1-21-11 Social Currency

In the old days, players looked at GMs the same way that managers looked at skilled workers; employed workers were better to hire than unemployed workers.  GMs with a group of players were better and worthy to pursue; compared to all those GMs without a group of players.  My basic thought, back then, was if you didn’t have the social skills to pull a group together, then you certainly did not have the social skills to actually GM.  Just like those managers’ belief, you got the stuff to remain employed while unemployed people obviously did not.  Yes, all those pudgy GMs wandering around hobby shops, school clubs, conventions with binders’ filled notes, modules, and whatever; talking about how kick ass their adventures were, what they were going to do to the players, and how cool or victorious they were going to be.  I always felt weird around them, they never were talking with me about playing but rather talking at me, explaining their diabolical plan on how they were going to prove to me how great they were.

Fortunately, times have changed.  There is a whole generation of players out there who are now experience and matured.  We are not the wetback nerds of the 80’s.  Geek is chic and those nerds of the 80’s are adults who have learned social skills, they have actually married, had kids and careers.  You know, we have gotten lives.  The great thing about getting a life is the fact that you get social currency to spend.  You get a “say” in the culture.  I have a family and a job, so what if I want to play Xbox after dinner, I don’t have to watch TV.   Why would I want to join a bowling league when I can game every Tuesday for two months?  I am a part of the capitalistic democracy.  I earn and vote with my dollar wherever I want.  I don’t cast my vote on the NFL, but rather with Wizard of the Coast.  Unfortunately, having a life brings on a whole different set of problems.  Finding time, balancing responsibilities and managing your resources…The entire gaming world has change with the times. 

Now, beginning players and GMs are a minority.  We have spurned those awful GMs to the point where they had to evolve or die.  There is a shortage of GMs and a surplus of players, players who know what they want.  There is an etiquette dealing with real life.  There is understanding of time management, responsibilities, and availability.  There are great GMs who can only play on Mondays and all their players are available on Thursday.  Those players meet every week and rotate games, missing their old GM.  That old GM is now left casting a net, looking for new players instead of being put to pasture.  There are games that are designed with limited playability, so, long term commitment is no longer needed.  Additionally, gamers are introducing the game to the next generation of players.   It is becoming a bonding experience between parents and children.  Also, gaming has become a way for couples to get away from their house and have fun with friends.  It is completely different.

I wonder what it will be like when that 1st generation retires.  All those nursing homes with dungeon tiles on the tables and dice with large numbers on them.

Peter.

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