Revisiting Motivation

Earlier this week, I saw a request from DNAPhil of Gnome Stew asking why we GM. His findings came together in this article. In response, I dug around and found this post from 2005 talking about different "style buckets" and giving a motivational view into at least what gives me enjoyment about GMing.

But there's more. I made an assumption in my previous post: We GM to have fun. We must enjoy it on some level, otherwise why do it? Given the grind of prep work for some games, we must realize some sort of payoff or we'll crash and burn. Does it feed an organizational need? Does the power trip of controlling an entire world give us a high? I don't know. I only know that something draws us back to the GM's seat time after time.

On an even deeper level, we GMs facilitate enjoyment for our players. We create a world/situation/scenario/game and turn the players loose on it. If we do our job right, the Muse steps in and starts directing the action to fit Her own design, and we become more participant than director. Running a really good game produces an experience larger and richer than the sum of its parts.

Sure, we can spend the same amount of time detailing a world and characters for an adventure story and probably come up with something pretty decent. In some minds, that's all a GM does. But the collaboration between GM and player creates a powerful synergy around that table (or even across Skype), resulting in the wonder of an immersive experience.

You can't get that sort of immersion from a book, or a film - this direct interaction of human ideas goes much deeper than just reading a book or watching a film. I submit that tabletop gaming goes beyond computer games, even beyond MMOs since they have limited settings that remain fixed due to constraints of mechanics or programming or economics.

Only in tabletop gaming can we come together and create universes limited only by our imaginations. And with that sense of infinite possibility inherent in our games, how can we not take at least a little of that optimism and power into our real lives?


This exchange of ideas and inherent power to change the game hearkens back to the coffeehouses and intellectual salons of ages past. So maybe Gameful has it right. Maybe the collaboration and connections we create for gaming can translate into ideas we can use to transform this shared meatspace reality we all inhabit.

Why do I GM? To change the world, one player at a time. What about you?

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