Friday, February 5, 2016

You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned...

That face you make when a Solo RPG session goes right...

Reading over, learning, and thinking about the game Monsterhearts as discussed in my last post has been a bit of a revelation. The big turning point has been an Actual Play video recommended to me by the ever excellent +Alex Yari...

The thing that REALLY stood out for me in this video is how spontaneous and improvised the game play is! How little prep appears to be needed. How all of the action and story is driven by player agency.

As an O.G. (Old Gamer) all of that runs contrary to my experience, which usually dictates having lots of material prepped to attempt to cover any contingency. I found myself drifting into this pattern of thinking, telling myself that I was planning on bringing "old school sensibilities to a new school game."

Hence the words of wisdom from the Jedi Master in the title. The above video was really illustrative to me of the difference in style of play, and how potentially freeing and liberating this could be.

The other thing that really hit me (and from what I see and know this is one of the hallmarks of new school indie games) was how the roles between players and GM have been reversed in some ways.

In old school games, the GM is the one who creates the story, tells the players what is happening, and so on. It's a proactive role. The players then are placed in a reactive role where they respond to what the GM tells them or does, rinse and repeat (perhaps an oversimplification here, but more or less).

What was really striking for me in the above video is how much the PLAYERS drove the story and wove the narrative, and how in many ways the GM role was more REACTIVE, asking lots of (leading) questions as a means to drive the story, rather than TELLING.

I'd heard this was the rap on newer indie design, but this made the whole concept "click" for me.

Of course this may all be irrelevant in Solo, as technically you're wearing all the hats to some extent(or emulating another hat wearer in others), but I think it's useful to understand the play style and how the game(s) function so that you know exactly what it is you're emulating.

Speaking of which, I have more thoughts on that, but I'll save them for next time. :) 

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