Gaming Advice: What To Do When It’s Not Fun

Gaming is awesome fun. It’s the high point of your week. Except when it isn’t…


By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


I know it seems a bit mad, but sometimes you don’t have fun when you are gaming. You turn up and go through the motions, but you just don’t have fun. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you aren’t enjoying yourself. Luckily, there are some warning signs:

  • You don’t really care about your character.
  • You don’t really care about the quest, adventure or campaign.
  • You can’t seem to find the time to update your character between sessions.
  • Other stuff seems to come up with surprising regularity that clashes with the game session.

If you are beset by one or more of the above warning signs, it’s likely you are not enjoying yourself.

Questions to Ask

Fear not, though! Working out why you are not having fun is the first step to fixing the problem.

  • Why aren’t you having fun? Be honest with yourself. Is it the game system? The adventure? One of the other people at the table? Some of these things are relatively easy to resolve while others are much harder.
  • Is this a temporary problem? Perhaps it’s the particular adventure you are on at the moment you don’t enjoy.
  • What’s the best case scenario? How would you like the problem to be resolved? Is this a realistic solution?
  • What solution can you live with? Is there a middle ground solution that will work for you?

What to do About It

Once you’ve worked out why you aren’t enjoying the game, you need to do something about it.

  • Talk to the GM. Let the GM know how you are feeling and what the problem is. The GM has the most control over the game and so he is the mostly likeliest to be able to help. Try not to be judgemental and put the blame at his feet (even if it is his fault). GMing is a very personal thing and telling the GM you don’t like his style or that his campaign world is crap is not going to end well. If the issue is something else – the adventure, another player etc. chances are the GM can help.
  • Tough it Out: If the problem is a temporary one, tough it out. For example, if you don’t like the adventure it will likely finish soon anyway. Alternatively, take a short break from the game so you return rejuvenated and ready for action!
  • Find Another Game. If you can’t revive your enthusiasm or your concerns have fallen on deaf ears, you should strongly consider finding another game. After all, a game session is a substantial investment in time. The amount of time you invest in an adventure or an entire campaign is even greater. For example, as I write this we’ve played 73 sessions of my Borderland of Adventure campaign. At roughly four hours a session this means we’ve played for 292 hours. If we weren’t enjoy it, that’s a staggering amount of time wasted.

Help Fellow Gamers!

Have you not had fun gaming recently? How did you deal with the situation? Let us know in the comments below and help your fellow gamers get over this tricky problem.

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

3 thoughts on “Gaming Advice: What To Do When It’s Not Fun”

  1. Hi, my name is Roberto or Bobbby I’m from Mexico.
    I like to say tnx for your blog it’s very usesfol knowledge source.
    I wonder if you have no objection to make a translation of some of your tips to share on my blog and a Facebook group for Spanish-speaking players, of course giving you the address and credit to you and your blog.

    I appreciate your attention to this message without further ado I look forward to your response.

  2. Well, I just stop playing when it is no fun any more. It is not like a religion. Industry people talk a lot about the hobby losing players because “life” happens to players but I think it is even simpler than that: if the game stops being a fun group activity, people stop playing/attending. It is not like there is nothing else fun to do – and in the case of RPGs the people you play with are more important than even the system. And if the game or the people become a burden, then dropping it just leaves more time for fun (and I think this happens more times than anyone in the industry – or any geek elitist – would care to admit).

    I can piece together a 3000-piece puzzle on my shelf (I like to insert myself into a mystery within role-playing); paint miniatures because being a knight is cool (I can play vicariously through painting miniatures); read a book (I enjoy story aspects in role-playing); play with and read to my 9-month old daughter (to recapture that open simplified innocence I enjoy in spontaneous role-playing with a group of persons); I can play video games, which is a step down but better than a playing a game that makes me feel like I am clinging to a dead lover; I can make love to my girlfriend (something role-playing takes time away from) to mention a few instances.

    It is not like I am going to stop doing something I enjoy so that I can spend less time enjoying my life. That’s crazy talk I hear from those in denial. Stopping the fun can happen when the long-term reward outweighs the short-term gratification, of course. Occasionally. But for players to completely abandon the hobby is an indicator of something many would sum up as “life.”

    And “life” is full of fun things that can take the place of the role-playing hobby should it ever become onerous.

    I like a game where I can put immerse myself into my character, imbuing it with my finest points, rather than be directed by a character build to live up to my Intelligence Stat. I like as few rules as possible to come between me, the player, and me the toon character _I_play_ and not the other way around. I enjoy a group-based game where I can engross myself in interaction with the other players to problem solve no matter if that interaction forms when a discussing using the Sphere of Annihilation in a Tomb of Horrors, deciphering a riddle from a Sphinx outside a mountain of white plumes, stopping a cadre of slavers, or solving the mystery of the Assassin’s Knot. I like to share that fantasy and myself in that fantasy when I play. And I like to explore the other players who make up my team through the art of the game.

    It’s not a style of play I see much of today, frankly. It is very old school. It gets a lot of disparagement from war gamers and people who seek complication in their games. But it is a mistake to think that because I do not play role-playing games these days I do not have fun. I sure do recall some splendid days before “life” entered my gaming groups and I looked for somewhere else to relax.

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