Any readers who have been even semi-regular visitors to RPG Blog know that I am a huge advocate of the FATE RPG. Not only does it improve upon existing FUDGE concepts, but I also believe it to be one of the least constrictive, most utilitarian systems on the RPG scene today. There are a lot of free RPGs out on the Web, but this is the first system that's been of more use to me than 95% of my store-bought ones.
As an advocate of FATE, you can imagine how thrilled I was when Fred Hicks and Rob Donoghue, creators of FATE and the minds behind Evil Hat Productions, agreed to an interview for RPG Blog. The resulting Q&A is as fun, insightful, and interesting as anything I've had the privilege to undertake. I'd like to thank Rob and Fred once more for agreeing to this interview, and will caution our readers, this entry is long, but ultimately well worth it. Let's get things rolling!
(Oh, one further word: I apologize for the rather blah title , and I swear I came up with two dozen brilliant alternatives, but I wanted to make sure folks knew what this was. So, please, pardon my non-felicity of expression).
For those who are hearing about FATE for the first time, could you explain what makes it a great system?
Fred: I personally like to believe that Fate is fairly non-intrusive: it gets out of the way of your fun. It gives you some structure for building your stories, but it doesn’t club you over the head with that structure. But mainly I think it’s great because I built it with Rob to best fit how we tend to end up running and playing our games anyway. When it really comes down to it, every time we’ve run something that hasn’t been Fate – we’ve ended up making it feel a lot like Fate anyway.
Rob: Big thing? There’s this moment towards the end of a book or movie where the hero should, by all rights, be taken out. But they have a reason to keep fighting, and that is enough to take them over the top. Fate lets you do that. There’s other cool stuff, but on some level, that’s the heart of it.
What limits do you currently see for gamers using your work--is there a genre or style FATE isn't suited for?
Fred: I wouldn’t say there’s any one genre that’s bad for Fate – if you can get away from the system baggage you’ve given that genre by playing games set in it. Supers gets brought up a lot as the genre that Fate doesn’t do well, and there’s some truth to that.
Rob: Not just some truth.
Fred: Somebody coming from a Hero or even a Silver Age Sentinels background is going to stumble if they’re looking for that level of crunch with Fate. You can bring some crunch to Fate, but only to a point – past that point, there’s going to be some resistance. But if you came to supers with less of that sort of bias – say, if Capes or Above the Earth struck you as having more the detail level you’re going for (or even, hell, the mid-80’s Marvel Superheroes game), Fate supers may seem eminently doable to you.
Rob: In way of example, I would use Fate to run a game based off the JLA/JLU cartoon. You already know the characters, so the detail level is much less necessary.
Fred: Fate really has more of this emphasis on story power – when does the thing that your character does come into play and take center stage? That’s the sort of thinking that has Batman and Superman operating on the same team. Sometimes it’s Batman’s moment – and sometimes it’s Superman’s. That’s where the “balance” in the system lives. If you’re instead trying to figure out how to represent someone who can toss a truck around vs. someone who can toss a tank around – you’re probably going to come away frustrated.
Rob: In the end, I think spotlight is an important game-balancing tool, but I don’t like depending entirely upon it, which you almost have to do for a story power game. I think you can do amazing things with it for a while, but it would eventually drive me to madness.
And I’m ok with that. There are systems that do supers in a way I find much more satisfying, and when it comes down to it, I’ll play them. I’ve got no need for Fate to be all things to all people.
FUDGE is a pretty well-known system in gaming circles. What aspects of FUDGE do you think FATE improves on or enhances?
Fred: As fond as I am of Fudge, it’s always come off pretty half-baked to me. I’m not going to get into the Is It A Complete System Or Not argument again – though I think it’s enough of one as to render that argument as only so much noise – but if there’s one thing we did a lot of it Fate and did well, it was examples. Fudge has occasionally seemed pretty light on that front – it wanted to offer a world of options to GMs, but didn’t do a lot to help guide their decision making process regarding those options. This takes me to the other thing I think Fate did and does well: offering options but telling you why you should go with this option or that option. We’re a specific build of Fudge in the end – a pretty heavily “drifted” one, at that – and as such we’re providing you with a lot of the core choices that Fudge leaves wide open, chosen. I think it provides a more focused, and thus more powerful, experience for the GM who comes to the system wondering what to do with it. If you wanted to get into the specifics of it, I could also talk about how I think aspects have helped lick the whole “stats plus skills” thing that’s spent the last umpteen years chewing on the Fudge list like a serpent at the roots of the world, but when it’s down to the brass tacks, that’s actually pretty peripheral.
Rob: Fate makes Fudge closer to how I want to play it. Vastly simple, I know, but there it is.
How did you two begin working together on FATE?
Fred: A trip to Lake Tahoe, our wives fleeing to a separate car to escape the game geekery, and a desire to take another stab at running an Amber game using Fudge – but not feeling like Fudge’s current toolset had all the key pieces I wanted. Rob, you want to fill out the details on this one?
Rob: So, many years ago, Fred ran a spectacular Amber game, Crown of Amber. He used Fudge, and tried a number of neat ideas. After that wrapped up, we tried a couple of other similar things. Fudge’s ladder is a really good conceptual match for the stat ladder from the Amber DRPG, and allowed for neat things like putting characters in tiers of skill, where they were clearly better than those below them, but were jockeying with each other within the tier.
For the next game, we were tapping into some of these ideas, but we really wanted to capture some of the things that skills really didn’t cover. Amber characters are really strongly archetypal, and we wanted to capture that. This led to the super-geeky trip to Tahoe, and the original version of aspects as a three tiered model. The idea was to let a character be strong, stronger or strongest. But it also allowed someone to be drunk, drunker, or drunkest. Now, this ended up dovetailing with some ideas from Seventh Sea and Trollbabe and turned into Aspects. The rest evolved when Fred ran Born to be Kings and it was, frankly, spectacular. Good enough that we figured this would be worth writing down somewhere.
What inspired you to offer FATE for free (donations-only)?
Rob: Low self esteem. Couldn’t imagine charging money for it at first. After a while though, the idea of it being free became something genuinely exciting. I’d known in my heart we wanted to go OGL when we could, and I was just delighted to finally have an opportunity.
Fred: Wasn’t even a question for me. When Fate started out it was just our house rules for Fudge, and Fudge was free, so Fate should be free. Eventually it grew into something that could pretty much stand alone, and Rob applied some of his insane text-formatting geekery to get us to the point where it looked pretty close to pro – and we were off to the races.
When it comes right down to it, I think most game companies should be offering their systems up for free – it lowers the resistance to people getting started on it, and that means more people playing it. More people means more word-of-mouth advertising, which is priced at a pretty affordable rate. If you want to charge for something, charge it for add-ons – settings, “advanced rules”, whatever. But you’ve got to build on a solid and readily available core.
The skills system in FATE is quite unique. How did you come up with it, and what do you feel it offers the player?
Fred: Rob pretty much came up with it. After a few go-rounds with presenting skills – or not presenting skills – in earlier drafts, we realized we wanted to provide the core of skills much in the way we’d provided our eight-or-so magic systems. It’s a construction kit to build a skill list rather than a single specific skill list – again, hitting a nice solid midpoint between the “wide open options” of basic Fudge and the “too little choice” constraints of a single fixed skill list. So anyway, we had a conversation to this effect and a few weeks later Rob showed up with what we’ve got today.
Rob: We originally just said “make up your own skill list” like it was a trivial thing. And honestly, I think it is, but only because I’ve kept every skill list I’ve ever used, including the giant one from Rolemaster, and I have those on hand to make the skill list I need. Realistically, it’s a big pain in the ass. So we figured some guidance was necessary.
Fred: Yeah. To be honest, I was never very good at coming up with skill lists, so I went for the ultimate cheat and pushed it off onto my players. I hadn’t yet learned the value of the example – but it’s a lesson that came home for us very quickly as we put Fate together.
Rob: The other tricksy thing is the pyramid. It’s the hardest thing to explain in the system, but the payoff has been so consistently good that we’ve stuck to it. I’ve done enough twinking in my days to recognize the basic common pattern – pick one or two skills at hugely high levels, and everything else at just enough to get by. That works great in a video game, but it never felt like something that produced well rounded characters who had the kind of skills that even an average person has. Now, there are a couple of solutions to this problem. Descriptive skills (like “cop”) help fill in the nooks and crannies, but they’re subject to broad interpretation, so not all players enjoy them. Other systems use escalating costs of skills to encourage building the foundation. I’m fond of the latter approach, and the pyramid was an attempt to cut to the chase, and just get to a skill set that fit the idealized pattern.
The end result is something that makes it immediately clear where a character’s strengths lie, which in turn goes a long way towards helping the GM recognize shticks and set difficulties. Without needing a complete copy of each sheet.
Do you see any revisions coming out for FATE--perhaps an area you wish you had done better, or one you feel could be improved?
Fred: Always, always, always. Fate’s a constantly moving target for us, due in no small part to the level of feedback we get from the community. We’ve got a great discussion list for the game going on over at Yahoo Groups, and we’re always listening to suggestions and factoring them back into how we run our game. And as we work on the Dresden Files RPG, we’re bringing a lot of that to bear. In a lot of ways, that game’s going to be Fate 3.0 – still recognizable as Fate, but with a ton of new technology in it. Basically a twofer. Once we’ve got that out sometime next year, we should be able to pull the “generalized” lessons back out of it and offer a new rev of Fate on the far side. But the DFRPG – that comes first.
Rob: The skill pyramid could be simplified.
Fred: Should be simplified.
Rob: Better guidance could be provided for how aspects are used. Uses of Fate points could be extrapolated. Better setting integration would go a long way. Combat is an ever-evolving challenge. Character generation could be streamlined and expanded. Rules for pickup play could be improved.
I could go on for a while. We’ve addressed or are trying to address all of these things in Dresden and other things, but I’m really bad at being content with a finished product.
How has the support for FATE been from the gaming community?
Rob: Mind blowing.
Fred: Just overwhelming.
Rob: It’s like googling yourself and seeing that someone else had something to say about you. It’s a rush. Also, as enthusiastic as they are, it’s a demanding enough community that we can throw an idea out there and expect it to get really well worked over. Sometimes that obliterates it, but sometimes it polishes up a diamond.
FATE recently went OGL (Open Gaming License). What do you hope to result from this?
Fred: More Fate for more people. We’d wanted to get it out there under some kind of open license – OGL, Creative Commons, something – but the existing Fudge licensing stuff only went so far, and introduced some complications to boot. That had us thinking we needed to break ties with Fudge and take the already-standalone Fate to a point where it wasn’t directly derivative of Fudge on a few key points. But then Ann Dupuis over at Grey Ghost went and embraced the OGL for Fudge, so it got a lot easier.
Rob: For people to steal our ideas, use them to come up with vastly cooler ideas which we can then, in turn, steal.
Fred: See, that’s why I keep Rob around, he says what I try to say, only, y’know, shorter, and better.
What have been some of the positive and negative experiences you've come across in producing your own RPG?
Fred: The positive stuff’s too numerous to mention – I think the real apex of that for us was in the awards we got at the 2003 Indie RPG Awards held last year. We had, in our minds, no reasonable expectation to place in more than one category – our actual performance there blew us away, to the point of leaving us sitting around feeling stunned for about a full week.
And in a way, the awards we got there took us directly to getting the Dresden Files rights – though the big part of that came from us knowing Jim Butcher as a friend before he got all important and published. Anyway, at last year’s WorldCon, I think it was, Jim’s agent – also a gamer – comes up to him and says, “So, Jim, I’ve gotten a few inquiries about RPG rights to the Dresden Files, but none of them have come from these award-winning RPG designing friends of yours. Maybe you should offer them dibs?” And so Jim passes it on to us. I tell you, you could have knocked us over with a feather. And then our wives went and said, hey, it’s your dream project – go and do it. I think we mainly bibbled after that point. Wives are neat.
Rob: My head pops every time Fred has one of the new pieces of Art to show me. I think it’s all awesome, but I’ll believe this is real when it’s done. That said, the insight into how this stuff gets done has been very useful perspective in looking at other games.
Fred: On the negative side, mainly it’s a case of having too little time for too much stuff. RPG production is a labor of love – not a money maker. So the day jobs we keep have an annoying tendency to need 40-60 hours of our time a week. Given that we want to have lives as well as design games, that leaves precious little time for game designing time – and lately our lives have had to go wanting a bit.
Rob: Yeah, so not cheap. I have stopped complaining about the prices of RPG books because I now know just how slim our profit margin will be. Business-wise, we’d be better off selling t-shirts.
And as Fred says, it’s a time sink. I usually write up and discard 2 or three game or campaign ideas a month, and I really just don’t have the time to do that these days, and I admit, I sometimes resent it. But it’s worth it.
You recently acquired the license for the Dresden Files RPG. For those not familiar with the setting, what do they have to look forward to?
Fred: Rob, should I do the blurb?
Rob: Blurb on, tiny Elvis.
Fred: Okay, cue up the Farscape theme music in the background. I’ll try to summon up my best John Crichton voiceover… The world is spinning out of control. This is a world where the Nevernever, the realm of fae and ghosts, is just the other side of a boundary from normal life; a world where Courts of vampires divide the night between them. These are the things that prowl beneath the surface, things which most humans don’t know about, don’t want to know about, and will do their best to forget about if they ever get near them. People don’t see if they don’t want to see. But a brave few are striking back at the dark. This is a world where the White Council of wizards protects the innocent and stops the misuse of sorcery; a world where sometimes a single person in the right place at the right time can do the right thing and save the people he cares about. From occult cops to noble werewolves, holy knights to ninja librarians, half-monster heroes to wisecracking wizards, they are all making their own last, desperate stands against the ancient enemies of mankind. We can only pray that they are not too late. … How was that?
Rob: Awesome. But it reminds me we need to put in Hawt Redhead Chixxor. That seems a really big selling point within the subgenre.
Fred: How about a hawt Red Court vampire chixxor?
Who were your big influences in RPGs and gaming?
Fred: The Amber Diceless RPG was probably one of the strongest, if you go right back to the roots of Fate as a system built to run games in that setting. ADRPG showed me how to throw off the shackles of rules – and also showed me how much of that was too much. Fudge, obviously, comes in there too – and you can trace back from that to the Marvel Superheroes RPG that TSR put out back in the day. Risus also deserves a shout-out for teaching us that you can still get a rich experience out of some fairly simple rules.
Rob: Rolemaster was my foundation for learning the joy of really hacking a system, but the game that opened my eyes to an entirely new world of gaming was Tweet’s Over the Edge. Coming from things like D&D, RM, Shadowrun and the like, it was utterly mind-breaking. In a damn good way. The Amber DRPG was sort of a steady bass line in the background over many years of intermittent play, but the next really eye opener was probably Feng Shui. Since then, I’ve been a starving man at the buffet, ripping through systems right and left for the bits I like. 7th Sea deserves some mention as doe WEG’s Star Wars, Risus, and, of course, Fudge.
When you aren't working on FATE, what other games can you two usually be found playing?
Fred: City of Heroes.
Rob: World of Warcraft.
Fred: On the tabletop, I had a brief flirtation with Nobilis – but ultimately there was too much esoterica and too little traction in that for me. Rob ran a great Exalted game a bit back, and before that when we were still in California we got some good quality time in with Silver Age Sentinels – still my supers RPG of choice these days – and 3rd Ed AD&D when it came out. But mainly if I’m going to throw a game together, it’s going to be Fate – or one of the long list of indie games we haven’t gotten our chance to play yet because Fate’s been the monster eating our gaming time.
Rob: I need to freaking play more. I’m just a bit too willing to GM.
Fred: And how. I think Rob mainly gets to be player if I get on a tear to GM something. Otherwise, despite a huge number of gamers in our crowd, 90% of the games out there get run by Rob.
Rob: If I’m not running Fate, I’ll genuinely try very nearly anything. Unfortunately, I rarely have the time or patience to grind through something entirely new, unless it really excites me (as the games Fred mentioned did) or it’s short, I’m just not going to get through it. This tends to mean that my other fallback is usually a Risus/Over the Edge sort of bastardization based on my specific needs for the game.
What's your biggest pet peeve as a player or GM?
Rob: Besides reading my own handwriting? Ineffectiveness. As a player, I want my actions to be able to impact the setting, on whatever scale I’m on. As a GM, I want my players to have the same leeway. Games or adventures that are effectively someone else’s playground really cheese me off.
A close second is any game that requires more books than I can comfortably fit in my backpack.
Fred: Rob’s points echo mine, so I’ll leave those to stand on their own. Though, for me, I’d add that from both sides of that equation, boring NPCs are a huge peeve. Give me personality, distinguishing characteristics, tense situations, funny voices – anything. They need to live and breathe.
It seems like the RPG community gets more crowded with big-company games every year. How do you expect the Indie RPG community to fare in the face of large-company competition?
Fred: I think, within a reasonable set of expectations, indie RPGs are going to do just fine. As a community – both including the big boys and limiting it to the indie crowd – we’ve got to recognize that we’re a boutique hobby. If we manage to put together something new and interesting and different and cover at least some of our costs in doing so – that’s a measure of success in its own right.
But to take a marketing sort of spin on this, I think indie games have the best chance of occupying a sort of “superpremium” space within the hobby – high quality, distinctive stuff that’s got a small distribution but high recognition factor. It’s like that vodka thing.
Rob: Yah. It’s exactly like vodka, in fact.
I read an amazing business article a few months back about vodka. See, the American vodka market is pretty much dominated by one brand, Smirnoff. They control about 60% of the market. Despite that, lots of other companies still do good business in the field. Now, traditionally, the way to go is as the low-cost alternative. Offer non-branded or lower quality product for less money. Basically, that’s the sub-premium alternative. Another traditional alternative is to offer a substantively better product for more money. Problem is, that’s tough to do with something subjective, like taste.
So there’s a segment of the Vodka market that’s created “Superpremium” brands. These cost more than the Premium brand, and while they may claim some quality difference, their real distinguishing element is how they’re branded. They offer some sort of distinctive appearance, market directly to barkeepers, claim to make better martini’s and so on. You’ve all seen Absolut ads. It’s one of the most successful creations of brand ever – people will pay a bit more for the vodka because of how it’s perceived.
If you look for the pattern, you’ll see it in a lot of businesses. The restaurant business is a great example and, I believe, so is gaming. As much as we like to talk about other things, D&D is still the 800 pound gorilla. It’s the “premium” brand that controls the bulk of the market, and establishes the baselines for things like cost and production quality. It is big enough that any game needs to justify itself in terms of why you should play this game instead of D&D.
Until recently, Palladium had the lock on the low cost alternative. The books are kept inexpensive through simple reproduction and a deep library of art to draw from. As PDF games are starting to see more distribution, that becomes another option. Whatever their merits as games, for the bulk of the gaming world, a PDF is worth less than a book.
That leaves room for the superpremiums. White Wolf is probably the greatest single success in this approach. Whatever the merits of the game, it offered a dark, gothic aura which I feel sold more games than any specifics of the dice mechanics. Similarly, most games that come out of the Forge offer as their superpremium edge a heavy dose of theory and discussion.
Fred: Or simply the cachet of incorporating “avant garde” thinking, and the approval of an alternative, effectively elite crowd (whether or not they’re actually elite, it’s part of the image, I think).
Rob: There will always be superpremium markets, and while many of the large ones have been gobbled up by existing companies, tastes change over time, and the indies are collectively a lot more nimble than any given game line. There’s always going to be a high burn rate, but we’ve reached a point that when something becomes new and interesting, there’ usually already an indie there, ready to take advantage of it. I don’t think the indies are going anywhere anytime soon.
Fred: That thing I said about Rob saying things briefly? I take it back.
What are the Indie/Small-market RPGs out there that you two are rooting for (aside from your own)?
Fred: I’ve gotta first look out for my Fudge peers here. Brad Younie’s Now Playing¸ from Carnivore Games, is the first hardcover Fudge product to make it out there, and he deserves your dollars for it. I’ve also had a long-standing love for The Collectors, from Rogue Publishing. This is probably one of the most perfect small games in the Fudgesphere – a solid, easily absorbed setting and implementation, married to a first adventure that is pretty much the textbook for me on how to construct a deeply involving mystery within a setting. Go to their website and bleed dollars into this game; it’s a must.
Rob: Only thing that makes me sad about Now Playing is that it came out at the same time as the equally remarkable Prime Time Adventures and I think it got a little lost in the shuffle. There’s also the trend towards “romantic” roleplaying that Blue Rose has started a lot of noise about that I’m very excited about, and I hope that people pick up the interest and start looking at existing products like Heartquest and Hearts, Sword & Flowers which cover playing in the style of shoujo (girls) manga. I’ve got little patience for the comics, but anything that pushes games towards a little more focus on relationships of any type has my vote.
Fred: Outside of Fudge stuff, I’m pretty thrilled with most of the stuff going on out there. Atomic Sock Monkey makes good stuff, and Dead Inside is at the head of that particular pack – I don’t always feel that the game goes to the places I want to with its premise, but it’s really good at challenging some normally baked-in assumptions about what an RPG can and should be about, and should be on everyone’s Must List for that.
One of our authors on the Dresden Files RPG, Leonard Balsera, cannot say enough good things about Prime Time Adventures, so those folks definitely get a shout-out there. But, man, I could go on and on. I love Clinton R. Nixon’s Paladin, which was probably one of my earliest intro to “Forge games”, and man, if My Life with Master doesn’t just carve me up and have me for lunch. I can’t get over the simple-cool mystique of Lacuna, either. I’m going to cut myself off right there, but there’s probably another dozen or so that are just as worthy – I just wish I had more time to discover, read, and play these things. Like, Dogs in the Vineyard – I need to get the time to meet that game, and it just hasn’t been happening.
Rob: Y’know, they finished gathering the slate for the 2004 Indie RPG awards and I went to the site to look at this year’s contenders and I have to say, I have never been as excited about the indie scene as I am this year. It’s not just that there are really good nominees, it’s that there’s a METRIC TON of abso-freaking-lutely amazing nominees. I could fill years of play with just the games on the list this year. Gonna be one hell of a vote.
Thinking of creating any other RPG systems, or is this one your baby?
Fred: It’s my baby, sure. And once we can get past the commercial venture angle with Dresden Files, I might have time to look outside of its crib. The last times I did I made Pace and Texorami, both of which you can find on Evil Hat’s website. Pace is even available under a Creative Commons license, and it sort of remains my little game that could.
Rob: Oh god yes. I’m just a lot less disciplined than Fred at getting them out the door. I’ve got a stack (har har) of card-based RPG and chargen rules that work so well in play that it’s a crime I haven’t properly written them up yet. That said, I’m in the middle of updating Fudge on the Fly a chargen system I wrote for Fudgefactor with thin intention of OGLing it.
What's in the future for FATE?
Fred: It all lies beyond the great wall of Dresden. But that’s been a really good experience for us. Looking for the exact-right implementation to fit that setting, we’ve given ourselves the chance to challenge a lot of our assumptions behind the current (2.0) version of Fate. Fate 3.0 – essentially the thing we’re designing inside of the Dresden Files RPG, as I’ve said – is going to be a very … evolved sort of beast.
Right now our conflict resolution system is significantly different from 2.0’s take on things, but so far has really rocked on toast. We’ve hit a much clearer take on how to rate difficulties due in large part to the contributions and discussions on our Yahoo list, and that’s all mixed in there to good effect. Plus, we’re looking at simplifying some core concepts in the system – for example, we’re testing out something right now that does away with boxes on aspects, in a sort of unification with fate points, and it’s been gangbusters so far.
Rob: For all the rules material, I also want to really start taking a swing at a little more setting focus. The great flaw of most generic games is that they give you the engine and sometimes just leave it at that. In contrast, GURPS gets huge mileage out of concentrating on setting. Additionally, I really like the general market of small, flavorful games with pared down rules designed to match their aesthetic – the sorts of things you’re seeing from Atomic Sock Monkey or Wicked Dead Brewing. I’d love to do small Fate or fate-inspired games in that playpen.
Fred: Beyond all this stuff, though, there’s the whole advent of OGL for Fate. We’ve given Fate to the community – so in a lot of ways, this is the question we ask you guys to tell us. The real future of Fate may not come from us at all … and that’s just fine.
Any words for my wife when she complains I spend too much time with FATE and gaming?
Fred: I dunno. My wife hopes to get the chance to see me sometime in 2006. How about yours, Rob?
Rob: My wife beats me about the head and shoulders when I’m not keeping up with my writing, so I may be willing to trade. I’d try to drag her in though. Fate has proven terribly wife friendly.
Fred: You keep your dice-rolling ways away from my girl!
Any words for the gamers out there?
Fred: Keep it simple and keep it exciting. Don’t fear pain, and if you’re a GM, let the players be stars, and never, ever consider one of your NPCs to be a sacred cow. Observe the lessons of Farscape and George R. R. Martin: every character is up on the chopping block from square one, and it can always get worse – and that’s where your stories live best.
Rob: Get passionate about something else.
Fred: Preach it!
Rob: Seriously. I don’t mean ditch gaming and find something else to do, rather, find things to get excited about outside of gaming (and TV, frankly). Every passion you find outside the fold of gaming will make your gaming that much better, to say nothing of numerous other benefits.