoy something) but we have to accept that we are intrigued not only by the game world but also by the rules and yes maybe we are too distracted by new shiny things… my next move will be to start small, try with oneshot of gurps and then an episodic type of campaign so we can keep the pc, shape the world but also try new things or new themes. And just to let you know in 1 year with my local group i have tried 5 system (mythras, savage world, b/x, pirate borg, against the Dark Master), maybe I also like too much experimenting

    Liked by 1 person

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