Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Grass

This cup not for sale

For those who may be interested on the podcast front, I have finally solved my technical problem.  I had a successful test and I can now record voices off the internet without the guest sounding like he is at the bottom of a well.

Unfortunately, the process of solving that problem has put me two weeks behind my intended schedule.  I have had to cancel on three guests, which I hope I will be able to reschedule in late February or in March. There has been disappointment and I really can't blame anyone.  I don't like having to fail on any commitment ... but I had run out of options.

One of those guests was supposed to be interviewed tonight, and one tomorrow night. But I haven't been able to do any real tests with my introductions or proper preparatory work ... but thankfully that's past me and I should be good to go with everyone who has scheduled with me to date.

These last two posts, the one about accreditation and the one that discusses credibility have been part of the launch I'm working towards.  The name "Authentic" on the podcast is not just a random buzzword that I've opted to exploit ~ to me, the word has a definite responsibility attached to its use.  I want to get to the genuine role-playing substance:  what is it in the hands of independent DMs, creating their worlds, coming to grips with their demons, their lack of inspiration, their frustrating players and their own sense of right and wrong ~ or properly terms, the pursuit of legitimacy.

Here is what frightens people where it comes to measuring their capacity to Dungeon Master: accountability.  We've all been in this discussion: it's the one where Person A says, "It's the DM's world" and Person B says, "Players can leave any time they want to," while Person C chimes in with "The point is to have fun," with Person D adding, "It's the DM's responsibility to ensure the players have fun," followed by no one explaining in clear, concrete terms how this is done.

Accountability, real accountability, demands quantifiable evidence that a particular DMing strategy is effective at producing a valuable player experience ... and on that score we're lost.  We can talk about "improving" the game, but until now most of this "improvement" has been about shifting and moving random rules around with new editions and seeing what happens.  No one is talking about a "discipline" of DMing; or serious attention being paid to teaching others how to run the game; or increasing the game's quality or the number of experienced participants.  I have seen the format for Game Cons and their "tournaments" ... they move the players in like cattle, making them sit as tight as imaginable at cruddy tables, taking their money under the auspices of "enabling" these players to basically entertain themselves as the money-rakers look on.  I don't see this as an effective strategy for producing anything but the worst game experience ... but I also think it flies because the masses just don't know any better.

Getting people to know better involves "teaching" ~ and yet, before teaching can happen, there has to be some consensus on what ought to be taught.  There isn't a consensus.  Even between myself and my small number of readers, what consensus have we reached.  Now and then I get a comment that encourages me to keep writing about a point, or someone says they agree with a particular aspect or post that I've written, but this is a whole helluva a lot of miles away from a consensus.  And right now, most readers are still grappling with the notion that any consensus would also have to incorporate a sense of accountability.  And doesn't that make the hackles on the back of your neck rise?

Yet shouldn't we see past our emotions, our sensibilities, and see the sense of it?  This was the point of Jane Austen's book, after all: that Sense, a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems, superseded the idiocy of sensibility, in which a person's sensitivity to ideas rendered them offended or, worse, imprisoned by their own choices.

We've had sensibility; it is all we have right now in every venue.  Sense demands that individuals be encouraged to examine and change their practices of play, that they acknowledge that there are better examples and techniques, that these techniques need to be examined and evaluated, so that they can be taught to others, through methods that encourage support, a means of governance, and a population of students who arrive at the gates with an eagerness to learn.  It demands that the participants conform to recognized facts because those facts yield measurable, proven results ... and that the measurements are not compromised by baseless defensiveness, gut feelings and self-serving prejudice.

Just now, I don't have a road map for how we get there.  No one person can; or ought to.  That is the meaning of consensus.  But we have to get there; because there is no "game" in the future without this.  The cattle who are amused by the herders will evaporate as soon as new grass takes their fancy ... the trick is to be the new grass, to figure out how to grow it and steal the cattle away, teaching them how to be people.

That's our job.  Which we can't do if we can't decide the difference between what matters and what really matters.