Wednesday, October 2, 2013

In which I become much more specific and discover the problem I am truly facing.

Zak S. had some good feedback for me on my last post and through our conversation I have come to a few conclusions.

  • I don't mean collaboration. What I am talking about is participating. A game is created by mutual participation in the game. I am not talking about games where the storytelling responsibility is equally shared among all participants.
  • The problem I am grappling with is when players either don't participate in the game or are hostile to the game.
    • I am not talking about quiet players, quiet players participate - just not always vocally.
  • This behavior begs the question of why are they playing.
Zak said this:

If someone is at your table it isn't necessarily because of some gameological compatibility--it's because they bring something (anything: creativity, friendship, snacks) to the table that you want at that table.If you want that at the table, then you don't get to change them. You, like any general, use what they bring (wanted and unwanted) to somehow fuel the game .If a player just wants to hit things with an axe, create situations where that desire makes the game more interesting for everyone rather than treating it as an obstacle.Your players have traits: you can use them for you or against you. If you use them for you, then you create an exciting game that will make everyone want to extend themselves in new ways.

I think this is very well-phrased. I think that deep problems arise when a participant is no longer bringing something that you want to the table or if  what the player wants is outside the scope of what you can provide in a game. At this point the game fails - at least in the context of that individual.

This is what I was talking about with the terms collaboration and consensus. We at the table all come together to play this thing and bring whatever we have to offer. If one of the participants either: doesn't give anything; or interferes with the ability of the other players to participate you have a failure of the game.

What I meant by rescue (which may have been a poorly chosen word) is: how can we invite a player who is not participating to participate? The problem may be that there the situation only occurs when there is no longer anything that the player can or wants to bring to the game which is compatible with the game the others are playing.

For whatever reason, I have noticed that this is most often an issue with people who have been roleplaying for a long time - hence the veteran player aspect. I suspect this is because some players may only have continued to roleplay for social reasons - and that over time the gap between their actual needs and desires from a game have increasingly diverged from what roleplaying has to offer - leading to anti-social play.

Perhaps why play with new players tends to be better is that there is no social impetus for the game to occur. This would also apply to online play. The game only happens because of mutual interest.

In terms of solving my particular problem? I think that sadly there is no game remedy, so the problem is inevitably a social one.

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