Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shoepixie On Games I Like And Games I Hate

I like to watch videos of people playing games that I don't want to play.

I have this intuition that they are looking for a totally different thing from a game than I am. then I watch and it seems like: yeah, they are.

Then, of course, you say that and all the people who play that game jump on your ass and howl that you're senselessly promoting division within the embattled hobby of roleplaying.

So then you think "Perhaps I was senseless bending observation to fit my hypothesis...or perhaps all these people are fucks".

Because of all that, I was pretty excited to see, during the Contessa on-line con, a video of one of the players in my weekly online players playing a game I would never play.

So afterward, I asked her about it: Do you see these games as different? In what way? Do they scratch different itches?

And so Shoe wrote this, which was a pretty cool thing for her to do.

Shoe's an unusual player: she plays in my game, but she's terrified of dying. Like if she died, she'd be pissed because she has plans for her character. And, no, it appears fear of death does not spur her to greater heights of invention, it just makes her freeze. This may be why Shoe thinks weapon restrictions are silly: she doesn't see the challenge in working with limited tools. I don't have too many players like that. But she keeps coming back, so I guess we're doing alright.

Some things Shoe notes:

The storygames provide a reliable experience, the trads (plus Apocalypse world) provide one that varies wildly based on who is playing and running.

The storygames are more like acting and more like writing a story.

The storygames require a lot more mental participation in the genre. The trads you can just show up and roll in whatever state


  1. My biggest complaint about storygames is the feeling of being railroaded through the story line. That's not to say I've never felt that while playing D&D, but in D&D I at least feel like there is this huge world to see.

    1. It depends on the game and who is running it, but I think it is more precisely that you are offered a choice: players must stay in genre or the game won't work right.

      Which is fine if your players are able to always be very serious about the genre. I'm not and most of my players aren't

    2. I think you're exactly right about that -- it's definitely the thing that makes Dogs in the Vineyard work or not work. You need to have your "I care about these people and their problems" hat on at all times. If players don't treat the NPCs they encounter like human beings whose lives have value and so on and so forth, the whole thing just goes completely to hell.

      And that might be quite a lot to ask people to do: "I need you to be able to treat imaginary people like they're real every Tuesday at seven". I'm sure the same is true for other games.

      (I love DitV, by the way, but when you described that difference it was the first game that came to mind.)

    3. whereas whenever i see a friendly NPC my first impulse is to kill them so I can go back to playing the game instead of listening to them talk.

  2. A lot of what she wrote really resonates with me, especially her use of the term "supply" to describe the emotional ups and downs that a particular play style provides.

    It's that same "supply" that is pushing me back into the mode of play that I pursued in the 80s and 90s. "Supply" takes a lot of energy and focus to achieve and it can be kind of tiring. Like she wrote, sometimes I just want to show up with my dice and throw flaming flasks of oil at jerk goblins.

  3. Per Shoe and weapon restrictions: my sense is that she thinks character classes are basically silly, class restrictions in particular. Makes sense if you played WoD games before D&D.

  4. Has Shoe seen the "little talks" video? if so, what are her thoughts? (the video, not the song)


      - Shoe

  5. "I have this intuition that they are looking for a totally different thing from a game than I am. then I watch and it seems like: yeah, they are."
    THIS. A thousand times this. I re-read your old post "Monopoly with Squatters" and it threw the whole topic into sharp relief. Not only are people playing different games for different reasons (and when one puts it like that, the obviousness of that rises to the level of "well, duh") but people are playing the SAME game for different reasons.

    It makes the task of categorizing games more than pointless.