Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gateway to the Minimalist Gamer Lifestyle

I've been obsessed with minimalism recently (the lifestyle, not the music...although I am a huge Philip Glass junkie). It's a hard thing to attain if you are married with kids, but the mere concept of a minimalist lifestyle just exudes a sense of weird freedom. But how does one reconcile minimalism with the natural predilection for collecting crap that comes with being an old gamer? I mean....I've got three shelves' full of just D&D 5th edition books! An entire additional three shelves filled with OSR and indie books. I don't even know where to start.

The OSR certainly offers a starting point. If one were hypothetically capable and willing to stick to a set of rules such as White Box you could conceivably eliminate a lot of that clutter. It sounds cool, until I start thinking about how awesome it would be to get my group to play, say, a Razor Coast campaign. Then I realize I'd be using S&W Complete, which means I'd have the Tome of Horrors Complete, and Monstrosities, and all that other stuff....that's a lot of paper. In the course of this exercise I'd start thinking about the warlock I want to stat out and then realize there are no warlocks in White Box, which reminds me of why I play D&D 5E. Suddenly things get complicated.

Savage Worlds is actually well suited to minimalist play, barring the fact that you need to haul at least the poker chips, cards, core rules and up to four or five genre books around for the full experience.

Many other games, such as Pathfinder, GURPS and even D&D 5E now are diametrically opposed to this concept, even if they manage to come fairly close --one can argue that you only really need 3 tomes to run all the D&D you want, even if you would be empirically wrong because gamers always need that one extra tome.

This is not the firstsecond --or even third-- time I've thought about this subject. Clearly I need to find some sort of point of balance between "stuff" and "life." Then again....maybe not all stuff is life, but perhaps all life is stuff. Hmmmm.

So I don't know how to reconcile my existing lifestyle and hobby with the precepts of minimalism.  It seems to come up when I realize I am statistically more likely to die by being buried under an avalanche of books than of natural causes.

Maybe I'll make this my official New Year's resolution (nine days late): set my goal to see how close to the minimalist life goal I can get.


  1. This is why I'm hoping to get away with just Risus, the Risus Companion, and the Strange Stars setting book for a sci-fi game. Shouldn't need anything else.

    1. Risus is the most amazing game ever, honestly. Strange Stars is an awesome setting book, too. My problem (as a gamer) is too much investment in my vast and aging fantasy worlds.....plus a schedule where I run games twice a week....

    2. World building is one of my great traps. I have to avoid it if I am to GM successfully. So I know exactly what you're talking about re investment. :)

  2. I like reading about your approach to minimalism as a gamer. It's something that I think about, too, as I'm really trying to minimize my attachment to "stuff" (as you say), but so many of my geek tendencies run counter to that. I want to make sure I understand that the value of things lies in their utility, not in their status as baubles to be hoarded away.

  3. I think this is why pdfs are so popular. You can have a massive library, but it all fits on one notebook. It's not as satisfying as having the actual tomes at hand but it is the new definition of minimal, physically speaking.