Monday, January 15, 2018

Play with Purpose

Dice by John W. Sheldon
I'm going to try to make this brief, but I wanted to express something that has been sitting with me a while, and that's about what games we play and why we play them. This stemmed from discussion of Dungeons & Dragons, but it applies to many, many games and all types of players and GMs.

Why do you play RPGs?

I want you to ask yourself this question, dig down. Ask harder. Listen to your first response and dig deeper and ask harder.

Why do you play RPGs?

Now you have an answer, I would hope, that feels right. Now look at the games you play right now. 

How do those games meet your reason?

How do they question your answer - are you sure you want to do that? Can you even do that?

Do all of the mechanics support your type of play?

Do any of the mechanics reject your type of play?

Do you play around any mechanics to enjoy play?

Do you ignore sections of the rulebook to play?

What mechanics do support your play, your reason for playing?

Are the games intended to play one way, while you play the other?

What about this game makes it valuable to you?

Is that valuable thing mechanically in the game, or is it something you've introduced?

From here, ask yourself about the awareness you have of games around you that you aren't playing.

Do you know about other RPGs?

Do you know how to play them?

What games allow you to play comfortably without ignoring rules, if any?

Do any of them meet your reason?

Have you tried playing other games that meet your reason, if there are any?

I ask these questions because I want to see us play with purpose, and that purpose is play, an activity that is enjoyable and entertaining (even if that enjoyment is not gathered through "fun"). There are so many RPGs that it is just super unfortunate for people to be stuck playing a game that they aren't enjoying, that isn't meeting their needs, that doesn't fit their reason, that questions them in an unproductive way. I want to see people play games that hit the right spot for them.

This comes to mind because people play around rules so much, and that shouldn't be necessary! If you play a game and it feels like work, or it feels boring, or you feel exhausted afterwards in a bad way, ask yourself these questions. Take a deep breath, and consider your options. There are hundreds of RPGs out there! Some of them are free, and plenty of them can be learned easily if you look for simplicity, while others are crunchy and mechanics-heavy in ways that some people find delicious.

If the fiction doesn't work, ask the world for more options. If the mechanics don't work or seem extraneous or seem too minimal, ask the world for more options. The options are there. Don't suffer in play. It isn't fair to you, it isn't fair to those you play with.

Why do you play RPGs?

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