Friday, August 14, 2020

Why Do You Play? Why Do You Run?

 With all the stuff going on in the world of late, I've found myself lacking motivation for prepping for game. This is unusual for me, because normally game is the thing I look forward to all week. Prepping for game is thus a fun activity that brings some of the joy of the actual playing into the monotony of my week. Of late though it hasn't been as fun.

For my professional life, I'm reading a couple of what I guess would be called 'self-help' books for getting organized and approaching projects. In reading those, one of them brought a question to the fore that has led me to what might be part of my problem. The question is the topic of this post.

"Why do I run game?"

My brain immediately answered "because I like gaming." It's not a lie. My friend group regularly jokes that if I could get away with it I'd have multiple games going every day. Why do I like gaming? What am I looking for in my games? What is the purpose of running the game?

To this there are multiple answers, but all of them are not the 'real' answers they present themselves as. For example "to run a good game for my players" sounds all well and good, but what is a good game? What does that look like? It's great that I want to run a good game for my players, but unless I define what a good game is how am I supposed to take meaningful steps towards it?

In asking myself this question, and dissecting my answers, I came up with a simple but true answer. I play RPGs, and I run RPGs, to have fun. I play to have fun by telling grandiose stories about the characters. I play to have fun by setting up weird encounters.

So it's simple. My goal is to have fun, and in specific to have fun with my friends. Which in turn also brought to light some of the problem I've had with my prep of late. All the prep I've been doing? It doesn't serve that purpose.

Don't get me wrong, it is useful stuff. But it isn't needed stuff. Somewhere in the mess I got lost in the busy work. This is a problem because you can never do enough busy work - else it would not be called busy work.

Where does that leave me? I have a city that my players may not get to next session. I have districts for the city. I have the area around the city. What I don't have is what is going to happen. I don't have the things for my players to interact with. I have setting, and setting dressing, but setting dressing that serves no purpose. One of my notes is to 'outline the underworld' for the city. Only the game in question has no rogues, or anyone even interested in the underworld. Could it be useful? Sure. Is it likely to be? No. It contributes nothing to the fun of the game.

And why is that a problem? Because every second I spend doing stuff that does not work towards that core goal, and that doesn't help get to that core goal, is a second less I ahve to make things fun. This is the difference between making a plan, seeing what you need from the plan, and working on it and just making things and hoping it somehow works out.

So, again, why do you play? Why are you running the game(s) you are running? And does what you are doing for or in that game right now get you closer to that goal? If not, maybe you should address that.


  1. I asked myself this question some time ago, and I arrived to the conclusion that I like to play as an excuse to prep.

    1. That is an interesting answer, but I could see how prepping could be relaxing and a thing in and of itself.