Monday, October 24, 2011

Are You Having Fun Yet?

I do most of my gaming at my local game store and while there are several good games down there, there are also a bunch of failing games, filled with misery, griping and drama. These games start, play out and fizzle all in the span of a couple months. The entire time the players are griping about how crappy the GM is. The GM is moaning about how the players don't get his intricate plots. The players are sniping at the other players -- about how such-and-such is a spotlight whore, or a power gamer.

There are any number of reasons why these games fail... a downright dizzying amount. There are so many ways a game can go wrong that sometimes I am amazed that so many games actually work since statistically, it would seem that the odds are stacked against sitting down to a good, fun game.

I have played in and run both good and bad games and though there are many tips and tricks that I could talk about to push a game into the "good" zone, I would like to focus on one specific idea that I often see overlooked in gaming advice articles. Namely, the fact that in every good game in which I have ever taken part, all of the players were there to have fun.

Ok, I can hear it now, "Well of course we're there to have fun! We are gaming after all. That doesn't change the fact that the GM is a boring blowhard trying to railroad us into following his uninspired J.R.R. Salvatore Martin rip-off plot."

You may have a point, the GM has a big part to play in making a game fun or not, but I do think that the role of the players is overlooked. Too often, we talk about how it is the GM's responsibility to make sure everyone is having fun. But, looking back on the best games, I would say the players have as much, if not more, impact than the GM on whether a game is fun or not. Which brings me to the point of the post:

The best games are ones in which the players take responsibility for their own fun.

What does it mean for a player to "take responsibility for his own fun?" It means actively participating at the table, working with the GM and getting into his story, being funny when it is appropriate, being quiet when it is appropriate, letting everyone participate in decisions, understanding the pacing of the game and moving things along when they slow down...

It means a heck of a lot of things... Let's get into more detail in the coming posts.