RPG Evolution: The Magic Bubble

Life got you down? You'll always have your gaming group ... right?


Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Welcome to the Bubble​

In a fast-paced world where relationships often undergo significant changes, tabletop role-playing games offer a unique source of stability. These games create a "safe bubble," an environment where friendships are protected from the forces that might otherwise pull them apart.

At the heart of any tabletop role-playing game is an adventure. Players become characters in a shared narrative that creates a bond over time. Unlike many social activities, RPG campaigns can last for years, even decades, as long as the group agrees to continue. When jobs, personal relationships, and responsibilities can change in an instant, this commitment to a shared story can serve as a constant amidst the chaos of life.

The Fundamentals​

It's not surprising that tabletop games, with the right group, can last for decades. It requires a certain level of commitment and structure that so many institutions once provided.

In addition to the regular rhythm of showing up to play, RPGs usually require teamwork. Players are not competing against each other, like a regular poker night, but they're not physically working together, like in a team sport. It's a mental exercise of cooperation that's tested with each adventure, strengthening bonds over time.

The shared experiences of overcoming in-game obstacles can be empowering too. I'm fond of saying that players might not start out as friends when they first begin gaming together, but odds are if they stick with it, they'll be friends after -- if only because their characters will have saved each other multiple times.

Friendships thrive on communication, and RPG campaigns create a continuous, engaging conversation. Whether discussing character development, strategizing for the next encounter, or reflecting on the events of the game, players have a shared experience they can always talk about. This is the glue that keeps friends connected, even when life's responsibilities threaten to pull them apart.

Because the game is a mental construct, it's particularly welcoming to people from all walks of life. This can make gaming an appealing alternative to other activities that inherently have barriers -- if you can't bowl, you won't have much fun in a bowling league -- and means a group can cast a wider net in finding the right players.

In this way, tabletop gaming fills a void that so many other activities lack. Friendships at jobs can be torn away at a moment's notice due to company layoffs; divorces, deaths, and children growing up and moving out all bring inevitable change. But a tabletop game has its own rhythm independent of all these life changes, and if the group is committed, can be more stable too.

Careful Not to Pop It!​

The term "bubble" is apt, because as much as a gaming group is resilient, it is very much like other social bonds in that it depends on the enthusiasm and participation of its participants. These bubbles can grow stronger over time, but they are not invulnerable to outside forces either, and need to be nurtured (through repeat play) just like any other social activity. Inter-player tension can tear a group apart, and if the game master isn't happy, the whole bubble can burst.

So the next time you gather around the gaming table with your friends, take a moment to look around. You're not just playing a game; you're potentially forging life-long bonds. Here's hoping your fellow party members can help you face real life challenges too.

Your Turn: Still gaming together? What's your secret?

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


In my case, it took many, MANY years to find a stable group to play with.

It's always sad to hear and read about other's inability to find a stable group to game with, because I was on that boat at some point in my life, and it was a constant source of frustration.

Keep looking, friends! The ideal group might be a unicorn, but me and many others are living proof that unicorns exist!


First Post
I have run two 2+ year games. Most recently it ran weekly, we will call it my COVID game. It ran the entirety of the lockdown. and then 5 or 10 session on either side.

With a long running game ask the players what they want. Their input to necessary. Encourage back stories then as a GM mine those for adventure ideas. Get your BBEG (Big Bad Evil Guy/Gal) from someones own history. With the use of doppelgangers and polymorph you could get a two fer...


Finding that bubble is extremely difficult. I've had the same stable group for about a decade now, but it's not so stable now that that several people have moved. I've tried gaming with other people over the last few years, and found a lot of gamers are just flakey. I've had people who commit to a campaign only to drop after the 1st or second game. Sometimes before the first game even starts.

Hand of Evil

Back in the day that bubble was a popping like bubble gum. Finding the right game to play, keeping people focused on playing and not relationships. Sometimes felt to the games was more mature than some of the players. But what popped it for good for my group was age of the players and mine.

Finding that bubble is extremely difficult. I've had the same stable group for about a decade now, but it's not so stable now that that several people have moved.
Yeah, people moving was also the reason my pretty stable and also pretty great D&D group collapsed. The decline happened slowly, though, since we kept playing via mail afterwards. It took me quite a while then to find new people for a stable group; and that wouldn't have happened without the rise of (live) online gaming.
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I've had a stable group since 2014 because I'm not a Pandemic Poser. The trick is to actually play D&D, and you'll continue to play D&D. When you play "pretend elf time" around a table every now and then it just isn't the same.


Mod Squad
Staff member
I've had a stable group since 2014 because I'm not a Pandemic Poser. The trick is to actually play D&D, and you'll continue to play D&D. When you play "pretend elf time" around a table every now and then it just isn't the same.

Mod Note:
Are you sure you want your first post after a while away to be so dripping with disdain and insult that it immediately gets reported and has the moderators looking at you?

If you aren't going to show rather more respect for folks than this, you are probably going to want to find another venue for your thoughts on gaming.


I had a old friend group back in the 90's i started under an old school DM, ex hippy who would run old Greyhawk and play pink floyed and led zepplen records as back ground music. It was a great introduction into the game and has influanced my own style ever since, as we both are fans of gary gygax. My old group expanded and contracted and new faces came in as old one dropped out, but like all things we stared to part ways, as some moved away and others became more of a problem in game to deal with. I have since have a standing policy no GMS or wanna be GMs in my games as it is like oil and water for me. I control all parts of the game and many GMs try and interject their own ideas and opinions into my way of running things and well that is not how i do stuff. As a creative person if i was doing an oil painting i didn't want someone standing near me and trying to help paint it with me. With all the covid stuff that happened many more got into the game which otherwise would never have, this was as they say is a mixed bag of nuts. As some really are playing as if its a video game or something to pass the time with little attachment to things, still others are approaching it as if their characters are from day one a hero who's importance is above the rules. Back in the day i has cheats, power gamers, role players, and casual players to deal with, oh and rules lawyers too and some others that were flakes or just their to hang out and roll dice. Now we have these nuts added to the mix as it is and in doing so the easiest way to deal ir cutting the electronic cord at the table. This will take care of most issues and some may leave but those that stay are the ones to keep. Now i have nothing aginst electronic help, as a DM i use some sights for random generators and such, but by no means am i dependant upon them. The VTT table tops are again a tool and not the focus of a game, but wizards/hasbro seems to want to go that way and i fully support it as it will divid the ones in the base and get things back to where they were. Those who love the inperson and those that do the eletronic version and open up others to step in and fill the void that hasbro has created.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
My most stable group is a lot like the Ship of Theseus. I am literally the only person who still participates in the original group that started in 1992 playing (maybe) D&D 2e, moved to Shadowrun then a stint of MegaTraveller and then a decade of GURPS. We then went on hiatus from around 2000 to 2007 when 4e brought the band out of retirement - with a bunch of the original crew and some new folks. Since around 2009 though it's been the same DM. He claims we took a break between 4e and 5e, but if so, it wasn't for much longer than a year or two. Regardless, of this group, I believe we've probably had upwards of 40 different people come and go, although I've never taken the time to count...

And yup, we're friends outside the game too - in about an hour I'm heading over to one of the player's house to help him move some stuff

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