99 Problems and a Pitch Ain’t One
Random observations, a week out from NewMexicon and pitching games.
1) Players who respond to the game system being offered. Doesn’t matter who’s running or what it’ll be about, it’s the game itself. Oooh I want to know more about Velvet Glove! or whatever.
2) Players who respond to who’s doing the offering. I’m probably mostly either in this category or the first one. There are folks I know will bring the goods, no matter what they’re running and what they’ve prepped.
3) Players who respond to the pitcher’s particular creation. I saw this quite a bit out of the NMCon GoHs and it strikes me as a particularly trad thing that the indie world has kind of left behind.
I mean this without any aspersions cast! Like…okay. The first game I went for was Tomer Gurantz’s Lego Fallout Shelter. I didn’t respond at all to the creation aspect of his pitch, and in fact I was a tiny bit turned off. It was super fun, loved his creation, but it’s the fact that we’d chatted and he seemed sane and fair and, you know, a decent human being. I’m all in for tables with decent human beings!
But then later, Matt McFarland (one of the GoH) offered up very specific Chill scenarios. Here’s the dude who wrote that edition! Here are scenarios you can be sure are excellent examples of the system! I had a very hard time getting excited for those, and not because Chill isn’t indie hotness. I noticed the same reaction in my head to other specific “I made this, come play it with me” pitches.
When I look through big catalogs of events at cons like Dreamation, I usually don’t know who’s pitching. I don’t get a read on them and I have to rely on name recognition. So I’ve gone looking for that, right? Like, whatever she’s running, I’m going to have a good time at Rachel E.S. Walton’s table. And if I can’t find that, hey, I’ve always wanted to know more about Sig, let’s go check it out (never connecting in my head that creator Jason Pitre would be running it).
And yet I have a nearly allergic reaction to the hand-made scenario, the elaborate setup that someone’s put real sweat into. At some point I just stopped getting excited about them.
I wonder when I lost that. I know I used to go looking for it.
I mean, yeah, there are some obvious facts on the ground here.
For one, lots of the current generation of indie hotness is built with a strong “setup is play” aesthetic. It literally does not matter what the GM is bringing, we’re all gonna bring it together and then play. Pitching a scenario makes that impossible of course, and then I get frowny. Where’s my investment? Waah.
For another. these small cons are pretty intimate. I didn’t know everyone of the 70-ish people, but I probably knew half of them well enough to know which of them I’d have a good time with at a table. You strange people I don’t know, ugh, I don’t make friends any more. (Not true. (But it feels that way sometimes.))
I’m not offering up any special insights here. I’m day 3 into a burly head cold and just kind of killing time waiting to get well. It’s just some thoughts and a little bit of sadness in me that I kind of don’t care about all the artistry and craft that folks continue to put into scenario design. There’s probably a lot of great stuff out there.