People have a lot of perfectly good reasons for playing RPGs. Some love gallivanting through lands of extraordinary fantasy while others seek the thrill of unraveling tangled webs of clandestine plots and mysteries. Some folks live to beat the system. To outfox the computer at its own game in deliberate high-stakes combat. Some fancy the artistry that goes into constructing a unified world of imagination be it visual, musical, or somewhere in between.
But there's one special something all RPG enthusiasts share in common: perseverance.
Somewhere along the line, we've all willingly accepted daunting adventures that often stretch into days worth of playtime, sometimes even weeks worth! And yet, as crazy as it all sounds, we endure. We put up with blasphemies like excessive grinding or text dumps so long they could reach to the moon and back even when we know there's more productive ways to spend our time.
Why do we persevere when we're bound to inevitably feel the prickly sting of dated game design practices or insufferably clichéd (not to mention entirely predictable) plots or, worse, game designers hellbent on channeling the stylistic sensibilities of late-80s glam rock into their sullen protagonists? Why oh why do we do it!?
Truthfully, I don't really know, but I'll hazard a guess anyways because you've read this far and for that you deserve a pearl of wisdom no matter how small.
So RPGs. We all play RPGs for entirely different reasons, but I'm here to tell you I play RPGs for nuggets.
An adolescent Trace Wysaske would tell you his absolute favorite thing about Pokémon Red happens a few trainers into Route 24. After felling a hodgepodge of combatants armed to the teeth with Caterpies and Zubats, players are unceremoniously awarded a nugget of all things for the sole reason of 'hey, you made it across a bridge.' From Team Rocket, no less! That'd be a powerful moment in any 6 year old's life back in the halcyon days of 1998, but this was especially true in my case. Not only had I single-handedly quelled the mighty Team Rocket with a Charmander mistakenly and unfortunately nicknamed 'Charizard,' but I got a nugget for my valiant efforts. Better yet, the Cerulean shop clerk appraised it for 5000K! "That's one expensive chicken nugget!" my younger self sung, and boy was that a great moment.
Now, a few years later I would discover that there were other kinds of nuggets outside those of the poultry variety, but nevertheless the congratulatory chicken nugget of Route 24 has since become worth much more than its going rate would ever suggest. Sure, the nugget is unabashed memory associated with lazy summer days when my world view didn't extend much further than my own backyard. Back then, the only injustice out there was how unfair it was that my Charmander, MY Charizard couldn't obliterate either Brock or Misty, but I digress.
In case you're wondering, the nugget isn't really about my schmaltzy personal memories. In actuality, it's indicative of something much more universal and communal, something we've all encountered at random intervals during our favorite RPGs. It's the hamburger left in a trash can or taking the dog to the movie theaters or when a horde of Slimes metamorphosize into bloated royalty. We latch onto these tiny inconsequential moments within games of gargantuan scale because they characterize our pilgrimages from start to finish. RPGs perhaps more than any other genre allow players to experience worlds that aren't always defined by a sequence of exhilarating, earth-shattering events, but by the little asides along the way. Weirdly enough, it's these small moments that end up leaving the longest lasting impressions and honestly I wouldn't have it any other way.
For me, the quest for these chicken nugget moments is exactly what keeps me coming back to RPGs. They're the ones that are worth writing about and sharing and if you can relate, well then, my friend, you've come to the right place.