Heroes beyond thirty

Most of us have probably started playing when they were teenagers or when they entered college. We didn’t have a significant other, probably no job, a lot of free time and an overflowing imagination. Ah, those were the days. I can still remember roleplaying sessions that started early in the afternoon and ended well after midnight. We played every week and met in a friend’s cellar room that was heated by a wood stove. It was our roleplaying “dungeon”. 😉

Later at the university we usually met every two weeks with our Rolemaster group and almost every weekend with my Shadowrun group. We had a lot of free time and everyone was living close enough to organize weekly meetings. I am now 33 years old and have a 42 hours per week job. Although I have much more money to buy all the nice miniatures, roleplaying rules and dice, it’s harder than ever to organize a roleplaying sessions.

Since we are all occupied during week days, we only meet on weekends. And even then it’s hard to get all players to the table. Someone always has some previous appointment, like a friend’s birthday, marriage or something like that.

I still enjoy roleplaying games very much and I would like to play much more often but real life always comes in the way. How do other “heroes over thirty” cope with these problems? Do you just accept that you can’t play that often or do you have some tips for your fellow senior gamers?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

11 thoughts on “Heroes beyond thirty”

  1. I know exactly how you feel. With the exception of one player, all of us are over the age of thirty. In fact, two of us are over 40, and one will be there in the spring.

    As a result, we play once a month. Granted, that session usually lasts about 6-8 hours, but it’s about all we can manage. It’s a royal pain to negotiate 5 different calendars but we manage.

    Dead Orcss last blog post..Blog Carnival –Round 4: Here Walk No Gods

  2. Yeah, what is this life stuff that keeps getting in the way of my gaming!

    I hear you, I'll be breaching that 30 year old barrier in February and I am married and I have a 2 year old daughter. My group is also located about an hour away.

    I've been on a two month hiatus because the drive was killing my weekend when I needed to be getting things done around the house.

    However, the group is currently looking at several virtual table tops and voice conferencing solutions that might meet our needs. Then we would just have one or two physical meetings a month.

    <abbr><abbr>Mad Brews last blog post..The World of Darkness Online</abbr></abbr>

  3. Well its always tough. I’m lucky that I have some people that are not as caught up in life as myself. So I still get to game for 4 hours on a Sunday night. Of course my primary group hasn’t played in over 2 months. Something I wish I could fix, but not likely to happen in the near future.

    Well good luck with the virtual gaming table stuff. I’ve used a few in the past. (Text only, no voice) The most interesting thing is that using them brought a different type of play.
    With text only, I think some people felt more comfortable to do a bit of role-playing with their characters.

    In general, I just take the good with the bad. I just do the best to schedule gaming when I can. I also try to do gaming related activites that I stop and start as needed. Things like miniature painting and Hirst Arts models.

    bonemasters last blog post..Odd Minotaur

  4. I’m 35 myself. We built our group with our schedules in mind and I have 6 players in my bi-monthly games (every 2 Friday nights). Whenever we have a DM (me) and at least 4 players, we play.

    The Fall period leading up to Christmas is always the hardest. From mid November onwards we can’t seem to meet at all.

    Thankfully come January, we kick start the campaign again and make it to June without an any major hitches.

    I’m also looking into virtual tabletop gaming.

  5. I'm with Mad Brews on this. Games over Skype using Virtual Tabletops like Fantasy Grounds or MapTools are a good stand-in for the "real thing". This lets you sneak in weeknight games without any travel and it opens up the playgroup to a much wider audience, so coorindating schedules is easier. Of course, it isn't a direct replacement for the fun of a live face-to-face game, but it is better than no game at all.


    Rich Rogers

    Canon Puncture Show

  6. I’m in my mid 30s, have a family (2 young kids). I play in a face-to-face 4E D&D game twice a week. While, I would like some more face-to-face game time, it’s tough juggling work, personal commitments and an intense love of the hobby.

    I also satisfy the gaming itch by playing (mostly GMing) games via Virtual Table Top. My weapon of choce is MapTool. When GMing I also pick systems that require minimal (Savage Worlds) or no prep-time.

    Bill Vs last blog post..That Wizard, Harry

  7. I am 37, married with a mortgage but no kids (yet!), and I play every week. I could play three times a week if I wanted to, but once is enough. About half the gamers I know have children. Most stop gaming for the first six months and then pick it up again, but one just said, “can we game at my place this week? I have to take care of my kid who was born last Friday.”

    You’re talking about two different things here. The first is roleplaying, the second is getting together with a particular bunch of friends. They can be the same event but they don’t have to be.

    If I want to play indoor soccer, I can do that any day of the week with a full team. If I want to play indoor soccer with my friends Anna, Bob and Charlie, that’ll be a lot harder to organise. So I have to decide – do I really want to play indoor soccer, or do I just want to hang out with Anna, Bob and Charlie? Which is my priority?

    Just think of roleplaying as like any other hobby. If you just want to do that thing, you can. If you insist on doing that thing with a particular group of people, it’ll be much harder to organise a session.

    So instead I form a game circle. I get all the gamers I know and try to get to know more.

    Out of two dozen gamers, I’ll always be able to form a group. Very few of these gamers are my friends, but I’m happy to game with them all.

    Then I run short (8-18 session) closed-ended campaigns, and after each rotate 1-2 players out and 1-2 new players in.

    And if I want to get together with my friends, then I do that. For example, one friend is running a campaign which I don’t want to play in, and he’s too busy to play in any of mine. So we meet each Thursday for lunch.

    You make time for things which are important to you. But you have to decide whether it’s important to you to roleplay, or to hang out with these particular friends regularly. You can always do both – but not necessarily at the same time.

    Kiashus last blog post..The Big List of RPG Links

  8. I think that’s perhaps my main problem: I don’t want to play with random people. I am always interested to bring new people to the roleplaying hobby, BUT I prefer to know them beforehand. Something like a gamer circle would make me and probably some members of my gaming group uncomfortable.
    In the last ten years of so I’ve noticed that there are quite a few different roleplaying styles. And I tried to play with a group that had a much more combat oriented style that didn’t suit me. So this didn’t work out. Perhaps it’s the price of being picky.

  9. Again, if you just want to hang with Anna, Bob and Charlie – you don’t have to game with them. And if you want to game, you don’t have to game with those particular people.

    I think it’s useful to distinguish between “acquaintances” – people with whom you get along well and share some common activity with (work, rpgs, bowling, church, whatever) – and “friends” – people with whom you can do several things.

    An acquaintance, take away that common activity and the relationship ends – just think of all the old workmates or teammates you liked well enough but now never speak to.

    A friendship, the bond goes beyond that common activity, you can’t do that thing you’ll do something else, it doesn’t really matter – as I said, my friend I can’t game with I lunch with weekly instead. We usually talk gaming but… 🙂

    Now, obviously to befriend someone you have to be their acquaintance first. So when I talk about a “game circle”, that doesn’t mean you just game with whoever rocks up, random people off the street, whichever catpissman decides to burst in. You meet them socially and see how you get along, and if all the current group members agree, in they come. They become everyone’s acquaintance, and may or may not become anyone’s friend.

    Just as you don’t have to be close friends with everyone you work with, you don’t have to be close friends with everyone you game with. You just have to get along well, be acquainted with one another.

    If you want to be able to game regularly, then you have to be flexible. You have to loosen up socially and be willing to make new acquaintances, and have to be willing to compromise a bit on the games you play. You can’t be insular and inflexible, or else you just end up hardly ever gaming.

    If you want to socialise with your friends regularly, likewise you have to be flexible and open-minded. As much as you love Anna, Bob, Charlie and Dave, you don’t have to see them all at once, and you don’t have to game with them. You could see Anna for lunch, Bob and Charlie for indoor soccer, and Dave for drinks and complaining about your wives. Or whatever.

    By being open to new acquaintances, and open to different types of gaming, and open to different socialising, you’ll get plenty of gaming and see your friends a lot.

    But if you’re going to be insular and picky then be prepared to have a lot of quiet nights and your gaming confined to the boring old computer, which never shares its cheetos.

    Kiashus last blog post..The Big List of RPG Links

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