Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Online Roleplaying Sucks!

I am the Warden!!

Read the title again and prepare yourself for a bitch fest. I hate playing my RPGs online. Hate, despise, loathe, dread, rue, and curse all at the same time. And when I say my RPGs, I mean my regular weekly games where I am but one player in a party.

For close to two years, I've been stuck with using Skype as my only means of continuing the quests in my D&D, Pathfinder, and monthly independent games. That's right, the accident. And while I'm physically and (mostly) mentally able to make the trip to Ottawa, my driveway does not have a car to park and neither do I have one to make the commute to Ottawa. So I use Skype, but it's just not the same as sitting at the table as part of a group.

Traumatic events in your life give you a lot of moments to reflect and can eventually teach you a lot about who you truly are and what gives your life meaning. While I already knew how much I loved playing and running these games, I had no idea how valuable they were as my social outlet. Everything I avoid and deny in everyday life - hanging out in large crowds, meeting strangers - is easily corrected when RPGs are involved. I won't even wait in a line of more than 5 people because I think it's too crowded, but happily walk into any convention with hundreds, if not thousands, of people. In the past two years, I've learned the value of these games to my well-being and so have my doctors and therapists who prescribed RPGs to assist with my recovery. I shit you not.

Attending these games is the problem and so I must resort to the Internet to fill the gap.

What's that? Why don't I use a VTT like Tabletop Forge, d20Pro, or even Google Hangout? Because of my laptop, kind reader. Aside from being a Mac, it's a previous generation MacBook without the current Intel processor. Hell, even Skype tends to freeze it up from time to time, making me dependent on my phone for the task. For the same reason I can't buy a car, I can't buy a new computer: money. Until I'm cleared to return to work and be retrained for a new career, we're living off very low income replacement for my insurance company.

An Unfair Opinion

As much as I loathe playing my regular games online, I still love the concept of virtual games. With Killshot reaching its public phase, I'll be running games via Skype for my premium backers and I'm looking forward to it. Hypocritical, maybe, but it's only because playing with these backers can only be done through Skype in most cases. Playing with my friends feels like punishment.

I think that's the truth behind my anger at listening to my comrades battle evil: I should be with them in body as well as spirit. Not being able to attend physically is a harsh reminder of everything I've lost and suffered... all because some idiot didn't know when it was safe to make a left turn.

It's the lack of choice, something which has become more and more frustrating as this ordeal goes on. To be almost 40 and treated like a teenager because you're a victim and "that's how the system works." I'll bet the woman who hit me has been able to pick up the pieces and move on with her life to some degree. Not me and not because I haven't tried. Staring at a screen watching my friends eat pizza, laugh, and play is like a convict seeing his kids grow up from the opposite side of a plexiglass booth.


In just over a month's time, there will be a temporary reprieve: Gaming at the Lake. The annual gaming weekend at my in-laws' cabins and a plethora of non-stop, in person roleplaying. The first one took place weeks before the accident and this will be the third to go down after it. It's one thing I refuse to have taken away from me.

Until then, I log in to Skype every Sunday, despite my attitude, because I refuse to give up completely. Doing so would only allow the accident to "win" and choosing defeat is the worst choice for any victim. The day will come when I never have to play online again except when I want to and at my bidding and I will look back at this experience like the memory of a bad roommate. I might laugh or I may refuse to speak of it again. I just need the chance to make that choice.


  1. I hope shit turns around for you sir. been hearing a lot of people talking up the online gaming thing at the moment, but I think I've been spoiled by regular gaming with real life flesh things, and couldn't stomach the pale imitation you've had forced on you. I wish you the best, and will point out a silver lining I'm sure you're already aware of; you at least have a gaming group that's willing to skype with you, and hasn't just carried on sans Todd.

  2. I am incredibly thankful for that. In many cases, they've gone to a lot of trouble to keep me included, so I really want to clarify my issues are not with the players/GMs at all. It's the benefit of playing with friends - they care.