Hm. Seems to be I am without anything to say on how a DM might better manage their game.
Some years ago, I remember there being a series of arguments - not just here, but elsewhere in other blogs - about whether or not a DM could be 'made.' In effect, there was a side of the argument that insisted that DM's were born, not made. If an individual didn't happen to be a good DM, well, too bad.
Did we really have those arguments? Oh well. I suppose that being a DM is overwhelming; that it is enough just to handle what's going on; that the expectation of becoming 'better' seems an unfair challenge. "Isn't it enough that I'm doing it? I have to be better, too?"
I am unquestionably a better DM today than I was 9 months ago. My games are better focused, we get more done, the players interrupt for irrelevant observations less and there seems to be a stronger desire to participate and become more conscious of the game's purpose. The same is true of both campaigns, because I have changed. My exhaustion seems reduced, my concern about the game has lessened before I start and even the drop I feel afterwards has lightened. I'm glad for the change.
It is part of my looking at a lot of things differently. For example, other blogs on gaming. Oh, they still don't interest me, they're still largely caught up with re-inventing the wheel. But they do seem to have changed their focus. A lot of the old blogs that were their six years ago are long gone. With them has gone much of the fetishistic approach to gaming - perhaps because there are less people who remember the 1970s. Perhaps because the collectors have finally sapped their collections, leaving them with nothing to post. Perhaps become 'collections' have become passe.
Much of the content I read now seems concerned with the future. The write about what they plan to do or what they're trying to do. They highlight their specific game. There's also a greater concern with the artistic side of it - a lot less of showing what some other artist drew in 1981 and a lot more of what look at what I drew today. This is all positive change. It encourages me.
Arduin made a comment a couple of posts back where he talked about fanatical young people being super into things. Thank gawd for fanatical young people. They don't care about how it was done or why it used to be done that way and they really don't give a crap about corporations, tradition or bottom lines. They love jumping in and doing things their way and they're only sensitive about when they're physically restrained from doing something. They're not afraid of the internet. They know that words alone, written by someone thousands of miles away, are not a threat.
I think we should realize that a lot of the old arguments that used to plague the role-playing blogosphere were created by old gamers bringing their old shit from isolated play and isolated convention chatter onto the internet. These were guys - and a few women - whose mindset wasn't built by the internet, but by high school and college, which they attended in a time when there was no internet. When the shared opinion of 15 people wasn't challenged - except by that one dude no one liked, who thankfully quit playing after one session.
We forget how obstinate and bigoted those little cliques were back in '85 and '95. We forget how two or three personalities dominated and pushed around everyone else, making policy and declaring who was a 'good' artist and who didn't make the cut, what was a 'good' module and what was shit. Who was there to disagree?
All those cliques were set to clash with the beginning of the interet. All the opinions that had been created by Dragon Magazine; all the messages sent through the materials direct from the company; all the habits and rules set by the Old Guard (and they're syncophants) about what the game had been or was meant to be or should have been or was changed from being . . . all that was set to dump itself onto the public forum like so much dogma that had never been vetted, dissected or debated.
Then the internet went ahead and did its thing.
This is not the first time that I've written about this. I did only three months ago. I am recently fascinated by the separation of things by time - and I am not alone. The idea behind xkcd's chart has been running in my head for years now.
My favorite? George Harrison's tribute to John Lennon, All Those Years Ago, released in 1981, came eleven years after the end of the Beatles. Thirty-four years ago. "All those years" don't seem like very many.
I digress. I mean to say that there are an increasing number of participants in D&D who have never met Gary Gygax and care. There is an increasing number who have never experienced a role-playing environment where two or three tyrants, ideologues, had the final word on the principles by which the game ought to be played. There is an increasing number who aren't afraid to share on the internet, who aren't afraid to steal or break or change or fix whatever doesn't suit them. There is an increasing number raised on game cheats, self-made apps, workarounds, personal social commentary and having thousands of opinions at their fingertips.
This number does not care about the past. They only care about what they can get, what it will do for them and how soon they can start.
Gawd love 'em.