Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aging With The Hobby

The thing about lying low online for a bit and returning is the gift of perspective. You check out the usual haunts, and oftentimes the same folks are having the same arguments about the same topics as they were in 2006, or 2008, or 2011. Sometimes, folks have moved on, and the faces change. Quite often, though, if message board and blog posts weren't dated, you'd be hard-pressed to guess the year.

As I've gone from a 20-something Air Force guy expecting his first kid to a civilian guy with three children, a wife of 12 years, and an age dangerously approach more the mid than early 30s, my style of gaming--and involvement has changed. Time is more precious, gaming sessions harder to coordinate with a group that's stretching out and doing some growing of their own.

Perhaps most importantly, I find that my tolerance for and interest in new gaming systems is much, much lower than it once was. I don't have time to learn a plethora of new games, and I am becoming ever more aware of a shelf of RPGs that I already probably will never have time to run full campaigns for.

That's not self-pity, mind; I'm also much happier with what I currently have. Fantasy? There's Castles & Crusades, Pathfinder, Rolemaster Classic, and Palladium Fantasy. Space/Sci-Fi? Mongoose/Classic Traveller, Stars Without Number, and StarCluster 3. Supers? FASERIP and ICONS. That's not even getting into Rifts, Two-Fisted Tales, or numerous retro-clone games...

In essence, what this does is raise the bar immensely for any new game to be added to the collection. That's not to say it doesn't happen; Stars Without Number certainly blew me away, as it has a number of folks in my gaming circle. And there's always rediscovering old favorites, such as my recent joyful reunion with Palladium Fantasy 1e. Plus, there are always new posts and new resources that don't need a new RPG to be enjoyed...
You complete me. 

Remember what I said about perspective? You can apply that to games. The umpteenth time you've seen the same "revolutionary" claims about a gaming system, you tend to disregard it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for the forty-seventh time...

Happily, as the players of any number of RPGs will tell you, the great thing about this hobby is whether you're going in for the new flavor of the week, or sticking with the same system you've had since '85, there's always something to discuss. And some of those discussion repeat themselves, because they're just fun to have. We like complaining about crazy rules or company meltdowns, the same as we like swapping lies about our characters, or looking at a new way to handle an old problem.

I guess my point is, my participation in the hobby isn't as gonzo as before, but that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying it. I'm concentrating more now on what I have than acquiring what I don't, and part of that is me realizing over the years (because I am apparently learning-impaired), that simply taking time to enjoy what I have instead of constantly looking for the Next Big Thing is pretty important.

I've been truly blessed both in and outside of this hobby. I have my faith, my awesome family, a job and a half, and hobbies ranging from racing to history. Finding the way that my gaming hobby can fit within that has been challenging at times, but no less rewarding for all of that.

In any case, I suppose that's a snapshot of where I am these days. That's not a moratorium on checking on what's new, but a certain better-late-than-never recognition that there's very little new under the sun, and that what I already have serves me pretty well indeed. I might be a knucklehead for taking so long for that light bulb to come on, but at least I'm a happy one.


Gleichman said...

Things have changed over the years.

While the same basic debates continue, the minority opinon has become the majority opinon. Breaking and ignoring the rules is now the standard behavior and people pat themselves on the back for it and are offended by any who would call their actions cheating.

Meanwhile gamers like yourself have abandoned the search for new and solid game design, for the simple reason that it was never encountered. Typically they were looking in the wrong place. Or dismissing options out of hand due to the experience of making bad systems still work (and thus assuming this would always be the only approach). The OSR is the poster child for this era, as people rush to put lipstick on a pig and say "all games are broke, but the way I run this one works".

D&D (in some favor, close or a bit distant like... half of your list) rules the roost now in a way that it never did before. Viewed not just as the popular game- but as mechanically sound as any other.

It's a bummer of world. Staying away from it is the wise move.

Zachary Houghton said...

Oh, I'm under no pretensions that many of the games I like are hideously "broken" in some form. I just don't think I can start over at this point. Rolemaster Classic is honestly probably about as close as I get these days to "comprehensive" rules. Curiously enough, it remains wildly popular with groups that have run it.

I do think some of the rapid moving from game to game we see is in search of something that simply doesn't exist in the current gaming market. People are looking for a Grail, and it doesn't exist for many. I can think of multiple purchases I once made in search of that I wouldn't make again...

Zachary Houghton said...

When I say "curiously enough" re: Rolemaster, that's not a slam on the system; only how it is perceived.

Gleichman said...

The rapid moving from game to game you see isn't a search for something that doesn't exist in the current gaming market. As a rule, these people are exploring systems.

Instead it's the natural result of people wedded to the concept of easy rules that one doesn't engage with in play. Such an approach forgets that if you don't engage, you don't develop attachment and if you don't develop attachment you get bored.

It's the gaming equal of one night hookups, with all the bragging that goes with it as well as the lack of meaningful long term experiences.

Gleichman said...

I meant "As a rule, these people aren't exploring systems".

Zzarchov said...

A big change I have notices is that more and more people are actually just playing games rather than talking about them (the G+ gaming scene for example)

Gleichman said...

That's actually rather depressing Zzarchov.

It means that they're willing to accept a very low standard of product and use it anyway. A bit like nobody talks about McDonalds but still hits the drivethru.

And when they do talk about such things, the inablity to so in a intelligent manner is even more depressing. Perhaps the best example of this was all the posts whining that 4E D&D ruined the simulationist play of 3E D&D... that is a lot like saying New Coke ruined the vast nutritional value of Old Coke.

It used to be rather easy to find a few people who actually understood something about the hobby, now it's all but impossible outside of industry news (that given the offerings is somewhat meaningless in itself).

Zzarchov said...

Ya, people playing games, how harsh.

Next they will be reading books rather than simply critiquing them.

People who actually play games inherently know more about games than those who simply talk about what it might be like to play games. It does require a modicum of basic social skills though as G+ is self filtering.

Bonemaster said...

You know Zach, I've been this way for a long time. While, I do sometimes find a new game nice to play, such as Savage Worlds. I do not normally go out and pick up new games just because someone says it's the best thing since sliced bread. More often than not (as you pointed out), it's just a false claim.

As to broken games, all games at some level are broken. Every time I hear about system balance or something similar, I just sort of roll my eyes. I say play what you want and be happy. After a game can not be all things to all people. That's why we have different games in the first places.

PS. I'm glad to see a post out you. I hope that sometime in future we can see a few more.

Gleichman said...

Zzarchov: you know it's quite possible for people to both play and talk (and think) about games. Indeed, that would be idea.

It's very common for people who only do something to be completely unaware of why they are doing it, and thus unable to improve method or process. You see this in the real world all the time (Process Workers, unable and often unwilling to think on their own if something unexpected comes up), and that's why it's so easy for someone who actually understands goals and methods to advance in the business world.

People who only game, and don't think about the goals and methods of gaming are good for only one thing- rounding out a group of better players (i.e. keeping a seat warm and rolling some dice).

Bonemaster: No, a game doesn't have to be broken. That's pure defeatism and a reflection of post-modernism at its worse.

Bonemaster said...

@Gleichman - I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

My opinion is that No game can be everything to everyone. Someone is going to say it's broken. Otherwise we would all be using the same system and/or game. Are there degrees of being broken sure there are. If accepting that is defeatism to you, I'm sorry I just call that being a realist. Am I saying that you should try to make a perfect game, HELL NO. Just that in the end, a game is just that a game with rules that may have implications that would not envisioned by the authors. Which is why games get revised no?

Gleichman said...

Bonemaster: That a game doesn't appeal to everyone is not an indication that it is broken.

It's indication that it doesn't appeal to everyone.

Gleichman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DungeonMastahWieg said...


Good to see you posting again. I'm totally with you on the "shelf full of games I'll never run" thing. I'm also pretty much committed to just a couple of systems these days. Time is just too precious now to try and get involved in every new thing that comes along.