Sunday, July 02, 2006



I don't often feel like I read one thing and it switches on the light bulb....but this is one of those times. And surprise surprise, it's something Ron said. Here is the link.
"Thud. The non-role-players' resulting stare of puzzlement and hesitancy is fully justified. Why would anyone want to do that? Of course they'll be unsure; they're looking for the part which any social/fun activity has to have in it - the social and procedural reinforcement process. What do they do which "works?" Without that, and even without the negative practices I mentioned before, they won't have received the explanation they were looking for.

It'd be like explaining Monopoly by saying "we move pieces on a board!" and leaving it at that. Without even knowing what a turn is, or how you get money or how you know someone wins, they are definitely going to hesitate as play begins, or even as they sit down at the table."
I always have trouble explaining role-playing as a "thing" to non-gamers. This is....very helpful to my po brain, in this regard.

It's also pretty interesting how much this problem also echoes in many game texts- "Um, so what do we do?" is covered by lots of vague "Heroic Adventure limited only by your imagination!" etc. type stuff that leaves non-gamers lost.

For the most part, I either come at non-gamers either with the videogame reference similar to what Ron had, or else say, "Collaboratively make a story", which, actually means something because half of the people I know are either in theatre or writing...

I find that it's easier to explain one particular game than the hobby as a whole. Like, trying to explain the difference between Cinematic Unisystem, GURPS and Carry (yes, this did somehow come up in conversation with my non-gamer housemate), was kind of tough.

Because, once you say "collaborately make a story," the next question is "whats the difference between these games, then?" And that seems to require a good deal of context to answer without being geek-dismissive (i.e. oh, its complicated and you have to know about all these games to really understand it).
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