Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pursuing Failure

I was thinking yesterday of the old chestnut, "Do not be afraid to fail."  Sometimes these things retain their merit even though we hear them so often that the cease to have meaning.  Yes, yes, right, strive hard, work, try new things and don't be afraid to fail.  Got it.

We should really look at those words as often as we have the time.  Translated, they also mean, don't play it safe.  Don't do the same things that were done before.  We have too much a tendency to repeat our efforts based on "what works," as though what has worked in the past automatically exempts us from any responsibility to find what might work better.  Or differently.  Or with profound, unexpected results.

Gaming is like that.  If our campaigns are built too solidly upon what has always worked in the past, they bind us in a straightjacket.  We are limited.  Our games grow into participations in tradition and dogma, making the 'transformative experience' of gaming into the square-peg into round-hole problem.

Just a daily thought for the reader to ponder upon.


Barrow said...

Here, here!

Fuzzy Skinner said...

I've definitely been trying to do this with my latest campaign; after the first tightly-scripted, hemmed-in adventure with lots of boxed text, I realized that *I* was bored by it (my players may not be; I'll be asking them after the coming session). I was worried about doing things 'old-school' (i.e., by the guidelines given in my books from 1981 to 1995), but I've found that it not only forces me to expand the game world, it also saves a hell of a lot of time on my part. Linear stories may have served me well in the past... but I now realize it was basically because I didn't know any better.

Doug said...

My favorite bit of advice is "You can learn more from failure than you can from success."

Of course, you have to be bright enough to do a post-mortem on the failed situation and tease out what went wrong.

Zrog (ESR) said...

Doug's statement reminded me of Rauch's rules:

25. Getting hands-on experience can be fatal, but survivors learn their lessons well!

I.E. - you can learn from failure if you survive the experience.

The great thing about gaming is that from dead characters, we get smarter players (although they might also be "emotional players" immediately after it happens).

Alexis - this also reminds me of our discussion about not throwing out the whole world, but committing to fixing the problems instead of starting over. Something I'm learning in NaNoWriMo, which is on right now, is that writing is NOT like other tasks, because you can revise endlessly. What is termed "failure" in other mediums is often simply a "need for revision" in gaming and writing.