Monday, January 20, 2014

Unexpected Side Effects of Gaming

One of the suggestions I was given for a blog post was "Unexpected side effects of gaming."

This is going to be a lot of stuff, but I'll try to keep it coherent and brief!

The first thing that comes to mind is scheduling! When I'm not gaming a lot, I have a lot of free time and I don't have to make a lot of plans. When I am gaming regularly, though, I have to work my schedule like magic in order to get in all of my gaming time, plus regular socializing, and that's with work, school, family, and even conventions in the mix. It's kind of wild.

Next, there's stuff like con drop and creativity exhaustion. Con drop is, in case you're not aware, is a sudden feeling of depression or generally feeling "down" after a convention. I experienced it for the first time last year and WOW. I wasn't prepared. With a history of depression already, I'm sensitive to things like that, so I got hit pretty hard. On that same note, creativity exhaustion - when you've been so creative and done so many creative things for such a long period, like during a con or a gaming marathon or during the design process, and you just reach a peak then crash - is a real thing and it's really exhausting and kind of paralyzing.

The opposite of that side is the euphoria and creative bursts. I spend a lot of my time in pain and exhausted. At cons, though, and during great gaming sessions or gaming events, I find that I get these strong bursts of positive feeling, my pain eases, and I'm on fire. I wake up earlier, can stay up later, feel more refreshed. It's pretty awesome. Likewise, after great gaming sessions or game discussions or cons, I get energized and want to write more and design more. Bursts of creativity are great!

One negative thing is the associated drama and social stress. Gamer groups are like any other group of friends - people fight, break up, have differing opinions - and damn, it can get overwhelming and really frustrating. I hate that aspect of relationships in general, where things are contentious and filled with drama-llamas. But, it's basically a fact of social existence. There's also a lot of social pressure. Pressure to know games well, to GM, to play a certain way, to know about game design theory, to like certain games, to dislike certain games, etc. That gets old pretty fast.

I would say one of the better things, though, in spite of all that, is the social growth and professional growth I've had. Gaming gives me an environment to enjoy myself, learn, and de-stress. It's given me a place to write and do editorial work and that's awesome! It's also given me a lot of good friends that I wouldn't have had otherwise. As a whole, gaming is a great impact on my life, and even the bad side effects are worth it.