Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Band Vs Audience Participation

I made a couple of posts over at reddit, as is my wont to put content somewhere else then I link the first here on my actual blog.

Strangely it got no upvotes - I'm not sure why given some more ephemeral topics near it got 26 upvotes. Weird, you'd think a more fundimental thing would get more upvotes than a thread on wanting more randomness? Maybe I don't get it? Anyway, here's the first post:

Coming away from the GM-nastics thread, I think it's probably good to outline a certain way of playing. I'll use a band analogy, because I think there's alot in common between bands of musicians and...well, atleast the way I run games.

Okay, now there are some musicians who will engage in audience participation. Maybe he gets the crowd to shout out some names or things and then this clever musician combines them all into a song. Okay, that's nice, the audience is a bit more than just a passively observing audience.

But in the end it's about the musician being the creative one in the whole thing.

The OTHER model is an actual band - where people write songs together. Not just one guy taking a few words from the others and then he goes and writes the song all by himself and how clever is he. They work on it together - roughly equal in creative value (sometimes they aren't that equal, but it's never allowed to become to unequal).

Part of this is compromise - you can't demand anything, because you're working with equals. And you can't demand to be entertained, because you are not some passive audience. If you just try and demand someone writes some lyrics about X (like you come up with the idea to do it...but someone else goes and does the work), that's a double black mark!

Frankly the majority of gamer groups seem to follow the former model - the players yell out stuff in some category the GM called out for, then the GM combines it all into something as he is the sole creative force. But these groups think of their players as very liberated, when they compare themselves to the now more rare groups where players are pure audience and merely observe the great GM's work. So obviously when they think of themselves as liberated, any GM who doesn't just grab yells from the audience seems to be blocking the audience (rather than wanting more from the audience than this fairly light amount of creative input).

Ultimately the band can actually look like less creative freedom, because you can't just scream out something and have someone weave it in (to whatever degree that person will decide to weave it in). So I get how it can appear.

On the other hand though when you suddenly realise you are not just waiting for the GM to subtely tell you how to follow his plot/story and instead how you play your character is what makes the story right here and now, then you might realise how constrained the prior liberty actually was.

Edit: Actually what might be fun is if anyone wants to present a player situation and I will attempt to give an example of BOTH methods of GM'ing responce to it, for contrast.

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