It’s a Friday night. I’ve got my backpack over my shoulder, a cold beverage in a bag, and I’m headed up a set of very familiar stairs. I’m greeted by an eight year-old who announces my arrival to the rest of the group. When we started gaming together, that kid was a double handful of months old.
I sit down at the table, not in my usual spot. Jason’s to my right, Jeff across from me. Ben’s on the same side as me, with a chair between us. Jared’s opposite him. Talcott’s feeling under the weather, so they can’t make it to game that night. I look at the chair between me and Ben, then at the group.
“I don’t really feel like recording tonight. That alright with everyone?” I see a shrug, a nod, a couple of verbal assents.
The chair between me and Ben is gonna stay empty.
Jason gets out the character sheets and we start playing, a one-shot of Agon  tonight. We get to the bit where we all need to have dice ready and I dig through my backpack to find mine. Past a Yeti microphone, a shock mount, my audio-testing headphones. There, at the bottom of the bag. I grab the dice and leave the rest of the stuff where it is.
The game goes on, and it’s a blast. Everyone’s having a good time, cracking jokes, using ridiculous character voices. I even take time to draw my character, something I never do. Towering Theodosia is immortalized forever.
At one point something outrageously funny happens, and I feel a pang. I say, to no one in particular “dang, it’s a shame we’re not recording this.” Jeff looks across the table at me, smiles, and says “it’s okay. This one’s for us.”
On a typical game night, that chair between me and Ben would have the shock mount clamped on one of the back supports. The Yeti mic would be positioned in the air over the middle of the table, set so the condensers are picking up a 360 degree field, but set so the hot spot is facing back, so we all have a decent chance of being picked up.
I’d be at one end of the table or the other, laptop out, taking up over half of the space I’d use at the table. I’d miss out on the early conversations, because I’m recording them, applying non-destructive filters, and checking levels. Before we’d start, I’d remind everyone to watch the cross-talk.
As we’d play, we’d call time-outs for kids calling for parents from upstairs, cans being opened, or someone running water at the sink in the adjacent kitchen. Too much background noise. Don’t want it to have to be talked over for the recording.
Tonight, we don’t have to worry about any of that, and it’s a lot of fun. Like Jeff said, this one’s a session just for us. Yeah, we took some pictures, tweeted about the game, etc. but that’s different from having to be on and focused for a recording. Recording isn’t bad. We all really enjoy performing for the mic, the audience, and each other. Heck, we’ve been doing it for almost three years, now, across a wide variety of games and types of sessions for TheOtherCast.
Tonight is different. It’s nice to not have to worry about those things. It’s nice to have the thing we do together as friends be just that. It’s not being monetized, it’s not a product. It’s, well, just for us.
Find Moments Just for You
Even if you don’t have aspirations to be a professional in the TTRPG industry, it can be easy to forget that, at the end of the day, game sessions are people coming together to have a common experience. It can end up being about obligation and responsibility in a lot of unexpected ways. If you felt anything resonate in reading this, I encourage you to find time, heck, a whole session, where you get to do it just for you and your group.
Remember the fun and take a night to have just that. It’s refreshing, and a hell of a good time.