Hi folks, "dudes-in-a-scene" is my shorthand for games like Sorcerer, Primetime Adventures, and With Great Power... where the expected style of play goes something like:
Player 1 gets a scene with the GM. Other players sit around.
Player 2 gets a scene with the GM. Other players sit around.
Player 3 gets in a scene with the GM, and player 2 is in the scene too. Other players sit around.
Player 1 gets into a huge fight scene that lasts a million years. Other players contemplate suicide to alleviate the boredom.
I would not include Capes or Polaris in this category, because even if the scene is focused on a single character, the other players are participants in the scene. But these games are also GM-less. (Which is cool, but sometimes it's nice to have a GM, and in some games, like With Great Power... the GM's role is hardcoded into the game structure.)
This is me saying: "Wow, I'm really tired of Dudes-in-a-Scene." As a player, I'm too selfish for the spotlight; as a GM, I'm real self-conscious that other players are growing bored. I've tried roping spectators in to play NPC's, or describe the setting or other color, or help brainstorm stakes. But these measures don't always work if you've got a lot of players sitting around.
Don't get me wrong: I think Dudes-in-a-Scene is a big conceptual improvement over Party-Party-Party games (like D&D where everyone's in the same party, or (arguably) Dogs in the Vineyard), because Dudes-in-a-Scene permits a lot more freedom in what can be attempted. But it does have some down sides, which I would like to minimize.
Designers of Story Games, how do you compensate for the downsides of GM-ful Dudes-in-a-Scene?