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Tabletop Tuesday – Gaming’s Biggest Obstacle: Life

I’m sad to announce there is no review for this Tabletop Tuesday. Not for want of trying, mind you; I had something that looked a lot of fun ready to play.

Unfortunately, I ran into that most obstinate barrier we face in gaming – real life.

So, instead, let’s take this opportunity to talk about that barrier. The responsibilities and unexpected events that prevent us from enjoying our hobby.

Let’s be clear; I’m not talking about geographical barriers. We’ve all heard about people who are new to a city or live in low population (or at least gaming population) areas.

There are websites, apps, social media pages, etc. to allow gamers to meet and coordinate. For those who can’t find any local players, the Internet enables people to roleplay and even wargame over great distances.

Instead, I’m talking about those obstacles that prevent you from gaming even if gamers surround you. Full-time jobs and work schedule, children and family, illnesses, etc. Life.

I live in a “gamer-saturated” metropolitan area between two major cities. Most of my friends game, I have two immediate neighbors that play, there are three tabletop-dedicated gaming stores within 30 minutes, and numerous conventions and organizations throughout the year.

You’d think I live in the perfect area for gaming, and you’d be right.

Except, I’m lucky if I can find an evening or afternoon once a month to play. My roleplaying is limited to a bi-weekly Skype game, and I haven’t played a wargame in over a year.

Why?

Holidays send a lot of people out-of-town or busy with their families. Spouses work late, and children won’t leave you (or a board) alone long enough to game in peace. Even when you adjust your work schedule, people are either unable to match their own, are exhausted, or have fallen ill.

You usually brush these things off as a bad week, but I’ve noticed this happens all too often. In fact, I spend more time trying (and failing) to game than actually having a successful session.

I’m not saying these things to earn sympathy or whine, but to point out that life is probably the biggest obstacle to many gamers. Not money, not geography, but the primary responsibilities of being an adult.

Sure, there are plenty of gamers out there who can attend conventions whenever they want, enjoy several game nights a week, run or play multiple RPG sessions, etc. I envy them; I truly do, because a significant portion of us are restricted from doing the same.

And it sucks.

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Me trying to schedule a gaming session with friends.

So, what do we do about it? How do we provide opportunities for the gaming-opportunity-challenged? Well, I think the most significant thing that has happened to us is the solo-player game.

The single-player board game has existed for as long as the hobby. There seems to be an increase of multiplayer games, however, that include a single-player option.

I appreciate these variants as they allow me to play a game when my schedule allows. No more waiting for that rare window of opportunity; I can game without depending on others. Not to mention, solo-play will enable you to test and learn a game, to try it out and teach others!

Now, these solo modes often vary in their quality, but the game designers have done a decent job overall. Not to mention, new technology has added many opportunities for those previously hindered.

So, while life is an obstacle, it’s not insurmountable. Especially if the game designers continue to cater to those who just can’t arrange the time to play tabletop games with others.

Will I find my opportunity to play and review next week? Only time, and possibly the gods of chaos, will know.

I’ll just say, to my fellow gamers hindered by real life – I understand your pain and we have options.

Looking for some games that you can solo play? Here’s a few recommendations:

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About Brook H. (156 Articles)
Generalist, polymath, jack-of-all-trades... what hasn't Brook studied. Knowledge is power, which is probably why he ended up with degrees in Human Behavior and Psychology, not to mention majoring in everything from computers to business while working in theater, security, emergency communications, and human services. He currently resides outside Baltimore where he tries to balance his children, local politics, hobbies, and work. Brook is a major Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing advocate (he's HoH himself), lifelong gamer (from table-top to computer), loves everything paranormal, and is a Horror-movie buff.
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