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Subject: Gaming exhaustion rss

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Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff, 1927.
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I had some friends around yesterday to play some games. We kicked things off at 10:45am with Mage Knight. They'd only played once before and loved it, but they were still a bit rough on the rules and I was constantly refreshing their memory and helping them out. By 1:00pm I moved to the kitchen to make lunch, but was regularly being drawn back to the table to help out with rules questions and clarifications. We took a half-hour break for lunch at around 1:30pm, and continued fomr 2:00pm to 3:00pm. At this stage we were two full days into the game (about to start our third day) and it had taken 3:45 hours of 'game' time (yes, a little slow), but we decided to stop as another friend has turned up to play games.

By this stage, I was mentally exhausted. I understand all the rules of the game and have played it quite a few times, but it was a real mental effort constantly helping my friends out with their cards, moves, attacks, influence, etc.

For example,
A friend attacked the green city and I had to help with the attack as he didn't understand the combinations. The enemy was fortified (so no range attacks), had an ice attack, and was swift, but was in the Green city so it was also poisonous. I had to explain that because it had an ice attack he needed to use double block, and because it was swift, needed to double block again, but if the damage went through, it would only do normal damage, but because it was poisonous, each point of damage would do two wounds instead of one. However, after blocking that, he could still use his ranged attacks in the normal attack phase. Of course, this was just for one of the three enemies he faced, the other two added extra confusion with their abilities, and the combinations (and multiple options open to him) were very messy.

It took a lot of time going over and over this sequence and explaining the different combinations he could use. Please note, this is not a complaint against my friend, this is just an explanation of why my brain was fried after doing this for several hours.

After Mage Knight, I had planned to play Friedrich or Catacombs, but I just didn't want to play any 'thinking' games (I know, both of those games are fairly easy, but it would mean more rules explanations and more clarifications etc) - my brain just couldn't take it. I took a hit of caffeine and tried to continue with some light auction/party games.

Thing is, by the end of the day, I hadn't really enjoyed myself. It was tiring, exhausting, and stressful. I really like Mage Knight, but I'll never play it again with friends because it is just too demanding on the rules-explainer (ie: me).

Thing is, my friends like the complex games, they like Mage Knight, Here I Stand, Republic of Rome, etc. It's just becoming very exhausting to play those types of games. They're they games we all love, but the learning curve in each is becoming a barrier to my enjoyment.

So I'm in a bit of a tricky situation. Light games are okay, but they're not overly satisfying. I have always preferred heavy/complex games (as do my friends), but I get a lot less enjoyment out of them when I become exhausted/tired.

Anyone else suffer 'gaming exhaustion'? How do you cope when you have to explain a complex game to friends? Coffee can only do so much...
 
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Greg Austin
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Sounds like a typical day of regular teaching.
Of course we get through that with the additional bonus of a paycheck.

As my teaching mentor told me as a student--you spend all day (and more) giving of yourself and your knowledge and it drains, and you need to fill the well again. For me, that means practicing my discipline with other professionals/those in the know. For games I suppose that would mean going and playing some Mage Knight with people that know what they're doing (or solo) where you can have no responsibility for explaining things. Then you can go back and have another Training Day with newbies.
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Stuart Finlay
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Been there before and I don't think there is a good solution. Either you have to suck it up and take it as the cost for future enjoyment of said game, or make them take responsibility for themselves and read the rules ahead of time. (assuming they're available online) The third option is to play games everyone already knows if you want a fun day.

Too late for you but there is this - http://howtoplaypodcast.com/episodes/episodes-41-50/episode-...

I should add, the other option I don't mind doing though it rarely happens is to be the game explainer and not play. That way I can focus on ensuring everyone else is having fun. Done right I have almost as much fun as if I was playing it myself and don't have the stress of doing both.
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John
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Personally I go for a walk. Get out in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise, and do something other than gaming. I find a 45 minute walk really clears the head and after some post walk refreshment, I am ready to go again. I have a couple of mutts that give me a perfect excuse to do this - they get a walk - and I have to say I really enjoy taking the break. I think that's a key point, don't be shy about taking a meaningful break - and make sure it is a break, not just a period of time to do more gaming things in a different format.
No different to every other endeavour that requires effort really - be sure to take a proper break once in a while !


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Dave
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What they said, with one possible addition: if you find teaching your way through an entire game too tiring, teach newbies until you're starting to fade, tell them that, and then ask if they either want to keep going on their own or whether they want to stop.

I've found that most people seem to get the hang of a game partway through, and after that, they can keep going with less help or none at all.
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B. L.
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I can never play games for hours on end. I have the same problem with video games. After awhile, you just need to take a break. The worst feeling is playing games real late at night when you're so tired you can barely think.
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Bryan L wrote:
I can never play games for hours on end. I have the same problem with video games. After awhile, you just need to take a break. The worst feeling is playing games real late at night when you're so tired you can barely think.


With two young kids (one 3-weeks old, one 2-years old) 'night' is usually the only time I get. Yesterday was a public holiday, so it was a rare daylight gaming opportunity.
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John Farrell
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I've had games like that, and it's really the people that suck it out of you, not the games. I just don't play those games with those people. A particular example is Ticket to Ride: the Card Game. My wife likes the game but can't be bothered remembering the rules, so she keeps asking me. As it's a memory game, I can't remember what I need to remember AND explain the rules over and over, so we just don't play it. Some people take responsibility for knowing the rules themselves and are a pleasure to play with.
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Friendless wrote:
I've had games like that, and it's really the people that suck it out of you, not the games. I just don't play those games with those people. A particular example is Ticket to Ride: the Card Game. My wife likes the game but can't be bothered remembering the rules, so she keeps asking me. As it's a memory game, I can't remember what I need to remember AND explain the rules over and over, so we just don't play it. Some people take responsibility for knowing the rules themselves and are a pleasure to play with.


It's partially my own fault, as to streamline our entry into many of these heavier games I 'teach as we go'. This often means only explaining certain rules as they arise. A game like Mage Knight really needs to be taught this way, but it also needs repeated plays for the rules to sink in.
 
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I used to get this feeling in one of my groups, but we don't really get this feeling anymore. I think the reason for this is since I primarily buy games, I tend to only get ones that will be under an hour. That's helped a lot. No one really has that feeling anymore.

Of course, conversely is that when I'm at other friend's places, I see games like Arkham Horror and Twilight Imperium that I've always wanted to play before but never have. They constantly say, "It takes too long and it's an all day thing."

That makes me wonder why they bought those games in the first place since they don't play them anymore because they take too long. That's why length and ease are my two most important things when looking for a game. Everyone has more fun and I don't have to babysit after turn two.

While we used to game for 12-16 hours a day from video, board, card, etc., we do get tired after a few hours now. We're getting old...
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I feel your pain! It does not have to be anything unduly complex, either - sometimes the combination of personalities can be depleting all on its own.

The nadir for me was ConVic three years ago. I played 11 games over the weekend iirc, and 9 of them were teaching games. By Sunday night I felt like I had the flu. But none of the games were terribly complex: Endeavor, Cyclades, Union Pacific, Chinatown are four I remember. There were a couple of instances where one person's learning style was drastically at odds with another's. Another player asked questions through everyone else's turns. One person begged me to teach a game, then decided to quit it early. It was quite a weekend.

My goal at every subsequent gaming event is to teach no more than one game per day. Also to play games where everyone knows what they are doing. This isn't always possible, but by restricting the amount of time spent teaching I still have energy to play.

These days I "prepare the lesson" in advance, rather than trying to do it off the cuff. By this I mean I read through the rules, decide what order to present ideas, and how to demonstrate concepts. I find it less taxing if I do not need to stop and think through a presentation first. If I have not done this, I decline to teach a game.

A final thought though: people generally appreciate the effort when you teach a game. It isn't always easy and you frequently subordinate your own enjoyment. If you are tiring yourself out, it means you are giving 100% - you should feel good about that.
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John Farrell
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Last week I hosted a games night to play Bora Bora, and one of my guests emailed me ahead to check what we would be playing so he could read the rules in advance. He's always welcome at my house!

Edit: and then he won.
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Jack Bennett
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Rulebooks are almost always available online these days, there's no reason for a bunch of people to show up and expect that you'll teach them every aspect of the game.

I've got 5 people coming over for a game of Virgin Queen in a couple weeks. Part of the planning process was to link them all to the rules on GMT's site and explain that I am simply the owner of the game and I'm not teaching the game to everyone. Everyone is expected to have read the rules, and we'll all work together to figure out how to play it.

This is much more enjoyable for everyone, and it also means there are less missed rules, as you're not dependent totally on one person remembering everything.
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TJ
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I can get exhausted from longer games as well. It probably doesn't help that game night for me is Friday, so it's hard to stay up playing a long game when I woke up at 6 AM for work.

Even if I started playing a game during the day, I typically prefer shorter games to longer games. I've learned that while I appreciate and respect a lot of longer/heavier games out there, they sometimes feel more like work than fun. Sometimes I want that challenge of having to think hard and work towards a victory. But a lot of times I'd rather just play a shorter, lighter game and just go along for the ride.

On a somewhat related note, I've recently been trying to cull down my collection of games. One of the benefits of this is that the fewer games I own, the more frequent games get to the table, the more familiar people get with the game, and the less we have to learn a new set of rules. Furthermore, I'm trying to keep only a handful of heavy/long games. I'd like to focus on and master just a couple of heavy/longer games, and keep the rest of my collection a bit lighter/shorter (~60 minutes or less per game).
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I refuse to teach more than one major game per day. I will teach minor games. Mostly I also try to split the teaching with others who have played before, especially because we have a guy who will jump in anyway regardless of who's supposed to be explaining. Great guy but likes to add things. Anyway, I like to let him explain games and then try to clean up/tie it up at the end for him. We work well together when we do it that way.

Anyway, that's how I keep from being too exhausted to play!
 
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Scott Saccenti
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Deusface wrote:
While we used to game for 12-16 hours a day from video, board, card, etc., we do get tired after a few hours now. We're getting old...


Yes

I am such a different gamer at 41 than I was at 16. The trend has been strongly toward shorter, simpler stuff.

I wonder if the trend ever reverses?

Or where this trend will take me if I'm lucky enough to be playing in another 25 years from now... ("Hey, I am totally up for Love Letter, but only if we play to just one cube. Otherwise...hold on...HEY KID, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!")
 
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Chris Smith
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I very quickly get tired of trying to explain rules, although it's partly because I'm just bad at it & it results in a lot of questions before people have picked up everything.

The only way I manage to put up with it is having the knowledge that once everyone's finally worked out how stuff works, it's done, they know. My gaming group doesn't change much so even if there's a new player, everyone else can generally explain as a group.

I think one thing to try, although it is also likely to be tiring before you even get going, would be to write out a single A4 sheet for a game with key rules in, i.e. the kind of things you might forget (An FAQ if you will). Then you can do an overall explanation at the start, and when someone has a problem instead of pestering you they can check the sheet, with any luck that'll result in less pestering and more fun! Having said that...I can think of a few games of mine I might do that for
 
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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I hate explaining a game for the 5th time to the same person. I'll do it, and if there's a new person too it's fine, but when it's just us two... ugh. I have a memory for rules. You don't have to explain a whole game twice to me. Once and maybe a refresher if it's been a couple years to remind me of those crazy rules.
 
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Phil Hendrickson
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Amnese wrote:
It's partially my own fault, as to streamline our entry into many of these heavier games I 'teach as we go'. This often means only explaining certain rules as they arise. A game like Mage Knight really needs to be taught this way, but it also needs repeated plays for the rules to sink in.


Part of the fun of learning a new game is the moment(s) when you figure out a strategy or tactic on your own. When I begin making my own decisions I feel I am beginning to really play the game myself.

With that in mind, you might think about whether you are teaching a game too completely. Don't try to do too much. If you feed them every good move or cool combination, it will wear you out and rob them of the pleasure of discovering new tactics.

After teaching the basic mechanics and showing them a few tactical combinations, let new players figure things out on their own for a while. Let them make mistakes (e.g. less than optimal moves) so they can learn from them. If they still ask for help, give them hints or small suggestions, rather than laying out a whole strategy. Later, when you are talking about how the game went, you can point out some better tactics they might have used in certain situations.

When we teach, we do not turn someone into an expert. We get them started on a path of new experiences. Going through those experiences and reflecting on them is how they grow into better players.

Teaching is work, as you have learned. I agree with the suggestion above to find opportunities to play games with people who know the rules, so you can just have fun. That will remind you why you enjoy games, and why it is worth teaching new people so you can enjoy games with them in the future.
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Slyght wrote:
On a somewhat related note, I've recently been trying to cull down my collection of games. One of the benefits of this is that the fewer games I own, the more frequent games get to the table, the more familiar people get with the game, and the less we have to learn a new set of rules.


Quoted for truth! I've been trying to cull my collection. I'm down to 372 games.

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If they're your friends, just lay out your fatigue to them. Can you assign games to specific people to be the "rules learner/teacher?" Can folks read the rules first?

(I'm usually the "rules explainer/rules arbiter" guy, and I can actually feel a weight lifted from my shoulders when I don't have to do it. I hate being the rules explainer. )
 
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Eric Brosius
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Sometimes I'll sit a game out and either watch a game or just read something. Last week I was at a convention and had a cold, and I couldn't keep gaming 14 hours a day. I had to pack it in early most days.
 
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For one, I enjoy explaining rules to my fellow gamers. Call me weird but I see it as an exercise of 1) identifying which rules are important/critical and which are not, and 2) arranging my thoughts in a logical manner concerning how I should approach the rule explanation process.

Though there have been threads which cover a generally acceptable approach to how rules can effectively be explained, my experience is that the most appropriate order really depends on the game in question. At times, I would start by introducing the components, whereas there are other times where starting the session with the gameflow leads to a more effective run-in into the rules proper. However, opening with the overall theme and objective is the single constant that always works to put gamers into the correct mood.

Having said that, I haven't had an opportunity to game for an entire day so I have not been placed in a situation where I have had to explain the rules for more than one heavy/complex game in a single sitting, though I can imagine the fatigue that can set in from doing so.
 
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