Dealing With Uncertainty

We’ve all, as players or GMs, had to deal with uncertainty in gaming. From small things (is this the right feat for my character/villain?) to really big ones (will I be accepted as myself if I go to this session/convention/etc?), uncertainty pervades our gaming lives. As I was thinking about writing this post, I was trying to come up with a list of ways in which you can deal with/combat uncertainty. However, everything that I thought about led me back to one, singular thought.

You Can Only Control What You Can Control

Tautological platitudes notwithstanding, you have got to remember that you can’t control everything. If life is a long mathematical equation, the list of variables would cause us to run out of symbols with which we could represent them. I mean, seriously. There’s just no way.

As gamers, you’d think that we’d embrace that, at least to an extent. We play game where plastic polyhedrons decide the fates of everything from how much damage you do to whether or not entire cities survive massive attacks. We let chance decide so many things, and by and large, we’re comfortable with that, at least within the context of our game sessions. We realize that there is a large (and very important, to some) element of our sessions that is simply out of our hands. But to do that outside of the direct context of a game session… well, that feels like giving up, to some.

You Can Control Yourself

A lot of the worrying that we do as gamers has to do with the people around us. Posters on messageboards, friends and acquaintances on Twitter, Facebook, and G+, and random personal interactions all conspire against us. So many things, most of which are outside our realm of control. But there is one thing in every situation that we can control: our reactions to things. Now, there are legitimate medical conditions that remove that control, I get that. However, if we take responsibility for as much of our actions as we are directly in control of, suddenly, the world seems a much less scary place.

Find a calm, reasonable center inside of yourself, and work from that place of confidence. If you’re going to be gaming with new people, relax, be kind, and put the best of yourself out there for them to see. If you’re putting out good things and getting crap back in return that says far more about the people with whom you are interacting than it says about you. Same goes when you’re GMing, or when you’re talking to people online. Don’t act in variable ways because you fear what people might think. Find your best you, and act from that place of stability. Put out good, and you tend to get good back in return.

But, It’s Not That Simple!

I know it’s not. I realize that I’m touching on some things that may be huge problems for some members of the gaming community. I know that there are bigger issues at work with this stuff than your comfort during a given gaming session. I’m writing this for myself as much as I am anyone who might end up reading it. I face insecurity and a huge desire to be loved by those around me, and I face those things on a daily basis. I get it. It’s ridiculously hard to do what I have described above. It’s scary, too.

The fact of the matter is that there’s a conversation here that a not-insignificant section of our gaming community can identify with. I may not have addressed it perfectly, I may have glossed over part of this issue that are very important to your experiences, and I may be attempting to talk about things that are above well above my pay grade. Still, there is a conversation here that needs to be had, and because I have these issues too, I am choosing to address it, knowing full well that I have done my level best so to do.

I heartily invite your comments and discussion about this topic. If you decide to contribute something, please just remember to put the best of you in what you say. That always counts for something, in my book.

I’m Tracy Barnett, and This is My Game.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Unrelenting font of ideas, both good and bad. Co-owner of Exploding Rogue Studios, and on Twitter as TheOtherTracy.


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About TheOtherTracy

Unrelenting font of ideas, both good and bad. Co-owner of Exploding Rogue Studios, and on Twitter as TheOtherTracy.

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2 Responses

  1. I know precisely what you mean. A large part of everyone’s lives is trying to find people who can accept them for who they really are. While this may be easy for some, many in the gaming community find that to be especially difficult considering the often atypical interests they are involved in.

    As a soon-to-be practicing psychologist and avid gamer, I can say that the part about the need for love from those you’re close to is very compelling, and something that many Americans have a lot of trouble admitting to. It takes courage to acknowledge that need.

    You’re absolutely right. We can’t control everything, and all we can do is make the best out of what we can control. It takes a lot of chutzpah too take the dice as they roll; there are no retcons in real life, and we don’t always roll twenties. I wish you the best of luck, and to everyone else, don’t be afraid to be who you are and play the character you want to play. If your gaming partners don’t accept you for it, find new ones. There are plenty out there.

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