As some of you know, tabletop games lost their luster for me last year. I took a break. During this break, I encountered three situations which helped me re-assess my worldview about tabletop games and asked myself some hard questions.
Situation 1: I think you’re making excuses now.
A longtime blogger searches for the deeper meaning behind tabletop RPGs, and how to enhance one’s RPG games. The current RPG publishers cannot do that, according to the blogger, so the blogger proposes a number of additional rules, guidelines, and advice to take the game to the next level. Always to the next level. Whatever that might be.
After a lengthy post, one of the blogger’s followers posts a comment (and I’m paraphrasing): That all sounds great. But won’t those rules take a lot time to implement? Why can’t I just play a rules-lite system and get enjoyment from that?
The blogger says, in all seriousness, as much seriousness as I can gather from the computer screen: I think you’re making excuses now.
Situation 2: Why aren’t you using ability X ?!?
This situation happened in real life, though I seen repeated several times in various permutations in online social media. Heck, I’ve experienced it myself when I’ve bought into a brand new game. And it goes like something like this:
A gamer decides to rejoin the hobby. He buys the core rulebook and soon finds group. A the first session, the gamer discovers the other players have long since moved on to using other rule supplements.
Though try as he might, the gamer is soon bewildered at all the new options and jargons the other player use.
It’s soon clear that the gamer is slowing up the session. Worse, one player notices that the newbie hasn’t min/maxed his character with the right combination of skills and powers.
At a crucial moment, this player gets fed up: Why aren’t you using ability X ?!?
Situation 3: Sorry, you haven’t reached your full hobby potential yet.
One day, on a Facebook wargaming group, I read the aftermath of a tournament hosted at a local gaming store where the organizer had asked for feedback. Prior to the event, the organizer had posted the tournament rules on the group, and made sure they were prominently displayed in-store.
One wargamer (not me) said he didn’t like losing points for having one miniature in his army not be painted. But, he admitted, that rules had been posted. He would have painted it but he ran out of time. Real world stuff came up. Priorities.
The organizer told him he had nice miniatures, but he needed to make sure that they were all painted next time. And that could have been it. End of discussion.
But the organizer also had to add:
Sorry, you simply haven’t reached your full hobby potential yet.
The Hard Questions:
Why do gamers put up with this kind of behavior from other players?
Why can’t some gamers simply play the game and not worry about all the superfluous issues that involve not playing the game?
Am I guilty of any of this behavior? Have I taken the tabletop gamer lifestyle to point where it not only ceased being fun for myself, but those around me?
Finally… because these behaviors seem so prevalent in the hobby (if you don’t believe me, open your eyes at a typical gaming store or club), and I don’t want to pursue them, do I really belong in the hobby?
Am I a gamer anymore?