A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Approaches to Games

By "Games" I mean tabletop role playing games. But you assumed that, I bet.

It occurred to me that there are at least two ways that people approach a session or sessions of a role playing game.

There's "Beer and Pretzels", which needs very little explanation. Most games of D&D are this, heck - most role playing games are this.

"Serious Drama", Unlike the Beer and Pretzels approach, Serious Drama approaches role playing like people approach art or opera. This is "Serious Stuff". Not for kids or the faint of heart. In fact, one might not even want to refer to this as a "game". I'll pick on my own kind here when I say that folks in a Serious Drama game are likely to be elitist, aloof, a little snotty, and very particular about what goes on in the "game". LARPing and games like Vampire and some Indie RPGs can easily fall into this group.

I'm breaking these down because I noticed something recently on a gaming forum. Folks were discussing games in which "One person does something while everyone else twiddles their thumbs". I could be wrong on this, but I think that you'll find two things, that are sorta one, but I'll call them two.

One: You tend to only get this much in Serious Drama games. The rest of them let the players run around as a team or group, and often their goals are not so wildly divergent that they end up all over the map.

Two: The only games that this would be tolerated in anyway are Serious Drama games. Your average D&D player is going to get bored and start playing Yatzee after about 5 minutes of Watching Someone Else Do Stuff. And I don't blame them. Watching other people play games while you wait around is boring.

Let me pause for a second and note that I'm not trying to say that you have to involve everyone at the table, every second of the game. I feel compelled to throw in the word "FUN", all caps. The whole point of the first form, the Beer and Pretzels gaming, is fun. You guys could theoretically be playing a game of Talisman or watching Lord of the Rings, and having a great time too. While Serious Drama is a little different. Its not that you can't have fun, or that its not supposed to be fun, but its more serious than that. It means to be. It requires more investment, more time and focus, and those that favor that type of game would probably argue that the reward is greater.

I think people will tend to be in one of the two pools, and while you'll find some exceptions, I think that finding people who can hop between those two types of games are somewhat uncommon.

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