Hey we did a thing!

Hidden in here is part of my whole deal with game design, which is related to Vincent Baker’s whole deal with game design. I do actually believe that we are all born game designers and storytellers and little balls of creative curiosity ready to connect and contribute to our community. The world is intense and weirdly stacked against this coming through with grace and strength, but know this, please: I do believe you are a dragon riding wizard and I want to know what happens next!

http://geekandsundry.com/3-ways-this-rpg-will-make-you-a-better-gamer/

58 thoughts on “Hey we did a thing!

  1. I wrestle with this idea a bit. Most gamers share a specific culture of stories told in a certain way, actors who act in a certain way, and all that jazz. By pushing a gamer in certain styles of games to emulate those things more, you end up with an experience closer to one we all share.

    Like, everyone recommends you read Impro, for instance. Or Play Unsafe. These are recommendations that teach you how to work with a group much better and “make you a better gamer”, right?

  2. < ![CDATA[I wrestle with this idea a bit. Most gamers share a specific culture of stories told in a certain way, actors who act in a certain way, and all that jazz. By pushing a gamer in certain styles of games to emulate those things more, you end up with an experience closer to one we all share.
    Like, everyone recommends you read Impro, for instance. Or Play Unsafe. These are recommendations that teach you how to work with a group much better and “make you a better gamer”, right?]]>

  3. Aaron Griffin It certainly seems like this is true. But I wonder: if I’m, e.g., into heavily tactical play that doesn’t require much narrative input, do I benefit from these techniques? What about participationist play?

    Or heck: What if I just like playing, uh… Shadowrun, and I don’t give a crap about this weird gas mask game and I simply want to play Shadowrun all the time. Why do I have to get “better”? What if I’m happy doing what I’m doing?

  4. < ![CDATA[Aaron Griffin It certainly seems like this is true. But I wonder: if I’m, e.g., into heavily tactical play that doesn’t require much narrative input, do I benefit from these techniques? What about participationist play?
    Or heck: What if I just like playing, uh… Shadowrun, and I don’t give a crap about this weird gas mask game and I simply want to play Shadowrun all the time. Why do I have to get “better”? What if I’m happy doing what I’m doing?]]>

  5. I super agree, Mark Delsing. (And Paul Beakley.) I dial it down in my head to “playing Apocalypse World might make you a more well-rounded gamer, if you’ve never played other games like it,” and give it a pass on the technicalities.

    Also it’s a very kind writeup and I’ll give it a pass on everything because I’m blushing.

    But yeah, getting good at Apocalypse World will make you worse at some of our own other games, if you try to play them the same way. Let alone all the other games out there.

  6. < ![CDATA[I super agree, Mark Delsing. (And Paul Beakley.) I dial it down in my head to "playing Apocalypse World might make you a more well-rounded gamer, if you've never played other games like it," and give it a pass on the technicalities. Also it's a very kind writeup and I'll give it a pass on everything because I'm blushing. But yeah, getting good at Apocalypse World will make you worse at some of our own other games, if you try to play them the same way. Let alone all the other games out there.]]>

  7. Which sports “make you a better gamer” by playing them? Which card games? I think the weirdness of playing a particular RPG to “make you a better gamer” is an outgrowth of the weird belief that any particular RPG is just a mere approximation of True Roleplaying, the state toward which one must always be progressing.

    “nor if you’re playing the characters as real people. Are there games like this? I think maybe there are.”

    Dungeon World sucks if you play the characters like real people — you turtle up and head for safety, and the GM exhausts themselves throwing stuff at you from ever more hard-to-justify directions since you’re not adventuring into a danger-infested dungeon (that’s not something real people do).

  8. < ![CDATA[Which sports "make you a better gamer" by playing them? Which card games? I think the weirdness of playing a particular RPG to "make you a better gamer" is an outgrowth of the weird belief that any particular RPG is just a mere approximation of True Roleplaying, the state toward which one must always be progressing. “nor if you’re playing the characters as real people. Are there games like this? I think maybe there are.”
    Dungeon World sucks if you play the characters like real people — you turtle up and head for safety, and the GM exhausts themselves throwing stuff at you from ever more hard-to-justify directions since you’re not adventuring into a danger-infested dungeon (that’s not something real people do).]]>

  9. Using just the three they chose to write the article on: make the characters seem real, play to find out, and ask provocative questions… I think the last two are targeted more towards the GM than anything else. I’d posit that at least one of those would have a positive effect on any game, with the others being neutral or just plain uninteresting.

    Imagine what could happen if your Shadowrun GM started asking where your troll learned to dual wield machine guns (is this how Shadowrun works??) and had you actually explain it at the table.

  10. < ![CDATA[Using just the three they chose to write the article on: make the characters seem real, play to find out, and ask provocative questions... I think the last two are targeted more towards the GM than anything else. I'd posit that at least one of those would have a positive effect on any game, with the others being neutral or just plain uninteresting. Imagine what could happen if your Shadowrun GM started asking where your troll learned to dual wield machine guns (is this how Shadowrun works??) and had you actually explain it at the table.]]>

  11. I dial it down in my head to “playing Apocalypse World might make you a more well-rounded gamer, if you’ve never played other games like it,” and give it a pass on the technicalities.

    (from Vincent’s post above)

    I have a similar point-of-view, and it’s also largely because I assign a good deal of value to diversity of experience. If you play games outside your wheelhouse, you’ll become a better gamer because your experience is being broadened, helping you think of gaming in different ways. If you’re accustomed to using hammers to do hardware work, learning how to use a screwdriver will give you a new appreciation for your work–and it can even teach you about how, specifically, hammers work.

    It’s making you a better gamer because it teaches you skills through crosstraining that you might not have picked up in your usual games. There doesn’t have to be some sort of Platonic notion of a “best gamer” in order for there to be improvement.

  12. < ![CDATA[I dial it down in my head to "playing Apocalypse World might make you a more well-rounded gamer, if you've never played other games like it," and give it a pass on the technicalities. (from Vincent's post above) I have a similar point-of-view, and it's also largely because I assign a good deal of value to diversity of experience. If you play games outside your wheelhouse, you'll become a better gamer because your experience is being broadened, helping you think of gaming in different ways. If you're accustomed to using hammers to do hardware work, learning how to use a screwdriver will give you a new appreciation for your work--and it can even teach you about how, specifically, hammers work. It's making you a better gamer because it teaches you skills through crosstraining that you might not have picked up in your usual games. There doesn't have to be some sort of Platonic notion of a "best gamer" in order for there to be improvement.]]>

  13. Mark Delsing Like Aaron said, I don’t think the article ever gives that imperative.

    Like, let’s say that I play pick-up basketball with some folks from work, super-casual, and one day I come across an article that says “5 Drills To Make YOU a Better Basketballer”. It’s not saying that I need to get better, but if I want to get better at basketball, those are things I can do to get better.

  14. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing Like Aaron said, I don't think the article ever gives that imperative. Like, let's say that I play pick-up basketball with some folks from work, super-casual, and one day I come across an article that says "5 Drills To Make YOU a Better Basketballer". It's not saying that I need to get better, but if I want to get better at basketball, those are things I can do to get better.]]>

  15. Mark Delsing Do you have the same reaction to “10 ways to keep weight off this holiday season” or “How to improve your running” or similar physical fitness articles? I ask because I expect you get more of those than “be a better gamer” articles.

  16. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing Do you have the same reaction to "10 ways to keep weight off this holiday season" or "How to improve your running" or similar physical fitness articles? I ask because I expect you get more of those than "be a better gamer" articles.]]>

  17. Mark Delsing I mean, I wasn’t really talking about clickbaityness. More to the fact that if you want to get serious about X or Y, there’s always people who are ready to give you advice about getting better at something.

    That doesn’t mean that you have to feel that it’s directed at you.

  18. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing I mean, I wasn't really talking about clickbaityness. More to the fact that if you want to get serious about X or Y, there's always people who are ready to give you advice about getting better at something. That doesn't mean that you have to feel that it's directed at you.]]>

  19. Thank you for saying this. I didn’t even read the article and it already made me cranky. I love AW and many of the games that have come from it, but that’s not what taught me the skills I have for play – I learned to make characters seem real in text-based RP as a preteen, and to ask provocative questions on my own. I’m still bad at playing to find out, I think, but whatever. There’s no boiler plate for good gamers. (I’m even doing a blog series about being good gamers, and they’re all at least a little different!)

    (I will unrelatedly say, and resist the urge to link to my blog posts on it, that Shadowrun: Anarchy does seem to be the kind of game where you do all those things, but I haven’t been able to play it yet because I have no time and probably don’t even count as a gamer anymore.)

  20. < ![CDATA[Thank you for saying this. I didn't even read the article and it already made me cranky. I love AW and many of the games that have come from it, but that's not what taught me the skills I have for play - I learned to make characters seem real in text-based RP as a preteen, and to ask provocative questions on my own. I'm still bad at playing to find out, I think, but whatever. There's no boiler plate for good gamers. (I'm even doing a blog series about being good gamers, and they're all at least a little different!) (I will unrelatedly say, and resist the urge to link to my blog posts on it, that Shadowrun: Anarchy does seem to be the kind of game where you do all those things, but I haven’t been able to play it yet because I have no time and probably don’t even count as a gamer anymore.)]]>

  21. Aaron Griffin Andy Hauge See Dan’s comments above and my joke about Sportsball. If the article were “3 Ways to be a Better Apocalypse World GM”, I’d have no issue.

    But, heck, given G&S’s readership, I can see someone looking at the article and thinking, “What does this have to do with Skyrim?” 😀

    (And, I mean, I get it. Just trying to think aloud about a larger point.)

  22. < ![CDATA[Aaron Griffin Andy Hauge See Dan's comments above and my joke about Sportsball. If the article were "3 Ways to be a Better Apocalypse World GM", I'd have no issue. But, heck, given G&S's readership, I can see someone looking at the article and thinking, "What does this have to do with Skyrim?” 😀
    (And, I mean, I get it. Just trying to think aloud about a larger point.)]]>

  23. Mark Delsing I get the sentiment, but there’s plenty of sports which aid performance in other sports if cross trained. Which I guess might be a good word for my whole mental framework here – the article seems to suggest cross training. Muhammed Ali trained in ballet to be a better boxer. I guess the only real difference is that that has an actual win condition which you can use to measure if you actually did get better.

  24. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing I get the sentiment, but there's plenty of sports which aid performance in other sports if cross trained. Which I guess might be a good word for my whole mental framework here - the article seems to suggest cross training. Muhammed Ali trained in ballet to be a better boxer. I guess the only real difference is that that has an actual win condition which you can use to measure if you actually did get better.]]>

  25. I mean, the reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect player, and that tabletop games on the meta-level are not comparable to sports that have specific end win conditions. They’re more comparable to different types of art, which are subjective and have no specific ultimate win. We’re not talking about who builds the most optimized character, we’re talking about who can help to tell the best story and be a good part of the group – and all of that can change the hot second you change the surroundings, setting, system, or other people.

  26. < ![CDATA[I mean, the reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect player, and that tabletop games on the meta-level are not comparable to sports that have specific end win conditions. They're more comparable to different types of art, which are subjective and have no specific ultimate win. We're not talking about who builds the most optimized character, we're talking about who can help to tell the best story and be a good part of the group - and all of that can change the hot second you change the surroundings, setting, system, or other people.]]>

  27. Mark Delsing 🙂 I will note, this is why I had people nominate good players, and then tried to ensure I had players from a wide variety of styles, for my good players series. I didn’t want to pull from my friends or ask people I already know I enjoy playing with. That would be useless! It would just be me talking about my own preferences, asking my own favorites. So I opened it up. This whole quarter has weekly posts with interviews, and everyone is at least a little different, and it showed me a lot about my own expectations for “good players,” as well as what people think they do right. I enjoyed the interviews, because I felt it proved the “do this one thing and you’ll be a great player” thing pretty wrong.

  28. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing :) I will note, this is why I had people nominate good players, and then tried to ensure I had players from a wide variety of styles, for my good players series. I didn't want to pull from my friends or ask people I already know I enjoy playing with. That would be useless! It would just be me talking about my own preferences, asking my own favorites. So I opened it up. This whole quarter has weekly posts with interviews, and everyone is at least a little different, and it showed me a lot about my own expectations for “good players,” as well as what people think they do right. I enjoyed the interviews, because I felt it proved the “do this one thing and you’ll be a great player” thing pretty wrong.]]>

  29. < ![CDATA[Andy Hauge I wasn't meaning to insinuate you did - I was just referencing a common idea I've heard, that I was aiming to disprove with this interview series even before this thread! (by months, even!)]]>

  30. Vincent Baker I really like that last paragraph of yours above (“But yeah, getting good at Apocalypse World will make you worse at some of our own other games, if you try to play them the same way. Let alone all the other games out there.”). I think too many people – myself included – tend to approach all games the same way, and that leads to feelings of frustration that the game isn’t doing what you want it to do. It’s a hard habit to break.

  31. < ![CDATA[Vincent Baker I really like that last paragraph of yours above ("But yeah, getting good at Apocalypse World will make you worse at some of our own other games, if you try to play them the same way. Let alone all the other games out there."). I think too many people - myself included - tend to approach all games the same way, and that leads to feelings of frustration that the game isn't doing what you want it to do. It's a hard habit to break.]]>