“Why do you love GMing?” is a deceptively simple question, and I’d like to ask it in a specific way. In doing so, I think our answers — the responses from everyone who reads this article and comments on it, whether here or elsewhere — have the potential to be incredibly useful to each other.
As a self-reflective person, I’m always interested in looking back over things like this — interests of mine that I often enjoy without examining them — and seeing what I can learn by examining them.
I’m equally interested in hearing what fascinates, inspires, and otherwise keeps other GMs coming back to this craft. It’s harder than playing , and over the years I’ve observed that GMing often draws people who have quite a few traits in common.
I believe those commonalities are part of why there is a GMing community within the larger gaming community, and seeing as I run a website for GMs, I have a vested interest in finding out what makes us tick. If that sounds like fun to you, read on!
It’s a Big Question
Since this is a big question, I’d like to tackle it like this: as you answer it, write down whatever comes to mind in no particular order, then break down your answer(s) into the smallest possible components.
I think that’ll be easier for others to parse than, say, one big narrative-style response — and breaking this down is what I believe will make our responses useful to each other.
I’ll do this myself to demonstrate; this is also my response to the question itself:
I love GMing because:
- Nothing else makes me feel quite like GMing does; it’s a truly unique experience.
- I feel weird if I’m not running a game, thinking about running a game, or at the very least thinking about GMing on a regular basis. I generally can’t go too long without GMing.
- I like the control. Not control over my players, but control over all these tiny-yet-awesome aspects of the game: how I make the setting come alive; what my NPCs are like; what story arcs I run; how I put my weird spin on things; and so many other details, some large and some small.
- Watching people have a blast interacting with something I created — and which we’re now creating together — is magical. This is also part of why I write, blog, and engage in other creative pursuits.
- It fires my imagination. I’m a creative person by nature, and GMing taps into that in a huge way.
- I love creating things. Along with RPG writing, GMing is one of the best opportunities any gamer gets to create big, nutty, awesome things that other people will actually use.
- I enjoy how it shapes the way I think about life in general. This is pretty fuzzy to describe, but here’s an example: When I watch a movie, I can’t help but think how it would work as an adventure.
- Every session is an opportunity to try something new.
- It combines constraints with endless options in a unique way. For example: creating an adventure that can be played in one night; working a spotlight moment for each PC into every session; building on what has come before in the game.
- It makes me nervous. I got over my fear of public speaking a few years ago (because of my job at the time), but even so I always get at least a bit nervous when I sit down to GM a session.
- It makes me think crazy-fast. I love to improvise, and GMing (especially because I’m not wild about prep) provides ample opportunities to do that.
- I get to picture everything that happens in my head. My brain is very visual, and I unconsciously visualize everything that happens in sessions that I run or play; it’s more vivid when I’m GMing.
- The collision of my planning and my players’ actions is always entertaining. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong, but even then it never fails to be interesting.
I tried to cover everything, but I’ll probably think of something else as soon as I hit “post,” but that’s always the way it goes. Anyway, that’s me — how about you?
Update: Using the first 16 commenters’ responses, I created a very rough spreadsheet that plots motivators by commonality. Check it out on Google Docs .