One of the strongest passions in my life is Role-Playing. I've been doing it over 10 years and it's my stress relief, social activity, and inspiration. In my younger days when I worked less, it was not unknown to play in two games and run a second every week. There was (still is, though I attend little these days) a gaming club in my town that I played at, or in someone's basement. It was very stereotypical, a bunch of guys crouched around a table with stacks of snack foods laid out beside them. Not glamorous, but fun nonetheless.
Back in those days it was not unheard of to play a single game from 7pm until 4am the next day… sometimes running short, or sometimes running long. A really good game might keep us up until 9am. Often giving enough time to walk home, shower, grab an hour or two of sleep and then head off for work at noon.
These days I work far too much to be involved in regular games, or regular anything for that matter. My work requires me to disappear from home to live in a camp far from civilization or simply to drive out early in the morning to some fairly remote location, only to return home 10 to 14 hours later. During busy times days off are few and far between, though during quiet times I can have weeks or perhaps a month or two where work is quite sparse. Many people are baffled how I can live this way, but the money is good, and after a while you can get used to it. My work also has other advantages.
I write this from within my shack stationed at the Nabors 60 Drilling Rig. I have time to do this because my job is Emergency Medical Standby. The law of this province requires that industrial sites of this scale a particular distance from a hospital must have a person with the equipment and training to respond to an incident where someone gets injured. I maintain my internet connection via a cellular modem witch costs me a ridiculous amount for a tiny bit of bandwidth. The bandwidth limits make playing any modern online game impossible so about 2 years ago I began participating in the official online RPG chat that my favorite game company White Wolf offers on their website. I participated in this for over a year and a half, before reasons I won't go into here forced me to leave.
Since then I've gathered a role-playing group via Skype that's very dedicated. I run White-Wolf's Exalted, and have been working on a Piracy/Sailing game based in the late 17th century with a lot of help and contributions from a friend. We utilize dice roller web pages, and play just about every day that I work. My players’ dedication never ceases to amaze me. This is a nice way of saying I think they have no life. (Though in all fairness I don't think they're as addicted as WoW players.) But it does flatter me that they find my game so enticing.
These days I look for trends that can help me game online. Programs that generate and keep track of characters better, pictures of characters, programs that help design maps are all things I’m interested in. I even search for games that allow a good custom avatar creation that could simulate the characters I want to build.
These days I'm looking at Second Life. A virtual world where you can build a character to look like anything. I haven't played it but I do pay attention to the buzz and the concept. I'm predicting that it and virtual worlds like it will become more prevalent in the next few years. I see it becoming the new medium for my hobby soon.
Already I see potential in 3D worlds like this, potential to build characters for my favorite pen and paper RPG's. Even to place the same systems engineered for these RPG's in as plug-ins for the virtual world. Already advertising companies are jumping on the virtual world bandwagon flooding Second life with posters and signs. One can only hop that RPG companies will seize the initiative on this as well.