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"I'm Bored, Let's Get to the Action!"

Some time ago, a situation occurred in Helpful NPC Thomas’ Isle of Dread game. As my character conversed with a procession of NPCs, a fellow player gruffly announced that it was a waste of time and we needed to move on. I’m no pushover, but we had screwed around quite a bit that game, and I get plenty of screen time, so we moved on. But I realized that, for him, that conversation was filler on the way to the actual game. For me, those filler moments are the game.


My Steam library affords me more exciting baddie-bashing than the gaming table. What I love about roleplaying games is that they let me go off script. I can parley with Smaug, I can tell Dumbledore he's incompetent (that's right. I said it), and I can even negotiate a business contract with a misunderstood beholder…and yes, I’m proud of that last one.


People come to the game for a lot of different reasons. Problem solving, unraveling a mystery, kicking ass with a mouthful of Big League Chew... Others want to live out their fantasies of traveling or impacting the world meaningfully (sad trombone). This may shock you, but I enjoy the logistical challenge of outfitting an adventuring company. Tracking rations and stocking up on horsefeed isn't filler for me.


Now, you may ask yourself why you should have to participate in gameplay that you don't like. The snarky answer: being a big boy or girl means not getting your way all the time. You have to share. The non-snarky answer: roleplaying is a social hobby. Everyone involved must share the game with others, and everyone should accommodate a balance of activities to create maximum enjoyment for the entire group. It is, in a nutshell, Utilitarian (my philosophy 101 prof would be so proud).


(Am I allowed to murder one player if it results in a net increase in happiness at the table? - Thom)


And if that isn't good enough for you, consider it from the lens empathy: Buddhists have a concept called mudita, which means vicarious or sympathetic joy. It's similar to the concept of compersion touted by the wife swapping community. While I don't advocate for any particular region or act of cuckoldry, I do think gamers should all develop a sense of vicarious joy with their gaming buddies.


(Really getting your white girl yogi on there. - Thom)


If another player is enjoying a "filler moment," participate even if it’s not your thing. Don’t pretend to love it, but don’t shut people down by rolling your eyes or laying on the floor. Hopefully those same players will extend that same courtesy to you. By participating, you may discover that you mind the content less. Even if you don’t, pay attention to how happy and excited you have made others by not being a douchebag.


Finally, the elephant in the room: not every player is meant to game with every group. If you’re playing with a group whose game style is too heavy on filler and too light on what you consider "the real game," it's perfectly acceptable to leave that group. There is always a balance between the things you like, the things you don’t like, and the things you don’t mind. If that balance tips to a point that the game is more of a chore than a pleasure, why stick with that group? Part ways amicably. There's a lot of games out there.

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