They’re the Most Boring Stories I’ve Ever Heard.
I love tabletop roleplaying games. I’ve loved them since my best friend introduced me to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd Edition. I love the “theater of the mind” that plays out when I pretend to be fantastic characters and/or exotic creatures. Tabletop RPGs are not only fun to play, but when you’re in a group that really clicks, you get to experience an aspect of performance and shared creative wavelength that is comparable to being on stage with a performer you enjoy working alongside.
But man oh man, I cannot stand hearing stories of other people’s roleplaying game sessions. They are, as the title of today’s blog states, the most boring stories I’ve ever heard.
It’s a weird disconnect in my mind. I love the experience of playing tabletop RPGs, but for me the love comes from being there in the spontaneity of the moment with your friends. In coming up with that unexpectedly funny thing for your character to say that only your closest friends would really truly appreciate. In seeing that natural 20 come up on that critically important dice roll, in the tense moment of a story’s climax. For me, there’s an atmosphere that only exists in the moment of the game that simply doesn’t translate when you’re trying to explain the excitement later on.
As seems to be the case with me lately, I know this opinion flies in the face of popular nerd trends these days. Tabletop RPG podcasts and livestreams, where people record their live sessions, are all the rage now. Critical Role is hugely, insanely popular. “The most boring stories I’ve ever heard” for me are “million dollar Kickstarters” for others. This isn’t meant to insult those who are capitalizing on our beloved games and the experiences they create. If people want to share their stories and become successful doing so, power to them and they deserve the popularity they’ve gained. But for me, the experience of listening to other people explain their games, or even being a spectator for a live game, is a chore.
I know I must sound like a curmudgeon, shaking my fist at the harmless things that everyone likes. Maybe it’s because I grew up with tabletop RPGs as a different experience, and I’m wondering what my teenage years would have been like if these games were the more widely accepted things they are today. Or maybe I’m worried that, with the rise of podcasts and livestreams, I’ll be forced to endure more of the most boring stories I’ve ever heard.