Saturday, October 1, 2016

What Makes a Good Player?

As most people know, I am rarely a game master in tabletop games. More often than not, I play games exclusively as a player, and sometimes I even just spectate! To me, players are just as essential to the games as the designers and the GMs, for a number of reasons. Here's a bit about that!

This post marks the start of a new series on Thoughty called What Makes a Good Player? where I'm interviewing gamers nominated by GMs and fellow players for being known as good players who help make games more enjoyable for everyone at the table. This series will run through December, with weekly posts on Wednesdays, 10AM Eastern. This series is also funded in part by my patrons at, where your support is very welcome and appreciated!

I really loved reading the interview responses from players about their style and preferences, and what's important to them as a player. I hope through the interviews, you'll learn more about what some people enjoy as players, how players can behave to enhance gameplay, and a few new things about the people you might know, or might get to know!

For me, tabletop games without players are not really a thing! You can have GM lonely fun creating worlds that aren't played in, but the moment a GM starts participating in the mechanical reactions to the world, they become a player, too. Designers are often inherently players, testing their own game against itself, and telling stories that the final players also have the chance to retell in their own ways.

While I'm sure there have been endless posts from sites around the world talking about player skill, I didn't want to talk as much about skill in this series. I wanted to see how players interact, what they thin is important, and what they get out of playing, because I think that what we get out of games reflects back on what we put into them.

The questions I posed to the interviewees are:
What do you try to do most often while playing games to enhance your experience and the experience of others?
This question is to get an idea of what the players think they do that influence the game. It's very interesting reading the responses when you start asking how players think they influence other players, because we have pretty subjective concepts of how we change the scene.
Do you use any specific play techniques (narrative tools, improv tools, etc.) in your play sessions?
I wanted to see how many players are using formal tools, if any of them have unique tools or habits, and if they can see the direct impact of those or not. You'll see in the responses how many people referenced improv tools, which is something I may expand upon soon.
How often do you like to game, and what is most comfortable for you to maintain good energy in games?
Behind every good player is a good night's sleep. Even the most amped up player can burn out if they're playing more games than they can handle time- and energy-wise, and it can impact play. I wanted to see what kind of schedules most players find comfortable for having a good time playing without burnout.
What kind of games do you feel you are most comfortable with and enjoy the most?
If we're talking about good players, we'd be missing important information if we didn't ask what they play that they're so good at, and see whether they think their enjoyment or their interaction with others is negatively impacted by specific games.
Can you share a special experience in a game where you felt like you did a good job playing your part in the overall story and game?
Finally, I wanted to give the players a chance to share their stories (a major part of the point of this blog) and to see what experiences modeled their subjective concepts of doing a good job, and I think it was a really fascinating read for every one of these interviews. The players really have a lot of thought put into their own play and enjoyment!

With all of this in mind, I hope that you'll all enjoy this new series on Thoughty. Remember to check out the Patreon to support the series if you're interested or drop a few bucks in the tip jar if you like what you see. Let's play!

This post is an unpaid post announcement in preparation for a series of blog posts supported by the community on Tell your friends!

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, email

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