Even in a year of pandemic, there was gaming. I probably played as often as I did in normal times, but fewer titles and with fewer people. I did not attend any conventions; I tried, signed up for online cons, but it didn’t pan out for me.
I played a total of 20 different titles, the lowest number in six years; this included only 3 board games, 14 role-playing games, and 3 story games. Only 6 of these (30%) were new to me, i.e., I had never played them before, including one playtest. The board games were sadly curtailed because my husband has been wrestling with vision problems that made it frustrating for him to deal with small writing and game components.
But I still played at least once weekly thanks to a variety of recurring RPG campaigns conducted online. Frankly, I had not had this much satisfying long-term role-playing in years: with few options for leisure and social activities, many more people could be counted on to meet regularly.
With six years of data, here is what the game type breakdown looks like:
For the last five years I’ve also been keeping track of who I play with. It looks like this:
Player diversity was disappointing in 2020, particularly when I was a player in other people’s games. The majority of players who were not cis men were players in games I or my husband ran, and somehow I did not play with any people of colour (that I am aware of), a sad performance. Despite this, I think it’s not too bad that I played with 41 different people.
Here is what my list of games looked like in 2020:
- 13th Age (Pelgrane Press)
- BFF! (Heart of the Deernicorn)
- Checkpoint Midnight (Cloven Pine Games)
- City of Mist (Son of Oak Studio)
- Dead Men Tell No Tales (Minion Games)
- Dragon Age (Green Ronin Publishing)
- Forbidden Island (Gamewright)
- Harlem Unbound / Monster of the Week hack (Darker Hue Studios/Evil Hat/Sophie Lagacé)
- Journey Away (Purple Aether Games)
- Kids on Brooms (Renegade Game Studios / Hunters Entertainment)
- Last Fleet (Black Armada)
- Legacy: Life in the Ruins (Modiphius Entertainment)
- Monster of the Week (Generic Games/Evil Hat Productions)
- Numenéra (Monte Cook Games)
- Paladin: Warriors of Charlemagne (Chaosium/Nocturnal Media)
- Spirit Island (Greater Than Games)
- Star Trek Adventures (Modiphius Entertainment)
- The Expanse RPG/Fate Condensed hack (Green Ronin/Evil Hat/Sophie Lagacé)
- The Quiet Year (Buried Without Ceremony)
- Urchin (Clint Krause Games)
To be honest, this was not a year for discovering great new games, but one for comfort games played with friends for the quality of the company and the creation of shared stories. None of the games that were new to me have become favourites. Several of the systems I found mediocre, new or old, still supported wonderful stories because of the people involved; but when it was time to roll, I often asked myself, Why are we using this system?
Probably in reaction, the two campaigns I am currently running are hybrids using a setting from one game and a system from another: the Harlem Unbound setting run using Monster of the Week, and the setting info from The Expanse RPG run using Fate Condensed.
In fairness, it may be that I have simply grown so comfortable with Fate and Monster of the Week because I worked on the creation of several dozen modules for these systems on the virtual tabletop platform Roll20 between April and December. I am very proud of the more than 50 titles Evil Hat Productions now offers on the Roll20 Marketplace, especially considering that we started 2020 with, I think, six titles.
The takeaway from looking back at my 2020 in games is how grateful I feel that online gaming let me stay in touch with friends and enjoy some escapism.