During last week’s episode, we talked about our personal gaming ruts. Since we wrapped that discussion, I’ve been constantly working ideas through my head as to the ways I plan on breaking out of these ruts and becoming a better Player, a better GM, and most importantly, a better person all around. Here are some of the conclusions I’ve come to thus far.
#1 – Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses – Last weeks discussion was very cathartic, insofar that I was able to express to the rest of the group where I felt I was lacking at the gaming table. While I feel my greatest strength is in the role of a Player and bringing characters to life, I also feel my greatest weakness lies in my own self-confidence in bringing a game to life. This past week I started listening to Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and have realized that, despite gaming for close to 20 years, I am still relatively wet behind the ears in terms of experience. If I’m going to get better, it’s going to require a lot of effort, which brings me to my second point…
#2 – Practice Makes Perfect – Unless we are born with a natural gift for acting or storytelling, being a consistently strong Player or GM boils down to time and commitment. Whether its at the gaming table or out in the everyday world, it requires time, energy, and commitment to improve and hone the skills we all desire to become good at anything. I know from personal experience that I have the potential to achieve great things, such as earning my black belt in Kung Fu San Soo. While I know I am only beginning to scratch the surface of this particular martial art, I know it is going to take a great deal of effort and dedication to improve myself as a gamer as well. According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes at least 10,000 hours of dedicated focus and practice to become an expert at something. That is A LOT of gaming.
#3 – Variety is the Spice of Life – On a recent episode of Gamerstable, the guys discussed variety vs. longevity and the impact it has had on their own gaming experiences. As I commented last week, I’ve sort of saddled myself with the “King of One-Shots” title in regards to my GMing experience. While initially I viewed this as a detriment, I have realized that I can really spin this into a positive thing. My rotation behind the GM screen came to an end a couple of weeks ago and I really felt that I had let a good thing get away. While I really think my The Society of Odin Steampunk game can be epic, I need to walk before I run. Taking time to run single session games, such as God-king or Pathfinder might help me to hone my craft behind the screen and now that The Avengers has lodged itself firmly in my brain with how [EXPLETIVE] AWESOME it is, I really want to get my hands on Mutants and Masterminds for a session or two as well.
#4 – Take Every Opportunity to Game – I really think our greatest strength as a gaming group is also our greatest weakness. Both Robert and Ramses touched on this indirectly last week when we discussed either having new individuals in the game or playing in groups away from our core. We have all been gaming together for a very long time, but the vast majority of the time it has only been the four of us. If I (we) are to become better at our craft, we should honestly make efforts to game with others. Whether it’s adding to our core, joining secondary groups (which Robert has done), or hitting the convention circuit to play, there is definitely something positive to take away from every experience spent rolling the dice. This is perhaps the hardest step, because it can involve moving WAY out of a person’s comfort zone, but it definitely has the potential for great growth.
On a side-note, I will be rolling up my versions of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow in d20 form just for “snakes and bladders,” as Ramses would say. I’d love to hear what all of you out there in internet-land think!
“You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” ~ Albert Camus