So recently I decided to basically quit tabletop gaming. At least for now. There are a few good reasons as to why I’ve come to this decision.
1. The D&D problem
For years I’ve been running and playing games on Roll20.com. It has been my go to place for free online tabletop gaming. Until recently, I’ve never had a problem attracting players to my games via my game listings.
For the uninitiated; an online game listing is just a post containing specific information about a game. What game, dates and times, etc.
It wasn’t until Roll20 acquired the official license from Wizards of the Coast (wotc) that I suddenly saw a dramatic shift in interest towards non-d&d, non-fantasy rpgs. This is because since that time, Roll20 has become a virtual d&d hub. All of this is due, in part, to the practically household name recognition of the game itself. Everyone, at this point, has at least heard of d&d at one point or another.
It shows up in popular tv shows (big bang theory, stranger things), celebrities like Stephen Colbert, Vin Diesel, Whil Wheaton and others have openly talked about the game during interviews and live programming. Because of this, the game can no longer be associated with “weirdos, nerds and geeks”. Which is great, because that means new players to the hobby cutting their teeth in the same manner my friends and I had decades ago. At the same time, however, I see a deficit in playing other games.
2. Lack of interest
I have tried to remedy this by posting in looking for games (lfg) postings on a weekly basis. In addition to this, I have advertised on G+ communities that specifically cater to the indie games I know and love. In over a months time, I have recruited exactly two players. From what I hear, that’s good progress. However, two people are only half the amount of people I need for an average game. When one or two other people cancel, there’s no game.
Normally, most people would just suck it up and move on. It’ll get better, right? It’ll pick up. Except that it hasn’t. Am I exaggerating? Well, what would you say if you had a group composed of two people and, through no fault of your own, you weren’t able to game for more than four weeks?
You can only blame d&d’s popularity for so long before you begin to look inward. You begin to scrutinise every move you’ve made as a gm, every scripted line of dialogue, etc. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the notion that you ultimately didn’t manage to produce an idea interesting enough to hold the attention of your players.
I mean, how many times is that one player going to have something come up on that day and time before it becomes obvious that they’re just not enjoying the game? If you think that’s a stretch, let me assure you that many online gamers, myself included, are not very confrontational. We would rather make up a lame excuse than have to break it to our gm that we’re just not that into their game.
I’m basing this on previous experience, btw, I’m not pulling these notions out of my ass. If you read my previous post on my failed GI Joe one-shot, you know what I’m talking about. These days I’m getting the same vibe from my players as I did years ago. It’s not a nice feeling nor one that I like to experience, ever.
Who has time for this stuff, honestly?
That brings us into the time crunch issue.
Before my recent employment, I had days off during the week. This was great because I was able to attract European players to my games who, by and large, are mich more open to the idea of playing narrative and rules lite games.
Sadly, those type of games don’t get as much attention from U.S based players. These days I have Saturdays and Sundays off, which isn’t as great as it sounds.
It’s good for my personal life; My wife and her family, I hope, appreciate the fact that I chose those days off out of practicality instead of a selfish need to placate my gaming itch. But while it’s great for being able to have childcare available, it’s terrible for attracting players to a game.
Most people who work do so between Monday and Friday. If they have to run errands they use the weekend to do those things. Shopping for groceries, visiting granny, going to a party–all of these things and others take place on the weekend. More often than not, these things take precedence over gaming. Understandably so.
This brings us, finally, to our conclusion; solo gaming.
Why? Because there’s a pretty robust community on G+ called Lone Wolf Gaming that share ideas, mechanic systems and more for gms to use for play daily.
This really works. I’ve seen the logs these gms make when running their games, and they seem to really enjoy it. At the very least, solo gaming might be an opportunity to explore something that had never been apparent to me for gaming before.
Here goes nothing.