Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[Looking Back] Breaking Away - Aych's Hiatus

I discovered that old loves need a break now and then to bring fresh flames. 

For me, it was a ten YEAR break from games in general before I remembered why I love them so and fell head right over heels again. (Thanks, Christian, for bringing this to my attention again. I meant to talk about this sooner, but real life got me. So here we are.) (NO, I am NOT going on a hiatus NOW.)

Between 12 and 14 years ago, I took a semi-voluntary break from gaming that lasted well over 10 years.

Like many gamers, the arrival of a kid made getting games in pretty difficult,  but I trudged on as best I could. Several others in our gaming crew had children similar in ages to ours, and they "managed" by either hosting the games in their homes or by bringing their kids along.

I think TheDude & I were honestly just too dumb to know better, but we tried these tactics as well, hoping to keep our gaming alive.  After the third consecutive session where I had to excuse myself to change a diaper, get a snack for the young ones or keep them out of the dice, I started to question my sanity in trying to stay updated in game. I missed too much of the action and the social interactions I desperately craved were constantly interrupted by little fingers with way too much wiggle.

I'll admit we fell into some pretty stereotypical gender roles, with me assuming most of the kid-care duties and TheDude getting off a little easy. I guess my only real defenses are that I was young, and he was working (and thus deserved more "fun" than I did-at least in my strange view of the universe).

It was when I joined several games which all graphically, horribly exploded within VERY short order (and in quick succession of each other) that I finally realized that I wasn't getting what I needed. I was doing all the giving and getting nothing back, and I had to step away before it destroyed my marriage or my sanity. The logistics of two small kids and one frazzled mom bore out that the games moved elsewhere so that I could try to put a semblance of order in all the lives involved.

Once the games moved and the group went on without me, I found other things to do. I got pretty immersed in scrapbooking for a while, which suited me fine because I got to play with paper (one of my all time favorite crack-stick fetishes since forever) AND stay at home with my lovely munchkins.

Now and then a friend (and every so often, TheDude) would politely inquire as to "wouldn't you like to get out of the house, dear?" and I'd gently lose my mind a little more.

FRAK yes I wanted to get out of the house. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to do "grown up stuff" and not just farts&craps on steroids. However it was a much known truth that TheDude had another woman and her name was Gaming. There wasn't much I could do to tear him away from her, and he always came home to me, so I let things go on and dealt with it as best I could.

I didn't really miss gaming as much as I missed the adult conversation and the discussion of things outside of Legos and American Girl. I missed my FRIENDS; people I'd known for  years and who were in many ways as close to me as TheDude.

TheBoy changed things for all of us, I think. From well before walking, he had an active interest in gaming. We got him some of those HUGE dice from a teacher's supply store so he could "help Daddy" roll dice before he could TALK. As he got older, his interest only got stronger. Somewhere between 8 and 10, TheDude started taking TheBoy on short excursions to the game store. It was obvious TheBoy was entranced, and wanted in on this strange relationship. TheBoy gathered that Gaming was a deep and rich love, but I don't think he knew he'd be hooked for life.

TheDude and TheBoy had this incredible bond, and I got to spend some time with my amazing girl. Sometimes, it was taken for granted that I'd hang with TheGirl while the boys did GameStuff.

I'm not sure how it happened that I was brought back into games, except that I was invited into a game with TheBoy, and I left TheDude and TheGirl alone for a night.

I still remember the first couple runs of the game weren't all that good, and I was ready to walk away again. I remember thinking, "man, it's nothing but dissapointments again... I could get this at home". And then, the guy running the game let loose some of the best storytelling I had ever experienced.

I remember writing a post on my old (now long dead) blog about the night, and I remember being fired up for a MONTH with re-awakened energy. This game I almost quit became my new favorite thing to do, although it had to take a very weird hiatus due to some crazy real-life crap.

This game evolved into the WOD game that I play in twice a month, with TheBoy. Once restarted, this game has become absolutely off limits to any sort of interruption.

It took being away for so long for me to realize what I'd been missing. I honestly feel that if I were any other gamer, the experience wouldn't have been so addictive, so intense, so real, and so enthralling. It was just the hook MY other Woman needed to reel me back in (and she's got me bad, too).

So yes, sometimes a break is just what you need to remind you of how much you missed something good. Taking a step away can give you perspective on what you find the most compelling, and you can use that to fuel your adventures and imagination.

I'm not sure I suggest 10 years, but I definitely think a short time out can make a huge difference. it did for me.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. It was fascinating to read and really captures the challenges that a young family endures. I'm glad to see that you are enjoying gaming again so much!

  2. Very interesting. You sound like you are very happy to be back gamin again. And you should be. Being an older, single (male)gamer I have gone through changes as old friends have married and either left gaming because of spousal pressure or because of having kids. And in at least two cases, the wife, who was an avid participant, has never come back to the table, which is a shame.


  3. Over in my neck of the woods, we're closing in on one of those periods of change. There're kids and moving and all sorts of life-altering events looming up on the horizon. I know for certain that the game I'm running now will end, and that our group will be splintered, but I also know that I will do what I can to re-establish a group once the dust settles.

    "Hello, my name is Harald, and I am a gamer." And that is as far down the twelve-steps as I am prepared to go. I think I'd go absolutely bug-shit crazy if I couldn't game on a regular basis.

    I'm really glad you got back to the table, Loq. Not to mention blogging. You bring a fresh and stimulating perspective to the community, and I'm sure you are a role-model for a lot of little geekettes out there.

    This is our Hobby. There are many like it, but this one is ours. Without our Hobby, we are nothing. Without us, our Hobby is nothing. And so on, and so forth ;)

    Happy Christmas!

  4. I took a year off gaming about eight years back when going through my first set of Proper Exams (which makes it sound more responsible than it really was; truth be told, I was sick and tired of the crowd I'd fallen in with, and the exams were more of an excuse than a reason for drifting away). It was probably the best gaming-related choice I've ever made, since coming back off that hiatus led to some awesome modelling/backstory/tactical work on two projects that ran for years and years. Maybe I should do that again, since I'm having trouble settling on a project at the moment, and a bit strapped for cash...