My recent experience and decisions to change them has brought a question to mind that I find myself pondering on a lot. A few questions, actually.
My past gaming group of 20+ years was incredibly satisfying in terms of gaming experiences. But what was so satisfying about them? What did I find in them that made me keep going and now look so fondly back to them? The answer to that question is different for everyone, I am sure. In my search for answers, I looked at Ron Edwards GNS theory of gaming, which is pretty heady stuff. I am not going to go into an in-depth analysis of it but in general it takes the terms that gamers have used for years – rules lawyers, power gamer, drama king/queen – and translates them into human behavorial terms – Gamist, Simulationist and Narrativist. Also understand that as a person matures, their gaming shifts from one side to another over time, at least in my view.
Based on all that, I would say I am a strong Gamist with a little Narrativist in me. I might have a Simulationist on me at times but for the most part, I like presenting the players with a challenge and no obvious solution, and seeing how they work it through. However, most especially, I liked seeing the group work through the social challenges especially when they interfered with the combat or skill challenges. For a long time during those years, I wored hard on the integration of the character background into my story arche to create motivational challenges and other agendas with in the party. Some did not like that because it created party conflict and distrust, but we loved the story that came out of it in the end. It was those times, it was most satisfying.
Is my old group the uniorn of gaming and I justot lucky? If so, was I spoiled by such a great group and great experiences? This could very well be true. I clicked so well with most of them that I may not find the same chemistry because I keep comparing others to them. I have consciously tried not to do that in the group have been with since, but regardless of what I do, the satisfaction is not there.
Also, it should be important to note that I am self aware enough to realize that maybe the others in that group did not enjoy it as much as I did. We did have people come and go. They had other games going on and talked about those as well, but 20+ years of gaming should speak for something. They kept coming back enough that I would hope that they had a satisfactory time.
So am I spoiled? I probably could be but in the end, are we not the sum of all our experiences. It is not easy for me to go into a game group and not think back to the “hay day” of college and 15 years post college. I go into with a clean slate in my mind and make it a totally new and fresh experience. At the same time, I have to realize that I may not get the satisfaction the same way, but I can find it some how. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
If I can get it back, how do I do so in my current life situation? Life changes like everything else. For the most part of those 20 years I was dating a girl, no family, and a pretty easy job situation. Admittedly, my life has changed considerably and my expectations will have to adjust based on that. I realize I can not have a weekly game that runs 8+ hours a day, in an isolated location with little to no interuptions. In truth, for many of those years, that was true. I had access to class rooms on my college campus. We were rarely bothered or interupted. It was rather ideal.
But I still feel I can accoplish some semblance of what I had once, on a smaller scale perhaps. How to accomplish this is the unanswered questions, I suppose.