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Four Hour Gaming Sessions? Seems Decadent

It seems like lately all I do is write responses to Adam's posts at Barking Alien, but sometimes he says stuff that begs a response.

Like this.
Some years back (and I know I mentioned it on this blog before) a friend of mine named Lee had the idea that a game session should only last four hours, or so. Around the same time, Zak Smith, and some other bloggers made mention that their sessions lasted about that long. 
Then, as now, I would have to ask HOW? How is that even possible? Why is it so even if it is possible? It takes me about forty-five minutes to my Traveller games now that we run them at one of the player's homes. Round trip I'm spending $5.50, and it's taking me an hour, and a half to travel to, and from (45 minutes each way). If I'm not getting at least six good hours of gaming out of the that, I'm staying home. 
 Why is it so?  Short answer?  Kids.  Work.  Stuff.  I'm not knocking Adam, I'm really not.  As someone who works on Sundays, getting "a good six hours of gaming" means I either game until after midnight on a Friday, or during the day on a Saturday.  Now I might be able to justify to myself spending a good chunk of a Saturday gaming now and then, but if I tried to do it regularly there's a lot of other things that wouldn't happen.

So instead I game four hours three Friday nights out of four.  And sometimes the game bogs down because of out-of-game conversations or crying toddlers not going to sleep like they are supposed to or my dog getting sprayed by a skunk.  I actually open the doors of my house an hour before the game starts to have dinner and visit and generally attempt to get a lot of the non-gaming socialization out of the way.  And it helps.

I have gamed the long gaming session.  Back in Ohio I would get together every three months and game for about ten hours straight over a Saturday.  It feels different, I get that.

With a short (four hour session) you can get a lot done.  In the last gaming session the group had a roleplaying encounter than kicked off the plot, another with the head of the docks and still another with the Jarl of the town.  They had a combat encounter in their inn, another on a boat, and still another in a cave on the island.  They explored about six or seven rooms in a castle on the island.

But it can be choppy.  There's little room for idle chatter or character development, hanging out bars or interacting with one another.  There's conflicts to resolve, plots to traverse, mysteries to plumb.  It is especially worse when you have an inconsistent gaming party.  Two of the characters who are currently in the basement of the castle will mysteriously disappear only to be replaced by two other characters in what I call the "Pokeball Effect" (because it feels like there's someone saying "c'mon back half-orc cleric!  Dwarf barbarian, I choose you!")

I'm not sure I'd drive over an hour for three of four hours of gaming.  I know people who do.  Ben did for a long time in our group, although he'd drop us in a New York minute if something else came along.  But I guess that my point is that some times that is the necessity of the situation, one that does create a different dynamic, maybe even a lesser one.  Half hour TV shows feel different from movies.  But short-term gaming is better than no gaming, and can be good in its own right.

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