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

GM Radio Rob

Formerly 'IMAGinES'
Validated User
#1
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, my wife, whose PC is next to mine, 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, my wife – who’s a recent convert to gaming herself (my fault) – 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 she 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 her 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 the answers to my wife 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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Sage Genesis

Two
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#2
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?
Weekly Exalted session, bi-weekly WarCraft d20/Exalted session (they alternate)... I'd say I spend about 10 hours a week actively on my campaigns, two of which are spent writing down actual notes and such. I come up with most of my stuff daydreaming.

How do you make that time?
"Child, how is it that you do not?"
;)


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?
Yes.


If you’re maintaining an active non-gaming social life, how do you manage everything?
Dunno, I just do. I only spend two days a week on actual sessions, so the other five days are free.


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?
My dear man, I have well over a dozen campaigns I still want to run. There is my Hellsing campaign to start up, Weapons of the Gods will be out in a few months, I'll receive Red Star d20 through the mail next week, and Exalted: Fair Folk as well.
And you think I want to spend less time on gaming? That's just the stuff I want to run, for god's sake.


The rest doesn't apply, as I don't have formulated my own theories.
 

happyelf

New member
Banned
#3
IMAGinES said:
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?
[/b]99% gaming, that being one, long regular weekly session. When i was gming i mainly improved, and i think you'll find that a lot of GM's rely on improv styles wich are much less time inteisve pre-wise. Prep is vastly overrated in many cases IMO.

How do you make that time?
I'm not very active atm due to ehalth reasons but it's basically one evening a week and most players can make it most of the 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?
Being bored. I tend to think the same is true for other players, this is one of their primary weekly leisure activities.

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?
I kinda wish i was playing elss atm because somebody else is running and it's not a good game. But I find that, despite my low energy levels, i can gm a long, solid game easily because i've been running for years and it's really second nature now.

And what about you folks who’ve stepped over the threshold and gone into writing RPG theory or designing your own games (or both)?
I'm not designing atm but I will note that i feel design/theory is it's own hobby and the two aren't nesecarily as related as people seem to think.

There's a certain subset of people who like talking about games a lot, and I even find that their mindset isn't nesecarily that condusive to good gaming(or even making good games).
 
#4
IMAGinES said:
  • 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?

I'm just going to answer the last few because I don't play games.

You don't need any experience. It helps, because it helps you ask the right questions (it also helps because you run a risk of re-inventing the wheel if you don't have any experience).

And for #2 and #3, I don't play games.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
#5
Jared A. Sorensen said:
I'm just going to answer the last few because I don't play games.

And for #2 and #3, I don't play games.
Really? You design but don't play?

Why's that?
 

Andy K

I Like Games
Validated User
#6
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?

I have two groups: One meets EVERY Thursday, 8-11/11:30. The other meets every other Wednesday (featuring this forum's Quintin Stone) from about 7:00-11:00 or so (though because of work stuff, we often end up pushing a session back a week).

The first group we end up spending at least a good hour bullshitting about politics, society, etc. The second group pretty much gets into it at 8, 8:10 and carries to the end.

Prep time: Maybe an hour a week if I'm GMing, otherwise zero. If I'm working on a new game, or writing my own game material, then it could be 2 hours of prep a week, but never any more than that.

How do you make that time?

I don't have kids, just a wife and two cats. Not having kids gives me more freetime than someone WITH kids. But aside from that, if you don't have kids, and are not working two jobs, then there's a problem if you can't make time for an hour of prep a week.

Oh, and get away from the TV. I work all day in front of a computer. Unfortunately, a lot of my hobbies (console gaming, PC games, web design, coding, writing) involves me again being in front of a computer as well. Choosing to not be in front of the computer or TV for 2+ nights a week really helped out my state of mind. Also, you have to not give a shit about TV. Thursday all the "good stuff" like CSI comes out, but fuck it- Would you really remember it in 3 years? I can remember some events in gaming that happened 3+ years ago. The only thing in TV that I can remember that's over 3 years old is the "Bibibabka" episode of Perfect Strangers.

So, really, a lot of people who have no free time have no objection to sitting in front of the TV for 2-3 hours an evening, espeically when Tivo and Cable gets into the mix.

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?

You you plan your life the way you want it to be played out, you're not sacrificing anything, really. I do housework on the weekends (and just try to keep things relatively clean otherwise, but I admit that my wife does the cooking and washing clothes). I study stuff for work outside of work (routing and PC networking certification/degrees, Japanese I study about 30-60 minutes every night), I don't do a lot of sports but I admit that last year I took Kung Fu but had to give it up, because it was 3 hours a night, 3 nights a week, which was just too much time to give up (I instead work out about an hour a day with weights, punching bag or DDR).

If you’re maintaining an active non-gaming social life, how do you manage everything?

Heh, actually I don't go to bars, clubs, etc. I uesd to be a raver, but haven't gone to a rave or a hot club for about 5 years now (married, I think, did that in. Just not interested in O.P.P. as I used to be). I do socialize with friends from work and all, about one night a week or two.

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?

Not really. When we get bored of roleplaying, we play settlers of Catan, or rent a movie, or just bullshit about politics and society for that evening. Being with these friends once a week is like a pressure valve that lets me let off steam. It helps when your gaming group is your friend group.

Sometimes I need a week off, tho, because I'm tired from work or just am overwhelmed- So I call off one night, and the rest of the group meets and plays that evening. All is good, the cycle continues.

And what about you folks who’ve stepped over the threshold and gone into writing RPG theory or designing your own games (or both)?

... .... ...pain. I'm one of those guys who likes to fancy him self a "game designer" in the same way everyone in California is sitting on a screenplay they wrote but never got out there. That is, I work on and off on it in some moments of inspiration here and there, but haven't given it enough time to make it really work.

However, I am translating Tenra Bansho Zero almost nightly (see my sig), and that in itself is like writing a game- Since I'm publishing it, I have to become so intimite with the source material that it's like those old-school Euro monks copying enlightened texts to the point that they memorized every line of text. It's kind of like that. I don't go to church or bars, I don't watch TV, instead my thing is translating Japanese literature. It's as exhaustive and brutal as playing sports nightly, let me add.

How much gaming experience did you need to get you to the point of writing theory/designing your own game?

Not much, really. Theory... bleh. I've got a BA in Sociology and Philosophy, and theory about gaming just doesn't turn me on that much. Designing my own game, though. That does. And to start designing, all you need is an idea and some free time set aside. And dilligence. If you're interested, check out www.24hourrpg.com.

How much gaming do you still do in between designing/writing?/I]

I don't do much designing or writing save Tenra Bansho (redesigning), and the answer there is "Just as much gaming as I did before I started". Though I don't GM as much as I used to.

Again, how do you achieve that work/family/gaming/other stuff balance?

http://www.franklincovey.com/

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Jared A. Sorensen said:
I'm just going to answer the last few because I don't play games.
Wzztich? Zufttsh? Huh???

(waiting for retort from Jared, along the lines of, "No, see, what I do is engage in the wooziwatstits of the flazzenblorp. It's not playing games" . So hit me, what are you doing then?)
 
#8
Question: 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?

I probably spend 8 to 12 hours a week writing for my games. I generally have two games a week. Sessions run between five and twelve hours.

Question: How do you make that time?

see below

Question: 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?

I do computer stuff for a living. Aside from the occasional 2 to 3 hour "fire" I need to put out, I can spend nearly my entire work day working on or reading about RPGs.

My wife is also deeply sympathetic to my geekery and enables it at every turn (though she herself is solely a Serial Killer/True Crime geek with no interest in gaming per se).

Aside from work, I sacrifice nothing to game. I have a well-rounded social existance and travel regularly.

Question: If you’re maintaining an active non-gaming social life, how do you manage everything?

Serendipity.

Question: 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?

Nope. I switch between three different gaming circles that are all equally active and enthusiastic. When one seems to be waning, I jump ship to another, and then jump back when that gets old.

And what about you folks who’ve stepped over the threshold and gone into writing RPG theory or designing your own games (or both)?

Question: How much gaming experience did you need to get you to the point of writing theory/designing your own game?

I have no idea. I got my first work through an open call. There wasn't an "I'm ready" moment or anything. I think I just got to the point where I felt weird having spent so much time gaming and having not contributed anything to its lore.

Question: How much gaming do you still do in between designing/writing?

I'm not a heavy duty writer at the moment, but I play with someone who is. He does almost as much as I do.

Question: Again, how do you achieve that work/family/gaming/other stuff balance?

Luck, I suppose. :)
 
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#9
Andy K said:
Wzztich? Zufttsh? Huh???

(waiting for retort from Jared, along the lines of, "No, see, what I do is engage in the wooziwatstits of the flazzenblorp. It's not playing games" . So hit me, what are you doing then?)


No, I only really play at conventions (so...maybe 3-4 times a year). Occassionally I'll get together with Mearls and we'll play some D&D to playtest one of his monsters or scenarios or whatever. But that's rare.

I don't play, sorry!
 

Balbinus

Repairer of Reputations
#10
Jared A. Sorensen said:
No, I only really play at conventions (so...maybe 3-4 times a year). Occassionally I'll get together with Mearls and we'll play some D&D to playtest one of his monsters or scenarios or whatever. But that's rare.

I don't play, sorry!
So why do you write games that you don't play?
 
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