As a GM, I couldn’t care less about your character.
Stop, stop. I don’t want to hear you complaining. It’s true. Ask any GM, and you’ll probably get a similar (though probably not so harsh) response.
As a GM (or DM, or Storyteller, or Watcher… whatever) I can’t spend every moment caring about every single one of my players’ backstories. I’ve got a world to run here.
As a GM, my job is to create a world and story for the players to inhabit. I have to craft civilizations and look at the big picture.
Everyone at the table is building things. As my players, you’re creating interesting characters who live and breathe within the world. I’m working on a larger scale, ensuring that everyone at the table is enjoying themselves within the world.
Now, do I want my players to create interesting characters who are compelling and rich? Of course. Anything to add to the overall story. Do I want you to have a backstory? Sure! I can definitely use that in my game. But we’re operating on completely different wavelengths.
This is, I think, why players usually remain players, while GMs remain GMs. Your brain is set in such a way that requires you to think big-picture. When I sit down as a player, I begin thinking about how other players are intereacting with the story, and how I would operate behind the screen instead. I have to force myself to focus on my own character, and not worry about everyone else.
Is the player way of doing things bad, or inferior? Not at all. I want my players to be focusing on themselves. If everyone’s focusing on the larger story, that’s too many cooks in the kitchen. But what I do want? Them to care at all about the big picture.
Too often, players get so focused on their characters that any time you try to get them to care about the larger world, they just shut-down. They don’t read your handouts, they don’t understand the references you make to the world, having not done their homework on the world. Why should the GM be the only person who knows anything about the world?
That’s why I like playing within established settings that everyone knows. Star Wars? My players have at least seen the movies, and so know about the world (or universe) at large. They know about the Force and hyperdrives. Marvel? They’ve at least seen some of the movies, or watched the X-Men cartoon as kids. They know the general idea of the world. Eberron? Not so much. Most players haven’t read the books, and can’t be bothered to do so between sessions.
If anyone has any solutions for these issues, I’d be happy to listen.
Remember: As a GM, your job is to see the larger picture, to run an entire world. As a player, your job is your character. But allow a little bleed-through and care about what the other side is paying attention to.