GMing is a huge part of my life. From literally my second ever game I was the GM (after all while I hadn’t read the rules, I did at least have a copy!) I can’t begin to calculate the amount of time I’ve spent running or preparing to run games. GMing is in my blood.
A question popped into my head the other day. GMing can be challenging, it can be time consuming and it can be stressful. So why do we do it?
Of course, GMing can also be incredibly rewarding both in terms of actually enjoying the experience and in regards to the skills it teaches you. GMing, in many ways, is stealth education and stealth self-improvement. What other pass time teaches you maths, improvisation, improves your vocabulary, gives you public speaking confidence and more?
For all that, though, I’ve never stopped to ask myself why I GM. Of course, the quick and easy answer is, “I enjoy it”, but that’s a trite, wishy-washy answer. And I’m not a trite, wishy-washy person. This question clearly requires more examination—preferably in front of a roaring fire while clutching a glass of malt whiskey.
I suspect the reason I love GMing, and roleplaying generally, is that I am a very competitive person. On the face of it that probably sounds odd. Gaming is cooperative (unless you’re playing Paranoia), and I think that’s the key. I spend a lot of time competing in other aspects of my life—work, running and so on. Gaming is my sanctuary from competition. It’s an excuse to sit down with good friends and to share good times and memorable stories (and yummy snacks!) Sure, I’m the GM and thus could crush my players at any moment, but that’s not the point of being a GM (or at least it really, really shouldn’t be).
The horrible truth about competition is that for me to win, my friends have to lose. With role-playing—that’s not the case. We can all win. That’s awesome.
I’m not saying I don’t enjoy competitive games, but cooperative games like Pandemic have a special place in my heart. I’ve made some of my most enduring friends through role-playing games and I’m sure a huge part of that is the cooperative aspect of the games.
It might we worth spending a bit of time thinking about why you GM. If you know why you GM, you might be able to get even more fun and enjoyment out of the experience.