Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Word From Your Parents

Hah. This guy:

"Over the last few months I've been noticing an incredibly stupid trend developing where people are actively arguing that having fun isn't all that important in playing a game."

Damn. I sure hope I'm responsible for this.

Maybe I've been wrong about this whole thing.  Maybe the reason why so many people write about RPGs being 'fun' is because none of them are having any.  Perhaps their campaigns are so bereft of fun that a few words written by random people on a variety of web sites threatens to crush the last vestige of non-misery lingering around their gaming tables.

Frankly, as the loudest voice preaching that the game isn't about fun, my games seem to be full of happy, excited, laughing people, taking a ride on the tension and having a hell of a good time.  That's because, as I wrote, fun is easy.

If you don't believe me, perform an experiment.  Gather as many people as you can, bring plenty of food and drink, then take them all out to the park for a picnic.  Period.  That's it.  Make no plans.  Prepare no events.  Do not give away prizes.

Magically, fun will happen.

If it doesn't, you clearly have not brought enough drink.

Every year, regardless of the temperature, there's a little suburb outside Calgary that puts up christmas lights, sells hot chocolate and prepares their little pond into a giant skating rink.  That is the entirety of the preparations.  Lights.  Hot chocolate.  Free skating.  Every year, thousands show up. Even when it is 40 below.  I have been there when it is that blistering cold, complete with a 20 mph windchill.  Makes no difference.  Everyone enjoys themselves - except, of course, for the few teenagers who will, in 30 years, drag along teenagers of their own.  The only thing fun requires is willingness and freedom.

People who write posts about how the game should be fun can't possibly be having any.  Otherwise, why the hell would they care?  How the hell does it make a difference at their table?  What is it, exactly, that bothers them?  The danger that they'll have a player that shows up at their game, saying, "Is that all you did to prepare?  This game is shit.  I'm leaving."

That's the only reason I can suppose.  Makes no sense, otherwise.

Now, I know why I preach, "Don't make fun your message."  The reason is simple.  The worst fucking picnics in the world are when some group of assholes come along and say, "Hey, you people all here drinking, eating and talking?  We want you to have fun!  Everyone wants to have fun!  Let's play some games!  Let's give away some prizes!  Let's treat you free, willing people like fucking ten-year-olds!"

Fuck those people.  Fuck them.  We were all having fun until they showed up with their fucking control issues.

I preach, "Make tension your message.  Make purpose your message.  Make the game your message."  In other words, build the fucking park.  Build the benches to sit on and the gawddamn bridges and lay the fucking grass and fire those dumb motherfucking part-time workers who don't do their jobs.  Because building a park is hard fucking work, it's labour, it's time spent sweating and getting dirty and being miserable until the job is done.  And when the job is done, get the hell out.  Go home.  Put on some comfortable clothes, get your kids, then come back and enjoy the park.

Those people pissing and moaning and crying that the game should be about fun?  They want you to have fun their way.  Or they want you to go out into the street and find some place to play on your own, because fuck you, they're not building a fucking park for you to play in.  "Go have fun you little pissants, don't expect me to do fuck all for you.  I'm a fun person.  I'm about people having fun.  On their own.  Without bothering me.  You little fuckers."

Remember?  Like your parents used to fucking tell you.

Jeez.  I have GOT to stop listening to Lewis Black.


James said...

I never thought of people who always want to play games as having control issues, but it makes a lot of sense.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That is why I wrote a lot of my DMing book about how to contain yourself and manage your control issues.

D&D is at least a good game. It's a lot worse with people who want to force everyone to play party games and such - because their games always suck.

VeronaKid said...

This post explains a hell of a lot; the post that you linked to from 2012 is a great one that I hadn't had the pleasure of reading until today. Many of your base DM'ing ideals are very well encapsulated in this discussion, so I feel like I understand where you are coming from better now- thanks for that.

It probably also answers my question from a few days ago about whether or not even a 16 year old Alexis ever had any fun playing a prepared module. I'm gonna go with "nope."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, sorry Verona, I meant to get to that question and I never did.

I suppose at some point we must have enjoyed ourselves with the Caves of Chaos; I remember others thinking the Tomb of Horrors was a lark. I hated it. There weren't many modules around when I was 16 - and to be honest, they were so simple in design that anyone could copy the premise in an afternoon. The puzzle stuff came out later; my crew always seemed to hate puzzles and riddles. Even today, if I offer a few cryptic words carved into a rock my players start hurling things at me.

I'd have to say that 'nope' is the right answer. I didn't want it that way. Hating modules has been a long point of contention between me and most players. But I'm broken, I suppose. I'd rather work on my world than pay others to make it for me.

Mujadaddy said...

With regards to the real world, the phrase I've been using for years now to describe the phenomena you mention is "Organized Fun"; fun on someone else's schedule, as you say.

Regarding gaming, you're right on. My players are there to have an adventure; fun happens, but it's not the goal.