Thursday, 12 January 2017

What It's Like to Be Me

The entourage are about to go grave-robbing, because one exuberant member is a heretical, blaspheming heathen, and I don't want to delve too deep into that story until it's underway, so for the nonce I'll just entertain you with a peek inside my psyche.
When I mentioned several posts back how exhausting it was to run the game, one of our players commented that he had had no idea. As an introvert, I draw my energy from time alone, and find it depleted by human interaction. My ideal formula, to really be at my best, is about two hours of time alone for every hour I spent with people other than my wife. (Interestingly, her personality is similar to mine, and even in each other's company we spend prolonged periods without talking. Before going to sleep, we lie beside each other and read our seperate books for an hour, and it's bliss.) Extraverts draw their energy from the 'good vibes' of other people, and usually don't know what it's like for us. Extraversion is, I think, typically interpreted to be the default position because extraverts dominate numerically and socially.
In MBTI terms, our current campaign consists of ESFJ, ESFJ and ENTJ. I normally test INTJ, but have tested ISTJ on a few occasions. (My wife is as likely to test ENTJ as INTJ, depending on her mental space at the time.) This might be unusual; I've read that people who enjoy RPGs and video games tend to be introverts. I don't interact with enough people to be able to draw any kind of statistical relevance from my own experience. But I'll tell you what it's like for me as a DM.
By way of analogy, I'm a person of average fitness going, twice a month for a several hours at a session, to work out with professional athletes. Normally, I exercise alone, and I follow my program at my own pace, following a set plan with no surprises. It's difficult but rewarding, and I feel good at the end. These bimonthly special sessions are a different matter. At the same time I'm trying to relay information as concisely as possible without missing out anything essential, bits of other conversations are flying about, I'm asked questions and expected to know the answer--after all, I'm the DM--and the answer has to be both correct and succinct. I'm trying to hold several strands of information at once while engaging everyone's attention and not making errors. It's sort of like being told,  'Okay, now bench press your own body weight ten times!' As soon as I hit the bench for the first rep, I'm told, 'Wait, before you do that, do a hundred pushups!' So I scramble off the bench and get into position, trying to remember that I have to get back on the bench press as soon as I finish, and another athlete is meanwhile asking, 'What's your body fat percentage? How many pullups can you do? What was the exact protein content of your breakfast?'
When I play a character in AD&D, he is always an ESTP. I always had a phantasy of being an ESTP, like Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Branson, or Jack Sparrow. I couldn't conceivably spend protracted periods in the wild with other adventurers in my real-life personality. I would self-destruct after a few days. The kind of character I play, though, would thrive on it. (I miss the days when someone else was DM and I could be that character, living vicariously in a world that doesn't exist.) Introversion, unfortunately is neither a choice nor a habit, but, as someone once put it, a nervous system setting. That part of my life which requires interacting with the world beyond my garden, fighting crowds, and meeting new people would be much easier if I had my character's personality--but then, I would probably be living a life of adventure, not playing at one from the comfort of my dining room.
I was, incidentally, told once, 'Well, if you don't enjoy it, just don't do it'. I don't believe I'm alone in this--although I may be in something of a minority--but I do a great many things for purposes other than pure 'enjoyment'. Perhaps most people, especially those who have jobs they don't like, go through so much on a day-to-day basis that when they're finished with work, they just want to have fun. Cyndi Lauper wouldn't have sung it if it weren't true. But for me, the chance for exposure to different ways of thinking, the intellectual benefits of types of mental gymnastics far outside my comfort zone, and a visceral immersion into another world, are very much worth the expense of mental and physical energy.


  1. Here I go commenting on your posts weeks late (classic procrastination)!

    A question: Did you write phantasy on purpose? if so, why?

    I actually came out as an ESFP last time I tested. Almost always come out ESFJ. I feel comfortable as either. Always find it funny how introverted I felt for the entirety of my teenage life. I won't deny the benefits of alone-time, however.

  2. I think I beat you on that front this time. I've neglected the blog as much as I've neglected preparing for the game these past few weeks.

    I favour archaic spellings. I blame my excessive consumption of Lovecraft as a teenager.