Hi! I have a pretty low bar to clear for RPGs, be they tabletop or computer:
1. I can play as a woman. I don’t spend money on any game where my gender is not a playable option.
2. The systems make sense and are fun to fiddle with. For combat, I need to know how my powers and effects work, when I should use them, and when I shouldn’t. I’d better see non-combat mechanics as well: skills and checks based on socializing, exploring, understanding lore, and the like. Character management—don’t get me started. Give me half a chance, and I will min-max until the chocobos come home. I spend hours rolling a new character and then studying my inventory, sorting and comparing gear and usable items—even more so when I have a party to manage. I’m usually more excited to find a new merchant in a game than a new area to explore or plot point to absorb, because that means new items.
"Fiddle with" doesn’t mean deliberately trying to break the game or exploit its rules for my benefit, by the way. I just like tinkering, experimenting, and exploring edge cases—including the ones that put me at a disadvantage, just because I want to see what happens. (Yeah, squishy mage, go tank the dragon. You totally got this!)
3. The world is internally consistent and coherent. What I’d expect from any piece of fiction, not just a game. Cultures, geography, societies, names, environmental art, creatures, philosophies—the setting should feel like an actual world, and not just some cool features haphazardly stuck together with no thought to organic evolution and integration.
4. “Evil” is a valid and enjoyable path. This is more for video games than tabletop: if a game has an alignment system, the story told for the murkier options must be as engaging as the one for the lighter ones. I prefer to roleplay grey-to-black morality, and so I’m disappointed whenever a game gives the “good” path a deep, compelling epic and dumps off on the “bad” path a superficial, muahahaha-we’re-so-eeeeeevil story. Accordingly, my first time through a CRPG is always evil: either it’ll be well done, and I’ll have a great time; or it’ll be mishandled, and I’ll figure out how I would have done it differently, thereby honing my craft. (Note how this point fits in with the previous two. You can learn a lot from a game by how its systems and its story mesh together—or not.)
Sweet! camharr answered my question, sometimes colloquially called “an ask,” and so here’s an exclamation point: !
So, look, here’s a thing. The lies that depression tells us are insidious, undeniable, fearsome, dreadful. Frightening. They’re not simply told to us, they lay across our eyes and everything we perceive passes through them. Telling ourselves the depression isn’t right — isn’t accurate — feels like lying to ourselves.
Things can one day somehow be better? There’s hope? We’ve been well before and we can be again? We’re allowed to feel anything but what the disease tells us is insight — is truth? These feel like lies we recite to make ourselves feel better when we don’t feel right, feel correctly, feel the good, any good at all. Believing them can feel dishonest.
Here’s another lie we tell ourselves: That we should be capable of outsmarting it. That we should toughen up. That we should be enough to cope on our own because these signals are us. That everyone gets low, gets blue, gets sad, and if we were worthy we would simply get sorted out. We can know this is bullshit and believe it at the same time. At the same time.
It is hard to accept that I cannot always be the person I want to be. I cannot always be the person you tell me I can be.
I tell myself that I’ll power through, that I don’t have to make time for this chronic illness, that the worst is behind me. I don’t know that. That’s not how this works. I have to make concessions to this thing because it’s not going away.
It’s built into the air we breathe, these ideas. They’re invisible and they’re already inside.
I don’t know if this makes me lesser than, I hope not, but I know it means I can do and be less than I’m told I can be. That’s a hard thing to face. And there it is.
I sat on the floor, watched Robin Williams be a space alien, and learned that even as outsiders, even when weird, we can love and be loved.
We’ve laughed, we’ve sobbed, we’ve let poetry drip from our tongues like honey, and we’ve been human aliens, all at once. We saw it in him.
Let us sneak off to the cave, break loose from our bottles, remember each other’s memories, and wet our eyes with laughs and tears.