Gaming as Adults

Running a regular gaming grou p is hard.  We’re all adults, we’re all working, most of us are going to college.

Yes kids, anyone who tells you that if you quit, you’ll never go back isn’t necessarily right.  On the other hand, you don’t want to be in your late 30s going to college, do it on your parents dime!

But in addition to the various time sucks we have as adults, it also seems like there is a difference in mood that makes it harder.

#1) Adults often compromise less.  I feel like its because as adults, we don’t have a lot of people who can truly control us.  We vote with our feet, so adult gaming groups tend to have people fluctuate a lot. Basically anything irritates you, you might just quit.

#2) We have competing obligations.  Other people often aren’t as understanding why every Friday is blocked off.

#3) We’re all grumpy.

Yes, work puts a lot of stress on us.  Bills get higher.  I used to complain about having to use spreadsheets to manage our character’s treasure.  Now I complain about having to use spreadsheets to manage my expenses. Relationships get harder, and life in general just gets harder.

With so much stress, anything might push someone over the edge and suddenly. “I’m out!”

Having said that, the surviving members of our group, the ones that have stuck around, often for nearly 10 years, have committed to Shadowrun.

When I say committed, I mostly mean a few of us are going to push it through Hell or High Water.  I don’t actually know what that means, but it sounds like we’re serious!

Shadowrun is stressfully complicated.  They even made two-sided handouts to manage the various subsystems in the game.  Also, I think the handouts are to hide how complicated the fact that there is a good 20 pages of material required to run each of these systems.

Shadowrun has us playing characters similar to movies like BladeRunner or great books like Tears of Rain.  Those characters ARE NOT happy.

Our first game, our characters were super excited with all of the wealth we earned!  Then we paid most of it for ammunition and rent.  Just like real life.

That’s serious you guys.  Its not quite some Torchbearer difficulty, but one of our biggest worries right now is to earn enough money fast enough to pay next months rent. Just like real life.

Now We’re talking about having 2 GMs to run the game, with only 4 of us as players.  While I’d like to drop out of school and get a degree in Shadowrun, my wife, with her 3 degrees, isn’t having any of it. L  So thus the two GMs.

So its more complicated, requires more commitment, is higher difficulty with things more than just dying from overwhelming odds.  Why play “THIS” game?

I’ve wanted to play Shadowrun since I was in Jr High.  I got the 2nd edition book and I was EXCITED.  Here was technology that wasn’t real, but it “felt” like it could be real.  Can you imagine being able to carry around a computer a bit smaller than a suitcase?  Imagine being able to go to some business and plug into it to browse their network!  Imagine cars that could drive themselves!

Ok, for the most part we’re more advanced than that old Shadowrun book.  But at the time, WOW, it was the future! If there was a future with an apocalypse that prompted all kinds of people to mutate into things like elves, dwarves, and orks.  And the native americans get to use their powerful shaman powers to kick the white man off their land into smaller areas similar to reservations.  My 1/16th self gets super excited just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get anyone to play, and even my young genius self thought it was more difficult than trig.  We ended up paying Rifts instead.

If you don’t know about this game, Rifts is this crazy world where each game author was basically allowed to one-up the previous author in power level so that basically as long as you build your character using the newest books, your character would be more powerful than the previous people’s characters.  Its kinda like magic the gathering, but in RPG form.

My shadowrun 2e book followed me around for years, but I never got to play it.   and here we are, 25 years later. Playing the 5th edition of it.  FINALLY. Catalyst Games makes it now, not FASA, and its glorious.

I feel like all of my experience in IT has trained me to understand how Shadowrun works.  In otherwords, everything is wireless and its all about hacking.  Sure some of the other players do stuff, but mostly its all about the hacker.  Which I’m playing of course.

However, we’ve missed more than half of our scheduled games.  And I worry that its not going to happen.  My night elf with mood hair might never achieve his dream of being known as the most 1337 hacker in the world.

I dread the thought of going to another roleplaying game and giving up on Shadowrun, because honestly, my group has dropped the last half dozen games within a few sessions of starting a new game.  It either means something is wrong with the group, or something is wrong with the games we’ve been playing.  The only game to really survive the test of time was this game called Red Tide.  We played murdering hobos with hearts of polished brass.  We played that game over a year, sandbox style.  Its part of why I have so much hope for Shadowrun, its mostly a sandbox-style game, whatever we want to do, we can do.

But there are lots of cracks in our foundation as a gaming group, and we’re wobbling between having great games where we’re all super excited about the next session, and cancelling sessions because we’re worried about making the next session “good”, whatever “good” means.

I’ll probably do a review or something and talk about how glorious hacking is (I guess the other stuff too), but for now, that’s today’s update.

How has your group fared as you’ve gotten older. Did it survive?  If it didn’t survive, do you miss it?  Was there a game that you really wanted to play but never got to?




2 comments on Gaming as Adults

  1. Ryan Smith says:

    It’s not necessarily the silver bullet, but our groups in Seattle have done very well by putting a dedicated meal into the mix, with the Tuesday night group eating dinner at a brewery(6-14 people, <90 min games) and our Sunday group doing lunch(4-6 people, 2-5 hour games)

    It turns out that even when people aren't feeling like gaming, they always get hungry, so making the ritual serve both purposes seems to help reliable turn out. We mix it up with a new game or 2 added nearly every week, though the longer group managed some pretty decent campaigns of nearly a dozen consecutive sessions. On an unrelated topic, all this sitting and eating has probably helped me gain some weight. lol

  2. for us, Anthony games remotely from Colorado and Jason games remotely from Sierra Vista. They do get to watch the treats we have on our side of the camera though!

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