Why do you love RPGs? Why do you love GMing?
These are two big questions I ask myself on a regular basis these days. Because there was a time just a few years ago when my answer was, “I’m not sure I do anymore.” I had just finished a stint as a community organizer for a great RPG, but was burnt out on that community and some of the members there. While I was definitely stepping away from that community for a while, there was a large part of me that was considering stepping away from it all. No more RPGs, no more GMing, just wash my hands of it and move on.
Obviously, I didn’t or you wouldn’t be reading this now. But my decision to stay in the hobby came down to a single answer to the first question, one I came to after a lot of thought (and not an insignificant amount of sleepless nights and scotch).
I love role-playing games because they are the single best way I know of to enjoy a shared experience with my friends.
Nothing else comes close for me. Sure, I can watch TV and movies with friends, or listen to music, and we’ll have a good time. But that experience isn’t really shared so much as it’s concurrent. Anyone who has had a conversation with someone after watching a movie understands that, while you both watched the same events, you experienced them very differently. Pick any three movie reviews and you’ll see what I mean.
But because roleplaying games allow us to tell stories together, we share in those experiences. The players (and I include the GM in this) build the world of the game together, through play, and share the experiences of their characters. Because a neat quirk of how the human brain works means that in my mind there is no distinction between the memory of something I do as Brent and something I do as my Dwarven Fighter, let’s say. My envisioning of my character’s action lives in my memory as a Thing That Happened. I access the memory of my fighter vanquishing a goblin the same way I access the memory of going to the store for milk, with only my sense of “self” distinguishing the two for me.
What this means is that all the heroic, adventurous events you get up to with your friends at the table? As far as your memory is concerned, you did those things with those friends. And that creates a stronger bond between you. It’s no coincidence that with almost no exceptions, all of my closest friends are also folks I game with. Even if it was only at the table, my friends and I have achieved wonderful, heroic, sometimes ridiculous things, together.
I wouldn’t give that up for anything.
Now, as to why I love GMing… We’ll talk about that next week.
Check out the rest of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival over at this post, where you can find the links in the comments section.