Disillusionment (dis·il·lu·sion·ment) noun 1. a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.
I thought the “interactive” was a LARP of sorts. It started at 08:00PM CST. The hotel was a 45 minute drive from my house. I only had a few hours to spend gaming with my friends. My wife and newborn child were waiting for me at home. Upon arrival I discovered that prior to the LARP there would be a 2-hour table-top mass combat. I also discovered that I didn’t have a character and that none of the Game Masters helped me get one.
I was starting to feel as if I wasn’t wanted.
Since I didn’t have a character sheet I couldn’t take part in the mass combat. That didn’t bother me, I had no interest in that. I was here to LARP with my friends. I was a little bummed that the first two hours of my game would be preempted but at least I’d be able to hang out with my friends for a couple of hours.
I overheard the head Game Master giving notes to the other GMs assisting him. Comments like, “The first two rounds are a meat grinder.” and when another GM asked what to do if a player’s character died, “This is battle. People die all the fucking time.” didn’t do much to endear me to the attitude of those in charge. Still, I wasn’t going to take part in this part of the game and since they told us, numerous times, that this section is timed (The game moves on every 45 minutes!) I didn’t worry too much about it.
I sat patiently with my friends. We were all in costume and part of the same team. I was particularly proud of my costume, as I assembled it earlier that day after a couple of thrift store visits. It wasn’t any thing fancy, but for $10 and only a few hours notice, I was proud.
Two hours ticked by. Then fifteen minutes. One of my friends was getting antsy. Another fifteen minutes ticked by and I was antsy too. Then another fifteen and we were all getting a little miffed. The two-hour timed mass combat ended up taking closer to three hours. Then there was another fifteen minutes of explanation and introduction before we started to play. I glanced at my phone, saddened to see it was already 11:00PM CST and I had to leave in an hour.
The hour I did spend was pretty dull, but that could have been my fault. I didn’t have a character. I didn’t know what was happening in the game. No one bothered to involve me in the story, aside from my friends, and I generally stood around. A couple of my friends were a little more involved in the story, but we all felt like we were left to the side. As my departure time crept closer I decided to at least engineer my death scene.
My friends had talked with one of the other players, working out if he wanted his character to die and how he wanted it to go down. I offered to die along with him for his story, since I had to leave shortly anyway, and the little group of us came up with a pretty fun scene. We would haul him in front of our leader, the leader would give a speech about how he’s a traitor, and then order me to kill him. I would and then the leader would reveal that I was also a traitor and order my death. It sounded pretty great, but everything started going wrong almost immediately.
Despite being under the belief that this was a closed scene, no one was going to die who didn’t already agree to die, other players started to interfere. They attempting to stop their fellow player’s execution and they ended up killing the leader who worked so hard to give this guy the death scene he wanted. It didn’t occur to me until later that no one lifted a hand to try to save me. Just their friend.
That’s ok. I already knew I wasn’t wanted here.
When the dust settled three characters were dead, but only two agreed they wanted to die. My friend was pretty irritated with how things wound up being handled. After all, he did his best to make sure a couple other players had a fun scene and was rewarded by being removed from the game. At the end of the day, it was just poor management on the GM’s side of things that ruined his fun (and the fun of the other player’s who wanted to play more with my friend.)
I said goodbye to my friends, some of which I know I won’t see for another year or more, and drove home. I felt disappointed in the whole weekend. While I got to hang out with my friends and enjoy their company, the game I was looking forward to just didn’t go the way I’d hoped.
This encounter brought back to mind an event I mentioned in an earlier post, Shame and Anger. It also brought up thoughts about other experiences that weren’t even bad, just not quite what I wanted.
I sit here now with an attitude towards gaming that I can only describe as depressed. I’m coming to realize that the enjoyment I get from gaming isn’t as commonplace as I thought it was. It’s become harder and harder for me to find like-minded gamers and with my new responsibilities as a husband and father it’s not getting any easier.
Maybe I should have done more this weekend. Maybe I should have pushed for a character or asked more questions. I never felt invited in, but I didn’t try to push my way through the door either. I’m not sure if the hobby has changed or not, but I know that I have. Looking around at my life and what I’ve built for myself outside of gaming I’m not sure if I fit here anymore.
I’m not sure if I’m actually being invited in to participate, or if the invitation is really just a way to say they don’t mind as long as I stay out of the way.