Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gaming IS my social life

Interesting post by Zak S. about how RPGs are a social activity and Forge-type games are more or less specifically designed to limit the social aspect in the name of "guaranteed fun."  I do agree with what he's saying, but while reading it, I just kept thinking about how different my situation is from the typical gamer.

I live in Korea.  I'm married (to a Korean), and have a son.  I don't go out drinking on the weekends at the foreign English teacher hangouts.  I'm not playing in any sports leagues or in a band.  After work, I go home and spend time with the family.  On weekends, we go shopping, or take our son out somewhere fun.

And I game.

Obviously, as an expat, the people I game with here in Busan are people I met here in Busan.  I've become friends with them.  When I do go out and have a few drinks or whatever, it's with my gaming buddies.

I realize I may well be an exception to the norm, but seriously, gaming is what keeps me social these days!

And yes, we've had our difficulties keeping everyone happy.  We come from varied backgrounds (gamer-wise and otherwise), and it can be hard to find a nice, even, common ground for our games.  But it does happen.  And we've yet to play one of those indy/Forge type "story now" games to do it, with the single exception of the one-page RPG All Outta Bubblegum, which I don't think actually qualifies as a "Forge/GNS" type game anyway.  I wouldn't peg it as one, at least.

Anyway, nothing really to say, no big amazing revelations or anything like that (wouldn't want to disappoint my fans by turning all serious and insightful, now, would I?).  Just my personal observation about my situation as a gamer, and how it may well be contrary to what's expected.


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  2. I read the original post and I must say it confused me a bit, as my perception of indie games and D&D are almost completely reverse.

    Again, this is my personal perception and nothing else but Apocalypse World, Bliss Stage, Lady Blackbird, Microscope, Psi*Run and many, many others have mechanics that give the individual a benefit for working with the group or have mechanics specifically designed to encourage social interaction in some way.

    In some games you can't access your PC's 'special ability' without directly interacting with another PC or several PCs (I use a similar idea in my homebrew Muppets RPG).

    When I compare this to my experiences with D&D...well D&D is a social activity like any game is. I am unfamiliar with the concept of a play style that is 'guaranteed fun' and yet has a more limited social aspect. If anything, I personally feel that most indie games being made these days are more socially oriented then the Player-Vs.-Environment, MMO nature of D&D as written. At the same time D&D is considered a fun, social activity. Of course it is. This is what RPGs and Story Games and whatever else you'd like to call them are.

    Does a Thief/Rogue need to be protecting a fellow party member to backstab? No. If a Fighter was facing off against a Goblin and a Magic User was not present, would it matter? No. Does one player make a Cleric and another player play their God? Not usually but that sounds kinda cool...
    Meanwhile the shared story games like Microscope are just that, shared stories. One person without another means no story. No story means no game.

    This is only my personal opinion based on the games I have played, both D&D (in pretty much all its incarnations) and indie games.

    In reference to 4E, well, I think you would be hard pressed to find an indie game fan claiming that this game falls into their field of interest. Is 4E 'new school'? Sure, I guess so. Is it in the same league or context as Happy Birthday Robot, My Life With Master or InSpectres? No, not really.

    Old Schoolers may now berate me at will. I'm just telling you how I see it.

  3. No berating from me, BA. I'm pro-game. If it's fun, I'll play it.

    I think Zak's point was that a lot of the indy games that were designed as a result of GNS theory/Big Model/Ron Edwards thought were supposedly designed to do "A" as well as "A" can be done, but not be able to do "B" or "C" or any sort of combination of the above. In theory, anyway.

    And while they do tend to promote player interaction, I wonder just how effective they are at promoting real-world social interaction, compared to a more traditional RPG like D&D or Traveller or what have you. Again, no answers here, I'm genuinely curious about this.

    Do folks who get together to play Sorcerer, My Life with Master, or Dogs in the Vinyard then hang out and drink some beers and discuss the game, other potential games, life, the universe, and everything? That's what I do with my D&D/board game buddies.

  4. I envy you and your neck of the woods here in Korea.

  5. @Justin - Pohang's not that far. If you're on Facebook, look me up (Dennis Laffey) and I'll add you to our Busan Gaming group. There's interest in multiple groups forming up now, so likely there will be games every weekend, and maybe a weeknight game as well.

  6. The expat community is an interesting one.

  7. I can tell you from recent personal experience that indie game lovers seem to be just as likely to kick back a few beers and talk as much as any other gamers. In fact...

    Now this may just be my experience with the RECESS/NerdNYC crew here in New York but a few things I noticed about the indie fans here in the big apple...

    They are interested in talking about game theory across different games (as opposed to game theory directed at one game - D&D). They are especially interested in hearing about games they've never played or heard of. I don't get that same reaction with D&D fans.

    More female players and GMs then I typically see in D&D crowds. At least at the two most recent events I participated in.

    Fewer in number, they seem to bond quickly. Less rules lawyer arguments and such compared to those around us.

    Now I may have just lucked into a great bunch of people (which I definitely have) but I think the nature of the type of games we were discussing and playing lend themselves to a more open approach to the exchange of ideas. No one was telling anyone else they were playing bad-wrong. Each idea opened up the floor to other approaches and ideas.

    I have to say it was pretty awesome.

  8. Grumpy - Yeah, it is. You meet lots of interesting people, but usually only know them for a short time (1 year contracts for the most part, although renewing is an option some take). The idea of running ANYTHING for a long time here just doesn't really make sense.

    BA - Glad to know that. Apart from a brief trial of some of the games with my old Tokyo group, I never really got into the indy RPG scene. So my main conduit of information for them was The Forge, which of course limited non-RPG chat. That likely colored my impression of the games and their fans.