My Favorite Paradox
So I’m sitting at my car dealer, it’s fall break, and I’ve got a fair sliver of grown-up time to kill. I’m thinking about the core paradox of role-playing, as one does.
The core paradox as I see it is this: to get something out of this thing of ours, you need to take it seriously. But you also need to hold it at arm’s length, and grant it no more importance than you can afford. It’s just a game! And/but because it’s just a game, you can really dig in hard.
Obviously everyone’s balance here is gonna be different. I have the emotional and intellectual bandwidth to take it all fairly seriously, but I also know that most other participants in my world can’t. If I can’t bridge that, then nobody gets what they want, right? “It’s cool, no problem, just a game” is my go-to release valve for irregular attendance, personal emergencies, low stoke. But it’s also kind of a letdown to be reminded once again that I’m probably the only one nursing my investment level.
It’s probably what makes conventions so rewarding for me. I’m among others who are spending nontrivial time and money on this ridiculous thing. I’m not alone!
It’s probably also what makes our thing weird and unapproachable to outsiders, even casuals who understand how it works. Is it really just a game, Paul? You talk about it like it’s your favorite movie/book/show (oh you have no idea). I know I’ve run up against that pitching small side games with my wife: take it just a little more seriously, but no worries, it’s not really that serious.
I don’t think this is stance stuff. I’m not talking about specific engagement and disengagement with various potential investment levels. I’m thinking about the whole enchilada.
Maybe it’s as simple as a (probably dysfunctional and perfectionist) lesson I internalized as a kid: anything worth doing is worth doing well.
Maybe! Maybe not.