Why do you play? (Or not.)



  • Since I've been struggling with this lately, this topic came to mind.

    While 'what are you looking for in a game' is a related question, it isn't actually what I'm asking here.

    I think there are many reasons that draw most people to RP, and of the general questions below, most of them probably apply to everyone to a greater or lesser extent -- sometimes for good, or bad.

    Escapism. Sure, this could be the 'my life sucks and I want a vacation from it' trope that immediately comes to mind when escapism is mentioned, but that isn't actually all it means and I don't think it's wise for us to limit the definition to that alone. For instance, escapism can be a way to simply turn off one's own thoughts and tune in to a different way of thinking for a while; people go to movies for escapism, play other video games, and so on, so I'm going to ask that that broader interpretation is the one to ponder here. Even if a game's premise was based on 'you are exactly the real you with no changes at all, but you're now dropped into a completely different reality where things work differently', it's escapism.

    Wish Fulfillment. Again, there are the tropes and extremes here: the perfect one, the never-scared strongman, etc. That isn't all there is to it, though, and 'I'd like to let my brain wander through a fantasy where I don't have to ever worry about money', or 'I'm taller' or 'I'm a sexy bastard' or 'I want to imagine being someone who isn't in a wheelchair' or 'I want to be a supervillain!' (or the reverse of any of these things) are also equally valid examples here that aren't the negative trope extremes. While it ties in to escapism, it isn't the same thing.

    Curiosity. Again, tied to both of the above, but not the same. "How would I react if I was actually <something different than who the real me is>?" This could be a different gender identity, age, class, race, imaginary thing, with or without certain capabilities you do or don't actually possess. This is the "I wonder... " rather than the "I wish... " above.

    Creativity. How much does the basic process of creating something feed into, or detract from, your enjoyment of the hobby? Do you love creating character concepts but then just not feel like playing them? Do you hate the hurdles of chargen and just want to get into the meat of creating stories? Do you like creating stories for others?

    Collaboration. Does this matter to you? Would you be just as happy creating in a corner and dropping toys on the playground for others? Do you like, or dislike, planning or brainstorming ideas for a story as a collaborative effort? Do you prefer or especially enjoy freeform collaboration of simply interacting IC without any plan ahead of time?

    Winning. How important is it? Does it matter? What do you consider 'winning' -- beating another player at something? Solving a puzzle? Playing a scene you enjoy writing? This is one people talk about often, but the definitions of what 'winning' is in this hobby are often not simple ones. Even with varying definitions, by whatever your own metric for 'winning' is, how often do you want it to happen? How much or how little 'winning' are you willing to settle for, or consider a minimum to enjoy a game?

    Challenge. How much of a challenge are you seeking? Tied to the above, but not quite the same. Where do you want the challenge to come from -- the world? Other players? Staff?

    There are definitely more of these, but this is what I've got off the top of my head.



  • MU*s are writing games, and I've yet to find a better form to do it in. I like collaborative writing. It's the kind of game I want to play. The pace of journal RP never really pulls me in, and I've yet to find a platform that does text-based, real-time RP better than these dumb games. It has an improv feel that's fun as hell when it's firing on all cylinders, and I enjoy as much of the social element of it as I hate. When I write there's usually an escapist element to it, so I guess it's that as well. Less about escaping into a perfect world than getting outside my own brain and into a story.

    I do it because I enjoy it. Same reason I go hiking or take part in book clubs off and on, and it exercises different parts of my brain than those do. It's a dumb hobby, but most hobbies are dumb, and this one's free!


  • Pitcrew

    Like @Three-Eyed-Crow, I definitely enjoy the improv and collaborative nature of this hobby. Being able to share creatively with others can be fun. Also, especially when I play on games that are based off of movies or books that I have read, i.e. Game of Thrones, Star Wars, etc., it lets me expand creatively in that theme on what else could be going on in that world/universe. When you include other people, you also get ideas that you may not have thought of, which could in turn help you spark new ideas yourself.


  • Pitcrew

    For me, it's a combination of Escapism, Curiosity, Creativity, Collaboration (and occasionally Challenge).

    I like to get into the heads of people who are very different from me--I usually consider a few parts of their psyche "better than me," but for the most part, I wouldn't actually want to be any of my characters, I like to torment them too much.

    I also like to get away from the troubles and concerns of the real world to explore different ones, especially if I can find a place where every choice you make has a possibility to change the world around you (escapism from powerlessness, I suppose?).

    I like to write with others, I like to spar (verbally/textually) with others... but most of all, most of all, I like to push the world and watch it react (and to be pushed by the world and watch how my character reacts). Whether this means other PCs reacting to the actions of my character, NPCs reacting to it, the grid reacting to it ("hey look, my actions caused that bar to get burned down...") or any other way. But the reason I play MU*s rather than writing stories or playing video games is that I like the give and take between my character and the rest of the world I'm playing in.


  • Pitcrew

    All of the above?



  • As a lazy introvert, mushing's good for socializing on my own terms. I work customer service all day and when I get home I often really really need to not be around people, but I do like to hang out and blast imaginary fools with friends.



  • Creativity, curiosity, and a dash of escapism. Maybe a little collaboration. I like coming up with characters and then shooing them into a world. The challenge for me is considering how this thing I've created is going to act/react, especially if the character's really different from me. So basically, everything @Seraphim73 said. Plus exactly @SG's situation, with less fools being blasted and more insane ideas being exchanged.


  • Pitcrew

    Collaborative storytelling and ooc socializing/community with peers (people who enjoy collaborative storytelling and RPGs). Since I can't really do a tabletop every other week or weekly due to life in general, breaking that up into chunks while the kids are asleep or when I had time was really enjoyable.

    I find mushers tend to be really interesting people. I have friends that I've now had for like half my lifetime now, because of mushing, seen their kiddos grow up, etc. I have friends I enjoy talking to now and then from all over the world. When I was a kid and college student I used to have many pen pals (I still do have 1 of them!), and honestly I think the connection is much the same.

    Why I don't play now?

    Twofold. One is basically life. My oopsie baby is at the age that makes playing pretty hard (unlike the noob grub stage where I mushed almost as much as my earliest days because all he did was sleep, boob, and poop, so I could babywear with my laptop). I'm also involved in the local political scene so many nights/weekends are occupied. And I'm trying to soak up as much time as my teenagers will allow me to, with them: I'm launching 3 young adults into the world in less than 4 years. I have some health issues that complicate things too that I don't wish to subject people to that aren't close friends!

    The other is that I had a situation that was a close mimicking of what made me step way far away from mushing after Ashes to Ashes; I don't really feel it's fair to play if you cannot be open and cheerful to new people and not viewing all interactions through the lens of a hurtful situation. So it's easy (however much I miss telling stores with my lovely lovely partners and meeting new people) to just bow out for the moment. When I was ready to come back after A2A there were a lot of new things (like wikis, no masq, new editions of game rules, etc) but it was easy to join in the fun and the new stuff was pretty neat. So I'm not worried about entering back in when the time is right and I will have the right attitude. :)


  • Pitcrew

    It's easy... and by easy, I mean it doesn't demand a lot of energy from me. It's a way I can engage with people, even if I'm physically 'shot' enough that just getting out of bed is hard. Just because I may be having a shit fibro day doesn't mean I may not want to be able to interact with people and chat and have fun. I can have fun and RP and 'hang' all while kicking back on the couch in my PJs.

    Especially lately... I can't play video games because of the migraines. And I largely avoid going out because of the vertigo. Sometimes I can't RP. But I'm more likely to be able to RP than anything else (even if I've had to bow out a number of times or keep to slow/one-on-one scenes).

    I enjoy roleplay/TT stuff, but my shyness can kick in hardcore in person. I have a really, really hard time getting "in character" in LARP, TT, etc. I want to, but I clam up and shut down because I just can't perform, as it were. I get scared. MU*ing is a way of engaging in the activity without the fear, for me.

    Lastly, what's kept me around (besides the people <3) is that it allows me to practice my writing. I can try out styles, 'voices,' dialogue methods, different characters, etc.. TS lets me practice sex scenes. Combat scenes let me work out writing out fight scenes that 'flow' visually. Playing male characters helps me practice writing a realistic character that's not my own RL gender. And if I'm ever uncertain about things, I can generally get real time feedback (I've found people are, in general, pretty great if I go 'Hey, I've never played <X> before, how am I doing?').


  • Coder

    I played primarily to be part of a collaborative story writing experience. I love the whole merging of stories and never knowing quite what the day will bring. I love all the feels, and unwrapping mysteries.

    I enjoy being a part of a role-playing community of diverse players, some of whom I have known for over a decade and have grown close to over that time.

    Because of personal circumstances it is difficult for me to get out and do things socially (single parent, of a son with autism with no family support), so there's a bit of escapism there too I am sure.



  • This is going to be rambly!

    I just get so happy to be around other nerds, who like the same genre of stuff, who like to write about it, play in it. My parents were violently unsupportive of my reading fantasy and sci fi and supernatural stuff, and my town was almost as bad, so discovering a whole community of folks into the same books and games, and who wanted to write together about stuff... that helped keep me going as a kid on the streets (I mushed from a friend's house on the weekend back then). Twenty years on, it's still awesome. Sure, we don't all get along, there have been some really lousy turns along the way, but I still don't take how incredible it is for granted.

    After I got diagnosed with stage 3c cancer, and given a few months to live, and especially when I started chemo, mushing and gaming became my escape. I might be in a wheelchair, I might be tired all the time, I might not be here next week, but fuck it, online I could be a healthy guy with nice hair and some snappy lines, you know? So I just started paging folks I thought were cool. I know that weirded some people out - who just pages you out of the blue? But I didn't have time to wait around and get noticed. I was gonna rp the hell out of the time I had left.

    I ended up going into remission, despite not being supposed to. But chemo does a number on you, so even now, RP is still a way to get out of the bed and the wheelchair. The worst is the brain damage from the chemo, which made me forget a lot, including most of nWoD, but I've been relearning and rereading a lot of stuff. I can do MUSH combat and remember my rolls again! Most people have thankfully been very patient with me, and the ones who weren't aren't on my game, yay!

    I swore I'd never bring up another MUSH, but this one has gone pretty well so far. I was really gratified and honored when Thenomain and Cobalt gave so generously of their time and code. Almost dying made me decide to build something worthwhile instead of walking away again, or uselessly bitching somewhere, and working out what exactly we wanted, why, and how was much more constructive than other options. I value my time nowadays (since my cancer can recur anytime), so I try to spend it positively.

    Building a whole grid in three days was kind of cool, even if it wiped me out for a couple weeks. Seeing people roleplaying in those rooms is just so cool, I'd forgotten how satisfying building was.

    My real life is not so great right now with sweetie and I having to fight the city over our legal right to work, so signing on to a pleasant, chill game where stuff goes pretty smoothly and I can just get rp whenever I like is really nice.

    I guess this is all to say that I am a relatively simple person and MUSHing makes me happy. Running a game where people have fun makes me happy. Making sure staff stays fast and efficient makes me happy. MUSH drama does not, but it passes. I'll probably MUSH until MUSHes, or I, are gone.


  • Coder

    @Paris said in Why do you play? (Or not.):

    After I got diagnosed with stage 3c cancer, and given a few months to live, and especially when I started chemo, mushing and gaming became my escape. I might be in a wheelchair, I might be tired all the time, I might not be here next week, but fuck it, online I could be a healthy guy with nice hair and some snappy lines, you know? So I just started paging folks I thought were cool. I know that weirded some people out - who just pages you out of the blue? But I didn't have time to wait around and get noticed. I was gonna rp the hell out of the time I had left.

    Good news on being in remission! Curiously, that is how I got into the whole RP mud thing too. I couldn't do much and I was stuck inside a lot, after having been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. So, I started doing this, and then I started teaching myself how to code. It changed my life, and not in a bad way, in a good way, in that it made me think about all the shitty things I was doing with my life and put more focus on things I enjoy. I'm in remission and been there for over 10 years now.



  • @Clarity said in Why do you play? (Or not.):

    Good news on being in remission! Curiously, that is how I got into the whole RP mud thing too. I couldn't do much and I was stuck inside a lot, after having been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. So, I started doing this, and then I started teaching myself how to code. It changed my life, and not in a bad way, in a good way, in that it made me think about all the shitty things I was doing with my life and put more focus on things I enjoy. I'm in remission and been there for over 10 years now.

    Yeah, it deeply altered my perspective on what I should give my time to!

    I had quit MUSHing for a few years, but cancer was what ended bringing me back. I'm so glad you're in remission, and I hope I get as long. <3


  • Coder

    @Paris said in Why do you play? (Or not.):

    I had quit MUSHing for a few years, but cancer was what ended bringing me back. I'm so glad you're in remission, and I hope I get as long. <3

    Weirdly, how I heard about MUDs is I had gone to the library and searching for a book to read, and was in the comp science section and they had a book about MUDs and how to play them. So, I picked it up, and never looked back.

    Even after 10 years, I still get a bit jumpy when I get sick, or something doesn't seem quite right. And when I get sick, it always seems to hit me hard. But I am very grateful to still be clear. My checks are only yearly now. So, crossing fingers that you'll be the same in ten years. :)
    .



  • @Clarity I've been getting a lot of abdominal pain the last week, but I'm hoping it's stress from the work problems and not the cancer coming back, as it's right where the scarring is. Had to put off my check this month because of that and am worried. T_T So I hear you on the worrying. <3


  • Pitcrew

    @Auspice said in Why do you play? (Or not.):

    It's easy... and by easy, I mean it doesn't demand a lot of energy from me. It's a way I can engage with people, even if I'm physically 'shot' enough that just getting out of bed is hard. Just because I may be having a shit fibro day doesn't mean I may not want to be able to interact with people and chat and have fun. I can have fun and RP and 'hang' all while kicking back on the couch in my PJs.

    Especially lately... I can't play video games because of the migraines. And I largely avoid going out because of the vertigo. Sometimes I can't RP. But I'm more likely to be able to RP than anything else (even if I've had to bow out a number of times or keep to slow/one-on-one scenes).

    This is a post simply for migraine solidarity. It is part of why I like Mu too, its pretty flexible, even when I had committed to doing something people were usually pretty understanding when I had to cancel or bow out. I enjoy the writing, the characters, the challenges, but totally appreciate the flexibility.



  • Why do I play Mu*'s?

    Well, there are several reasons, I think first and foremost, my favorite 'video games' when I was first learning about games and the internet were text-based games. Specifically that I can remember I started this crazy hobby at the age of 8 (1999) in Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands.

    I remember how interactive it was, how you could customize your character with your imagination, and I never found a 'video' game that could replicate that same feeling of immersion and creation that I found in those early childhood text adventures. However, this was not to last as there came a point in my life where the internet was not readily available but an Xbox was, and I forgot the love of text-based games until I was 15.

    At fifteen, I found (surprise surprise) Akashat, and then by extension Shangrila... which for one reason or another rekindled my love of text-based gameplay. I started returning to MUDs but I kept leaving them quite quickly. I came to realize I wasn't looking for a 'game' so to speak out of my text-based areas, but instead a place where I could create a character and live a whole different life.

    It wasn't until I was eighteen and I found The Reach that I realized what I was looking for. I'd never played a tabletop RPG game before The Reach, and it taught me nWoD by necessity. I played TR obsessively for nearly 2 1/2 years straight with a few month or so long breaks depending on what was going on RL. I started to learn more about PnP RPGs in general and I will always have fond memories of TR because of it opening my eyes to what I was seeking in gaming but unable to find until that moment.

    Then TR went through some management changes and rule changes and I was like yah know, I'm out. So I started running my own tabletop games over Roll20 and have not really been terribly active in the MU* community, mostly I've played a few oWoD/nWoD games, Denver (Shadowrun 3rd Ed), a BSG game at one point (and I'm attempting to join a new one now), and random MOOs and MUDs that caught my fancy, turned out to be too grindy or griefy and I left. Oh and I recently found a few Star Wars ones but they generally tend to suck for some reason, I don't know why.

    In conclusion, I play for creation and customization; I play for new experiences and experimentation; I play because it's nostalgic to my childhood; I play because typing is a medium I am extremely proficient in and this is one way for me to use that proficiency.



  • I always ask questions like this, and then a little too late realize that my own answer (which is only fair to include) is maybe not the easiest thing ever to give fully or honestly.

    The simple short form is: at different times, different aspects of all of these things -- including the unhealthy variations of some of them -- have been the draw, or at least one of them.

    And, yeah, that covers it, but it really doesn't. Or, more accurately, it isn't the whole story, and to not tell the whole story in a community that sometimes can only agree on one thing -- that we like participating, to whatever extent, in telling stories together, no matter how differently we prefer to go about it -- that seems like cheating, somehow.

    I link to this as often as I possibly can. It applies to the hobby in a variety of ways that I think are useful, and often enough, it's in that context. The transcript is there, so it needn't be watched, though if you've never seen it, I'd encourage you to watch it anyway. (It's one of the two things I watch on seemingly endless repeat when things get hard, and both of them help.)

    The whole section beginning with 'Fourthly' applies, but this especially:

    And remember that whatever discipline you are in, whether you are a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a designer, whatever you do you have one thing that's unique. You have the ability to make art.

    And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that's been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

    Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

    Make good art.

    It is, ultimately, escapism, but of a unique sort: it's collaborative and creative escapism. And yes, laugh all you like, but creative writing is an art. There is no yardstick here; there's good art and bad art and good writing and bad writing but ultimately, this is a hobby of creative expression and creative expression is art. (So laugh all you like, but deal with it, I guess.)

    Something this addresses in a more roundabout way is actually interesting as hell. It's something that was touched on briefly, I think, in the mental health thread, but it's worth mention here: different thought patterns, over a long enough timeline, help to rewire the brain. If you have particularly unhealthy wiring in your brain, brief bouts of 'playing make-believe' can, actually, improve your well-being by helping to create the structures that allow you to see positive aspects of the world you might have missed otherwise, because your brain simply was not structured to recognize them before.

    This is not the same thing as 'exploiting fellow players for therapy', which some people do or have done from time to time, as it's not (and can't really be) a conscious process. It's essentially a side benefit of setting aside one's problems for a little while and thinking in a (slightly or majorly) different way, as most of us do when we RP.

    In short, if you are in a shitty situation you can't see any way out of, sensible doses of escapism can be incredibly good for you. Not if you lose perspective and ignore the real world or value the pretend one more than the real one, obviously, but simply letting your brain work differently for a little while can be a very real help.

    It is actually sort of awesome.

    It is even more awesome that this is more pronounced when engaged in creative thinking, creative problem solving, and creative expression: as you do this, you are incrementally building yourself a new brain.

    I'm a professional artist, hopping around amongst a variety of mediums over the years. (Please note what I said above, and further note I am in no way claiming that I am a good artist!) Creative things, be it visual arts, performance, writing, even writing code, are enormously important to me, even if they aren't things I'm personally doing, good at, or interested in doing myself at all. I think they're genuinely important on pretty much every scale, from the micro-micro 'creative thinking helps "grow" your brain' to 'a little creativity can make your living space a happier place' to how much a culture values and encourages creative expression on the macro end of the scale.

    This one? Well, it's easy. (Or, it was.) It's a neat one. It's there more or less on demand at any hour, and really, considering there's always some code that could be written or a room that needs a desc or a plot to concoct for people or some other 'thing to get to' that requires creative thinking, it really can be something that's a great creative outlet even in the crazy hours when no one else is around.

    That doesn't compare to the big one, though: RP chemistry. Everybody here probably has that list of writing partners that they cherish and consider amazing because for whatever reason, when writing together, the whole is so vastly astonishing compared to its component parts. Any given group is like a compound chemical. Sometimes, you create a new rockin' alloy, sometimes you fizzle out into grey sludge, sometimes it explodes into a gory mess. It's still one of those things where it seems like you can really see the buzzword cliche 'synergy in action', and as an actual thing, rather than as a buzzword, that's something pretty spectacular, as it can lead to the most surprising and remarkable places, even if they're completely imaginary.

    Even beyond that, even amongst the people you 'click' with as a writing partner really well, the result of that 'compound chemistry' is unique. With some, I've found more drawn to scheming and very plotty things. Others, it's pure soap opera. Others still, the horrific and surreal explored in very Barker-like ways. Once in very long a while, Penthouse Forum letter. <cough> Plenty of other things, too. It varies, and god damn, that's interesting as hell unto itself. (To me, at least.) Different partners bring out different things, and that means all of those new places for the brain to meander can sometimes be pretty unexpected and fantastic. (They can be dangerous, too, but those things are often easier to notice and avoid than they might be; often enough we know when a story is making us miserable and we'll drop it, after all.)

    This... combines with another thing, for me. Stories. I love stories. I love making them up myself, with others -- I even enjoy just finding entertaining ways of telling ones that recount some real event of the day, or knowing a real event generated an interesting one to tell later. (I collect those. Seriously. It's my very favorite collection of all.)

    That famous quote about how the universe is not made of atoms, but is instead made of stories? It resonates strongly with me. It's something I think of as a profoundly human truth. Stories, ultimately, are how we relate to each other, learn to empathize with one another's experiences, and understand certain things about the world we live in on a very basic level.

    There's more to this, but it's OMG'o'clock, and the coffee's low. <3 Happy Easter or happy day before a bunch of chocolate gets marked down to 50% off, whichever applies in your case.


  • Admin

    I play where I know or hope good people already are, they're active, and staff are mostly sane.

    It's probably not a great answer but it's true. Unless the theme is very niche to me (dunno, a My Little Pony place) I don't even care that much about anything else. If a player or players I already like invited me tomorrow and I wasn't engaged anywhere else - since I'm really bad at managing multiple characters - I'd just go play wherever.


  • Politics

    I play because I want to.

    I mean, that's what it boils down to. My motivations change from day to day. It's a good way to have a side distraction when I'm working on a long writing project, for one thing.

    And there's lots of people that I like to play with.


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