2005-11-22 : A Seriously Social Issue

This is from the marginalia here.

Here's Curly:

My players currently prefer passively being told a 1st ed. AD&D game-story, to lifting a finger to narrate a DitV or Universalis game-story themselves.

Even when they've tried Uni & DitV; their motive was to please me. Thus they did what they Thought They Were Supposed To Do. They were still trying to Follow & they didn't put enough of themSELVES into the games/ to make 'em spark. I experienced something similar at GenCon, where I played several Forge-game demos & my desire to Be Walked Thru the games as a learning-method was at-odds with the games' need for me to Walk With Purpose.

My (irritating) questions here have been abstract, but aren't argument for argument's sake. Im seeking ways to bring These gamers to These games. My players won't read theory essays, but they will listen to dance metaphors, or zen ones, or fine art parallels. But it's all too easy to talk fancy nonsense in that mode. That's why I sought to double-check with you.

FWIW, I currently see Ron Edwards' ELFS game as a good transitional game/ because it highlights the difference between Task & Conflict (your Elf's intentions/ vs. yours) in a hopefully-painless way.

And here's MS (Matt Snyder, perhaps?):

Curly, your circumstances and attempts to try something new among the passive agressive resistance of your fellow players is, I speculate, widespread. My sympathies to you from one who knows. The hard answer is coming around to the realization that 1) you REALLY want to play that way and that 2) you CAN'T play with those people anymore. There remains hope nonetheless.

How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with? How reasonable is it to expect? How far should we have to compromise, and on what?

Here's a very short play I made up just now (with full credit to Ron Edwards):

Enter MITCH, talking on a cell phone.
MITCH: So yeah, I joined their writers' group, but, I mean, they mostly just talk about their ideas for what they're going to write someday, and congratulate each other on what good writers they are. Most of them don't ever seem to write anything. And when someone does write something, nobody ever has anything critical to say, just more congratulating, even if it's like total crap. Or else nobody even reads it. I just dunno, man.

1. On 2005-11-22, Kaare Berg said:

You are forgetting the ultimat conciet here, what makes our way of play the ultimate way of play?

I am lucky.
My players are also my friends. They still game "old school" D20 and WoD. I just don't join them anymore for those games. They don't take it personally.

My time is short and I don't compromise.

I then run these kick ass games with Dogs, and Tsoy and BWr and all the others. And they join me because even back in "old School thought" I ran a mean game.

but in recent discussions at the Norwegian Rpg forum I kept butting my head into these kind of players. And it makes me wonder: who the fuck am I to tell them how to play?

Is it just that I have so much fun that I want to share. Or am I just conciet and think that I have found a better way?


2. On 2005-11-22, Matt Snyder said:

MS is indeed me.

I hear bits of this working out in a good way from Judd Karlman on his show with Jeff, The Sons of Kryos. Judd seems to have done an extraordinary job moving resistance (or at least general disinterest) to a particular kind of gaming to endearment of a particular kind of gaming.

My successes are abyssmal, for a hugely ugly set of social issues I can't even begin to explain. For one, it's a ten-years long story, and for another the climax to that story happpened last week. It's still uneasy in my mind. I haven't sorted through it yet, and I'm really struggling with it.

So, that's why I'm not yet answering your sound questions just yet. My brain (and then some) is a mess, and I'll answer here when I'm able. Hopefully soon!


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3. On 2005-11-22, Vincent said:

Kaare, are you having more fun in your roleplaying than they are in theirs?

You don't have to answer here in the public record, but you should think about it critically and honestly. We all should.

And don't even try to argue that it's not a valid question. You can tell how much fun other people are having just by looking at them and listening to what they say. You (we all) do it all the time.


4. On 2005-11-22, Judd said:

Judd seems to have done an extraordinary job moving resistance (or at least general disinterest) to a particular kind of gaming to endearment of a particular kind of gaming.

Do you mean or at my personal table?

I'm lucky at home.  I'm not saying I don't have a hand in creating said luck but jeeze, Ithaca's a gaming fantasy-land for me.  I got a PM from a guy on, go game with him and lo and behold he's great and his gamers are great.  We are all friends now.  What are the odds of that?

It has helped that when I have GMed in the past, people have had fun and when I have played, I contributed heavily to the table's fun.  This leads to people trusting me more often than not when I bring some games to the table.

And now my standards are heinously high.  I'm a little worried about when I move from this town there might be a long dry spell as I get my feet under me and gather a group that I think is worth my time.

But I'm veering off of the topic, I think.

When I'm thinking about starting a new game, I send my group a few blurbs, a menu, I call it and I ask them what they are excited about.  Generally, one or two players get rip-roaring excited about one and post character concepts to the rest of the group and we're off to the races.

My buddies in Jersey will play a one-shot of the games I bring when I visit.  They call the Forge games I dig, Hippy Games.  No shit.  And they're happy to play them but I wonder how different it'd be if I was asking them to play Sorcerer, Dogs or Burning Wheel for a regular weekly session.  I dunno.


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5. On 2005-11-22, Jay Loomis said:

It's really easy to say that you shouldn't game with people anymore if they aren't grooving on exactly your thing, but somewhat harder to do (at least for me). If the choice is no gaming or spotty but occasionally quite fun gaming, I tend to take the latter.

Finding the right group is super-hard.


6. On 2005-11-22, Mark W said:

I've found that I come across as really aggressive and pushy to people as a player. It's not even New Skool games, it's just that I want to get right to it - get to where the fun is at, push toward the crisis. I don't have patience any more for game sessions that are 20% play and 80% socializing (or more likely, 20% socializing and 60% passive-aggressive conflict over play). I don't want to play in games where there's a status quo that must never be deviated from.

When I come to the table, I want it Now. Story Now, sure. But Challenge Now too, and Exploration Now too. That just doesn't fit into a lot of traditional play groups.

I believe that they're having fun. I just don't believe that it's coming from the game. They're doing a familiar ritual that provides a context for socializing. Don't mess with the ritual.


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7. On 2005-11-22, Brand Robins said:

>How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with?

I do, mostly. I don't get as much Indy play as I might like, but considering that I do get to play two to three Forge games a month, I suspect whining on my part would be taken poorly by the crowd.

Most of the folks in my extended gaming circle seem to as well. This, I think, is largely due to size issues. If I were to put out a serious call for game, limited only to people I have played with and people they have played with and deem cool enough to play with again who also live in town, I could expect 25 to 30 people to get the note.

Of those, about 10 or so of those form my "core" group. These are the folks I play 85% of my games with. Anytime I talk about game I can count on all 10 of them hearing about it and coming to ask more questions.

Now, take those numbers and consider that I rarely play games with more than 4 players (including the GM), and you'll start to see one of the reasons I get to play so much different stuff. While I may not get to play everything when I want to, or with the exact people I want to, I can play most things with a group I know and trust.

But if you don't live in Toronto this may not be of help to you. OTOH, I'd be willing to be money that in most cities and university towns there are more gamers out there than you know—and if you look you may find. (I suspect this because I often hear from folks in Toronto that there aren't any gamers here... after having just had coffee with a 75 person LARP cast.)

>How reasonable is it to expect?

If you're willing to be flexible, listen to their desires in return, start out with compramise games, play with flexible groups, and find a large enough player base to work from? I'd say pretty reasonable.

If you want to make it your way or the highway, jump right into Dogs with a group that hates religion, play all the time with all the same members of exactly the same group... well, maybe not so much.

>How far should we have to compromise, and on what?

Anything that would make the game not fun for you should not be compromised.

Anything that could ruin friendships should.

Between those two things I think there is too much ground for most generalities to hold water.


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8. On 2005-11-23, Chris said:

How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with? How reasonable is it to expect? How far should we have to compromise, and on what?

My recent "time-out" has really been about this.

I've been playing with a range of different folks in different games over the last year or so, and am in the unique position that none of these people are long time friends or anything like that.  The only reason for me to stay or go is the quality of fun itself.

And, if at any point, I feel like I'd be more productive minute to minute reading a book, watching a movie, or just cooking dinner- then the experience isn't enough for me.

Fact is- every minute I sit playing another game out of "compromise" is me playing something I'm not enjoying- and there's no karmic credit being built up that says I'll ever get to play the game I want later on.  In fact, odds are good that all that's happening is the group is being conditioned to play a certain way all the time that will be harder to break out of if we do get to try out what I'm interested in.

If I get to play the game I like once every 2 months- it doesn't matter if I played 2 months in the mean time playing D&D or spent it going clubbing.  The end result is the same, except in one case I feel like I've wasted time, and the other I got to enjoy other things in the meanwhile.

Like Mitch in the story- the time spent in the writing group takes away from anything productive that could be done- including writing itself.


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misuba go "What do you want to play?"*
Chris go "6 blocks from it..."*

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9. On 2005-11-23, Neel said:

As a purely formal matter of technique, I found players for my new game in Pittsburgh by trying to find Nobilis players. I figured that anyone who wanted to play that would a) be willing to try oddball stuff, and b) would really groove on the idea of being proactive and authorly and driving the game.

I think that b) pretty much implies a), so you could use Exalted or Feng Shui just as easily.


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10. On 2005-11-23, Tom said:


How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with?

Right now, I'm not playing enough of the stuff I really want to.  I really want to play PTA, BW, Heroquest and Capes with a mad passion.

On the other hand, I wanted to play Amber/Nobilis and I did.  I wanted to play a round of Dogs and I did.  After the Holidays I'll probably put out a call for PTA.

I really, really enjoy the d20 game I'm in.

Here are the issues for me:

1.)  Limited selection of players—this isn't so much of a concern now, but it was when I was growing up.  There were only 3-4 guys who were playing AD&D.  That was it.  If you wanted to play any RPG, you had to play AD&D and you played with them.  I grew up in a very rural area and no one else was interested.  Now, they were fun guys to play with.  But I was lucky.  There was no one else to turn to.

These days my options are much wider.  But this is probably a real problem for a lot of people.

2.)  Too many indians, not enough chiefs—I really want to play Heroquest.  I don't want to GM it, I want to play it.  The same is true for pretty much everything I listed above.  That's why I really want to do PTA, Capes and Polaris so I can get some playtime in.  I don't like being the GM and having to do everything.  But for a lot of games, if I want to run it, I have to be the GM.

3.)  Core Story Pizza—You know how hard it is to get a bunch of people to agree on what kind of toppings to get on a pizza they'll all be sharing?  Same thing happens with RPGs.  I want to play sci-fi, you want a Western, she wants to kick down dungeon doors, he wants court intrigues in 17th Century France.  We can't all get what we want, we have to compromise.  If we don't, we aren't playing anything at all.

How reasonable is it to expect?

I generally don't get involved in games that don't interest me.  On the other hand, I usually don't go out of my way to cultivate new gaming groups that might want to play things I'm interested in.  I just make the rounds with people I know.

I think it's reasonable for me to expect that if I want to play a certain game with certain people, I have to really "sell" it.  Otherwise, it's reasonable for me to expect that I'll have to find other people more interested in playing what I want (so more of a "search" for the game).

How far should we have to compromise, and on what?

I think that the right group of people is far more important than the right game.  The d20 game is a perfect example.  I actually appreciate d20 for what it is and I enjoy it well enough, but it's the group of players we have that makes the game fun.  Both our in-game activity and out-of-game socializations make it fun for me.

If, instead, I was playing PTA with a bunch of jerks, or just a bunch of unimaginative people, it'd be maddening, and I'd probably quit.


11. On 2005-11-23, Ninja Monkey J said:

Man, I win.


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12. On 2005-11-23, James said:

How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with?

Me.  I mean, not all of the people, and not all of the games, because I have to work for a living, and all you forge folk live so damn far away, but I get by.  I'm in a pair of Riddle of Steel games and Thursday night Stealth Gamers, currently alternating playtests of Bliss Stage and Reality Cops.  I've recently played PTA and a short run of Dogs, a friend is currently got my copy of 1984 Prime in a shameless attempt at bribery, and I'm going to run Breaking the Ice: Can We Be Friends? with my 5 year old this weekend.  And Donjon and Burning Wheel keep whispering "Come on, ya know ya wanna..."

How reasonable is it to expect?

I have no idea.  But I know that a year ago I wasn't having as much fun gaming as I am now, and it's because I decided to push the status quo in my local gaming circles.  By all reports, most of them are having more fun, too.

How far should we have to compromise, and on what?

I dunno.  How mature are the people you game with now?  How mature are the people you want to game with?
How far apart are those two groups?

I'm perfectly willing to compromise; that's part of being all growed up.  Sometimes I have less fun today and more fun tomorrow.  What's changed in my gaming is that I've acknowledged I'm the only one responsible for my fun.  Other people can contribute to it, sure, but my enjoyment (or lack thereof) is my problem.

*whew.  Little ranty towards the end there, sorry.



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13. On 2005-11-23, kesher said:

I'm sorta in the opposite position of having a ready group of people around here (thanks to the noble Christopher Weeks) willing to play pretty much ANY Forge game, no matter how odd, and having no real time to play right now myself.  Sigh.

That being said, I wouldn't compromise my time any more; if I'm gonna hack out time to play, it's gonna be to play a game I want and not waste a lot of time doing it.  The focused playing we did (two separate groups) around Shadows in the Fog and Polaris was really the most enjoyable role-playing I've ever, ever done.

A few members of my old gaming group are starting to come around to looking at Forge stuff, partially out of their own changing interests, partly out of seeded propaganda on my part; this is nice, because it ripped me up a bit a couple of years ago when I realized (without having a vocabulary for it at the time!) that we all had completely different CAs.  I'll be glad to include them if they're interested, but won't lose any sleep over it if they aren't; I've found what I want and I ain't goin' back.



14. On 2005-11-23, Andrew Norris said:

I've really been lucky; I get to play the games I want to play with the people I want to play them with. My current group has been playing for more than a year, and we're consciously, actively having fun every game session.

I sort of fell into the situation—one game (run when I was still absorbing the Forge) was disjointed but still more satisfying than anything we'd done before, and the next time we got together we started with a few players who really "got it", and brought in a few more who'd never touched roleplaying games before.

My experience has been that all the indie game evangelization in the world is less effective than (1) getting a group with few preconceptions about what roleplaying is, (2) having an earnest conversation about what you want to do, and (3) just doing it. I used to try to "spread the word" about the indie gaming mindset, but now I stick to building groups out of a core of players who get it. It's been much more successful (and much less frustrating).


15. On 2005-11-23, Curly said:

Thanks everybody for the diagnosis. You're right. It's a social thing.

You've inspired a rant that's comic in its tragedy.


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This reminds...
Luke of are you in NYC? do you know about tons of tons of tons of players and games going on there.

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Luke go "I readthed"*
NinJ go "Aw, man, it was bizarre?"*

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16. On 2005-11-23, luke said:

Dear Curly,

I've been playing with the same core group since 1992. We've had a rotation of new/different players over the years, but the core has been the same. We played Shadowrun, Starwars and AD&D before I finally decided to go out and design my own game.

Once the game was ready—in 1997, I think—I told them that that's what I wanted to play. I think it took a year to convince them. And then I had to bribe them in various manners to convert. But I wouldn't give up on them and I wouldn't budge from my choice. They were my friends and this was my game. We owed it to each other, out of our pure love, to do this together.

It was a painful process, but ultimately fruitful. We talked, I changed things they didn't like, but insisted on other things I felt were appropriate. Through the trial and tribulation, some change their style, some never changed and some drifted out of the group. But I kept running games for them, every week, like clockwork. In this case, it was my baby, but it could have been any game, really.

And that's my advice to all of the Curlys out there. If you've got a regular group of friends, love them by never giving up. Be firm, be kind and change gradually. Don't leave them behind unless you suddenly find the urge to kill them because the routinely shit on what you love. If they defecate on your fun, imagine their vivid deaths and then ask them to find another game. Stay out of prison, because you need to still run games for your friends. If do manage such a feat, everyone else can stay on and share the love of a growing friendship.



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MS go "What?"*
AK go "Okay, now someone's gotta find out about RPG culture in prisons..."
JHK go "RPG Design Prison Story"*
Curly go "rpgs allowed in Prison"*
luke go "of course you can"*

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17. On 2005-11-23, Iskander said:

To continue with Luke's meme, I'm blessed to live in NYC, part of the community, and member of the Gotham Gaming Guild. If you're in NYC and environs, and looking for gaming goodness, the GGG is great: to the extent that it totally spoiled me for GenCon, where I found much of the (old skool) gaming blew huge chunks.

At this point, the limiting factor on my playing short-form Indie games is time.

As a case in point, I played (and thoroughly enjoyed) Polaris last Sunday, but I would lay money that the four of us who played don't manage to get a second session together this year. Any time I ask for players to play Dogs in the Vineyard with, I get them. I'm going to try My Life With Master soon, and I have no doubt I'll get players for that, too. My real difficulty is maintaining a longer game cycle, which GGG six- or seven-session seasons half-provides, and developing a 'core' group: the nerd community of gamers in NYC is quite large, and growing, but this city is crazy busy for everyone all the time, and it's tough to get the same small group of folks together consistently.

Particularly when your boyfriend doesn't game (yet), and your job stinks. [sigh]

- Alexander


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18. On 2005-11-23, Joshua BishopRoby said:

Increasingly I am starting to think that indie games and the mindset that informs them require a different social support network than gamer culture as we have known it for the last decade or two.  I don't know, however, how to get there from here!


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JBR of I ramble about it at the Forge.

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Chris go "YES!"
WMW go "Absolutely"*
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BR go "I got a group to play MLWM when we were supposed to play Mage."*

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19. On 2005-11-23, Vincent said:

Joshua BR: I don't know, however, how to get there from here!

If you mean that you don't know how to change your own personal, local social support network, well, me neither. Changing mine was very easy, but we were primed for it.

However, if you mean that you don't know how we at large are going to create the new culture-scale social support network we need - don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall! It's happening already, you're even already part of it.

Whether we bring "gamer culture" along with us is pretty much up to gamer culture.


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VB of Shaping Gamer Culture (Looooooong)

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20. On 2005-11-23, Jason M said:

"How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with? How reasonable is it to expect? How far should we have to compromise, and on what?"

Oh man is this on-topic for me.

I have a steady, six-year-old weekly gaming group that has sort of drifted with me across GURPS, FUDGE, and various homebrews looking for something I couldn't articulate.  At some point I found the Forge, learned to articulate what I wanted, had some exciting epiphanies, and became (in the words of my dearest friend) a pretentious prick.  My evangelism completely alienated them, and gaming is a core component of our friendship.  Some compromise was in order, absolutely.  For us, that is Burning Wheel, so huzzah.

I also PM'd everybody I could find on the Forge in my local area, and plugged into what is fast becoming "nerdRTP", a ferocious group of people who think just like me.  They are uniformly awesome in their awesomeness.

My feeling is that compromise is a good thing when it preserves friendships, and with patience and sensitivity (which I have notably lacked) you can probably end up in a place where you get to play what you love with the people you love.  In the mean time, I think you should make new friends and make new gamers and play with them, too.


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CRN of nerdRTP keeping it real

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CRN go "nerdRTP 4ever"*
BR go "Crossover games like Burning Wheel are a godsend."
luke go "so..."*
JM go "I think people"*

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21. On 2005-11-23, Keith said:

How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with?
I know I get to for the most part, with time and geography being my only hinderence.  But, this seems to be a major hinderence to a lot of people.  However, I also think that most people enjoy themselves when playing, even if the play leaves a lot to be desired.  I used to play in a long running AD&D/D&D game and had fun, but it left a lot to be desired.  It took a long time for me to wade through the fun I was having with my friends bullshitting around the table and discover that my discontent was do to the play style.

How reasonable is it to expect?
This all depends on the person I think.  Some people just can't drop their group to play with another, even though the play may be more rewarding.  It is a hard thing to do and in some cases ends friendships, which most people are not willing to do.  I know I personally get together less often with my one group of friends cause we don't game together anymore.

How far should we have to compromise, and on what?
Personally I don't think we should have to compromise at all.  If you want to have rewarding gaming experiences, then you have to be willing to make changes to have them.  If your group isn't interested, more power to them, but you need to then move on.


22. On 2005-11-24, Brand Robins said:

Okay, since people found my first post mature and shit, I now am going to say some stuff that may make me less popular. There are some statements that have been made in this thread that I do not agree with, and find the statements themselves to be almost as problematic as the issues of getting groups to play the games we want.

Let me start by saying: no gaming is better than bad gaming. If you would have more fun watching a movie or picking your belly button lint than playing in the game you are playing in, you should quit. I have ranted about this before, and so everyone should be really damn clear about where I am on that point and not try to strawman me with it later.

Right? Okay.

There is a big difference between "no gaming is better than bad gaming" and "if I wasn't playing this game I would be playing a game that was more fun." The first is almost universally true. The second is not.

The second can be true: if you have a group of kick ass players ready to throw down with a kick ass game. If you are slogging out to your hated FATAL game every weekend and know that there is a group made up of Vincent, Mo, Josh, Joshua, and Ron just ready to hook you up with awesome HOT NAR ACTION, then sure—its true that playing the game that you are playing is getting in the way. However, most of the time this is not the case.

It can also be true that if you could just convert your group to Nar play, or Dogs play, or Forge theory, or whatever that your game could be better. However, some of the time this is not the case. I've seen groups try it and fail more than once. I've seen people hot on the Nar trail hit a group of Simmers and sell them on a Nar one-shot and then go reeling back in shock when the group doesn't like it. (Or even when they don't like it themselves.)

Very often what is actually going on in these times is the old saw that everyone whose ever dated can tell you all about: mistaking the ideal of what you could be missing for what you actually are missing. "If only I wasn't dating nice little Clarice Marell" one might think "I could be boning Viggo Mortensen or Monica Bellucci." But guys, and gals, lets face it ??? if we weren't with the nice girl next door we wouldn't be hooking up with Halle Berry or Usher. We'd be alone in a room watching porn. Now, some of us may have had relationships in which being alone watching porn was preferable. But I've seen more where it wasn't ??? and yet the people involved would tell me how they wanted to bail cause there was something hotter around the corner.

Is there really a game so much better out there? Have you played Dogs and found that it does everything you imagine it will? Or is it that in wanting to escape from unsatisfying play its easier to imagine the hot Nar action that you've never had but that you dream about being so good?

Or, to take it down a notch, is it really that you're refusing to play in games that aren't good enough, or is it that you're saving yourself for a perfect game that will never come? I know a lot of people that tell me about how much they love game, and game deliberately, who never seem to actually get out there and play. For them the ideal of the perfect game has become another shield to hide behind in order to keep themselves apart from the divisions and imprecision, annoyances and foibles of gaming and life.

I know this is odd. We live in a hobby in which we have historically been told to eat shit and say we like it. We both are ourselves and are surrounded by people who have been trained to accept far too little out of their games. It is important that we learn to undo this damage and things like gaming deliberately and Stealth Gaming have been important, huge steps in doing so.

At the same time, however, it is important that we not go too far the other way. That way too lies madness. In all the people talking about the cool Nar games that they want to play, if only, if only, if only I see the exact same reflection as the people in the 80s I used to talk about RPGs with talking about the cool D&D games they would play if only, if only, if only.

We do not get better at gaming by avoiding gaming, just as we do not get better at life by avoiding it. Guys like Vincent and Ron have shown us that there can be good play and constant play at the same time, and held up a bar that says "if it doesn't go this high, you shouldn't allow it to ride." This a good thing. However, the bar is here, at chest level ??? not there up in the clouds. Real, tangible, achievable goals are the way you get to where you want to be. Cause you won't get it, wishing and a prayin', hopin' and a dreamin'.


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BR go "Well, Chris, at least you know."*

*click in for more

23. On 2005-11-24, Vincent said:


Mitch is a crapwad if he doesn't even write.


24. On 2005-11-24, Roger said:

My players won't read theory essays, but they will listen to dance metaphors, or zen ones, or fine art parallels.

"The superior person is the teacher of an inferior person,
and the inferior person is the resource of a superior person.

One who does not cherish a teacher or a resource, although intelligent, is deluded."

—Tao te Ching


25. On 2005-11-24, Curly said:

"How many of us get to play the games we want, with the people we want to play them with? How reasonable is it to expect? How far should we have to compromise, and on what?"

Here's my answer.

I don't have any problem with this thread's existence
I am not quite comfortable as the poster child for a hopelessly dysfunctional group.

Is it time for me to give up & find new players?  Not yet.

Starting last January, my friends gave some childhood games (AD&D, Car Wars) a shot & liked 'em.  They gave new games (DitV, Uni, the Pool, Forge-influenced homebrew) a shot—and liked 'em less.

It is time for me to reflect on Why they prefer what they do, and see if I can find a way to satisfy them without compromising my own desires too much.

It's a time for reflection & study & questions & theory & design.

So I go to the Forge & here and I read for months and eventually ask some newbie questions—on topics that are apparently favorites with Monty Pythonesque "I'm looking for an argument" wankers.  And I was met with exasperated groans from the old hands—who've had to put up with waaay too much such nonsense, for years now.  Fair enough.

So I wrote the marginalia that tops this thread—to communicate that I'm sincerely searching for answers.  That my irritating questions aren't themselves a pseudo-intellectal game.

IF I make progress—and find a way to design play that better-suits my players + myself; then hooray.

IF I keep hitting a brick wall, I need to move-along & play with someone else & stop pestering Forge luminaries with my same-old problems.

That's where I draw the line.  Seems compatible with much of what's been said in this thread?  From Matt, to Luke, to Brand?  Good.

Here's a 1-page first draft I wrote this morning, which seeks to address theme before Any Other aspect of play is even on the table.


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This makes...
VB go "very fair."*
Curly go "I understand."*

*click in for more

26. On 2005-11-26, Matthijs Holter said:

In a gaming group, well... it's the Hard Question in Ron's essay on narrativism, isn't it? Are you performing an art? If so, how far are you willing to go for your art? You can't convince anyone else to like it, or even understand what you're doing.

What I do is try - and try again, and again - to start games I like with people I want to play with. Sometimes they don't want to play those games, sometimes they don't want to play with me. The other thing I do is to say no to games I know I won't really be enjoying. Sometimes you just have to wait for a long time for something right to happen - and it's not going to help if you do the wrong thing while you're waiting.


27. On 2005-11-28, Vincent said:

Matthijs: it's the Hard Question in Ron's essay on narrativism, isn't it?

How about that! So it is.

Also enormously relevant, of course: The Infamous Five.


28. On 2005-11-28, Matthijs Holter said:

You know, not to be a cynic or anything, but I think... if you follow Ron's thoughts ("Now for the final conundrum: what will you sacrifice to sustain it?" - or, "How far are you willing to go to get what you want?" ;) ) - it's pretty clear that we're nowhere near being artists.

At least, artists in the "suffering visionary" aspect.

Okay, so most of us have probably had an acquaintance or two who didn't get invited to the next campaign because they didn't play the way we liked. But has anybody done stuff like... well, starving for their art? Getting so lost in what they do that they lose contact with the world? All these things that Real Artists are supposed to do?

I mean, if you really burn for something, you're supposed to do stuff like that, right?

And in a sense, of course, the worth of something is measured in what you sacrifice to achieve it.


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This makes...
MB go "I disagree"*

*click in for more

29. On 2005-11-28, Ron Edwards said:

Um, actually, I've sacrificed a considerable amount for Adept Press and the independent community. Some of it's personal. A lot of it is professional, mainly in terms of time. A fantastic amount is emotional and social, on-line; moderating the Forge is emphatically not a fulfilling task.

I can see the "suffering" thing quite easily, although the "visionary" part is debatable. (Demonstrably debatable, I dare say ...)

But really, never mind the suffering-visionary thing. I wasn't talking about that at all in the essay, and I consider it a perversion of my point. My point concerns sacrificing human interactions like friendship and romantic commitment and trust, when push comes to shove. Will you put your friendship at risk, there at the table, by using your secret one-on-one knowledge, entrusted to you in confidence two years ago, as fictional story-meat in the middle of addressing Premise?

I will. I have. It doesn't make me a better person. And it may not even have contributed to Good Art (I think I'm not the right person to judge that). But that's why I did it, because that's what I was trying to produce.


30. On 2005-11-29, Ben Lehman said:

Ron brings up a good point—most sacrifice for art is in concrete terms of time, effort, and emotional involvement, rather than in more dramatic, hollywood terms of alchoholism, emotional abandonment, drugs, suicide, government persecution, etc.



31. On 2005-11-29, Matthijs Holter said:

Ron, I didn't mean to pervert your point; I was going off it on a tangent. And my tangent is the suffering-visionary thing. What I wrote was ambiguous, because I'm ambivalent about the whole thing. I like suffering visionaries, sometimes; most of the time I like people who do whatever they do really well.

I don't see, however, how "sacrificing human interactions" can make for better art. I'm not saying it doesn't, or can't; I'm just saying I can't think of an example - or find anything in my experience - where it would.

There is, as far as I can see, no single question that can decide whether you're an Artist. Do you have to suffer? Do you have to be willing to make great sacrifices? No. You have to produce great art. That usually takes time and effort... and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it doesn't even take strong emotional involvement.


32. On 2005-11-29, Ron Edwards said:

Matthijs, I have to break your post into two parts: the second paragraph and the third.

#2: I gave my example in the previous post, somewhat abstracted.

#3: Anyone who thinks "I suffered, so it must be great Art" is a moron. No one claimed anything of the sort.

My claim is that sometimes I am in the zone of producing, helping to produce, really great art as I see it. And in some cases (NOT by definition, just in some cases), to do it, to get there, I must violate social and ethical boundaries among us at that very moment. By "must," I don't mean some kind of stupid price I have to pay, as for admission. I mean that the material I want to use in the art is, by most social standards, not available, even though it would be perfect.

So I break the standards, when that happens. I play long-term with people who are either willing to do this too, or who have learned to live with it.


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This makes...
MH go "Thanks for clarifying your point."

33. On 2005-11-29, Curly said:

"Suffering" is the problematic word in this tangent.

"Misunderstood" artist would be better.

Misunderstood because their art differs from the status quo/ conventional wisdom.

Which can lead to suffering of the variety that Ben (wrongly) dismisses as "Hollywood".  And can lead to workaday suffering, such as Ron having to moderate silly discussions.


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