Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: Lack of expertise

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lack of expertise

Over at Kung Fu Monkey, John Rogers asked people to submit their Odd Areas of Expertise, positing first that you needed at least 10,000 hours of practice in a field to qualify as an 'expert' at anything. Here's my response:

::sigh:: My odd area of expertise is Game Mastering. Sad. Hit me with the Geek Bricks now.

I GMed my first game sometime in... call it early 1980. That was college, and I was the one in my clique that would always DM, so figure I ran 30 sessions a year for the next 3 years, 10 hours a session, which is a pretty good approximation, as we often gamed all weekend back then. So that's 900 hours... throw in another 100 hours for KILLQUEST, a game that the Late, Great Jeff Webb and I invented where you had identical maps in each of 3 pizza boxes and two players running teams of 5 superheroes denoted by numbered push pins on each map. You needed a GM to keep track of all the different heroes' movements on the master map, and I did that a lot, too, because no one else wanted to. Plus, GMing individual 'conflicts', when, like, Kurt would run Wolverine and Andy would run Batman and they'd fight each other.

So, up through 1982, call it 1000 hours.

Right around there people started graduating and moving out, but there was still a core group to game with. So drop it back to 20 sessions for '83. That's 200 hours GMing... maybe more, if you factor in a few hours every week prep work, but, still, call it 200 hours. Then around 1984 The Eisner Award Winning Comics Writer (who hadn't won any Eisner Awards yet) returned to Syracuse from New York with his first regular assignment, and also, with the CHAMPIONS superhero RPG system. So we started running CHAMPIONS... 4 DMs, alternating, whenever we could. Call that 20 more sessions a year. So another 200 hours. And now we're up to 1985, when I DMed hardly anything... maybe 30 hours total the whole year, as people were moving around and the old crowd was pretty well broken up.

But around then I started gaming fantasy stuff, not superhero, with an entirely different group. In 1985 I came back from Basic Training and created my own fantasy game, ran the first session in July. Changed that around a little bit, started running it regularly in January 1986. I've run that game, and, occasionally, a few other random things, for at least ten sessions a year every year since, about half the time much more than that (like, 48 sessions a year). Run length has shortened as I've grown older gracelessly. Call it 35 sessions a year, 8 hours a session, TWENTY THREE FUCKING YEARS... Jesus. 6,440 hours. Conservatively.

Add in the 1400 hours I had in superhero RPGs and you get... 7,880 hours.

However, for, what, 10 years of that elapsed time, at least, I played probably 2 or 3 hours in someone else's game for every 1 hour I GMed my own scenarios, and I studied how they GMed for... I dunno... call it half that time. So figure at least another... I dunno, call it 5,000 hours GM training/apprenticing.

So that's 12,880 hours GMing roleplaying games.

Fuck.

Now. I've written 7 novels and a memoir of my time in Basic Training, call it 100 hours for each, with seems fair. That's 800 hours. I've written... fuck, I don't know... 40 LONG articles on Silver Age superhero comics, gaming, TV shows and movies, and other geek crap, and probably 50 short stories/novellas. Approximate 3 hours each, that's 270 hours. I've blogged a LOT since, oh, 2000, and posted a lot of comments on other people's blogs. Written a fuck of a lot of email. Say 10 hours a week every week since 2000, that's 4,680 more hours pounding the keyboard, trying to put words into some kind of reasonably elegant and occasionally witty order for someone else to read and understand. That's 5,750 hours right there. Plus all the plots and scripts I did in college understudying the Future Eisner Award Winning Comics Writer, and have done since on spec or just for fun. That's... fuck. Got to be another 10,000 hours writing excellent entertaining funny ass bullshit I can get five different sources to 'publish' if I don't want them to pay me, and can't get anyone with the power to cut a check to even take off a slush pile and glance at.

All this, and a lot of the time in there, I've held down full time jobs. Not voluntarily, mind you. And the last four years, I've pretty much been a full time husband and stepfather to three daughters. And that last is a 24/7 deal, so, that's 34,944 hours being a husband and stepdad.

Huh. So I'm an expert Game Master, an expert writer (of crap no one will pay me for), and a Master Class spouse/parent... and yet, while I do feel reasonably expert at throwing a game scenario together and running it, or sitting down and pounding out a story in nearly any format not intended for adaptation into moving pictures, I'm still a rank goddam amateur at husbanding and stepfathering.

So which of these things is more demanding?

Or maybe I just suck.

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