What? No! Not That!

April 11, 2008

Over on Story Games, Paul Czege advised a newcomer to indie-style games:

Enthusiastic praise and design theory is seductive, and can draw you away from your real preferences.

Amen. Personally, one of the most interesting parts of watching theory and design in the Forge “diaspora” (sorry, Luke) is seeing some folks realize that maybe the kind of play they really want isn’t the Narrativism that Ron described. Maybe it’s something else. And, following that, there seems to often be a lot of coming to terms with that. I definitely went through this process too. “Oh my god, how could I possibly actually want functional Simulationist play (or whatever else, including many things not adequately described by GNS)? It’s so disgusting!”

Maybe the best, most awesome games in the world aren’t being designed to meet your needs. Maybe your needs are something else. Maybe the games that are being designed to meet your needs are really crappy, or not as flashy, or just not getting a whole bunch of attention right now. But people inevitably gravitate towards the hot shit, even if it’s not really what they want. And sometimes they wake up, surrounded by a bunch of really terrific games that, try as hard as they can, they don’t really enjoy playing as much as they would like to. And then they have to come to terms with that and find something else. If they can.

5 Responses to “What? No! Not That!”

  1. Brand Robins Says:

    Indie is the new trad, part 2 the “RPG.net darling” phase.

  2. fredhicks Says:

    Preach it. Honestly, I think this is some of the clearest perspective I’ve read on why the Forge never really *clicked* for me. I was already out where some of the “diaspora” is spreading into. 🙂

  3. Willem Says:

    So true.

    I think, basically, excitement excites people, and inspiration inspires.

    Infectious stuff.

    Unfortunately, to avoid this seems to require an endless river of disclaimers – “your fun may not match my idea of fun”.

    What can you do, but say “RPGer, know thyself”.

  4. misuba Says:

    Very right, very true. And as I’m sure you’re aware, all of these statements about Nar-or-whatever were, and are, equally true about the style of play that Gygax and Arneson described by creating D&D.

    Maybe Troy’s onto something with the “Socratic RPG” thing: if we have to keep questioning everything all the time, is design philosophy?

  5. Jonathan Walton Says:

    Misuba: Isn’t that what RPG theory is? The philosophy of design and play? It certainly ain’t science.


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