“Why do you love GMing?” is a deceptively simple question, and I’d like to ask it in a specific way. In doing so, I think our answers — the responses from everyone who reads this article and comments on it, whether here or elsewhere — have the potential to be incredibly useful to each other.

As a self-reflective person, I’m always interested in looking back over things like this — interests of mine that I often enjoy without examining them — and seeing what I can learn by examining them.

I’m equally interested in hearing what fascinates, inspires, and otherwise keeps other GMs coming back to this craft. It’s harder than playing, and over the years I’ve observed that GMing often draws people who have quite a few traits in common.

I believe those commonalities are part of why there is a GMing community within the larger gaming community, and seeing as I run a website for GMs, I have a vested interest in finding out what makes us tick. If that sounds like fun to you, read on!

It’s a Big Question

Since this is a big question, I’d like to tackle it like this: as you answer it, write down whatever comes to mind in no particular order, then break down your answer(s) into the smallest possible components.

I think that’ll be easier for others to parse than, say, one big narrative-style response — and breaking this down is what I believe will make our responses useful to each other.

I’ll do this myself to demonstrate; this is also my response to the question itself:

I love GMing because:

  • Nothing else makes me feel quite like GMing does; it’s a truly unique experience.
  • I feel weird if I’m not running a game, thinking about running a game, or at the very least thinking about GMing on a regular basis. I generally can’t go too long without GMing.
  • I like the control. Not control over my players, but control over all these tiny-yet-awesome aspects of the game: how I make the setting come alive; what my NPCs are like; what story arcs I run; how I put my weird spin on things; and so many other details, some large and some small.
  • Watching people have a blast interacting with something I created — and which we’re now creating together — is magical. This is also part of why I write, blog, and engage in other creative pursuits.
  • It fires my imagination. I’m a creative person by nature, and GMing taps into that in a huge way.
  • I love creating things. Along with RPG writing, GMing is one of the best opportunities any gamer gets to create big, nutty, awesome things that other people will actually use.
  • I enjoy how it shapes the way I think about life in general. This is pretty fuzzy to describe, but here’s an example: When I watch a movie, I can’t help but think how it would work as an adventure.
  • Every session is an opportunity to try something new.
  • It combines constraints with endless options in a unique way. For example: creating an adventure that can be played in one night; working a spotlight moment for each PC into every session; building on what has come before in the game.
  • It makes me nervous. I got over my fear of public speaking a few years ago (because of my job at the time), but even so I always get at least a bit nervous when I sit down to GM a session.
  • It makes me think crazy-fast. I love to improvise, and GMing (especially because I’m not wild about prep) provides ample opportunities to do that.
  • I get to picture everything that happens in my head. My brain is very visual, and I unconsciously visualize everything that happens in sessions that I run or play; it’s more vivid when I’m GMing.
  • The collision of my planning and my players’ actions is always entertaining. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but even then it never fails to be interesting.

I tried to cover everything, but I’ll probably think of something else as soon as I hit “post,” but that’s always the way it goes. Anyway, that’s me — how about you?

Update: Using the first 16 commenters’ responses, I created a very rough spreadsheet that plots motivators by commonality. Check it out on Google Docs.