Three Modes of Game Talk

Migraine day means my charitable-reading circuitry gets totally fried, sometimes for days. I’m feeling better but my head is still firing off angry sparks. Gotta get this out before my road trip to the Land of Enchantment! So you lucky duckies, here it is.

* Designers getting yanked into threads to referee a disagreement (don’t worry Mark, this isn’t what you did!) . Oh lord, just stop. All this so-called access is being used for silencing rather than more and better discussing.

* You’re allowed to disagree with designers, too! They’re just people, and guess what? They usually don’t know their own game as well as their players. No I’m not kidding. Get off your knees. They’re just gamers like you.

* The three modes of Plus talk, and how they’re mutually incompatible. It’s the RoShamBo of conversation where every combination is a loser. Stick to a mode and you’ll be fine. No mixing modes!

Mode 1: Just plain talk with peers. Active, engaged conversation. Seeking understanding. Proposing new ideas. The highest and best and most utopian mode. I aim for it! Sometimes I miss. But I still aim.

Mode 2: Holding court. Yes of course I do this, despite my best efforts. But it’s that…tone or attitude of someone rolling in and delivering the Truth Bomb. Gross. 

Mode 3: Morning zoo. Hey hey let’s score points for our extreme cleverness and disruptive humor. The worst, the absolute literal worst. I’ll take a Trump supporter spouting racist bullshit in my thread over this. It’s disrespectful and narcissistic and no, I won’t be blocking anyone over it (which is what makes it worse than politics).

Personally working hard at narrowing the slices of my engagement pie that 2 and 3 make up. Probably failing. 

* Prep. Hate the process, love the results. I’m actually resenting prep time I’m spending on the Tenra Bansho Zero thing I’m pitching at NewMexicon in a few days. Yet I will absolutely love running it! PbtA games have made me so very lazy in that regard. Also looking askance at Ryuutama for this reason.

* Sometimes I wonder if I should have quit gaming a decade ago. No seriously. I feel like I know the ins and outs of every element of it so well that there’s precious little left to discover. No magic. Yet the folks who are a decade younger (or more!) in my feeds are still making their own discoveries and sounding like teenagers who think they invented sex. I feel left out! I invented sex once, too!

Not feeling burned out so much as disappointed in myself for not having more courage to put my own work out there (even while having already put shittons of published gaming stuff, as well as non-gaming stuff, out into the big world). Middle aged feels. Blame the birthday last Sunday.

* Suddenly and without warning, I have zero patience for what I read as willful ignorance in the roleplaying universe. I’ve been through this phase, and I was sure I was past it, and normally I think I am past it. But not yesterday, and not today. So fair warning: if you think you’re independent minded and clever for pointing out why systems don’t matter because all RPGs are same-same and cheetos, I will laugh and laugh. All the rhetorical gymnastics you can bring to bear will not prove your case. You’re the climate denier of gaming.

* It’s been two weeks since our last Urban Shadows game and it’ll be another week before we get to play again. Because Land of Enchantment. But imma shanghai Jahmal into a guest appearance, so that’ll be fun.

Come to think of it, probably the combination of a week of Total Solo Daddy Extreme and missing game day two weeks in a row is a bigger contributor than my fizzing brain circuitry. (I’ll take my foot off the pedal next week, promise!)

0 thoughts on “Three Modes of Game Talk”

  1. In regards to prep –

    So, this past weekend I ran both Golden Sky Stories and Ryuutama. I am super allergic to railroads. I break out in don’t give a fuck, all over the place.

    Instead, my “prep” was:
    – Reading all of the flavor text/guide stuff for GSS
    – Making a sortable spreadsheet of pre-statted Ryuutama enemies

    The end! I improvise everything else, or I suppose you could say my prep happens during character creation. I ask the players what they want to see, and try to make that happen.

    That’s how I handle games that encourage heavy prep, anyway.

  2. Yeah, that’s the prep I’m more-or-less doing for TBZ as well. Very rough Act structure because the game demands it, but mostly juicy character setup. Which is highly unpredictable when it interfaces with the Act structure, because of the Emo Matrix.

    The game feels extra-susceptible to the problem of unused prep for just that reason. Or maybe I just haven’t done it in a while so I’m feeling pre-itchy with I-don’t-give-a-fuck hives.

  3. As Jason Corley says, designers are the worst. Honestly, we could have a whole panel on that.

    Also, I feel like those “systems don’t matter” threads will never die. Each generation discovers the fallacy anew! (Or simply misunderstands the terms.)

  4. The particular subset that’s driving me up the wall these days is the WELL ACTUALLY dudes. It’s always dudes.

    WELL ACTUALLY Apocalypse World moves are just basically skills. Or powers. Whatever. 

    WELL ACTUALLY you can’t improvise a low-prep game with nearly the depth or quality of a traditional high-prep game. Can’t be done. Unpossible.

    WELL ACTUALLY I heard on this podcast that those rules are only there to fix bad GMs, and I’m not a bad GM so I don’t need those rules.

  5. Sorry for any 3 I’ve thrown your way! I try not to and to be aware of when it’s disruptive but it’s also who I am and just spills out of me. I bleed memes.

  6. WELL ACTUALLY* if system doesn’t matter why are we talking? You’re over there having fun not caring what system you’re having fun with, I’m over here noticing the differences, all that’s going to come of this conversation is me ruining your fun when you notice some of those differences too. Stop talking, system-doesn’t-matter-dude. Stop. Go have fun instead. Talking to me will only make you sad.

    It feels like what I have to do when someone tells me all about their homeopathic cold pseudomedicine: I can point out that they just paid seven dollars for a sugar pill and teach them how to read a damn FDA label, or I can shut up and let them get the benefit of their placebo. If you’re just trying to pass on a tip about how you took this once and your cold went away**, cool, I’ll shut up, say thanks, and let you get on with your placebo-boosting belief structure. But if you want to argue about it? I might be about to ruin your ignorance. It could happen.

    *I have a long and shameful history of being well-actually dude. Like a cold, it’s basically incurable without the aid of enchanted water.
    **Which is FUCKING MAGICAL, you know? Colds never go away. But little do you know, I have a magic couch. I had a cold once and I took a nap on the couch and a few days later my cold was gone. MAGIC. Big pharma doesn’t want you to know about my couch.

  7. I really need Paul Beakley as my neighbor…

    We could do a podcast…Irascible Old Coots Mock Your Pretentious Ignorance…and Alexander Newman could be the first guest host.

  8. WELL ACTUALLY you can’t improvise a low-prep game with nearly the depth or quality as a traditional high-prep game. Can’t be done. Unpossible.

    What’s the protocol for reaffirming a “Well, actually…”? Is it a double-actually? “Well, actually, actually…”?

    Sorry to Mode 3 on you here.

  9. Paul, you resent prep time? Pfui, you youngsters and your half measures…   I loathe prep time! It should be killed, raised and killed again, forever and ever!
    I think it’s the single factor that more damaged the diffusion of rpgs and the social environment of most broken groups…

  10. I hear ya on Ryuutama; that one’s gonna require a lot of player interest before I’m willing to prep something for it.

    Though, funny story, Golden Sky Stories is the one game I really enjoy prep for, probably because prep entails making an interesting, heartfelt situation for the players to deal with.

  11. What are you doing with your prep time that you hate? While I don’t like the DW “Dungeon Starters”, I find the Impressions bit to be super fun to write.

  12. What prep is there to Ryuutama? Isn’t it like none…

    The players invent the town, the players invent the world. The GM has a character with like 3 stats of 3 choices to make…and a scenario that’s pretty much a mad lib worksheet…

  13. Paul Beakley To an outsider, I rarely find any positive gaming comments on your G+ posts. This is one. It seems you don’t find much joy in this hobby.

  14. Paul Beakley to me, GM prep is a creative writing exercise with strange output. I like telling stories.

    You should crowdsource prep and see how that goes. Let G+ make some locations, clues, events, and NPCs and then cram them into your world.

  15. Aaron Griffin no time this time.

    I can write about prep down the road. It’s a flavor of lonely fun that just doesn’t flip my switches much. But sometimes it does! Torchbearer prep is entertaining.

  16. Paul Beakley: It might be interesting to look into what different GMs like about prepping various games, and see if there’s anything to be done with that, like designing games that make prep engaging. Have to think on that.

  17. Prep is what I expect others to do to entertain me when they’re the GM.

    Deal with it, cuz ain’t no one got time for that shit, is what I expect others to do when I’m the GM.

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