Tuesday, 19 March 2013

How to Not Be A Goof (Part One)

Ah, RPGnet. Home of the pointless argument. Breeding ground of the great shaggy One True Wayer. Where no question is too innocuous and sincere to merit a response that is less than hateful, self-important screed.

Once upon a time, I spent a great deal of time reading through the forums at RPGnet, where occasionally you saw posts/responses from industry professionals (like Greg Stolze and Ben Baugh, ZOMG!) and high-level discussions of what gaming was and what it could be. Okay, that last bit never really happened -- that was probably more The Forge's thing -- but there were occasional chunks of diamond scattered with the dross. These days I can barely be bothered to read the forums... it's the same dull conversations that have been going 'round and 'round for years, and the same ugly, pointless vitriol aimed at Those Who Game Differently.

I did drop by recently and read the beginnings of a thread where a poster was saying that he was hoping to inject a little drama into his upcoming superhero game -- his intentions were to aim for something like what you saw in the Teen Titans cartoon. Mostly goofy fun, but occasionally some serious, dramatic moments. How could he do that, he wondered innocently.

The floodgates of dumb broke open. People were very eager to tell this person -- who had made what he wanted to get out of his game very clear, and wasn't really asking for anything that demanding -- that he should just forget about drama, relax and enjoy himself. Why would you want that? Dude, that's not what roleplaying is.

Why don't you just be happy with goofy fun?

I'll tell you why not: Because that's not what the poster said he wanted. Period.

You see this fallacy all the time, on RPGnet and elsewhere. "Roleplaying is just goofy fun." Anybody who wants it to be more than that is a pretentious asshole, or a manipulative railroader.

I have no problem with goofy fun, or with people who enjoy that style to the exclusion of all others when they game. My Roll20 game Blood Money pretty much runs entirely on goofy fun mode. But I don't have any interest in doing that all the time.

For those of us who enjoy dramatic roleplaying, once we've experienced the deeper rewards of real character-focused play and scenes that push us to our limits, there's no real going back to games that don't require our full engagement or demand a stronger level of commitment. We like to goof around too, but that's just an occasional sidelight.

So what do you do, when you want to inject some drama into your game?

To Be Continued...

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