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Those Guys Must Have Too Much Free Time On Their Hands...

I've posted this up on the RPGnet Roleplaying Open Forum, and am making it available in slightly edited for my readers to comment on:

As you may know, I've started reading a bit of RPG theory stuff lately. Thanks to The 20' By 20' Room, I discovered and printed off the free-PDF version of the Finnish collection of RPG essays, Beyond Role and Play. Just today I stumbled across The Forge's article section, and am brewing over Ron Edwards' breakdown of his GNS theory while reading some of his other stuff. (When I met Jared Sorensen, he compared Ron Edwards to Scott McCloud, and having read a little of both, I'm inclined to agree.)

A few minutes ago, Vickie asked what I was reading, and I told her it was Ron Edwards' "A Hard Look at Dungeons and Dragons" article. I contrasted him to the intensity of some of the Finnish stuff (apologies to the Finns reading this) and tried a basic description of what Ron was trying with his GNS theory (i.e. to analyse the many ways in which players enjoy RPGs and find a way of communicating those ways in order to reduce the number of gamers out there who aren't enjoying their hobby). Part way in, Vickie said, "He must have too much free time on his hands."

Now, I bristled at this a bit. I find it fascinating and, frankly, a little affirming that someone is willing to put some time and effort into identifying how the fun is (and can be) created within a roleplaying game ('cos it ain't as easy as the game-books make out). But Vickie went on to frame her comment in terms of all the gaming he must have to do or have done to be able to sit down and work out some theory around it all (not to mention the time required to theorise).

In part, I can kind of take Vickie's point. Our mutual experience of gamers is that organising a session is like herding cats, so much so that we consider ourselves lucky to get a game in once every two weeks. Frankly, though, we'd probably be exhausted by gaming at any higher frequency, and we tend to grumble if we "have to" game more than once a month (then again, we're rather grouchy homebodies anyway).

Yet I regularly see postings and hear discussions about groups whose weekly game sessions are the rule, not the exception, and while I'm a little envious, I'm also amazed at the amount of time that must go into prep (especially for the poor GM) before each session.

So I suppose my questions to the broader gaming community are:

  • How much time, say on a weekly basis, do you invest in actual, active gaming (not reading your rulebooks and dreaming, as I do most of the time)? How much of that is prep time, and how much is actual play?
  • How do you make that time?
    • What activities, if any, are you sacrificing in order to do the work of gaming? Housework? Non-school time study? Overtime? Weekend sports? Significant Others/Families?
    • If you're maintaining an active non-gaming social life, how do you manage everything?
  • Do you ever find meeting up with the same gang every week and/or the prep-time required irritating and/or exhausting? In other words: Do you ever wish you spent less time gaming than you do?
  • And what about you folks who've stepped over the threshold and gone into writing RPG theory or designing your own games (or both)?
    • How much gaming experience did you need to get you to the point of writing theory/designing your own game?
    • How much gaming do you still do in between designing/writing?
    • Again, how do you achieve that work/family/gaming/other stuff balance?

Please note that my intent isn't to attack the gaming community; in fact, I'm rather hoping I can show Vickie the answers and say, "See? They don't have that much free time after all!" Ultimately, I'm honestly curious - perhaps as a gamer who doesn't get enough.

Gaming, that is!

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Thought I jump in and respond to this. Especially as I have just discussed with a friend (and will be discussing further through Xmas) writing a Role Playing Game of our own. Stand by gaming world - we will be taking over.

I game every week. Sunday nights 6pm - 10:30 pm. At the same persons house, with the same group. Give or take - all 6 of us are always there. We all run games and upon arrival we vote for those games which have been 'put up' for the evening to see what we are going to play. I always put up a game. The host always puts up a game. Generally the votes follow the 'campaign' games with the odd one off. I do find it frustrating to prep a game and not run it, but I just persist in putting it up every Sunday night until it gets voted in. It should be noted - none of the Sunday night regulars have children, but some are married.

I also game for an entire Saturday and Sunday once every 2 months or so. This is with a slightly different crew, who are good friends who I got into the hobby. They are all family guys with at least one child each, therefore co-ordinating the weekend is very hard work. We play a regular campaign with one GM (not me) that runs for 10-14 hours. Then after a little shut eye, I'll run a game for maybe 4-6 hours. It is an intense weekend, but great fun to catch up as well. These guys are ex-Terratorial Army soldiers, and this is the only time we get to catch up when face to face.

So in summary 4.5 hours per week plus up to 20 hours every two months.

Obviously I am sacrificing my time and time with Claire in order to do these things. Claire understands that this is my time, and she does not interfere. Well she does during prep time Sunday afternoon. I also do not socialise that much (are you Surprised?)- as I see my friends weekly when we game. I also play EQ2 and my bi-monthly family orientated friends also play, so I can chat to them freely on-line. In all I am pretty wrapped.

Socialising mostly happens for Birthdays, or I'll go have a drink with the family.

I am happy with the time I spend gaming, although if I do go out to a party Saturday night, gaming Sunday can seem like a real drag, this only happens rarely though.

I basically prioritise my life - I always put Family and Claire first, followed by friends, then work and lastly the hobbies. On the flip side hobbies gets most of my attention during free time - but is the first to be dropped when required.

I would think that me and my regular gaming buddies - all being over 30, are somewhat unique in the gaming enviroment. Most gamers I know began their gaming life like this, but let it go as socialising and life sped up around them. I am happy to say that upon my return to the UK after nearly two years in Australia, the same gang with the same people were still meeting at 6pm on a Sunday night. I lost my DM chair though.

I wish a very Merry Christmas and a Harpy Lewd beer to all the ImagineS community, and may 2005 bring you all that you hope it will.

Dodgy Rog
Random British Guy

Intense question I will apport to my blog.

Normal Gaming: 2x a month
week's investment: easy 12 hours
actual play: 9 hr
make time: TV gone, houseworked skipped, family outta state, no kids

wishes: more would be great

developing games?: started before D&D

there is something glitched in your trackback code.

Yeah, I know. As just reloading the unsullied trackback.pm file doesn't seem to make a lick of difference, I'm going to wait unti all this moving shit is done before I start seriously looking into it.

I'm halfway planning tog et Marcus to tell me where I can go to start learning Perl and server administration so I can get this done myself.