Gaming, Yes! Gamers, Argh!Erich S. Arendall April 18, 2000
I've got a stack of completed adventures and campaigns at my desk that I still haven't run. All because I love gaming. I've got a couple home-brewed systems, in various stages of development. I develop the systems because I love gaming. It should come as no surprise that I love gaming, I've been writing about it for a little over two years (has it been two years already?). And just to reiterate and add a sentence more to the word count: I love gaming.
Yet these adventures go unplayed and my systems remain unfinished. Why? It's not all my fault, I'm sure of that. After all, I completed all the preliminary work for the adventures, they're ready to go. I'm still developing my systems, albeit a little slower than I used to. The answer, dear readers, is gamers. Gamers are lazy. Gamers are inconsiderate. Not all gamers, mind you, but enough gamers to make the general gamer populace look bad and to warrant a column about it. Not just the players, mind you, but GMs as well. I'm including both parties when I say gamers. Gamers. They can really cheese me off sometimes.
I've played quite a few games in my day. In my early years (when I still attended school) the gaming groups had a lot of time on their hands and games would happen almost daily and kept us inside on the weekends, much to our parents' chagrin. As I grew older and entered high school the games became less frequent, but still held to a pretty fair schedule. While there might be a game that was missed on a week, it would be made up for the next. In other words, gaming was a pretty steady affair, in spite of school work, dating, and parental units wondering if we'd ever go outside. Ah, the good old days, the Golden Age of Gaming one might say. Not that the so-called Golden Age had anything to do with the quality of the games, just the quantity. The Gilded Age of Gaming if you will.
Even after high-school people could game at least once if not twice a week on a regular basis (I gamed four times a week, myself) because early college and/or post-high school jobs did not require all our time. The games moved down in quantity once again, however I found that the quality of the games increased as our maturity and knowledge of the outside world expanded. Stay with me, I am going somewhere with this reminiscent diatribe.
Now I'm all grown up, and so are most of the people in my gaming groups. We work steady jobs that often require full concentration and hours that don't count as overtime. Some of us have families, and for all of us getting out of the house once in a while is important. Surprise, mom! This means that there is less time for gaming, we're all lucky if we can fit in one game a week and everyone is happy when we fit in two. This is understandable. We have so many more responsibilities. For this I wanted to be an adult?
Remember how I mentioned I loved gaming? Well, it's true. I love gaming. It's quite possibly my favorite group activity. One would think that since the groups I'm in are full of grown ups who have little time to game that everyone who claims to love gaming would make every gaming night special, right? Wrong. Oh, how dreadfully wrong. And while I have no issues with those games canceled when real life gets in the way, I have heard more pathetic half-ass excuses in one year of my adult gaming life than I have in my elementary to shortly-after-high-school life years combined.
It's not the fact that games are canceled because someone didn't show up. It's the reasons given for not showing up and canceling the game that irk me. "You're too tired to game, but not to tired to go to a club/hang out at a coffee-shop?" If these people don't want to game anymore why don't they just say so? Worse yet are those who simply don't show up, leaving the rest of the group waiting and waiting - until the game is called for the night. Sure enough, if it happens more than two games in a row fewer and fewer people start showing up for the game. Until the game is over - as in over, never to be played again, fin, kaput. Then the cycle repeats.
I'm not being unreasonable here, am I? All I'm asking for is common courtesy, yet that seems something that other gamers seem to lack. I'm talking about the same courtesy that asks for side conversations to be kept to a minimum. We came here to game, people! Why didn't you say anything during the dinner before the game? I have noticed an odd trend, those who chatter during a game often don't have to work early next morning, if that's the case, why can't they wait until after the game? Part of gaming is socializing, yes. If that's all you want to do, however, why not separate that from the gaming. 'Cause I love gaming and you're hurting something I love.
You see, I've got these stacks of games not because I haven't wanted to run them or that there were no people to play them, but because so many gamers have not had the courtesy that friends (or acquaintances) should give other friends (or acquaintances) and thus have left games in the lurch or unplayed. A good gamer friend of mine (who loves gaming more that I do) once said she would never roll up a new character again, because she had rolled up enough character that have never been played.
It's okay to make gaming your social activity, it's okay if real life gets in the way, or even if you don't want to game. But for my sake and the sake of the people in your group please let them know! If you want a social activity why not arrange for a dinner night instead, don't tease the people who love gaming by calling it an RPG night. If you don't want to game just say so, it makes it a lot easier for all involved. And if real life gets in the way, then I feel for you, pal and I look forward to the next time you can play.