Friday, January 5, 2018

Podcast Questions

On the subject of performing an interview with DMs and worldbuilders (the podcast I spoke about with this post), I've been working to create a series of complicated questions that would stir the pot, so to speak.  Moreover, I've been considering that it would be sufficient if the guests were free to dispense with two or three questions they would prefer not to answer.

So suppose the reader had to choose six from the following ten questions.  Which six would you choose?  And how extensive do you feel your answers would be?

UPDATE:  The questions below are no longer applicable to the podcast I am proposing.  They are in the ball park, but they have been rewritten with this post: Podcast Questions Redux
     1. What sequence of events caused you to become a player in role-playing games?  How old were you and how quickly did the game take hold of you?
     2. How did you start with running games as a DM, or GM if you prefer?  If it was a situation of necessity ~ you were the only one willing to take the helm ~ did you feel a resentment?  Or did you find yourself comfortable in the role?
     3. What other activities were a significant part of your life when you began stealing time from those things to play role-playing games?  Do you have any regrets about paths not taken?
     4.  In your opinion, does your game differ substantially from the games of other DMs?  If so, how?  Would you say that it is because your game is tailored to you specifically, or is it because of the experiences you've had?
     5.  How would you say your players benefit from your game.  Would they agree with you?  In what ways would they want you to change your methods?
     6.  How do you structure the setting of your campaign?  How much preparation do you invest?  How much is borrowed material from films and literature?  How often do you find yourself during the actual running feeling like you're in over your head ~ and do you habitually conceal that feeling from the players?
     7.  Do you push the envelope of your game's concept, employing ever-so-light elements of a risque nature, with such things like racism, wealth vs. poverty, sexuality or criminality?  Have you in the past?  If so, how has it played?  And if you haven't, is it something you'd consider if you had players open to the idea?  Why or why not?
     8.  Apart from friendships, memories and time spent well, what additional skills and disciplines have you and your players acquired through role-playing?  How has it changed your thinking about the non-gaming world that has surprised you?
     9.  What do you think of teaching others how to run games?  Have you had much success?  Can you attribute any of this success or failure to yourself, or do you firmly believe that mastering an RPG is mostly a natural talent, or at least a talent that comes from the person one has become through nature and nurture? 
     10.  If you do not play right now, do you still plan and design a campaign you hope to run someday?  If not, how do you continue to feed the elephant's 'satiable curiosity?  How satisfying is it and how do you think you might feel if you were ever given the opportunity to again run a game, or act as a player?

I know that some would be concerned about subjecting themselves to an interview with me, but I assure the reader that my goals would be to inform, create a pleasant experience and help establish a framework of DM participation which was not based on either myself or the overwhelming corporate image that dominates the rhetoric.

18 comments:

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Dropping 3 and 5 (the latter since I've no group now), I feel I could write a couple paragraphs each, at least. Enough to start a conversation - or a podcast session . Would require some time to get right, of course.

Ozymandias said...

I would dispense with questions 1, 2 and 9. The former two because it was a long time ago, I was rather young and the answers just wouldn't provide much insight (and certainly wouldn't be very interesting). The latter because I've not taught anyone to play.

Beyond that... certainly each question is worth exploring. I'll have to spend some time on them.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Give it some thought and we can make arrangements when you're ready. That goes for everyone else who might be interested.

JB said...

I actually like all the questions, though perhaps I’m just an insufferable narcissist that likes to talk about himself.
: )

James said...

2, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 would be the most interesting, I would think.

1 and 3 aren't very interesting, in my case. I dislike 5 because I don't like speaking for other people. 10 is just mostly irrelevant, as I currently run a game.

JB said...

Hmm...on second pass, I’d probably skip questions 5 and 8, and (perhaps) 7. It’s hard to know the minds of players (even when asked, they have difficulty articulating such things), and I’m not sure I’ve gained all that many skills...my DMing style mainly draws from skills I’ve acquired in other walks of life.

Vlad Malkav said...

I think I can manage all the questions,although some wouldn't yield much interesting stuff.
I would have to jot down some notes for each one, maybe those would be of use to you to have in advance ? Or maybe not, if it kills the spontaneity.

Anyway, I'm game.

Baron Opal said...

For me, I think 1, 2, and 10 would be the least interesting questions. I only have a sporadic group at the moment, but I hope that shall be addressed come summer.

We might have an interesting conversation, I think.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Some food for thought:

With Baron's last comment, several of you have suggested that questions 1 and 2 would be "less interesting." In fact, those questions are the most important on the list, because they are UNIVERSAL.

Everyone has a first time story, everyone who has DM'd has had a path towards running a game, and every DM has felt uncomfortable in the chair. That makes these moments heartily meaningful to listeners who wonder about their own experience, or those who have not had the experience yet.

I may push back somewhat to encourage guests to answer at least one or the other.

Baron Opal said...

I think they would be less interesting because the answer would be so short. However, I suppose that's where the skill of the interviewer lies and perhaps my misunderstanding of the scope of the question.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hm. Perhaps I am seeing more in the questions than what is written there.

1) I had almost no notice before my first game; I learned about D&D an hour before I began playing it ... so I didn't have the experience of wondering what the game was. But the question, "how quickly did the game take hold of me," stirs up stories of those first four months, in which nearly all my experiences were bad, despite the game digging into me like crack cocaine. I could talk for a while about that.

2) I was not asked to DM; I broke out of the gate, practically salivating to run a game. But I hear often the about the frustration that DMs feel, how a lot of them are "volun-told" to run, and about multiple games that fail to get any traction for reasons that seem mysterious, causing even those who want to run to wonder if they have the "right stuff." Though that first year of gaming was unquestionably rough for me, I knew what I wanted and I was "comfortable" in the chair, without doubts. So I feel that finding people willing to speak about their doubts, and how they might have overcome them (or are overcoming them) could be very helpful.

Ozymandias said...

Are you presenting the option to pick questions as a way to encourage people to participate or because you feel you wouldn't have enough time to answer all of them? (Or is there another reason?) For myself, I'd answer each question; the first two would be the most challenging because, as it happened twenty years ago, I doubt I could produce enough insight to make it worth the time. Or perhaps that's your job, to dig deeper and bring something relevant to light.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'm providing the questions in advance because I want no "gotcha" elements in the podcast. I want the podcast to be rational, thoughtful and constructive, and not a form of yellow journalism.

I'm asking what questions DMs would answer in order to assess the value of the questions.

Drain said...

I'm piqued by this.

It feels like offering up to join on Juvenis all over again, enticing and exciting but very rattling to my comfort-cage at the same time.

Fuzzy Skinner said...

I'd skip #4 and #9; #10 isn't applicable right now, and #1 might be a bit odd because I was a GM before I was a player. But just putting jots on a Notepad, I've realized some interesting stuff.

connor mckay said...

I would skip #10 but only as it is not applicable at the moment.

Archon said...

These questions all seem pretty interesting. I think the first 3 would go past very quickly, for most people, but are still important, despite that.

(I'm also not running a game at the moment, so some, like 5, are irrelevant, I think?)

Dani Osterman said...

I think all of these questions are really interesting and can lead to some good discussion and comparison between you and your interviewee. I wonder if you might also want a question as to what are the DM's 'axioms of play.' A lot of the discussion you have made with the more recent posts deconstructing these 'DM-aid' videos has to do with commonly-held but problematic or false core assumptions about game mechanics, about reward structuring, and about character definition, so a discussion of the interviewee's core postulates might make for a good, and widely-relevant, question.