So I confess. This post was inspired by this Extra Credits video, which asks the question, "Have you ever finished a game and then looked back a few weeks later and thought, what the hell was I doing putting 80 hours of my life into that?"
In the video, the question is rhetorical; they're using it to support their argument that a better game uses techniques other than operant conditioning to promote interest. I want to examine the question differently, in relation to role-playing, since I'm not sure that, for RPGs, the rhetorical answer 'yes' is one that the reader is having.
Considering the question above, do you find this happens after role-playing?
I could set the question up as a poll, but polls are limited in how much reliable information they provide. In any case, this is a subjective issue. Does the 'bad' you feel from having played a long, repetitive video game until you've beaten the thing compare remotely to the feeling you have playing a character in anyone's world? If RPGs do occasionally make you feel bad, is it guilt from time wasted? I've heard people say that they came to understand that they were getting too old for this, that they had to leave off and move on. I've also heard the story from others that it was interferring with their career or their schooling, that they didn't have time to invest in anything, much less a role-playing game.
I have felt bad after a game, but that's a feeling that comes from letting down the players, whether I have or not. It is hard to have any perspective on whether or not I've delivered a 'good running' in a particular night. I wasn't playing. I felt a bit mushy about details or that the scene on the meadow, between the party and the spirits of the dead, felt a little flat. When I'm told it wasn't, I still have my perspective and my memories of the moment, so I don't know one way or the other.
I can recall days when getting worked up to run was a BIG effort. And I can recall days when I just didn't make it, when we talked or gave in after an hour, playing poker instead or picking up a movie. Sometimes, the energy it takes to make the game happen just isn't there.
But I can't ever recall thinking back a few days to a game and thinking, "Shit, I really shouldn't have blown my Saturday doing that. What a waste of time.
Hell, as long as the audience is going to keep showing up, I'm not wasting my time performing, am I? Which is why this is a question for players. I've had a few chances to play this past year, but not many. That's why I have to let others answer.
There must be something that stops a long-time player from getting out to a game. Some of these players who quit must come to feel it's time wasted. They must walk away from some sessions, thinking, "Shit, well, that makes another one. Why the hell do I keep going? What's left that appeals to me?"
I've made the argument that players keep coming because the game is their social network. This is what their friends do Saturday. That's all the game is for those players. I suppose they must also feel it's been a horrible waste of time, just repetitive die-rolling, another damn dungeon door and another 435 experience.
I'd like to hear from someone who can tell me if they feel they should have done something else.