I know that if you are reading this article that you already have an affinity for tabletop roleplaying games. I don’t need to convince you that they are great to play. But somehow there are large numbers of non-active roleplayers I have met. I could make up a statistic now and say 50% of regular roleplayers don’t game anymore. Isn’t that horrible?
There are many good reasons why people take a hiatus from roleplaying. Tales have been told of groups that have fallen apart, moving away from your group, family commitments getting in the way, life being unbearably busy, or in my case I had a small bundle of energy burst into my world. My hiatus (luckily) only lasted a couple years, but making time to roleplay again was one of my best decisions.
I know one will sound a little “wonky” (thank you for the influx of odd vocabulary, daughter), but bear with me. I know a common reason that you stop roleplaying is due to the commitments in your everyday life. But I have found that when you schedule in a regular game on a weekly or biweekly occurance, your schedule makes it seem like you have more time. Having a schedule in your job works the same way. Less time is spent thinking about what you do next and you just do it.
Scheduling a game makes sure I have put in my time for fun and for me first. When in a regular roleplaying group, I see people more often. I know meeting with friends outside the group often means checking multiple schedules (yours, mine, spouses, children), checking on a child’s sickness, neglecting other things I had hoped to do (I’m looking at you laundry), and a myriad of things, which means I rarely see them. But my roleplaying friends become closer and the rest of my life is far easier to manage with good scheduling.
I probably don’t need to write much about this (considering my audience), but I will note a few things. As I get older and delve more into my professional life, I am bombarded with things I do for the sake of my career that are fulfilling or help me get ahead. Many of these things are not fun. In fact, fun things often get set aside for the ‘adulting’ choices. Making time for fun is important and I think all of you know that. Embrace it.
3) Stress Relief
Stress is not a dirty word in my household. It is an ever present reality. It is not all bad since it spurs us on to work hard and accomplish a great number of things that we would not do otherwise. But you do need to offset stress.
Roleplaying is the greatest offset I have found. It is creative and based on conquering goals and solving problems together. It causes me to look for solutions instead of focusing on problems. It has me analyse my character’s strengths and weaknesses not as personality flaws, but as simply realities I need to work with. With my stats laid out I am able to ask the barbarian Mayron for help in an area without fear of looking weak (unless that’s what I am going for story-wise of course). If all stressors in my life worked this way, my stress would be lessened greatly.
Roleplaying is more than just a stress-reliever. A story envelops you as you roleplay. My daydreaming in elementary school was recorded on every report card. I needed the time to escape and ponder fantastical stories in my mind. These stories were often the same ones with minor adjustments thrown in for a different flavour. The group narrative in roleplaying is an enhancement to my daydreams beyond what I could ever comprehend. We collectively put away our regular lives to create a vivid new world with new people experiencing new things. This is precious.
5) Mental Health
Time to throw down my personal flaws for all to see. I am human being who struggles with depression and has to greater or lesser extents my entire life. My default when hitting depression is to hide away, see no one, make no plans, and slowly fall deeper and deeper as the lying depression brain convinces me that no one wants to hang out anyway.
Having a regular game not only gives you a foothold in with people and interaction, but also forms a community of individuals who look out for you when you try to skip out on too many games. The act of people pursuing you for fun is in direct opposition to the lying depression brain. Even when playing and my depression is at its worst, when the other players or GM commend me on something small within the game, it chips away at the wall I was busy building. I firmly believe that roleplaying is a positive place for those who struggle with mental health concerns.
Ideas are not finite. However, sometimes when I am working on something solitary I am unable to grasp more ideas. When working with a group of people, ideas are built on, grown, fly out of nowhere, and abundant; this changes all the possibilities. Very rarely have I ever hit a brick wall when roleplaying (both figuratively and literally). When creating backstories or building new connections we are shown that roleplaying is an intensely creative hobby. You are honestly creating new ideas constantly.
7) Sexy-times Abilities
Okay this one was from a friend (collaboration). She claims that roleplaying enhances sexy-times ability. I didn’t ask details. I think she may have been thinking about a different kind of roleplay.
8) Problem Solving
We touched on this one briefly already. Being focused on finding a solution rather than just seeing a problem and quitting is a huge reason why you should play regularly. Using this skill over and over again in a game (where the risks to you are lower) is a good muscle to stretch and build. There are hundreds and hundreds of articles, research essays, and professional development courses that tell us how important problem solving skills are for the work force, academics, relationship building, and any other facet in your life.
In roleplaying you have a natural way to help this skill develop. There are general steps you need to do to problem solve. They say you should examine/identify/define/name the problem in detail. Grogar says that the farms outside of town have been plundered over and over again by some scoundrels. Your group knows the problem and probably discusses it. They will then move on to managing the problem. Your adventure group will automatically look for more information, investigate, and talk to those involved so they know more. Once the party knows more, they will looks at their options to solve the problem, they will brainstorm, weigh pros and cons, and look at the possible impacts of each solution. They will decide on the course of action and implement their plan. Whether that plan works or not will be a discussion in character involving high-fives or other discussion as you reflect on the results. These are the steps we try to teach others to take. Here they are done for practice, done collaboratively, and done for lower stakes. People pay good money to learn these skills and you do it in a game!
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, ambivert, or extrovert with introvert tendencies (and so on), community is important. Finding a place to belong and contribute is an important part of life. Sometimes we can find communities elsewhere, but not everyone works in a place or is connected to a place outside their home.
Communities in roleplaying can be a place of non judgement, safety, and security. Roleplaying can be a place where you can *be* anyone. You can explore different facets of your personality or try out terrible dwarven voices. Putting yourself out there can make you feel vulnerable. I have yet to be judged for trying something out with a character even if I later realized that it quickly needed to be dropped. This “permission to fail” is an important part of my life, when I struggle to make all the “right” decisions outside of the game. Roleplaying communities have this built in.
So as you roleplayers on hiatus read through, I hope you can find a group to join, resurrect your old group, start your own group, or some combination of those three. The internet has made our world a bit smaller and it is easier to find each other. Take time to spend time on you. You are worth it.
This article was written by Vanessa who is a sarcastic, 30-something wife and mother. She likes things and stuff, but not simultaneously. When she isn’t involved in things and stuff, she teaches and coaches debate. She gets a little emotional sometimes when she writes. She is also trying out this new twitter handle at @sarasma_nessa ...on second/third thought… I am terrible at twitter. Please send help! She also thinks you should support the writers here that are more clever and can figure out twitter.
PIcture Reference: https://www.amazon.com/PacMan-Video-Game-Wall-Clock/dp/B01M290P3Z?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01M290P3Z&pd_rd_r=F0G4HSBDG7P4FPQ179JP&pd_rd_w=cdoVH&pd_rd_wg=Iypp8&psc=1
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.