Variety in Gaming

I’d like to get on my soapbox for a minute here and talk about how bad it is for players to get stuck playing one kind of game. Let me start with a question. Are you stuck playing one kind of game or one system? Are you stuck playing one genre? Are you system fanboy who can’t see yourself enjoying anything else but what you are playing right now?

I bet those questions stung a little, and they should. Now, a little history about me. I started gaming back in junior high, many moons ago. It was the old red box Dungeons and Dragons RPG. There were some other systems my gaming group eventually played including Middle Earth Roleplaying, Palladium, Robotech, Twilight 2000, and of course AD&D which eventually became our cornerstone. We had variety. We had fun.

Something happened though later in my life though. I was discouraged by the third edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I felt burned by the way things had changed and became a little bitter even. I went looking for a new system that could be our cornerstone. I found GURPS. GURPS was great, it had the genre variability I was looking for. As a roleplaying group we could do anything with it. I became rather attached to it. So attached that when I was introduced to other systems I immediately shut them down in my mind. In fact, I belittled them.

I can’t quite determine why I became this way, but I did fall into this elitist trap where any other role playing system out there was not good enough to even compare to GURPS. Then, when I was back in school going for my Masters degre I came to find a weakness in GURPS that I hated to admit. I now had little time to prepare games and making GURPS NPC’s and monsters was really eating into my time. I tried just pulling the abilities and stats of the beasties out of thin air but I felt I was cheating the players. I couldn’t do my game prep and give my school work the attention that it needed.

Discouraged, I hit the net to look for answers. It was then I saw some forum post mentioning my exact dilemma. The game that another group had gone to when their own preferred system was failing in the like manner was called Savage Worlds. This system promised a game that was Fast, Fun, and Furious. So I very, very reluctantly picked up a copy the book and found that the promise was true. It was fast, fun, and the combat furious. I was elated. But, I began to fall into the same elitist trap.

Savage Worlds became my new fixation. No other game system could be better than Savage Worlds. It did everything my gaming group needed. However, this attitude didn’t last long. Engaging with Savage Worlds and its community actually had the effect of opening me up to a new world game systems that were being built by smaller, open, and more agile game development companies. After this revelation I laid my fanboy weapons down and found a lot of fun and exciting games were just floating out there, waiting to be discovered and played. I became to taste them, grabbing inexpensive digital copies from DriveThruRPG. Since that time I have vowed never to fixate on one system. There was too much fun to be had by reading, examining, and trying them all.

My plea to you today is to to bury your negative feelings and preconceptions of other gaming systems deep. Real deep. Go out on a limb and try something new. You will be pleasantly surprised, I promise.

Try it, I dare you. Play some boardgames and some miniatures war games. Grab some Magic cards and blow off the dust from games you have long since abandoned. You will find some games you really like. You will find some games you dislike but at least you have enriched yourself by trying and can make an honest critique about them.

Games are meant to be played, not shunned. Fanboyism and apathy hurt you and the gaming community at large. It renders things stale and impedes growth. Variety is after all, the spice of life. Take a look at something new this month. This is my challenge to you.

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