I Miss Role-Playing

This may be the longest time I haven’t been part of a regular weekly role-playing game since I started really playing back in college. I guess 19 years is a good run. But I miss it.

Back then we didn’t have a care in the world, and if we were up until 2 or 3 in the morning rolling dice, well, who cared? We had stamina to burn as long as the Mountain Dew held out and the pizza didn’t get too cold. But then 2 got to be too late. Then midnight. Then, if we weren’t wrapping up by 10 or so, the yawns would commence.

Face it, we got old. Maybe not in spirit, but definitely in limb.

Weekends were working for a while, but then, slowly, as people got married and grew families, it got harder to give up those free days. Last-minute cancellations abounded, making it hard to keep anything going with any kind of momentum. So then we tried weeknights, which were fine at first, until this problem arose: I am on the opposite end of one of the worst traffic nightmares in the world from the rest of my role-playing friends. I’d get off of work around 5 or so and have to battle my way across town, sometimes taking over an hour to get to where we were playing. And all during the game, my thoughts were on the 30 to 45 minute drive home. It just sapped my energy, making it hard for me to get into what we were doing.

MMORPGs didn’t help either. As soon as a new one would come out, two or three guys would vanish for weeks at a time as that game consumed them. And when we did get together at the tabletop, everything ended up going back to whatever online game they were playing.

It’s not that the idea of role-playing doesn’t capture my imagination anymore. I still scour message boards and news sites and reviews, and talking about concepts and mechanics and theories still fascinates me. I think maybe we’re all trying too hard to make every single game live up to the highly-mythologized campaigns we remember. I’m sure those old games had their down times and their fallow periods, but in our heads, we’ve romanticized them into these non-stop roller coasters of action and adventure. Maybe we’re not older, we’re just more impatient. We’re too used to instant gratification from on-demand and online, so if we’re not getting our socks knocked off from the get-go, we don’t hold on.

But maybe real life has finally won this round. Maybe it really is easier to log on and join a couple of dozen people online than trying to gather half that number around a dinner table with kids running around and jobs the next morning. Gaming seems to have become something to do when it’s convenient, not something you make time to do.

And yeah, that’s a little sad.


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