thread: 2009-12-18 : Seed content

On 2010-01-25, Joel wrote:

Marshall, cool. Glad we worked out the disconnect.

You know, the whole time I was reading the Invisibles, I was thinking man, I wish my Over the Edge game could be like THIS!

Also, thanks for the further reading list tips on WSB stuff.

You know (I ponder as I gamely try to bring this back around to topic), it seems to me that one of the great difficulties with Seed material—with playing RPGs at all with people who aren't clones of you—is the issue of disconnect over the same Seed—what it means to you, what its salient qualities are, and how to bring it into play satisfyingly. Say we'd none of us heard of OTE before, but both read Burroughs: I call you up and say, "hey I found this great WSB themed game, come over and let's play it." ANd you do, and hate it, and I'm going, "what? It's got all the Burroughs stuff." But for you it doesn't—what really makes it tick for you is missing. So both of us started from the same Seed, but we have a shitty time together because of divergent expectations.

You hear about this stuff all the time, of course: some people wanna play Firefly for the snarky crew having wacky adventures, some people wanna play it for the putting of pressure on people whose lives and beliefs are in crisis. I remember when I first came into my college game group, I quickly found that there was exactly one member who'd read Lord of the Rings. I thought we could connect, until I realized that I'm more into the spiritual struggle, the unbearable ache of things lost, etc. etc. while he just, y'know, likes Balrogs 'cuz they're badass. Our gaming together reflected that disconnect heavily.

So how does one address that issue? I guess one way is to come out and say, "Star Wars means this to me, you guys on board with that? I'm reminded of Ron Edwards' conversation with, hmm, Clyde Rhoer, I believe? where he talks about what he means by "story-impairment" (AKA the Damage that rhymes with Drain) in gamers: (paraphrasing) "You ask them what a story's about and they get hung up on a litany of details, instead of identifying the emotional core of the story."

In my experience, it's really difficult to have that conversation, but it's also necessary for a successful and rewarding experience. I've had games of Sorcerer and Dogs, for instance, fail for the lack of that conversation, and had the conversation successfully with Nicotine Girls and Burning Wheel.

I guess what I'm wondering at this point is how to use Seed material for a "buy-in" conversation, without it being a shorthand for the themes you actually want, thus easily leading to a hidden disconnect.



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