Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quitting Gaming ... Not!

Not entirely anyway. What I have had to quit is the gaming club. And if you'll bear with me I'd like to vent about it. Gaming and life often intersect in unpleasant ways.

If you follow my blog at all you probably know that I am a gaming activist in my school and community. Which isn't really saying a lot because it's a pretty small community. Mainly I have dedicated the last 6 years or so to running our local school gaming club. It is by far the most active club at our school, and maintains the highest active membership. As of right now we have 17 members and about 4 pending applications. And that is actually a fairly low count. We are usually in the neighborhood of about 25. I do almost all of the DMing and run as many as four groups a week. Yeah. It's a big job. Especially since most of the members are 14 to 15 years old. Can you say _lots_ of drama?

At any rate I have loved doing it, in spite of the difficulties and the demands on my time. I don't get paid anything for the time I put in which is about 10 to 12 hours a week. It is, for me, a bonus my teaching job allows me. It's a definite and desirable perk to the job. Unfortunately teaching itself is, well lately ... crap. No, that's not exactly true. Teaching is great. But the pressure on teachers is becoming unbearable. Someone asked me recently if being in the military or teaching was more stressful. I didn't even hesitate: Teaching hands down. It's always been this way really, and I try not to complain. There are great things about the job, and of course making a difference in kids lives is certainly rewarding. However, it just keeps getting a little worse every year. We have been given so many extra things to do over the past three years or so that I simply am not getting it all done. And now they are micromanaging our classrooms to the point that I can barely breath, let alone teach. As the year started I worried that I might not be able to do it all. But I just told myself that every year seems to start this way. Just stick it out and everything will work. You simply can't give up the gaming club. But it has come to the point that by the end of each day I am absolutely hammered. I stay till five or six every night (2 to 3 hours after quitting time) in meetings, collaboration and trying to catch up on all of my grading, lesson plans and paperwork. I have had a headache by day's end everyday since school started, and I feel like I have been run over by an emotional Mack truck. I'm in no mood for anything but going home and collapsing.

Yeah I know, you may think I'm being overly dramatic, but I'm not. So, I've made the regrettable decision to stop the club this year. I'm going to have to explain to the kids that due to professional demands it just isn't possible for me to continue this year. However, there is one bright spot in all of this. My good friend and fellow teacher runs the local hobby shop and has about five guys lined up (of which I am one) to run one FRPG game a week on a five week rotation. Now that I think I can do. One game session a month is much more doable for me. Not as much as I would like of course, but it's doable. And thankfully I am going to be able to tell all 17 broken hearted club members that they will be able to game; it will just be at the hobby shop instead of school. Which is fine and actually better in a number of ways.

So, yeah ... life is like this sometimes. All gamers age and most of us grow up. And by that I mean we get jobs, married, careers, families and other responsibilities that come with life. If we're lucky gaming gets worked in there a little bit too. Truthfully I've been super blessed the last 6 years to be able to run this club for so many local kids here in our community. To be able to share gaming with so many new gamers and watch the fires in their eyes, the laughter in their voices and see that sense of belonging, of finding something you really love to do shine in their countenances. And heck, I got to game an awful lot too--that aint half bad. Right now my gaming has intersected with my career in a sort of unfortunate collision of time or the lack thereof. So I've simply got to cut back.

It'll be alright though, I'm sure. My gaming life has made it through much worse trials than this. And for those of you who may be wondering. The fact that the club wanted to play Pathfinder (a game I'm not too keen on) didn't figure into my desire to close the club at all. Okay, maybe a little ... no, just kidding. Pathfinder is a fine game for those who like it. But you can bet your bottom dollar the game I run at the hobby shop is gonna be on my terms. Gritty, hard hitting and scary as hell. But boy is it gonna be fun!


Dylan said...

Sorry to hear about your situation. As a middle school teacher, I appreciate your struggles. Best of luck.

DRANCE said...

Ok, so it sounds more like you are drastically scaling back your gaming, but not quitting, right? That's not so bad! You can get a much-deserved rest. I commend you on your dedication to getting kids into roleplaying. It can have so many benefits to their social development and creativity. I myself have been thinking of starting up a gaming group for kids at a local library. I just have such limited time, however, and that limited free time is taken up with my game I am running at my FLGS. But, one can dream! Thanks for being a POSITIVE force in the OSR, unlike some people I can name. You are definitely not a Stick in the Mud ;-)

Chris said...

Hey thanks Dylan and Drance. I am trying to remain positive. The kids are going to be bummed, but at least there will be games at the FLGS. Still breaks my heart. Darn educational politics.

ADD Grognard said...

I just wonder how many parents (and kids) are going to be put off by it not taking place at school.

And I can understand the time compression factor. I have worked on a major ulcer these last few months dealing with to much load and to little time.

I just hope you get a chance to get some table time in and the kids who really want to play get the chance.

Now if I can just finish DEEP DELVE. Almost there.

Chris said...

Yeah ADD Grognard, I feel the same way. I already know very few of the kids are going to get their parents to take them to the FLGS to game. Which is disheartening. I've considered a once a week game where every group gets to game once every three weeks. But right now I'm nervous about the whole time thing. Work is just way too busy. So right now I'm sticking to my guns on the time thing and focusing on priorities. Still, it breaks my heart.

Ryan said...

As a fellow teacher, I feel your pain.
Some of my colleagues have told me that the manga and CCG-loving kids at my school have been looking for a faculty sponsor to help them get a club started. As much as I'd like to help them out, I just don't have the time anymore... and next year we're switching to a new schedule type that will effectively double my number of students, so even if I was able to swing it this year, it would be completely impossible to do it next year...

I have my own gaming group that I am fortunate enough to be able to play with weekly. I think I'd have lost my sanity long ago if it weren't for them.

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