Saturday, June 30, 2018

Spontaneous Gaming - Is it Just for the Youth?

Matt Jackson had an interesting post on Googe Plus about "spontaneous gaming". No, it has nothing to do with spontaneous combustion ;) Instead, he's hit upon something that was lost when we left our youth behind.

In my high school and college years, we gamed every moment we could squeeze in. Three-day weekend off from school? Why, three days of gaming of course. Summers? Not gaming on a certain day was the exception, not the rule. Screw the beach! I want to swelter at the picnic table in the backyard with some Juicy Juice that fermented (true story too).

As adults, we've left much if not all of that freedom behind. Work, Families of our own, general adult responsibilities make spontaneity a luxury most of us can barely ration out as individuals, let alone as a group.

Heck, I haven't "gotten my game on" in months. Hell, I went to NTRPG and didn't even game. Still had a blast though.

What's the solution?

Damned if I know. My old gaming group gets together once a year and that requires weeks of planning, as we actually gather in meatspace, not online. They wanted to do a "D&D on Demand" sort of thing with Roll20, but even in virtual space, the feasibility wasn't there for us. Spontaneity is pretty much dead on my end too.

Do you share the same frustrations?


  1. I was literally going to say "I'll drive into New York and be at your house at noon to play," (just because we're physically close enough to actually do that) and then I remembered that I am tasked with driving my son somewhere at that time.

    I think that might be part of what's fueling the change and the frustration. People in a certain age demographic have more responsibilities that preclude such spontaneity.

    1. "I am tasked with driving my son"

      The tyranny of wives, cars, and helicopter parenting - I think this may be more a cultural issue rather than just an age thing.

  2. Wooohooo! I made it on the blog. 😉

    I don't know a solution but I would love to hear how other handle and overcome this.

  3. I can say that my group isn't really spontaneous, it requires planning. But we make it work. I work nights, on a very irregular schedule. We play in person, but one player who's in another time zone who plays by Hangouts. We just make time to play, 2-3 times a month. Usually about 4 hours in an evening.

  4. We too did a lot more "spontaneous gaming" back when we were much younger. I think the problem is that, as we get older, we tend to over-think or over-plan things. I currently DM games on Roll20, and it helps alleviate that to some extent. My games maps, etc are already built and can be used at any time. Plus, people can log in to play without ever having to leave home.

  5. At this age, catching me at home for spontaneous gaming will be the hard part. Or finding me when not much else it going on. The closest to spontaneous I am is asking around Friday for a game on Sunday. As adults, I find it's easier to meet if you pick a day and stick to the schedule, like the 3rd thursday of the month or every other Monday (like my main group). Whoever shows plays. We have 6 players and if 2 are gone, we'll still play.

    1. Yes, this is the way to do it IME - GM keeps a certain day/time clear, and plays with whoever can play. It does require a reliable GM but it does not require reliable players.

      It's very important to avoid modern 'adventure path' type campaigns that assume a consistent group.

    2. I do the same with my Roll20 game. There is a set day & time each week and as long as at least half of the players show up, I will still run the game. Everyone knows that if they're not there, then someone else will run their character that week.

      My Roll20 group started out as strangers to one another (and to me) that I recruited off the Roll20 forums. However, they've been together for so long now that they never just "not show up". If someone knows they won't be able to play on a particular game night, they always announce it ahead of time. Or, if it's a last-minute thing, they will post a message on our Discord or Facebook group and let everyone know. This doesn't happen very often but, you know, life happens. The group is so loyal to one another now that they will sometimes just vote to not play at all that week if even one player can't make it. It usually depends on what is happening in-game. For example, if they aren't anticipating major combat, they'll go ahead and play even if someone can't be there. Otherwise, they prefer to wait until everyone can be present to run their own character(s). A couple of players have 2 characters, the other 3 just have one.

  6. It's hard to be truly spontaneous as an adult. I find the best approach as GM is to set specific times as priority gaming time and then PLAY WITH WHOEVER IS AVAILABLE - set things up so it doesn't matter which particular players turn up. If one person wants to play, you play. Have a megadungeon or similar low-to-zero prep material always available to run. The traditional mega/campaign dungeon is perfect because it is graded by level depth for parties of any size and level; if even level 1 of the dungeon is too tough for a lone 1st level PC then have some rats-in-the-cellar stuff you can use too.

  7. If technology can't help us out with this problem, then what the fuck is it good for?

  8. I am single and it is hard as hell for ME to make even a planned gaming session work. I cannot imagine how hard it is for people with families to make it work. In our gaming group, we get a full house maybe half the time.

  9. Also: I think a lot of the spontaneous gaming niche has been filled with board games. The board game market now (in both quality and vilume) destroys what was available fifteen to twenty years ago, much less more. When my buddes want to just "hey, you busy? Wanna hang out" its not RPGs anymore, it's a boardgame.



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