Thursday, September 16, 2010

Discussion: Why Do You Game?

Forgive the brevity of this post, but I am quite exhausted and am having a hard time focusing right now. That being said, people game for all sorts of different reasons. Some people do it to escape the monotony of their daily lives, others do it simply for the social aspect, while others enjoy the mental challenge involved. There are plenty of answers out there, and most people probably have more than one, but there has to be one. Why else would you spend 4 hours every week, or couple of weeks, pretending to be someone you're not, doing things you can't really do, with the only interface being some polyhedrons and your imagination?

Personally, I game to escape and to vent. Gaming gives me a chance to take a break from my life, not that my life is so horrible that it needs it, but it is still nice to get away from it for a while and to venture into other lives, other perspectives, other worlds. I can be something I'm not. I'm a rather ungainly, somewhat socially awkward nerd in real life, but at the gaming table I could be an elven princess, or a samurai, or a hardened merc, or hell, a less socially awkward nerd. The possibilities are endless, and I enjoy the getting away.

By venting, I don't necessarily mean anger or aggression, though there are times when it can happen. Seriously though, video games are much better outlets for aggression, at least there you are actually pulling a trigger. No, I use games to help vent ideas and creativity. I craft worlds, put together stories. They don't have to be gone into in depth, nor do I have to do all the monotony that comes with trying to right a novel, but the idea still gets vented out. Character ideas, plot hooks, scene ideas, lines of dialogue, I can get them out, or at least enough out that the rest aren't driving me nuts. Not to say I'm some 'constantly inspired' muse hog, but anyone who has gone deep into the creative process (I hope) can attest that once you start, your brain will start bleeding ideas.

I can also use game to vent other emotions. Perhaps not rage, but idealism, loyalty. I can vent my need on a given day to be the person that everyone can depend on. Or my need to be the person who just leaves when things get rough. That is also escaping, but what is escaping if not jettisoning and venting your needs?

Aside from those, there are other reasons, the story, the mental challenge, the social aspect, but those are the two big ones. So what about you? What brings you back to the table every session? What has you there constantly wanting more?


  1. The things that bring me to the table as a player and a GM are two different things, though all of it at base has to do with a desire to create something with other people. I like being creative, and from my background in theater I tend to do so as part of a collaboration, it's where I work best. I love the concept of writing stories, but I always feel like if I had more input it could be better. For me gaming satisfies the creative need. Obviously at the same time given the communal nature it satisfies my limited need to interact with groups.

    As a GM what brings me back time and time again is watching other people enjoy and face the challenges of the world I create and put them in. I like the feeling that I am actively making something interesting and fun right now. I also much like you need to vent ideas through my GMing. Worlds, emotions, situations, things that bounce around in my head taking up attention unless I use them. Finally as GM I really do enjoy that people are there because they want to be in a game I'm running. I guess the concrete knowledge that something I'm doing is actively wanted.

    As a player I use it to do a few things. First, I experiment with aspects of personality, often my own. These are either parts of me I don't have an opportunity to exercise in real life (I want to be a HERO!) or shouldn't succumb to (Irrational anger, self loathing). There is also the challenge of table craft performing a character. Stepping away from the personality trait style of gaming to doing something totally out of my range, and learning how to play the character well over time. Oddly playing is a less social aspect for me because I don't HAVE to interact with everyone, I can be just as mentally blinkered as my character when I'm playing.

    Again there's the story, the challenge, etc outside of those, but those are my main reasons.

  2. I'd have to say that my motivations are a lot like Atraties expressed. I am primarily a GM, and I love to create something fun to share with my friends. It is an 'ego boost' kind of thing- not to 'crush and destroy' my players, but to know that they appreciate my creativity and effort. It is also a show of the affection I have for my friends- I want them to be happy and this is one of the ways I can help make them so.

    And yeah, as a player it is fun to be something I'm not in real life- a hero! And I mean this in the heroic sense (doing good things, fighting the good fight, etc.), not in the 'I can kick everyone's ass' sense. Power-tripping in an RPG is just kind of... well, sad really.

  3. I think I tick all the boxes.

    I game for the social interaction, my group is similarly aged with similar tastes in movies / music / books etc.

    I game for the escapism from the drudge of everyday life.

    I DM for the creative outlet. I love creating plots, maps, miniatures, handouts etc.

    I game and DM for the challenge. I love pitting my characters against overwhelming odds (as true heroes should) and I trying to keep my players amused and challenged at the same time.

  4. Social interaction, fun, creative outlet, escapism... pretty much what everyone else says.