Have you noticed how every facet of our lives is getting busier and noisier? Sadly, gaming is in no way immune to this trend.
It wasn't like that in the good old days. When I started gaming, I had a couple of rulebooks, a module, some (mis-matched) dice and a few figures. Now I have so much more, and–it seems–I need so much more to enjoy my beloved hobby “properly”.
And it’s not just physical stuff I need. I’ve got podcasts to listen to, livestreams to watch and vlogs (and blogs) to keep up with. I’ve got message boards to visit, blogs to read and discussions (arguments) on Facebook to have.
It’s hard to keep up with it all—particularly if you’ve got a family, job or (the horror) other interests.
But here’s the thing: most of the above is irrelevant when it comes to running an enjoyable game for you and your friends.
- You don’t need to watch livestreams.
- You don't need to buy (and read) tons of supplements.
- You don't need to spend hours reading other people's opinions on message boards.
If you enjoy those things—all power to you. However, if you struggle to get ready for the game, and always feel on the cusp overwhelm by all the things you "need" to do, I’m here to tell you there is another way.
Consider the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule), in relation to your game. The Pareto principle posits that 80% of your result comes from just 20% of your effort. To put it another way, 80% of your group's gaming fun stems from just 20% of your preparation. If that's the case, why bother doing the other 80% of the things you think you need to do? To me, it seems like a classic of case (massively) diminishing returns. When I was a lad, I'd dream of getting 80% in an exam. Think of the pressure and stress you can remove from your gaming life if you choose not to do all the other things.
- Do you really need to hand paint all your miniatures?
- Do you really need a collate rich and immersive soundscape?
- Do you really need artfully drawn battle mats?
Stop doing all the non-essential stuff. Instead, focus on the core aspects of your game. Start there. Focus on what’s truly important. Focus on the fun.