I was in a little secondhand bookstore, in a basement of an old building, looking buying a couple books of poetry by obscure authors when the guy behind the counter said to me, “Poetry is a young man’s game.” We talked about it a little – I being only in my mid-twenties at the time was still “young.” I don’t remember his whole argument – though it had to do with age muting the passion of youth. But I remember that comment and I remember feeling like he really believed it. Not even in a wistful way, but in a deep down kind of way. Probably why it stuck with me.
Fast forward nearly twenty years and I find that I’m in the same place. Though mine is more about gaming. I’ve written about considering ways to get rid of my entire collection of gaming books – the backlog of 35 years worth of collecting – and some other feelings of getting older. But I find that I just don’t have the passion for gaming that I once did.
I still enjoy it. I’ve been in a few good games over the last several years. But I haven’t run a game I’m proud of in a long time.
Recently I saw a thing going around where people were listing their top 10 most influential games. I thought about it. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t name more than two. And those were mostly because I had deep, nostalgic love for those games more than because they really influenced me to do anything. And, come to think of it, only one was an actual RPG.
Gaming – specifically, the tabletop RPG – has been a part of my life since the early 80s. I’ve run tons of games. For the longest time, I was the GM for my group. Most of my time at the table has been as “the GM.”
But even though I have a stable group of good people I can play with now and someone willing to GM as often as play. I struggle to really enjoy it. I find that it’s harder and harder to muster up any enthusiasm for game night. I like seeing my friends but I don’t really get much out of the gaming experience.
And it’s a struggle for me to realize this. Gaming has been my primary hobby, my primary social interest since at least high school. I’ve done other things… had other diversions along the way but I’ve always loved gaming. Or told myself I loved gaming. But these days, it just feels sorta hollow.
Again, don’t get me wrong, having a stable group of players over the age of 30 is a luxury, right? Who has that? So I shouldn’t complain.
But that’s the muting of the passion of youth, right? When I was younger, I’d write, tinker, fix, break, wing anything and everything. I poured hundreds of hours into Amber, Star Wars D6, D&D 2e, Mage: the Ascension, and Call of Cthulhu. I ran weird shit like Masterbook and Teenagers from Outer Space at cons. I worked on conventions, I dressed up in costumes, and I loved the trappings of the game – new books, new dice, new ideas, new players, new campaigns.
Now? These days it all just feels heavy. I have hundreds of unpainted minis (and hundreds of painted ones too). I have maps galore, I have a double library of gaming books, enough dice to supply two, three, four high school gaming clubs, and still not run out. I have statues, and terrain, and just… stuff. But it all just feels heavy. I know, for example, that I’m never going to run (or play) most of these games again. I know that I’m never going to use all my Battlemechs, I know that any game I start I’m probably going to be frustrated with inside of three months.
So I’m not really sure what to do. I’m not sure if it’s time to just admit that it’s a young person’s game and walk away or if there is a way to climb out of this malaise. It’s why I don’t write here very much anymore.
Anyway, enough whining by an old DM. I just… I’m not sure how to recapture the joy.