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POST GAME BLUES

blue
Ever felt a little empty the day after a game or convention? Perhaps it is to be expected. You’ve had an intense creative experience with people who love the hobby as much as you do. The next day, however, life goes on. This kind of let-down isn’t unique to our hobby: many athletes experience it even after winning Olympic medals and championship games.

In this column, we’ll look at some possible reasons for the post-game blues, and, more importantly, strategies for coping.

REASONS
An old friend of mine once said most of our days are C+ days. They are not horrible, but not spectacular. There’s garbage to be taken out, people to deal with at work, etc.. That’s one reason for the post-game blues, the daily grind. Now, I’m not knocking reality: it’s where our loved ones live, where we can find purpose in our work and pleasure in our talents. However, sometimes we miss the excitement of the game. We just do.

Also, after a good session, you just want to share it with everyone. However, unless our family and friends are as geeky as we are, they may not “get it.” It’s not that people are trying to be mean. They just have their own wavelengths and interests. This can lead to feelings of isolation. Even our fellow gamers may be too busy to relive recent glories. (If it’s any consolation, it’s true for other hobbies as well. I don’t have many people who understand what it means when I’ve had a great day with my watercolors).

Finally, if we’ve had a great (or even pretty good) session, we may be just a little worried whether we can pull it off again. The pressure of planning our next session may contribute to our anxiety. What if we’ve run out of ideas and enthusiasm?

COPING
All is not lost, not by a long shot. There are plenty of ways to cope with those blues and anxieties.

One possibility is to write a campaign journal. We’re all busy people, but consider writing just a paragraph or two about each session as a blog post or Meetup description. It not only helps us relive the past, it can serve as a recap paragraph for the opening of the next session. This is one method I use to help organize my own campaign.

Also, send your players a thank-you email. Thank you notes are good form in general, and it may spark some between session conversations between you and your players. Admittedly, it is unrealistic to expect frequent contact with all of your players. However, even an occasional message can go a long way towards alleviating the blues.

Putting some energy into planning the next session is a great mood lifter too. Don’t worry about scaling the same heights again. See if you can link your next game to one of your PC’s background stories. Create a new NPC or a way to challenge them beyond combat. These can help lift you out of the doldrums, and will make your next game that much better.

Lastly, consider doing something else. Take a walk, paint a picture, do some volunteer work. These may be trite suggestions, but they do work. Enjoy the rest of life a little. While you are giving the gaming portion of your brain a rest, you might find it is still cooking on the backburner. I’ve had some real light bulb moments about my game while doing something else. Bet you have too.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
Some post-game let-down may be inevitable. However, unlike athletes, our careers don’t have to end at a certain age or milestone. There’s always another session to look forward to, which can be a great comfort indeed.

Do you ever get the post-game blues? What are your strategies for coping? Let us know below.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "POST GAME BLUES"

#1 Comment By KevHeath On March 17, 2016 @ 10:36 am

A very heartfelt thank you for the article. For the longest time I thought I was the only one who felt this way. But, after some meandering, but honest conversations with a few local GMs I found that it seemed pretty common in our circles. But this is the first time I’ve seen an article acknowledging and even addressing it. You don’t realize how refreshing that is.

This is a social, and yet often socially awkward, hobby we find ourselves in. In many ways players and GMs wear their hearts on their sleeves and after a session it can be both draining and strangely…depressing. Yet, we write out our notes, make our plans, rehearse our lines, hack our stats, put on our best faces and go out and do it all over again the next session.

#2 Comment By John Fredericks On March 17, 2016 @ 10:50 am

Thanks Kev, I was worried it was just me as well.

I wonder if actors feel this way the day after a big performance as well?

And I should say this, it’s not EVERY time. But it does happen, and may be partially the result of being in a niche hobby.

#3 Comment By Lee Hanna On March 18, 2016 @ 3:26 pm

I’ve been noticing this after games for years, something physical, like coming down from an adrenaline high. In more recent years, especially since I’ve been running my current campaign, it’s been more emotional. A few times driving home, I’ve felt close to weeping.

I think it’s something of an associative thing, since the previous campaign with the same players ( but I was not running that one) was somewhat unsatisfactory, and I was able to vent with my wife. The past 3 years, it’s been me running, and my kids are talking the whole way home, so I couldn’t vent at all.

I talked about it with my wife, and I have been able to get some words in on the ride home. I’ve also been more forceful in trying to get some feedback (hoping for praise) as the table breaks up.

Two other games that I am also running haven’t left me this way, but I do feel a bit of the rush afterwards. Those tend to have more talk about the game as we break up, while the first table mentioned tends to rush on to non-game topics very quickly, sometimes while the game is still going on.

#4 Comment By John Fredericks On March 18, 2016 @ 3:42 pm

Lee,

You raise a really good point. It is VERY difficult to get feedback sometimes. I’ve found that folks who have also been DM’s usually give good information (“the pacing lagged a bit,” “good fight scene”). But sometimes it feels like a lonely task.

Thanks for the comments and happy gaming (and post-gaming).

#5 Comment By Scott Martin On March 18, 2016 @ 4:02 pm

I’ve gotten the blues this way too, and I think you’re right about the how and why. I like to say that there’s nothing special about roleplaying, anyone can do it–but it’s special in the doing, and there’s not that many people who’d make the effort.

I bet some of the difference comes from the GM’s role. As a player, after a good session I want more! It’s a very straightforward equation, but it’s largely out of my hands. A bit like a reader waiting for the next book in a series, or the sequel. For a GM… you pivot from “wow that was great” to “so, how do I make next session great”? You have tasks to preform, which cuts into basking in the limelight and idle dreaming that players get.

#6 Comment By John Fredericks On March 18, 2016 @ 4:47 pm

Scott, great insight as to the difference from being on the player side and the GM side. We had a really great session last night. Now I have to figure out how to make the next one satisfying as well. Yikes!