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Group Burnout

ihatevnecks

Registered User
Validated User
Hey,

So for many months now my group's been going through a long bout of gaming burnout. We get together every Friday night, but just as often end up devolving into various bullshitting sessions as we do playing anything. There are definitely a few different factors driving it; GM burnout, not everyone being open to actually trying new systems/new editions/things that aren't the same 6 games we've played since the 90s, typical adulthood sometimes causing inconsistent attendance.

The net result has been this series of games we start and drop after a few sessions, technically playing but not managing to get more than one or two haphazard scenes spread out over 6 hours real-time, or the nights where we just don't play at all.

I'm not really looking for specific advice on 'fixing' the situation, rather just curious to hear about these kind of experiences from others.
 

Ubbi

Master of his domain.
Validated User
After more than 10 years of playing, our group burned out in November, 2016. It was so bad that in the last year and a half, we've gotten together only once for a board game night. It's not because of acrimony or conflicting personalities. It was because, one guy, who was the heart and soul of the group, just could not get excited for anything roleplaying related and since he already had a separate board game group, saw no need to keep a second group going. And while the rest of us consider ourselves really good friends, we just can't see ourselves gaming without him.

Every few months or so, I attempt to try and get things rolling but the longer it goes, the less likely it is for us to pick back up.
 

Faylar

New member
Banned
Real life as an adult requires flexibility, games require a certain amount of dedication that is a lot like a job and needs to have life scheduled around it.
We all went to an every 2 weeks thing with a flexible schedule. seemed to work. we also ditched shaming for not showing up, people could come and go as they liked and people chose to show up more.
This was years ago, though, my new group we all have wild shifts and get together about once a month. It also seems to work well.
 

ihatevnecks

Registered User
Validated User
Real life as an adult requires flexibility, games require a certain amount of dedication that is a lot like a job and needs to have life scheduled around it.
We all went to an every 2 weeks thing with a flexible schedule. seemed to work. we also ditched shaming for not showing up, people could come and go as they liked and people chose to show up more.
This was years ago, though, my new group we all have wild shifts and get together about once a month. It also seems to work well.
That's the interesting thing with this group. While we have a couple people who can't always show on Friday (one due to school, other to crappy alternating days off), we usually have at least 4 folks on Friday nights; last night was 7 of us, which is a bit more rare.

We definitely had that 'shaming' issue for a long time though, more around choosing not to play in a specific game rather than just not generally showing. I finally took a hard stance on that last year, as I was realized how tired I was of playing a series of games I didn't enjoy just for the sake of playing. I realized I had just as much fun sitting there reading, or just staying home and doing my own thing :p If I was less of an anxious hermit I'd do the Roll20 thing or something.
 

frankcastle1975

Registered User
Validated User
We had an excellent run of 10 years as adults playing about every 3 weeks. Pretty amazing since we met at meetups and eventually became our own gaming group. Things ground to a halt when one of the players lost his zest for gaming. I understand why, he's a perfectionist. So much so that even if the group is loving the game he is running or playing in he still feels like he can do better. It got to a point where those feelings overshadowed his ability to have fun. Great guy and if he decides to game again would be happy to play with him. But just as equally happy to watch movie, play a video game, grab a meal or just chat with him as he is a great guy and amazing company.

I think at a certain point you have to start looking elsewhere if your main gaming group is not functioning. But obviously you can still keep them as friends.
 

Winterland

Help, help. I am being repressed
Validated User
Been playing weekly (at least, though we try to make it twice a week but not always able) since the 90s with mostly the same people, and we are (most of us) all in the 40s now, with family, work and all that.
So far we have mostly avoided burnouts (although right now we have a guy taking a half a year break. Hopefully he'll come back this summer as as a teacher he have had a lot on his plate particularly this semester.)

Anyway, in my experience this is how you avoid burnouts.

1. Rotate games. We play 4 games with different GMs Bi-weekly. So one week its those two games and then next week its 2 other games. That means each game always have at least 2 weeks of prep between them.
2. Rotate players. Not every player is in every game. That makes the amount of players even larger as well as the among of games. Some players arent in my game, and I am not in every game either. So more than those 4 games with 5-6 players (who I play with) theres actually also 2-3 more games with 3-5 more players I dont game with.
3. Not every player HAS to be in every game. As seen in #2 only play those groups you are interested in and have time for.
4. Dont be afraid to try new games. Weve played dozens of game over the 2 decades and I STILL have a half a dozen games on MY shelf that we never played (yet)
5. If possible, remain friends even away from the table. We go to each others kids birthdays partys, weddings.. have vacations together or just hang out.

Now I can understand not everyone has the luxury of the amount of players we have or all living in the same city so I dont really know how helpful this will be.
This is merely a top of my head 5 minute analysis of we havent burned out.
 

ihatevnecks

Registered User
Validated User
1. Rotate games. We play 4 games with different GMs Bi-weekly. So one week its those two games and then next week its 2 other games. That means each game always have at least 2 weeks of prep between them.
4. Dont be afraid to try new games. Weve played dozens of game over the 2 decades and I STILL have a half a dozen games on MY shelf that we never played (yet)
I think these are the two biggest drivers for the state we're in. How many people in your group act as both players and GMs?

If we had more people willing to GM, that could alleviate some of our issues; I'm definitely guilty in this department. Over the years we've always had 2-3 regular GMs out of 8-9 potential players, which is a pretty bad ratio haha. All 3 are mostly at a point where they'd rather play than GM, except for a very limited selection of games, so that's one limiting factor.

The other half of that issue is the new game thing, though. Most of the group are interested in trying out new games, but a few have very... strong opinions about trying out new things. Whether it's non-standard dice systems (FFG Star Wars), more narrative systems (FATE), or just new editions of existing games, trying out new things is a tough sell. I feel like we're a very anachronistic group, even the concept of 'session zero' is something I've had trouble getting adopted. We're very "show up, then find out what we're playing, then bang out characters because we *have* to play tonight" about things.

When one of those is also the most regular GM, and the sole host of the Friday game (being stuck @ home on Friday nights), that really limits our options - we can't use the "you can always not show up for this one" option there. This could be alleviated a bit by myself or others running different games, but it's a hard thing to do when not everyone is open to it. There have been a few we've tried in the last year or so, which were kinda sabotaged from the start due to those 'strong opinions.' Inevitably we end up right back at another throwaway World of Darkness/Pathfinder/whatever game that lasts for two or three very distracted sessions.

I'm in the same boat as you with all the stuff on my shelf. I've always been the one buying most of the new games and editions, and the one who's introduced a good amount of the 'new' games we've played in the last ~15 years. I enjoy reading them nearly as much as I do playing them, but I've traded/sold off far more than I've ever gotten to try.

I'm trying to get more mid-week stuff going, since our second regular GM works in a field that doesn't regularly give weekends off, and I see that as a good 'testing ground' for new games; but again it largely depends on who I can get to show up, and who's actually willing to run something. If I'd get over my GM anxiety that would at least solve the off-day issue, if not the Friday night burnout. :)
 

PerceptiveMan

New member
Banned
When one of those is also the most regular GM, and the sole host of the Friday game (being stuck @ home on Friday nights), that really limits our options - we can't use the "you can always not show up for this one" option there. This could be alleviated a bit by myself or others running different games, but it's a hard thing to do when not everyone is open to it. There have been a few we've tried in the last year or so, which were kinda sabotaged from the start due to those 'strong opinions.' Inevitably we end up right back at another throwaway World of Darkness/Pathfinder/whatever game that lasts for two or three very distracted sessions.
Have you tried a heart-to-heart here? Like "Buddy, I love gaming with you, but I'm sick to death of these two-to-three session burnout games of the same old tired systems. Either we shake it up, or I'm done with Fridays - it's not like we're actually playing or something." sort of thing?
 

g33k

Registered User
Validated User
I suggest looking at some of the "one-shot" / Quickstart self-contained sets available. Many games have 'em! Usually, they have pre-gen's included.

Figure out which of the mostly-don't-GM players might be willing to run; ask if any of the titles would inspire them to ACTUALLY run. See if you can get a small set to offer, then ask who would actually show up and play <game X> -- and whatever gets the most votes, do that one next.

The thing about the "one shot" is it isn't committing to run a campaign; and the "quickstart" format should be a self-contained / easy-to-run product. Mostly, they are free PDFs or cheap ($5-$15) in print.

Given that you already have a regular some-show / some-don't situation, I don't see that you will be any worse-off having some showing because <game X> and some no-shows because <game X>.
You'll have scratched the "try something new" itch.
You'll have given the "I wanna play" GMs a chance to play.
You'll have gotten a new GM's feet wet, possibly with long-term benefits.
You'll have exposed the group at large (less the "Hell no I won't go" portion) to a new game, possibly thawing the general neophobia in your group...
 
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GM_Michael

Professional Mistake Maker
Validated User
Spotty attendance or ability to meet really drives down the quality of our games. We spend more time recapping previous sessions, more time shooting the breeze, and are just less involved in general when individuals are missing sessions or as a group we have had to cancel. We have had some health problems and scheduling problems that have really drained our group ability recently. Therefore our GM is trying to wrap up our current story arc and take a break. We are having an interregnum where I will GM a Runequest Mini campaign for a couple months for a smaller subset of our game group. Hopefully once the issues have been resolved, we shall return to out normal game with renewed purpose...
 
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