22 July 2009

Gamer Fatigue?

I find myself wondering about the phenomenon known as "Gamer Fatigue". This is where some person in your gaming community announces that they are "taking a break from RP" and withdraws, mysteriously, into seclusion. To me this seems a bit like "taking a break from Movies" or "taking a break from TV". Gaming, to me, is a form of entertainment, not a chore.

I can understand when people say they're going to "take a break from the gym to concentrate on swimming". I guess I just never really regarded gaming as such an intensive pastime. This points the way to a further set of concepts within gaming I hadn't really thought about before. When I find a television drama, a novel or a computer game compelling it's often on the point of it giving me new ideas or insight into the construction of stories for others. Weirdly this means I often don't like playing in games as I can't really just rip off another Host. Gaming is virgin territory for many gimmicks.

This leads to two further notes. One, that I know other people take their gaming very seriously and look upon the opportunity to play a role as an actual creative enterprise. Some people, myself included, look on their character as a way to interact with the story environment, they are contributing a performance within the rules in order to keep the game going. The other note is that role playing games haven't yet progressed to the point where there is a startling bloom of innovation.

To deal with these points in reverse order. It seems that all the RP that has gone on since D&D has been much after the fashion of people taking pictures of moving objects with early movie cameras. Unlike the former activity, however, because it is not enormously expensive and doesn't have much in the way of toys people have largely ignored this innovation in entertainment (did I mention it also has few military applications). RP's not good for much except as a really cool form of entertainment. The problem is that innovation in the field has been restricted to new methods for number-juggling.

I love RP so much that when my partner didn't want to play I changed the hobby to make it suit her more, now I love it even more myself.

But this is weighty stuff. It also leads back to the former point.

I know a lot of people get "RP Burnout" at present. This is like the reverse of "cinema frustration" in which there are too few movies you want to see out when you fancy a visit to the pictures. RP Burnout is where you've role played so much you just can't take it any more. I think I experienced something similar with console games a while back. I'd just played so many of the damnable things I couldn't play any more or it felt like my brain would fall out. Also console games achieve nothing for the player whereas the benefits of socialisation and group interaction at least give RP a social dimension.

I imagine if you did anything enough then it would lead to a similar situation, if they did release enough movies that you could go all day every day for a month you would probably get sick of going to the movies (in fact at film festivals I believe this is what happens to some). However we roleplay once a week and occasional weekends. At the moment we're doing a little more because we're playtesting new adventures. I'd actually like to adopt a slightly less intensive posture after this testing phase.

But what I'm left with after considering these points is even more clarification of what players want out of the RP experience. I know that Mrs Monkey has been finding some of the experiences very hard of late. I think at the point where you feel guilty because you should have done more is precisely the time that you should start to do more.

I think what I need to get across to people that the RP is an entertainment. Levercastle tends to be treated as such. I think what also needs to happen is not only that the players say what they expect out of the experience but the Host needs to say what he can see happening bearing in mind the characters as presented. If people know what's coming up in a vague sense of the word then they can prepare accordingly.

I think that's actually mentioned in the Core Book but the fine tuning of the concept still seems to be a little off. Ho hum. Back to tinkering.

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