I got a bit ranty here. It’s mostly a reminder to myself that my values are important and that I should make sure I make time to do the things I enjoy. Mostly this is because I want to make some posters for a sci fi game and I keep putting it off as there’re other things I should be doing and we’ve got a lot of people that could do that sort of thing.
To choose to run LRP events is to choose to work around the expectations of others. You will become ‘someone’ and when you hear ‘someone should do this’ you’ll begin to realise that they mean you. They want you to have their priorities and you will want to include the things that are important to your players but that’s not always possible, and sometimes the weight of being someone will make you want to go back to being no one. You’ll want to just play. You’ll want to leave the event when the game ends and not have to be the one who stays behind cleaning up. You’ll want to be someone who can pop onto Facebook and talk about how the event went and what was amazing and what was less great and how it should change without having to bear the burden of the expectation that what you want is what your players want, and without having to disappoint people when they game they love, and that is nearly their perfect game can’t be their perfect game without becoming a game you no longer want to run.
You can invest hours of your life into this hobby, and slowly realise that you’re spending those hours replying to emails, working out who’s doing what with software and making the enthusiasm and excitement of your volunteers, who are your best friends and your best support, match the budget you have. At the same time you realise that you’re no longer feeling you’ve achieved something when you manage to produce amazing wall art that really helps transform a building into the setting for your players, and you’re not writing the games anymore. You’re more just making sure the games get written.
There’s still pride. The games you write are still yours but the way you’re involved becomes more indefinable. When time becomes precious it’s easy to begin resenting the things you do for fun for not being quite the things you were intending to do when you initially did them, and yet you are part of a whole and it’s really hard to step back, let go and let other people run with that a bit so that you can spend some time making a thing that you want to make, and making sure the encounters you want to see happen, and also so that you can spend some time being part of the world you created.
It has to be fun. Somewhere under the responsibility there needs to be a part of the game that brings you joy and satisfaction. The game can live without you. You are not needed, and that brings you freedom. You should listen to what ‘someone’ should do and you get to decide when ‘someone’ is you and you get to say ‘we designed it that way’. The artwork may not ever seem like the most important thing but if it gives you satisfaction then it can be the most important thing to you and it becomes the thing that you need to make happen.
I appreciate my team above all others. I’m aware that all of us have a habit of putting the game above ourselves and that it’s not a good way to run things. Fortunately while we listen to our players, we stand by our priorities over theirs and will run OUR game when we find theirs less interesting. Each of us will try and manage the project, and it’s one of our weaknesses. We try and remove the bits that we can’t handle ourselves because we can’t fix that. It makes for a poorer game because we devalue features and it shows a lack of trust in each other, but we’re aware of it and we run good games because we spot when we’re doing it.
When I started running games I stopped thinking like a player. I can’t work out how to get back to the mindset I had when I just played and when systems were magic boxes. I can think like a creative and I can take a few days in the creation of the game to spend time building what I want to build and to spend time enjoying building the things that are important to MY game.