One of the great dictums of working in any creative industry is this: Once your hobby becomes your job, it's time to get another hobby.

No matter how exciting or fun your hobby might be, if you spend all day long working at it, it's hard to come back to it on your time off and simply find the fun. You see this in tabletop gaming all the time. The people who become professional game designers stop playing games. They're too busy creating them instead.

This isn't true of everyone, of course. The RPG R&D team at Wizards of the Coast -publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, the great-granddaddy of roleplaying games of all stripes-famously has lots of different campaigns running at any given time. However, it's common enough that you'll often hear designers complaining about the fact that they never get to play anymore.

I'll admit that I fall into that camp. I haven't played in a regular campaign of any type of game in many years. As a full-time writer and game designer and a father of five young kids-including a set of quadruplets, (but that's a whole 'nother story) I find it hard to scrape together several hours on a regular basis for anything that's purely for my own fun.

Part of that's because I don't look at games as a player, but as a designer. I rarely play a game more than once. I sit down, read the rules, and give it a whirl just to figure out what makes it tick. Once I figure out where the fun is, though, I'm on to the next shiny object.

As a professional, I'm not here to master any single game. I want to learn about them all so I can figure out how to make my next game better.

Still, part of what drives me is how much I love games, and that sprang directly from a misspent youth during which I dedicated thousands of hours to playing games just for fun. I miss those days, much in the way I miss my childhood, but as an adult I've found it hard to find my way back to that.

But now I have kids of my own, and like me they love games of all kinds: tabletop games, video games, sports, and more. Still, most of the tabletop games we play are simple things like Uno, Jenga, Go Fish, or Blokus.

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