Expectations About Enjoyment

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  • edited March 2012
    I'm curious about people's expectations regarding enjoyment in roleplaying game sessions, so I made a little survey (now closed). Results are at the end of the thread somewhere.
  • Hi Jason!

    The problem is that these numbers are meaningless without anything to compare them with. A 10 ("toally amazing") is totally amazing like a good movie, or like the best sex one ever had?
  • Also, I regularly play with the same folks, but we almost always do one shots. Either because we can't commit to on-going campaigns, or because we're playtesting scenarios for cons. Same people each time, though.
  • I answered the poll, but I also wonder about what it is supposed to show. Even in fixed media like books and movies, people often vary widely in their enthusiasm for exactly the same things.

    That is, I have certain friends who are frequently like "OMG, you've got to see this latest book/movie! It's the greatest thing ever!" And then I have other friends who also regularly read and/or watch movies, but who have a lot of criticisms of what they read and watch.

    I'm not sure what conclusions you can draw from this difference, though. I don't think that one can conclude that the more enthusiastic crowd are superior at finding good media. Indeed, I'm usually more wary of their recommendations for what I consume.
  • i think the questions, as they are, are an attempt to broadly establish how invested people are in having an exciting time when they game, as opposed to approaching it as more of a straight-up pastime or amusing activity.
    I think Jason can decide for himself whether to share his mysterious purpose ^__^
  • Curious about the results. Mine: 8 8 10.
  • edited March 2012
    Mine was 7 7 10.

    Some preliminary numbers based on 80 100 responses.

    1. How enjoyable do you expect a typical session with your friends to be? Average is 7.25

    2. What, do you think your actual average is across many instances of play? Average is 6.8

    3. What level of enjoyment would qualify as a huge success for you and your friends? Average is 8.92

    Obviously this is hugely subjective, and a few of the replies were either mistakes or deliberate spoilers, but it is interesting that according to the respondents, a typical session is slightly less enjoyable than our expectations would indicate. This seems pretty natural to me.

    Here's the data.
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstarbut it is interesting that according to the respondents, a typical session is slightly less enjoyable than our expectations would indicate. This seems pretty natural to me.
    I always thought of myself as a pessimist, but maybe I've got it backwards: I generally go in expecting a 7 experience and most of the time end up getting an 8, which leaves me feeling pretty good. It seems weird to think of that going the other direction -- having nearly every gaming experience fail to meet your expectations over and over again must be a real bummer.
  • edited March 2012
    I guess it seems natural to me to be optimistic about what a session will be like, to be excited and looking forward to it. Then it is still good, but not as good as it was in your imagination.

    I think I worded this poorly - your "expectation" and mine probably have different meanings, and my exemplars probably could have been a little more descriptive. I'm sure you could do this as legitimate qualitative research, controlling for bias and so forth, but I was just broadly curious so I'm happy.
  • edited March 2012
    I'm actually in the same boat with Accounting here nowadays; I go in expecting a 6-ish, end up getting a 7 and get better often enough to only consider a full 10 a huge success.

    This hasn't always been the case with me, though. Here's a breakdown of my personal rpg history in these terms:
    YearsQuality
    90-956/4/7
    95-005/3/6
    00-056/5/7
    05-107/6/9
    10+6/7/10
    The recent hike on quality has largely been because of a rise in the quality of the player stock. Or rather, I've switched to a game that seems to work better for many of the local people I play with; OSR-D&D seems to have a stronger appeal to more people in the 15-25 male demography than the Forgista drama games I mostly played through the last period. The choice of game doesn't have a too big impact on this, as I've grown so strong as a gamer that I've probably had under a half dozen sessions <5 since 2005 - well under 5% of the time, certainly. Nowadays the question is whether the session is dazzling or merely entertaining, it seems :D

    (Just to give an idea of my benchmarking here: I'm considering 1-5 as incoherent play to whatever degree, while 6 is a basically functional performance.)
  • Is that incoherence in a Forge sense, i.e. about different player expectations?
  • Basically in that sense, yeah. Of course I'm scoring bad sessions low and all that, but it seems that almost every session I can remember at <6 can be characterized as incoherent in hindsight. So that's more of an a posteori observation.
  • I approach games as work, in fact, I always say "lets get back to work" when it is time to return to the table after a break.

    I'm looking for more of a shared emotional experience, community building, personal growth, that sort of thing. Feeling joyful or having fun, can be part of that but so can feeling angry or crying, or that sense of awe you get when something perfect and powerful happens in the fiction.

    Jason, everyone else, I'd be interested in hearing what you mean by enjoyment?
  • edited March 2012
    When I took the survey, I was interpreting it as a measure of how glad I was that I spent my time that way. I think you get the joy afterward. Even if you're angry and tense during the session, if afterward you're really jazzed by the experience -- that's when the joy comes.

    And my numbers were 6/7/9.
  • I'd like to see a scatterplot of the first two variables, just for fun.
    I could do it myself later if nobody else wants to.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Ross Cowman
    Jason, everyone else, I'd be interested in hearing what you mean by enjoyment?
    I counted carthasis, paradigm-shifts, the anxious rush of danger, and more in my evaluation of "enjoyment"
    Posted By: Jason Morningstarit is interesting that according to the respondents, a typical session is slightly less enjoyable than our expectations would indicate. This seems pretty natural to me.
    Part of this, for me, is that some sessions are failures. They weigh down the average.

    I said my expectations going in were usually an 8, and the sessions tended to deliver a 7. What's more accurate is that sessions would tend to deliver: 6, 8, 8, 9, 3, 9, 8, 7, 6, 9, 2.
  • And the 2s and 9s mixed in there mean you are swinging for the fences, so that's all to the good.
  • RPGs wouldn't be my thing if I didn't go in expecting at least a 7, on average. Why the hell else would I play?
    Posted By: Ross Cowman
    I'm looking for more of a shared emotional experience, community building, personal growth, that sort of thing. Feeling joyful or having fun, can be part of that but so can feeling angry or crying, or that sense of awe you get when something perfect and powerful happens in the fiction.

    Jason, everyone else, I'd be interested in hearing what you mean by enjoyment?
    All of this stuff I take as enjoyment, and took it as so when I took the poll.
  • I was a 5/4/8.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarObviously this is hugely subjective, and a few of the replies were either mistakes or deliberate spoilers, but it is interesting that according to the respondents, a typical session is slightly less enjoyable than our expectations would indicate.
    This is in line with a lot of psychological findings, you know. We generally set our expectations a bit high and think things will be better in the future.

    So, for example, people rate their life satisfaction on average as 7.48 out of 10 (differing slightly, but not much, depending on country). However, on average, people think their life satisfaction in ten years time will be 8.25 out of 10.

    Jason's numbers seem to be in the same sort of range. Everything is broadly positive, but future expecations are slightly higher than past experience.
  • Posted By: Graham
    So, for example, people rate their life satisfaction on average as 7.48 out of 10 (differing slightly, but not much, depending on country). However, on average, people think their life satisfaction in ten years time will be 8.25 out of 10.
    They're probably right, though, yeah? People's life satisfaction tends to improve as they get older.

    For me, the "Expecting an 8, getting a 6" thing isn't about expecting that future play will be better than presnt, it's about expecting that the next session will be at the top of the normal variation from session to session. I expect that because I try to fix the problems with the last session in the next one.

    I think an interesting thing would be to look at the variance in self-reported session enjoyment over time. It would also be interesting to look at the difference in self-reported enjoyment between different players in the same game. A longitudinal study!
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Simon CThey're probably right, though, yeah?
    No, they overestimate. That's the thing. (I am getting this from Daniel Nettle's book Happiness, which I thoroughly recommend.)

    Longitudinal FTW.
  • Posted By: Eero TuovinenBasically in that sense, yeah. Of course I'm scoring bad sessions low and all that, but it seems that almost every session I can remember at <6 can be characterized as incoherent in hindsight. So that's more of an a posteori observation.</blockquote>Our less good sessions come from either someone being an antisocial arse or some failure of the plot to really deliver (either as planned or as spontaneously created). Occasionally it's because of a failure of the rules but never, as I can recall, from differing creative agendas (unless you count being an arse as a CA). There are sometimes individual actions which move the spectacular down a notch (such as my choice in Hillfolk to have Ken Hite's character killed rather than his daughter on whom he doted).
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