Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On Being Neither Fish Nor Fowl - "I Don't Play That Set Of Rules!"

Feathered dinosaur or dinosaur with stuff all over it?

I've been hugely amused, lately, over the inability of modern gamers to figure out what taxon I 'should' be in; I don't seem to fit in any of the modern genre labels, an this seems to have concerned a few people unduly.

'Miniatures people' are driven crazy by the RPG elements in my Braunstein games; 'RPG people' are driven to distraction by all those little lead people on the table top. 'Old School' people freak out over the fact that I date from that time before history, and 'New School' people have fits over the supposed rules that I use for my games.

I'm supposedly a "railroady" "story gamer", opposed to something called "player agency"; me, I always thought that my job as a GM / referee was to provide a world-setting for the players to explore. This outlook, I have been told, is too close to the way computer / video game designers think for some folks' comfort.

Interesting.

What is all reminds me of is a comment made by a gamer in one of our local retail shops; his buddy picked up a pack of what I thought were very nice Sherman tanks - the most common Allied tank of WW II - and suggested that they buy the pack for their games. The guy looked at the pack, and told his buddy that, quote, "I don't play that set of rules." unquote. The gent was referring to the fact that the pack was a 'branded', 'big-name game' one for a currently popular set of 20mm WWII rules, from a company that is doing for historical gaming what GW did for F/SF gaming; emphasis on "OFFICIAL" "AUTHORIZED" "APPROVED" game play in formal tournaments with big prizes.

I don't fit any of that; just as I don't fit under any of the current 'tribal labels' now common in the game hobby. A while ago, over on RPG.net, I suggested that I fit under a different 'tribal label': "Pre-school Gaming", where things like 'play value' and such predominate.

Maybe I should have a website...

4 comments:

  1. Well this "Old School" gamer thinks you're awesome, and hopes one day before he dies that he'll get a chance to game with you. Break down the walls! Escape the silos! We're *GAMERS*, damnit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! I'm sorry that, due to my health, I don't travel well anymore; if you do find yourself hereabouts, feel free to look us up...

      yours, chirine

      Delete
  2. Having not played in your RPG (as separate from the miniature events - which have rpg elements) I can't address the question. The world of gaming is trying to be introspective, and I think that is a good thing. It is how one learns to improve, after all, questioning what works, what doesn't and why, and then breaking all the rules one has established. The structured vs sandbox dichotomy is an interesting one. From what I understand of the Professors games he fluctuated back and forth across that spectrum. There were periods where, literally, the course and campaign was controlled by the Game Master. You describe those periods as listening to Prof. Barker tell stories,where the players get to play roles. But, it is also clear that, at times, you were given nearly unlimited agency, for example your legal ploy of being officially dead at one point in the campaign. A good GM moves across the spectrum. A great GM does so while keeping everyone entertained all the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your brilliant and insightful comment!!! It ought to be engraved on the insides of some folks' eyelids...

      You have Phil's gaming style down perfectly. He let us do pretty much anything, within certain limits, as long as we didn't mess with the plots of his novels. And, quite often, our antics provided the Big Name NPCs with amusement... :)

      Your description of the gaming 'spectrum' is exactly what we had back in those far-off days of yesteryear; it describes what we did, and how we played. I still game that way; my 'RPG' games are "RPGs with miniatures" and my 'miniatures' games are "miniatures with RPGs". I move back and forth along that spectrum as the players' adventures take us - they drive the action, as all I do is provide the 'stage set', 'props', and technical support for their dramatic productions...

      Brilliant comment - wonderful!!!

      yours, chirine

      Delete