Have you ever met this guy?

13

Comments

  • Posted By: Zak SI care because if I am GMing and one of those players turns out to be That Guy I want to find out ways to make sure I can tell if they are having fun and to measure said fun.
    Now this is worth exploring!

    I hope this thread generates some ideas on this topic. I'll go think about it for a while and come back if I can come up with something, but I suspect those here who game a lot with strangers may have a better shot at it.
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Zak SI care because if I am GMing and one of those players turns out to be That Guy I want to find out ways to make sure I can tell if they are having fun and to measure said fun.
    Okay, maybe care was the wrong word to use? Worry.
    I mean, I can feel compassion for a person without having to worry.
    I think the whole relationship(GM/players)is a part of the problem, but that's just my opinion.
    One person shouldn't feel the need, or better yet the right to make someone else happy.
    It's a weird structure.
    Maybe you can't fix their inability to have fun?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Nathan H.Posted By: Zak SI care because if I am GMing and one of those players turns out to be That Guy I want to find out ways to make sure I can tell if they are having fun and to measure said fun.
    One person shouldn't feel the need, or better yet the right to make someone else happy.
    It's a weird structure.
    Maybe you can't fix their inability to have fun?

    But maybe we can? That would be cool. Or if we fail, maybe we can do that measure bit that Zak is talking about, where we learn to recognize when That Guy is having fun.

    These aren't total randos you are trying to make happy. I understand you might be uncomfortable about forcing someone to try somehting new, but I don't think that's what we are trying to do. This is someone who sat down at a game with you. We might not know exactly how to do that yet, but trying to make sure they have fun is good.
  • It's misplaced.
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Nathan H.It's misplaced.
    But good intentioned?

    Anyway, at least the "recognizing when That Guy is having fun" bit would be hands off enough, right?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Zak SI care because if I am GMing and one of those players turns out to be That Guy I want to find out ways to make sure I can tell if they are having fun and to measure said fun.
    If it's a con game, I think there's very little you can do for a "That Guy" problem (and even less incentive to do anything at all, since you may never see "That Guy" again). Do what you can to keep everyone else having fun and either write that seat off as a lost cause or just throw any random crazy idea you've got at him to see if something sparks his interest.

    If it's a home game with friends, my preference for sussing out how people feel about the current game is to do it away from the game itself. Start up the old gaming warstories discussion when you're all hanging out doing something else, and listen to how they remember the games you've played together. Basically, letting them tell you what they thought was fun about the games they've played in, without putting them on the spot and demanding that they quantify and justify their opinion. If their favorite stories are about things that other players did with their characters, maybe that's a clue that what they really like most about gaming isn't being in the spotlight, but cheering on the people who are. Or if they focus on the convoluted backstory of the setting, or if they fondly reminisce about the big fight scene that was only narrowly won, or if they talk about their character's internal reactions to the situations in the game...all of those are valid, fun things for that person, and definitely things that you can provide to them as a GM.

    Or maybe they won't have any favorite stories about past games, and that might indicate that they aren't showing up on Saturday because they love the game, but because they love having something that their friends invite them to on Saturday...in which case, you can either find a different activity to scratch that itch for them, or make peace with the notion that this person likes the people in the group more than the game. That's not a bad compliment, really. (And if this person isn't a friend, then...whew. That sucks. Good luck with that, I guess.)
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Nathan H.It's misplaced.
    If you accept that it is Ok to have a game with a GM in the first place I think it's important to realize sometimes there's some obscenely simple misconception holding a player back. Like:

    "I didn't know I was allowed to talk out-of-voice" (Like going: "My guy says..." instead of "Hark, a vagrant!")
    "I didn't know I could do stuff that isn't on my character sheet"
    "I didn't know I could try a combat maneuver that isn't written down"
    "I didn't know I can act whenever I want if we're not in combat rounds"
    "I didn't know that if we don't go right toward the first plot hook we see, there are still other things to do in the setting"
    etc.

    ...and you can sometimes just deal with that and it's worth it and it's fun.

    And sometimes you can't.

    And sometimes the problem doesn't exist at all.
  • Posted By: Zak SPosted By: Nathan H.It's misplaced.
    If you accept that it is Ok to have a game with a GM in the first place I think it's important to realize sometimes there's some obscenely simple misconception holding a player back. Like:

    "I didn't know I was allowed to talk out-of-voice" (Like going: "My guy says..." instead of "Hark, a vagrant!")
    "I didn't know I could do stuff that isn't on my character sheet"
    "I didn't know could try a combat maneuver that isn't written down"
    "I didn't know I can act whenever I want if we're not in combat rounds"
    "I didn't know that if we don't go right toward the first plot hook we see, there are still other things to do in the setting"
    etc.

    ...and you can sometimes just deal with that and it's worth it and it's fun.

    And sometimes you can't.

    And sometimes the problem doesn't exist at all.

    I like this a lot.

    For me, the problem is usually something like, "I didn't know I was supposed to make a character who does X kind of thing, my guy only does Y." Sometimes that's a very generic problem (my first ever game: "I didn't know I was supposed to make a guy who is willing to take risks and is vocal about things, my guy only does boring things and has weird opinions that he keeps to himself.") Sometimes it's very specific (I didn't know I was supposed to make a guy who is really interested in developing and maintaining relationships and testing them against difficult circumstances, my guy only punches things.")
  • Not always something the DM can do anything about, often it's caused as much or more by the other players than it is the DM.
  • Posted By: Vernon RNot always something the DM can do anything about, often it's caused as much or more by the other players than it is the DM.
    Sure.

    But I think it's useful to grant GMs the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, courage to change the things they can, and wisdom to know the difference.
  • I've had one player who I knew definitely wasn't that guy -- in part because he was very enthusiastic between games. "When are we going to play next?!", kind of thing.

    He did tend to turtle, though, and was incredibly difficult for me to read.

    I noticed how sometimes he was much more vocal and more obviously engaged. I'm somewhat confident it wasn't because he had a good day or something, but because something was different in the game. I never figured it out, though, but it seemed to me that sometimes the game clicked for him. Yes, I did ask him (and other players) which bits they liked. The answers weren't illuminating to me.

    In hindsight, I could have tried to run sessions which were more obviously different -- and possibly even say something about the difference out loud. "Ok, fair warning: today it's nothing but slapstick." "You're in for death and gore." "Lots and lots of social stuff coming up!"

    Had I done that, I might have been able to figure it out better. I think he had fun all along... but it seemed to me he had a lot more fun on some occasions, and I kind of wish I knew the difference.
  • One thing some players seem to be hung up on: "But I don't have any good ideas!"

    I wonder if more people sometimes feel that way than verbalize it.
  • My experience of These Guys is not that they are bored per se, but that whatever enjoyment they get out of the session has little or nothing to do with the RPG activity, and everything to do with hanging out with their mates. They are not interested in furthering their game as such. They do not consider RPGs an art form. They don't even think much about how their game can be improved or why they are (not) having fun with it.

    I think they are playing RPGs to be part of a subculture. And share this subculture with people they like to spend time with. The activity of gaming is not their focus. They like being geeks, and the geeks they know play RPGs.
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: PeterBB
    For me, the problem is usually something like, "I didn't know I was supposed to make a character who does X kind of thing, my guy only does Y." Sometimes that's a very generic problem (my first ever game: "I didn't know I was supposed to make a guy who is willing to take risks and is vocal about things, my guy only does boring things and has weird opinions that he keeps to himself.") Sometimes it's very specific (I didn't know I was supposed to make a guy who is really interested in developing and maintaining relationships and testing them against difficult circumstances, my guy only punches things.")
    I've done this as well, and have seen people do it.

    Lately I've learned to tell people "You know, I realize you might find it unrealistic that your professor of linguistics is any good in a tight spot, but just let me double check: Do you want to struggle helplessly if someone grabs you by the arm? Or do you want to hit them on the toes with your cane? Or have a Boer War flashback and accidentally break his neck before anyone realizes what's up?" Sometimes people do want the first, but lots of time they also seem relieved that they don't have to go through contortions to justify why their elderly professor is also a dab hand at baritsu.

    (Or have meaningful relationships, or whatever seems to be missing from the character.)
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Paul T.Ludanto, if you feel comfortable, I'd love to hear more about your group and your games!
    I don't know that there's much to tell. We've got like, three inexperienced but open-minded player, one guy excited about "new school" games but seriously lacking in proficiency, the passive-aggressive guy who doesn't like anything but M&M and Savage Worlds, and me (the guy who seems unable to contribute if he isn't GMing).

    Mostly I come in trying to be excited, but quickly get bored while the other players go on shopping trips or whatever. When I do get to act, it's generally an uphill fight against the GM's plot-bus, making my contribution semi-meaningless. Why am I even there? If the game can go for three hours without my input, what does that say?

    Conversely, if I am called upon to act, I either have no idea what to do (I'm not the proactive or even "big-picture" reactive in real life) or I feel put upon by the results of failure, because they aren't worth the price of success (whatever that means).

    So, basically I'm just a bad player, which is quite frustrating, and I'm not getting what I want from RPG sessions.

    Edit: Oops. Missed the second page. I'm kind of with Vernon on the GNS thing. Definitely a clash of creative agendas (or whatever).
  • Posted By: Ludantothe GM's plot-bus
    If I was the Game Doctor I'd say--based on what you just said--that's the problem right there.

    Why does your GM have a plot bus?

    Is it possible to go "Hey, I can't play in a railroad situation, let's do something else"?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Zak SWhy does your GM have a plot bus?

    Is it possible to go "Hey, I can't play in a railroad situation, let's do something else"?
    Probably, but it seems to be an accepted part of the game. The GM actually points it out and calls it "the Plot Bus" without any shame. And the poor guy is trying to play "Other-Worlds" and similar games that just don't like that sort of thing. Plus, I'd be saying it all of the time and be the only one saying it, which would make me look like a jerk. Basically, I think the rest of the table would chug along just fine with their bad-wrong-fun (ha, I kid!) without me.
  • Yeah, I think that's straight-up bad GMing right there.
  • I mean, it'd be merely "different GMing" if you, Ludanto, weren't there sitting right at the table not having fun, but if a player is there and they are not having fun and it is because you have a plot-bus, your plot-bus is BadWrong.
  • To add insult to my injury, I got the group to play Capes once. The passive-aggressive guy rocked that game. He engaged with the system, worked the resources, added great stuff to the fiction and generally "won" Capes. And he bitched about it the whole time and hated every minute of it. It was insane!

    Oh well. Maybe I'll take up miniature wargaming.
  • Posted By: LudantoTo add insult to my injury, I got the group to play Capes once. The passive-aggressive guy rocked that game. He engaged with the system, worked the resources, added great stuff to the fiction and generally "won" Capes. And he bitched about it the whole time and hated every minute of it. It was insane!
    I don't know about that guy, but I have played very open systems which were--for me--too "easy". Like the things it asked me to provide and the win conditions described were always just like "Yeah, so I do this I do that (because otherwise I am waiting for the game to get going and I'm bored) and it's over...Wait--that's it? That was the game?".

    Maybe your passive-aggressive guy was in that kind of mindset.
  • I've experienced this situation sometimes, though rarely for long-term games. (I have experienced railroading in long-term games, but I didn't feel like I was the lone player who had any issues with this. In those situations, I would previously disrupt things by acting contrary to the plot, and divide the gaming group.)

    For short term, like conventions games, I have sometimes invested in storylines other than the GM-designated plot. So, for example, it might be written in advance how the search for the gateway to another world goes - I might spend a bunch of time in debate with one of the other PCs over how we should greet the new world. I won't avoid the main plot - I just don't make it the thing that I'm focused on and/or invested in. A few times this has even been successful in upstaging the intended main plot, while not being disruptive in the way that turning against the main plot can be.
  • If the rest of the group is seeming to have fun and only one person has a problem with the "plot bus" then how can it be bad GMing?
    If the vast majority of the group are enjoying the game how can the fact that one person doesnt enjoy it make it wrong?

    To me it's exactly what GNS talks about, different people with different agendas.
  • Well then I guess we have a difference of opinion.
  • Posted By: Vernon RIf the vast majority of the group are enjoying the game how can the fact that one person doesnt enjoy it make it wrong?
    If it's a random group of people who only meet to play games, yeah, then it's not wrong in my book.

    However, if it's a group for whom "meeting each other" is part of the agenda, then one person not having fun is wrong. It's like consistently ignoring someone's tastes when arranging a movie night.
  • Sure different opinion, but can you explain yours to me?

    I dont understand how you can claim that the GM was bad while the majority of players in the game seemingly were having fun?
  • edited February 2012
    Posted By: Vernon RSure different opinion, but can you explain yours to me?

    I dont understand how you can claim that the GM was bad while the majority of players in the game seemingly were having fun?
    I will answer because you asked:

    My definition of good GMing is you knock yourself out, bend over backwards, jump through any hoop presented and, basically, within the bounds of what you have time and effort for, try to make sure everyone (including you) is having as much fun as you are able to do anything about.

    It's not a vote. It's not "2 wolves and a sheep decide what to eat for dinner". Either you find a way for everyone to be included and (therefore) you create a circuit where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts because the group works better when everyone at the table is having fun or you recognize someone is not having fun and talk to them about changing something or leaving because the presence of a nonfun having person at the table is a drag on the rest of the table even if all the remaining people are cool with the playstyle.
  • edited February 2012
    Fair enough, that makes a lot of sense. It's funny cause it sounds a lot like a lot of posts I've seen Ron Edwards write on this subject, just because you are friends it doesnt mean you can game together, or something to that effect.
  • Posted By: Zak SMy definition of good GMing...
    Well, for me it was all of that. We meet regularly, but just to game, but then again that's the only face-to-face socializing I do. The GM and the other players just have a different idea of what's fun and acceptable. We even talked about it, and everybody was all, "yeah, yeah, me too", but play would revert back to the standard without complaint from others. That said, the GM probably had some bad habits and not enough time to prepare, so...

    everybody is right!

    (or something)
  • I can get on the Plot Bus as long as the GM makes it clear to me what my role is. If he doesn't, that's bad GMing. If he does, and I don't like it... then we're simply not a good fit together in Plot Bus games, and I'd be pretty dead set on trying a different game, or finding a different group.

    One thing I've seen happen is where there is in fact a role that I'd enjoy on the Plot Bus, but the GM hasn't identified it and/or figured out how to communicate it to me. Often not through lack of trying! So by calling that "bad GMing" I'm not saying he's a dick, just that he hasn't brought all the tools needed for the job.

    I do think it's possible for a game to provide those tools. For example, clarifying, "The players' job is to portray how their characters are emotionally affected by the GM's unfolding story." That's what a lot of Plot Bus GMs want, but they feel like they're supposed to let the players impact events, so they sort of pretend try to enable such agency, but when push comes to shove, they give up and steer. Or maybe impacting certain events is cool, and the GM just needs to communicate which are which. "This is a Combat Scene, I won't let you die, but how hurt you get and how badass you look is up to you!" versus "This is a Free Scene, these cultists aren't key to my plot, do with them as you will!" versus "This is a Plot Scene, react while I blow your minds!"
  • We have an edge case in our regular AD&D game, where there is a player who sits in silence until he gets a particular trigger. After much experimentation we have figured out that he wants his guy to get into some hopeless doomed situation -- preferably through betrayal -- where he can roleplay floundering helplessly for comic effect. We played Fiasco one night and he loved it! He was still pretty quiet but he had several protagonist scenes and an aftermath which were reserved for his favourite style of play.
  • Posted By: LudantoTo add insult to my injury, I got the group to play Capes once. The passive-aggressive guy rocked that game. He engaged with the system, worked the resources, added great stuff to the fiction and generally "won" Capes. And he bitched about it the whole time and hated every minute of it. It was insane!
    Posted By: Zak SI don't know about that guy, but I have played very open systems which were--for me--too "easy". Like the things it asked me to provide and the win conditions described were always just like "Yeah, so I do this I do that (because otherwise I am waiting for the game to get going and I'm bored) and it's over...Wait--that's it? That was the game?".
    Yeah, being good at something and having fun doing it are different things.

    Sometimes you can find a game that offers a useful middle ground -- delivering just enough of what's fun for you to make up for having to do the non-fun stuff that everyone else seems to really like you to do. (Personally, I find myself making this kind of bargain more often when I'm running a game than when I'm playing one, but YMMV.)
  • In the case of true That Guys, generally their problem is an overall lack of social skills. Cue intense debate about whether such people are overrepresented within the RPG hobby/the hobby caters to them, but that's ultimately tangential: RPGing is a social activity and if your skills in that area are below a certain threshold, you can't do it. It's a great deal like dating, actually: if you aren't happy with your life as a whole, that's likely to render you less attractive. Most of my favorite people to game with really love their lives—not that they don't have problems, just that they have other interests outside of gaming and are generally enthusiastic and broad-minded.

    (I'll admit that the majority of my purely-social interactions are with my nerd brothers and sisters, but, I mean, at least I do other stuff with them than just game, you know.)

    Still, I'm in general agreement with Zak here: if someone's not having fun because of something specific they're not getting out of the game, rather than because they're in a place where they simply can't be part of a gaming group, then it behooves the other members of the group (especially the GM, though not limited to the GM) to reach out to that person and adjust as much as they can. I know I've done that, and I've seen friends do it, and the results aren't always successful, but it's worth doing, and furthermore, it's really inconsiderate not to make some sort of effort.

    In other words, Ludanto, your friends are being rude not to make more of a sincere effort to help you enjoy the game. Of course, your unwillingness to meet new people and try new things does you no favors.

    Which brings me to my last point, which is that, despite my overall espousal of the principle that the group should work to help any players who aren't having fun, sometimes there is a genuine clash of preferences and desires which should (ideally anyway but haha to that) lead to an amicable split.

    Matt
  • Posted By: Zak S
    My definition of good GMing is you knock yourself out, bend over backwards, jump through any hoop presented and, basically, within the bounds of what you have time and effort for, try to make sureeveryone(including you) is having as much fun as you are able to do anything about.
    That's cool, but I consider the players to have the exact same responsibilities.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayPosted By: Zak S
    My definition of good GMing is you knock yourself out, bend over backwards, jump through any hoop presented and, basically, within the bounds of what you have time and effort for, try to make sureeveryone(including you) is having as much fun as you are able to do anything about.
    That's cool, but I consider the players to have the exact same responsibilities.Sure. Everybody needs to pull their weight. But the if something that is specifically invented by the GM (the "plot-bus" in this case) is getting in the way of the fun, then the GM is the one not pulling his/her weight.
  • CTCT
    edited February 2012
    I can see someone having social phobia so bad they are mentally and socially paralyzed with fear. Since I suffer from this myself, con games are just pure torture for me. I want so much to be myself like I am with my gaming group. But I can't. I just freeze up. (I still play and interact but I feel like I'm going to scream.)
    Not wanting to participate is a bit extreme, but the fear of 'looking like an ass' or 'doing the wrong thing' can be overwhelming. I can see someone going into self-protection mode and being a 'turtle'. They may not want to be like that, but it's the best they can do at the moment.

    To answer Zak S' question, I have played with one person who did what Ron Edwards described. When GMing I try to make sure everyone gets some time in the spotlight, but this player didn't want it. He wasn't being a jerk, he just liked watching the game, and making some rolls when the situation forced him to.
    Since he liked being there and wasn't disruptive, I quit worrying about if he was having fun or not and just let him do his thing.
  • edited March 2012
    sigh.

    There's a person (a woman, in this case) who comes to weekly game nights at the local game store. She says she's into roleplaying (and often says something like, "I haven't are-peed in like a week! I need it!).

    But when people pitch games to play, she won't decide what to play in. Literally, someone will describe a gritty fantasy game with tactical options and someone else, say, Fiasco, and she will not choose. "I don't care! I just want to role-play!" Usually she ends up at whatever game lands at the table she was already sitting at.

    In the games, she usually won't really read her character sheet (she has said, and I quote, "I don't want to read!") or care too much about how the game works--she just wants to interact with other characters in meaningless (in game-mechanical terms) ways. She doesn't drive the action, and won't take action unless things are forced on her character.

    Usually it is atrocious playing with her, and I always wish I wasn't playing with her (I haven't figured out how to just, y'know, not play with her without her throwing an emotional fit and stomping out--she's done this to other people). However, there are clearly games (like Jake's anime games) that she is more in alignment with and enjoys more, and it's more bearable to play these games with her, but she can't (or won't) articulate this. It's unclear if she has fun, usually. She's super emotionally needy and has no boundaries, expecting this one pick-up largish game group to be her sole social outlet. When people discuss games they might run at home, longer-term (the game night is for one-shots), she'll say something clumsily manipulative like, "*sigh*, I wish I could play in a long-term campaign", even though we know she doesn't give two shits about Burning Wheel or whatever and would totally drag it down and not engage in it.

    Bleh. I'm running a game tomorrow and I know I'll be frustrated and disappointed if she joins in, but it's really hard to say, "I don't want you to play this with me." Maybe I should just tell her I don't think we have compatible styles and I'd prefer not to play with her. Yeah. This is what I will do. Hold me to it, story games. Anyway.
  • edited March 2012
    She sounds very lonely. Good luck.
  • edited March 2012
    As do many of the dudes referred to so far in the thread.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Hans c-o
    Bleh. I'm running a game tomorrow and I know I'll be frustrated and disappointed if she joins in, but it'sreallyhard to say, "I don't want you to play this with me." Maybe I should just tell her I don't think we have compatible styles and I'd prefer not to play with her. Yeah. This is what I will do. Hold me to it, story games. Anyway.
    If you need a sentence to help you navigate that tricky situation, the one I'd likely turn to:
    "Hey [X], I know in the past that you've been irked by [This Playstyle]. I just wanted to give you fair warning that this game involves that, so that you can choose to avoid it if you want to."

    Depending on what game you're pitching, [This Playstyle] might be "lots of reading and character-sheet-focused tactics."

    Edited to mention: That could also blow up in your face. It's a tactic that's best used one-on-one, so the person doesn't feel singled out. Failing that, it's great if you can address the tactic to more than one person. Like, if Jake also hates games with lots of reading (say), you can say, "Hey Jake and [X]..."
  • Posted By: Mcdaldno
    If you need a sentence to help you navigate that tricky situation, the one I'd likely turn to:
    "Hey [X], I know in the past that you've been irked by [This Playstyle]. I just wanted to give you fair warning that this game involves that, so that you can choose to avoid it if you want to."

    Depending on what game you're pitching, [This Playstyle] might be "lots of reading and character-sheet-focused tactics."

    Edited to mention: That could also blow up in your face. It's a tactic that's best used one-on-one, so the person doesn't feel singled out. Failing that, it's great if you can address the tactic to more than one person. Like, if Jake also hates games with lots of reading (say), you can say, "Hey Jake and [X]..."
    Yeah, but she won't avoid anything (or rather, she'll avoid everything). She won't say she doesn't like that playstyle--she's "up for whatever". Thanks for the advice, though.
  • As someone who knows who Hans is talking about and who shares his frustrations, I can report that your line is unlikely to work, Joe. I find it hard to imaging this person actually copping to being irked by a playstyle; as Hans says she always insists she's equally interested in everything and everything is just fine as long as it has "RP." While I like this tack in general--put it on them not you, express it in terms of looking out for their enjoyment rather than defending your own--it's unlikely to hit home here. I've tried.

    The advice about avoiding singling-out, however, is spot-on. That's a thing, and very apropos to this person and situation. In this play environment it's going to be hard to manage a one on one conversation. Hans would probably have to flat-out ask her if they could step outside and talk. Which is still pretty singly-outy, and thus on shaky ground. The "address it to more than one person" tactic is good for avoiding this, but for the firmness that Hans is wanting to assert here, that may not be viable.

    Damn, Hans. Good luck, brother.
  • Posted By: jhkimTo what extent are people in this thread actuallyseeing different gamers(i.e. I never saw people with the same qualities that Eero saw); and to what extent are weimposing different interpretationsof the gamers that we have seen?
    Yeah, this is a dominant issue, definitely, insofar as we're interested in proper research procedure. This is why I don't treat things like the original System Matters essay as truth-pronouncements to be savagely torn down or religiously upheld: even now, ten years since, these are merely ideas to be considered, matched with your own experiences and utilized, insofar as there is utility in them. For me there is, which I tend to treat as empirical evidence: evidently Ron's got something here, so for my part it makes sense to proceed and see what else might be built upon this foundation. Others with different experiences will refute these basic observations, like "many people are unsatisfied in their roleplaying", or "system matters". I like how Zak is investigating the reasons for why he's not feeling the truth in that essay that some other people are instead of starting a crusade to convince everybody about how wrong it is.

    (Of course the "proper" social sciences research procedure here would be to agree upon some measures and get interviewing Those Guys to figure out whether Ron's experience and armchair analysis matches reality in some case studies, and then perhaps find out how wide-spread the phenomenon is, or whether him and others are simply knee-deep in attribution error. Good luck with that, to anybody who cares enough about the details.)

    For my part, I've gotten generally good results by introducing people to different kinds of games, explaining clearly what those games expect of them, and finding some that match what that person is most interested in doing in roleplaying games. Having a solid core group helps immensely in this - if you've got one or two or three players who are flexible and can actually follow systemic instructions, then you can just bring them with you and have them model proper play for anybody who has trouble. Some few people are truly problematic because their social level is just too low for playing anything in much more than an audience role; I've come to get by even in these cases by playing games that enable players to take on low-commitment audience roles that allow them to immerse in character and contribute color, but does not require them to ever stand up and deliver, so to speak. For most people, though, matching them up with a game that better fits their needs results in dramatic improvement in excitement and engagement.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Eero Tuovinen I like how Zak is investigating the reasons for why he's not feeling the truth in that essay
    Um, what?

    I don't have an insane ulterior motive here. The essay has nothing to do with this. I don't even remember what essay it's from, I had it copy/pasted in a blog entry from like a year ago.
  • Sorry, Zak. It didn't occur to me that you were working off a second-hand source here. Your original quote comes from the article GNS and other matters of roleplaying theory at the Forge. It's pretty well-known, being one of the early articles where Ron lays out the basics of his rpg theory thought. I did not mean to intimate anything, I just thought that you'd read that article and, as you described earlier, didn't recognize Ron's observation as matching your experiences. In any case, my point stands: I like how you're investigating other people's experiences instead of pronouncing Ron wrong out of hand because your own experiences don't match his.
  • Posted By: Eero Tuovinen. In any case, my point stands: I like how you're investigating other people's experiences instead of pronouncing Ron wrong out of hand because your own experiences don't match his.
    Although if Ron's theory purports to be general, all it would take is one counterexample.
  • Posted By: GB SteveAlthough if Ron's theory purports to be general, all it would take is one counterexample.
    Well, we're not discussing the Big Model in general here, but let me repeat what I said upthread about the specific logical modality of this one claim: Ron saying that he's met a hundred roleplayers who seemed unsatisfied and passive at the table does not claim nor prove that there isn't a happy roleplayer out there. I'd say that Ron is claiming a trend here, but not universality of any sort: obviously there is a happy roleplayer under a rock somewhere, how could somebody think differently just because there are unhappy ones as well?

    (The Big Model in toto makes some general claims, but it is a complex topic for another time, I believe. Maybe it's not that far off, who knows? I for one wouldn't mind it if we didn't need to wait for all the original pundits to die off before taking new, critical and interesting - read: more than just refuting the ideas of others - looks on these matters.)

    The above is actually what makes this discussion meaningful and interesting, the fact that it's not about analytic logic but rather about population demographics. Has anybody put any thought into why some people report widespread discontent while others find this phenomenon about a once in a lifetime occurrence? I posited upthread (unless it was in some whisper, can't remember) that local roleplaying microclimates tend to be powerfully profiled: roleplayers don't move a lot and tend to play in cliques and local social networks, which means that you don't get demographic bleed even between neighboring counties to the extent you get in eg. religious trending. If I'm correct in this characterization, then that would explain why people tend to have such differing observations on some pretty mundane rpg phenomena. The extent of dissatisfaction is one such thing, and just to pick a second example, the locally dominant games tend to be another. If you'd asked me into the '90s about whether roleplaying is difficult and often frustrating, I'd have answered in the affirmative simply because that was the case in the local scene in Upper Savo in the '90s. Similarly, if you'd asked me about what the most popular, significant and influential roleplaying games were, I'd have answered with Chaosium BRP and a few other '80s labels despite the fact that red box D&D is apparently easily the most sold roleplaying game in Finland ever - it just was a game that nobody in our scene played, everybody thought that it's outdated and childish. I've since met Finnish roleplayers who lived a hundred kilometers from my home through the '90s and played almost exclusively D&D through that era. I've also met roleplayers who have had only distant and occasional encounters with the high-strung, realism-oriented, preplay-heavy experientalist roleplaying style that we learned and grew up with.

    Of course these things are rapidly changing now with the Internet, roleplayers simply encounter each other more and over greater distances. But to me it seems an utterly uncontroversial claim that the local culture in the next town over might have been entirely different from your own in the not too distant past - after all, did you go there and see for yourself? I didn't. In this world of cargo cult culture it is not an amazing thing at all that different gamers from different places report different degrees of dissatisfaction and functional forms of play.
  • edited March 2012
    an excellent analysis, which was posted elsewhere:


    Time to fire up the DeRonDonizer...

    I have met dozens, perhaps over a hundred very experienced role-players with this profile

    "I have met many gamers whom I imagine are like this."

    a limited repertoire of games behind him

    "They play D&D"

    and extremely defensive and turtle-like play tactics.

    "They play to keep their character alive and 'win' rather than create interesting / tragic narratives via their character"

    Ask for a character background, and he resists, or if he gives you one, he never makes use of it or responds to cues about it.

    "The player is more interested in the game and less interested in using the game to create a compelling narrative."

    Ask for actions - he hunkers down and does nothing unless there's a totally unambiguous lead to follow or a foe to fight. His universal responses include "My guy doesn't want to," and, "I say nothing."

    "When I run a game and give them an tough moral dilemma they don't buy into the game."


    I have not, in over twenty years of role-playing, ever seen such a person have a good time role-playing.

    "Many of these people who I try and run games for don't have fun."

    I have seen a lot of groups founder due to the presence of one such participant.

    "If everyone isn't into the style of game I want to run, it doesn't work well."

    Yet they really want to play.

    "They want to play in some other style."

    They prepare characters or settings, organize groups, and are bitterly disappointed with each fizzled attempt.

    "Some people have bad luck finding people who like the same games they do. Too bad for them they haven't found the internet."

    They spend a lot of money on RPGs with lots of supplements and full-page ads in gaming magazines.

    "Hello! I'm talking to you on my computer from the year 1995."




    I hope that 'Ron writes bombastically' is received here as a non-controversial opinion, rather than as a personal grudge.

    Also, please note that this person's 'translation' ultimately endorses Ron's notion of clashing Creative Agendas.
  • Without too much detail, I just asked a player last week to bow out of my game for this kind of behavior. She brushed off any attempts to get her into the story, when it came to her turn it was like teaching her the game all over again, she constantly complained there was "nothing I can do" or "this is too much math" and yet when I asked her to bow out she got angry and said I had ruined the game for her. She has since asked other players to run a game for her and they don't want to because they saw the same problems I did.

    Let me also add she has played with us for years and has done this in pretty much every game we've run, regardless of who was running the game.

    Ultimately I think the social aspect was much more important to her than the actual game was. Being there, being part of something, was the reward for her. It could have been a book club, a quilting group, or a poetry slam and I think she would have been there doing the same thing.
  • edited March 2012
    Okay, while I read the lion's share of the thread I didn't read all of it so I'll apologize in advance if this was covered (but I don't think it was). While I understand That Guy has a somewhat limited breadth of games we are talking about his playing story games (namely the people we mostly play with). I think part of the equation is in the rules (clearly since it was mentioned in game theory circles). Too many games don't address player roles. So while, yes, it's the GMs responsibility to convey what the player's role is it's also up to the game to make it clear.

    Different games seek to represent different experiences so to not be clear about those ideas in the game text is to lead a player astray. And while that would seem to say that EVERY game would say "bring the fun to the table," quite honestly that is not the agenda of every game. Sometimes turtling is the correct reaction to the rules and challenges presented to players. If it's clear to them that they gain advantage by passive action and the GM is going to bring action to them it's hardly the players responsibility to be proactive.

    A good deal of games fail at this, especially convention games. They have reward economies that support hoarding and don't give the players any direction. Solid games will help the players (GM included, of course) navigate these issues far more reliably than games that run on gaming zeitgeist. While many of us may pride ourselves on being proactive, fun players, everyone isn't going to play with us and we get frustrated when we meet that person and don't know how to engage them.

    I say make it part of social contract. Let the rules do the heavy lifting (and the designer in absentia). Personally I'd prefer to "hide" behind the rules and say "hey, says here the players need to bring the fun to the table and feed the other player ideas on how to engage them."

    This may be a spinoff of my argument but a big part of this for me is that while part of the equation is "how do we entertain him and makes this fun" I also thing every player has a responsibility to make the game fun for everyone involved. Emily, Eppy and I had a conversation about this point. I've played a number of very competitive CCGs where good sportsmanship - everyone is having fun and feels valued - are a part of the tourney rules and are rewarded. If you can do it explicitly in CCGs you certainly should be able to do it at an RPG table.

    - Don
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