Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fall of a Gamer

There is a type of game that people label as educational, presuming that the rest of them are for pure entertainment.  In fact, the only thing that makes games fun is when they’re educational.

If you think about all the games you’ve played through the years, from Tic Tac Toe to Monopoly to Settlers of Catan, they’ve all had the same end point.  Eventually, you get bored.  You’ve learned how they work, their mechanics offer no secrets anymore, and the story they tell you’ve heard before.  So you move on to another game to learn about. 

Occasionally, a new player is introduced to you, and the old games hold their magic again for a moment.  Not because you’re learning about the game, but because you’re learning about the opponent.  You’re discovering how they think, interact, their personality.  Are they aggressive, or cautious?  A good looser?  A good winner?  Do they take the game seriously?  Or do they chat and relax while they play?
All the while you’re learning.  And that learning is what makes the game fun.

Which is why I’m writing this.

I’ve become bored of table top role-playing games.  They seem to have nothing to teach me anymore.  I know the systems and mechanics to where I annoy myself when I question a GM’s call.  I’ve heard the stories we tell, told a hundred times before.  I’ve explored my psyche through other personalities.  My inner badass, coward, politician, tactician, warrior, savior and villain.  I’ve felt those parts of me, and walked away knowing more of who I am.

I’ve seen what my friends bring to the table.  How they like to play, and what they want to be.

So… now what?

Normally, this would be the point where I offer my point of view through telling stories of my own.  By bringing the lessons I have into the game, and then I get to learn from the other players new ways  of looking at them.

But I’ve told my stories before.  I’ve told them again and again.  I’m tired of listening to them.
I occasionally get a few moments of escapism in the forms of a computer game.  Something that at least lets me explore and learn about a new world.  Learning a history, and discovering interactions that have become predictable.  Rarely am I surprised, and often I finish a game feeling more empty than I did when I started, only because I made room in my heart for a surprise that never came.

And even the escapism is less fulfilling as I get to middle age.  I’ve reached a point career wise where I get to have my own adventures, even if they’re all about accounting and coding.  Sometimes I win at work, sometimes I loose.  I get to see how other people achieve their goals.  The things I once turned to gaming for are being met here at work.

I’m in a good relationship.   I can share my adventures with someone who shares theirs with me every day.  A weekly gaming group is a step down.

So now what?  Where does that leave gaming in my life?  I know I’m not done learning.  That would border on arrogance even beyond what I can imagine.  So what’s next for me gaming wise?  I’m open to ideas.

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