As a complete and total RPG geek (and a professional in the industry), I spend my days encouraging people to roll up characters and play. My readers already know how passionate I am about gaming, and most of you don’t need any encouraging from me to get out your dice anyway. So what I’m about to suggest in this article may shock you.
During the busy holiday season, it’s OK to take a break from RPGs.
Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind, or (even worse) gotten burned out on RPGs. I love them more today than I did yesterday, and not as much as I will love them tomorrow. But this is a tough time of year for gaming, and instead of stretching yourself too thin, it’s just fine to admit you need a week or two off.
Too Much All At Once
As fun as RPGs are, there is work and effort involved in getting into character. RPGs aren’t a lazy activity – they require you to be actively “there”, paying attention and helping plot and plan. For any number of reasons at this time of year, that can be tough.
If you celebrate an assortment of winter holidays, your life right now is filling up with decorating, cooking, baking, cleaning, gift buying/making/wrapping, guests and/or traveling. Depending on how many obligations you have, you may find yourself burning the candle at both ends. You know you deserve a few hours away from it all, but while your rogue should be scouting ahead and looking for traps, you’re thinking about the three batches of cookie dough chilling in your fridge and whether you’ve got enough colored sugar to decorate all the little snowmen.
Even if you turn up your nose at all holidays, and don’t celebrate for whatever reason, much of the world is in full-out holiday fever. If you work in any sort of service industry (hello, my fellow retail workers!) you’re probably going to be putting in longer hours at work, and those hours are going to be more stressful. When you go to run your errands, businesses will be busier and lines will be longer. So even if the holidays mean nothing to you, they’re going to affect the amount of free time you have, and how much steam you’ve got left by game time.
Let’s not forget that the holiday season is difficult time for some, as well. The same decorations and music that make some of us happy will just make things harder on hearts that are already heavy. While social interaction is important when you’re down, sometimes the mental commitment of an RPG is too much to handle when your emotions are going in a million different directions.
Do Something Else
At this busy time of year, it’s more important than ever to take time for yourself, and most of us are going to want to turn to our friends for that fun time. But it’s tougher to get the gang all together, and for any of the reasons I’ve outlined above, as much as you want to hang and blow off some steam, you just might not have enough left in you to play your role in a game of thrones.
So instead of forcing yourself through some mediocre gaming sessions that aren’t as enjoyable or stress-relieving as you’d like them to be, do something else! Have a board game night, or poker night, if that’s your thing. You don’t have to play games at all – turn game night into a movie night! You can spend a few hours watching your favorite comedies, horror movies, anime, or even imperfect holiday classics (I can’t get enough of A Christmas Story). Whatever you want to watch, it doesn’t matter, so long as everyone’s happy. If everyone’s stressed about getting holiday goodies done (or can’t bake, but loves to eat) have a cookie decorating party.
It really doesn’t matter what you decide to do, just so long as you’re together and everyone has a good time, and is able to forget for a few hours that the inflatable Santa on the front lawn is lopsided and that they have to be at work early tomorrow for the doorbuster sale.
Do you have to take a break from your regularly-scheduled RPG just because of the holidaze? Of course not! If that routine game session is what you all need to stay sane and you’ve still got the mental acuity after a week of writing out Christmas cards and selling UGGs to spoiled teenagers, by all means set up the GM’s screen and have at it! But if you’re seeing spinning dreidles in your sleep and feel like you’ll snap if you hear Suzy Snowflake even one more time, maybe an evening of mindless party games or movies will be the better option for you.
And if a little extra eggnog helps you out, too, I’m not judging.
Are you able to find the time and energy for RPGs at busy times of year? If not, what do you like to do instead?