Friday, September 27, 2013

When Will You Make An End?

When is it, do you think, that you stop playing? It might be when you get that job that really requires you dedicate yourself to company, success, competance, what have you. It might be the birth of your child, who - following that first initial impact, seems to take more and more of your time as the months, then the years go on ... until at last you have to admit that you're not quite getting in all the things you ought to be. It might be after that first few years of running the little tykes, that window between six and eleven years, before they don't want to be a home on Friday and Saturday evenings, when they'd rather play with their friends, and you look around to discover you have no one else to play with. Or perhaps it's after that attempt to get back into it, ten years later, and find that everything about the game has changed, the people have changed - and they are a LOT younger than they used to be ...

Perhaps you'll just burn out. After all, one can only spend so much time drawing hallways, putting in little doors and little secret doors and putting the umpty umpth stairway into the umpty umpth corner. Too, there must come a time when there are not just too many orcs, there are too many of everything, and the experience sours a bit of players rule lawyering the same rule that's been lawyered and lawyered to death. Would that the consensus could just be reached on such things, but there you are, the rule has to be discussed once again, well ... because it has to.

It could be that the gentle reader will just cease to care. One more alignment debate, one more agonizing desconstruction of gaming versus simulation versus narration, could be the death of you. It just takes one, you know, to force an acknowledgement where one is forced to admit that one just doesn't give a hoot anymore. The camel's back is not merely broken, the funeral has been held, the cremation accomplished, the trip to the camel's homeland has been made and crops have been planted, tilled and harvested from the camel's ash. The thing is done.

What are the measures for how much of it you can take? Do the serious minded burn out more quickly than the frivolous gamers. Are the 4th editioners defeated by one more 18 hour combat, or are the basicers more quickly exhausted by little four minute blips of dice-rolling between long, fluffy setting descriptions? Has Paizo redeemed you, or are there hidden toxicities in the game design that will one day bereft you of your will to fight on, design on, game on (or simulate or narrate)? Have you gone the right way that will let you game until your retirement, or has the dim comprehension that the day when you'll stop begun to play about your psyche?

Then again, religion carries some through all their lives, the same hymns every year, the same words every holy day, repeated and repeated, a catharsis you drag yourself through for the good of your soul ... long after you've been able to take any pleasure from it. As the endeth does approacheth, so does the anxiety with which one mumbles the words, as the promises of the gods come that much closer to fruition or disappointment.

Will you make an end of it? Or will you drag on until it has ceased to offer the sweet taste it did three decades, four decades ... even five decades ago. Are you ready to call it 60 years, or 70? And what will all this sound and debate mean then? What will railroads and sandboxes mean then? What will any of it mean?