Even in games built for silliness, I can’t get over myself

Being a goofy little guy is hard work and I’m not emotionally prepared for that kind of vulnerability.

Even in games built for silliness, I can’t get over myself
Credit: Warner Bros.

I’m here to confess a problem I have when I roleplay. It’s ridiculous, almost embarrassing, but entirely, undoubtedly true. It’s very nearly a source of shame. Here goes.

I can’t get silly. 

I can be funny, I can be humorous, dramatic, intensely over-the-top, even clever when I’m really in it, but what I cannot be is goofy. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what the fucking problem is, but as much as I joke about staying goofy despite the horrors of the world, I find it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to be a silly little guy in games. 

An example: I recently played a one-shot of Interstitial 2e–a fanfic mashup alt-universe simulator that is built to be absolutely bonkers, to encourage the most off-the-wall interactions and absurdities–and even though I was playing actually magic Magic Mike, I was still the most serious, goofless motherfucker alive. I described Mike’s magical go-go girl transformation as a spin amid falling Benjamins where he transformed out of tapered sweatpants and a Carhartt jacket and re-appeared in black leather chaps and a cowboy hat, and ten minutes later I was still the character in the group saying “well, fellas, I think we should talk this out over a brewski,” like what is wrong with me? I was playing a chosen one stripper with a heart of gold and my default was not “I cast a magical spell using my tight ass as a conduit for irresistible supernatural energies,” but “whassssuuup.” Holy god, why have you cursed me to be this kind of man?

It feels like I take games too seriously, even when I am presented—or, in this case, actively encouraged—to be as ridiculous as possible. I organized this game! I gently bullied Riley Hopkins, the author of Interstitial, to run a game for me, and I had roped in two of my online friends—Joy and Drakoniques—to join me. These are good roleplayers! This is Hopkins’ game! Joy played a tone-perfect Sasha from the live action Bratz (2007) movie and Drak was grown-up dirtbag Timmy Turner (but Black) who was also in a relationship with Jimmy Neutron and… god, was I the boring one? Was I bringing us down? Was my complete and utter resistance to cringe preventing me from being a silly goofy lil guy? It’s on reflection that I can admit to myself that yes, I was the boring one in that group.