Any other Game Masters not enjoy the player role?

I was talking to my GM friend the other day and I realized that he actually likes playing the game as much as running it. I don’t share this feeling at all. I’ll play, but it’s not really my thing. Mostly when I play, I find ways to break or add to the system because that’s the fun I have with RPG’s.

My topic is two-fold:

  1. Am I alone in this or is this pretty common in the game-running community?
  2. Do I miss valuable experiences by not wanting to play or is the point of having a minority interest in GM-ing that most people like to play and the hobby just needs facilitators sometimes?

Not uncommon at all. I don’t mind playing in some games, but I’m far more engaged when I’m GMing. And then there’s D&D 5e, which I’ll run for folks but really don’t like from the player side.

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I don’t get to play very often, but I enjoy playing if they are games that are…games that I like? >.> I’ve enjoyed the handful of PbtA games I’ve been in, but not the 5e game that I was in. I don’t get a chance to play as often as I’d like to, honestly, but I think it’s still a thing that I like.


Totally depends on the game. I thought I only liked GMing until I played some different systems that scratched different itches and empower players in different ways. One thing about the GM high is that you’re often “always engaged” while players, especially in more mechanically dense systems, feel like they’re often just waiting for their turn. Been playing this at work lately, and it’s the first system I’ve made that I enjoy playing more than GMing, because the ongoing puzzle/combat/mystery combination and decisions whether to press your luck in combat engage all the players on everyone’s turn.

Playing more collaborative storytelling games can be a lot of fun too, since I get to scratch a similar itch to GMing.

Meanwhile, low level 5e for example is super un-engaging for me as a player. Combat is standardized and sluggish, rolls drive most of the out of combat action in most games. You can of course run great games in any system but making 5e fun for me is trickier than others.


I generally prefer GMing because:

A) I like to be involved in the action 90% of the time in rpgs
B) I get to constantly reconstruct a story around the players reactions
C) I get to investigate themes, settings, or mechanics that interest me
D) I love to tell stories involving more than 1 character

That said, playing a story game where you share the GM responsibilities give all the same pluses.

I realized while trying to answer this question that I prefer to play rather than run the game when the mechanics are not too cumbersome for me to want to learn them all OR when a game is more about characters or a theme than they are about plot. Some PbtA games are so focused on developing the characters and relationships, that I would prefer to play many of those games. This is especially true when the game creates a strong story structure. In other words, because these games focus more on characters than on plot, I feel these particular games give players MORE to the story than the MC.

My examples for the first would be D&D 5e. My examples of the second case would be Blackout, Night Witches, World Wide Wrestling, or maybe even Apocalypse World.


I like interactive games, where players have some choice and some agency to flavor elements.

So to answer your question, it depends on the GM.

I’ve had GM’s who just recycle quests from WOW/Skyrim but don’t adapt it, and others who have a plot and totally ignore any deviation/roleplaying that is not part of their plot. With these GM’s i’d rather be the GM because I know I can do better, and have done many times.

GMing is a skill set, some people try to learn from their own and others games, others run the same style/technique for years and never get out of first gear.

With an descriptive and adaptive GM then i’d rather play, because being a regular GM for years it’s nice to let someone else drive.


I fall into the I GM most of the time because I have the most experience, and I am good at handling improve in my storytelling. I started off as a player, and realized if I wanted to break away from DnD I had to run whatever system I wanted. “If you build it, they will come” type of mentality. I also take on leadership roles in my real life, so GMing and Story telling I just kind of fell into. To add on to what @BlakeRyan said. It’s nice to just sit back and play than having to do the emotional labor for the backdrop and characters.


I enjoy both roles. Originally, I DMed because that was the only way to play (a common story I think). Over time, I came to grow as a DM, and I quite enjoy it. I wouldn’t say I’m great, but I do enjoy it, and I want to keep improving.

That said, I’d love to get to play more. I think my conundrum is this: it seems to be my fate that I’m always by far the most organized and dedicated in any group I am in. The amount of energy to run a good game is often higher than the amount of energy required to play in one (depends on the system). As such, DMing often falls to me because I just don’t know anyone besides myself who is willing to put in the effort to run a good game, but I do know many people who will step up and play in an invested way.

As of late I’ve been trying to get into PBP play, but have been struggling to get games off the ground successfully. Again, the mismatch of energy is huge. Hoping that I can at least get one or two games…would love to play in one, am happy to run one, just don’t know where my “we get invested in games but aren’t jerks about it” peeps are at!


Out of curiosity, if you share this feeling:

  1. What do you like with being a game master?
  2. What games do you play?
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This impulse is at least in partly responsible for games where everyone gets to be the GM.


Typically, what I get from playing is reinforcement by lessons learned, i.e. “Oh yeah, that’s why I don’t do that” or, “I used to do that; why did I stop?” It does help to see things from the other side, though if you don’t enjoy it, you aren’t going to have the same general experience.

Good questions/topic.


That’s my first thought, too. Some people are content to kick back and be passive-occasionally-involved character players. For everyone else, games that give players access to GM-like tools are a nice sliding scale to be more or less involved in that aspect.

I suppose those Forever GM By Choice folks are the ones who get most of their satisfaction from that position or tools.


For the last few years my experience with gaming has been GMing and I can say with complete certainty that I’ve enjoyed the job more than I ever did as a player.

That said, I’m actually a little concerned that I can’t go back to the player role now that I’ve joined the Gauntlet. I have like four sessions booked for Gauntlet Con as a player and There’s a part of me that’s a little worried that I’m not going to have the same quality experience I’ve grown accustomed to. Either way, I’m open to it all and I’m looking forward to both playing with and running games for this community.

I am very particular about what games I am willing to play, and I try to only GM games that I would happily be a player in. The games that I enjoy playing in most are those with very clear player-facing procedures and support for players to follow their own agenda (rather than playing along with / responding to the GM’s direction).

I love GMless games not only because you get some of the degree of creative input of GMing, but because you don’t need permission to do anything (barring player safety). The rules tend to clearly set bounds on your input.

I love playing Blades in the Dark, but really only as a sandbox: the kind of play where the players can carve out their own path on the Claims sheet. I have also played Blades (mostly as a one-shot) where you are adherining to the score the GM prepped and it is hard to be nearly as invested.

I love playing Torchbearer because so many of the rules are player facing; I’m not relying on someone else making a call on how long a torch lasts or what I can or can’t do in camp. The system is complex, but it’s highly transparent.

I’m very unlikely to stick with any game where I’m railroaded along a plot (even an artful one) or where can’t set meangingful long-goals and see the mechanical steps to follow trhough.



The notion from the outset is that GMing is supposed to be more rewarding, like anything else where you get what you give, or you walk.

It’s risk vs. reward. GMs tend to be more invested, which is as it should be.