I rather liked your Party Origin Stories in IR #1. I agree -- a lack of well-thought out and possibly connected character origins can kill a game. If I get one more game where the GM says, "Just give me some regular people, y'know?" and then expects us to spontaneously leap together into a selfless and smoothly functioning super-heroic group, I'll kill him!
Re making up game worlds, and the rarity of folks who bother nowadays -- heh... don't get me wrong! The fantasy world I ran for quite some time was actually someone else's -- he was letting me try out GMing with a few ideas I'd had for his campaign!
A couple of interesting things happened. I realized pretty rapidly I had to get my PC off safely somewhere where she couldn't just jaunt off with the others any time she felt like it. No sweat! Next I had to make sure the GM didn't mind my changing some things in his world -- also no sweat! Finally, I had to make sure I had the 'Big Story' firmly in mind, so I wouldn't change things that "already were". Basically, I was making and fleshing out a timeline. It was easy! Right? WRONG!!!
Ahhh, communication! When I said to the old GM that I wanted to make some big changes, he agreed, thinking I meant something like fleshing out the NPCs, or developing the populace of one of the cities more fully. When he told me the 'Big Story' he forgot to mention some things, because for him they'd always been in the game. He didn't realize I didn't know! So there was some pretty creative mental dodging about to make sure I didn't change anything I shouldn't have! However, on the whole it was a lot of fun! It's left me with a deep enjoyment of trying to come up with interesting, internally logical cultures.
Virgil S. Greene
My sympathies on Jorl. I've been in a similar situation, where it feels like nothing you do is right. In that particular game, the GM simply neglected to start up again after summer vacation. Probably just as well -- I was having a miserable time. I'd tried leaving once, but one of the players coaxed me into toughing it out for a bit longer. That game ended with the GM putting us in a cliff-hanger that he never bothered to resolve. One of the PCs was about to have a large, heavy piece of statuary fall on him. I'd silently determined to have my PC save that PC's life by pushing him out of the way and taking the statuary herself. First time I'd ever wanted to kill a PC to escape a game gracefully!
On the other hand, I did learn some valuable lessons from that game:
Whenever I'm uncomfortable in a game, I mentally review -- is the GM full of sound and fury, but nothing ever happens? Am I feeling pushed around? Is this fun? For me, if the answers aren't no, no, and yes, it's time to get out!
Hope things have gotten better for you since then!
However, I find myself feeling somewhat ambiguous concerning your question ("How serious do we want to get in a game?"). My flip answer would be 'as serious as we're comfortable with!' One of my most treasured role-playing experiences concerned a PC that took stresses that finally broke her emotionally. She became convinced that being close to her was bad for the people she loved. Playing out her recovery was an emotional roller-coaster, and not easy! But it was a most enthralling experience!
I believe one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was that it did have a happy ending -- I feel that the PC ended up stronger for her emotional tempering. I also feel that the fact that it was 'safe' -- it was a PC, not me, who had to go through this appalling experience -- let me participate just as fully as I wished to. I could, after all, withdraw whenever I wanted.
I also feel that using Vampire: the Masquerade as an example of gamers that shouldn't take their gaming too seriously is misleading. From what I've seen of most V:tM players (a fortunately limited sample), these people are no longer interested in exploring the dark side of the human condition -- they want to wallow in it! If you get the chance, check out the Hunt where I covered one of their products, or I could e-mail you the zine, if you're interested. The product is, after all, an interesting window on the White Wolf mentality. The White Wolf people appear to be what I disparagingly refer to as 'art nazis' -- they mostly wear black, they affect cynical world-weariness (and they do it unforgivably poorly), they consider their products state-of-the-RPG-art, and they take themselves far too seriously!
As with any hobby, there are those who do it for fun, those who do it because there's nothing else to do, and those who do it because it's their "life." Or as a friend more succinctly put it, "There are assholes in any group. You've just got to avoid them."
George, when will you do some more writing in Camilla's world? I'm fascinated by the premise you've set up -- what a role-playing opportunity!
For those who don't have the first IR issues, I'll quickly and from memory recap the premise George postulates, but I strongly recommend you reread the original work. Basically a witch, on a bet, uses the Sang Real, or Blood of Christ (a real artifact in this world) to cleanse the essence of "the Adversary's" being of all evil taint. Then the Adversary, once again pure, ascends to heaven with the Christ.
This would be a mildly interesting bit, except for the consequences that follow. While our heroine is escaping the Inquisitors, she stumbles upon some members of Faerie. I quote from the story:
Your fellows bound us to our graves with the New Faith, sealing us to the Adversary and using the Names and Signs which bind his servants. But now the Adversary is gone, passed beyond the Second Death -- and with his passing went all power of the New Faith over my kind. Now, from every barrow, from every hidden place, we will come forth, to replace our rule and return our land to the Old Faith of its mothers.
WOW! What a GREAT campaign idea! Is the New Faith now without any power, due to the passing on of its deity? Was Christ on Earth only to reclaim his fallen angel? Was free will amongst humans just a bit of bait to keep the Adversary near? Is there a heaven any more? Also, what of the Fey? What will humans do to keep from being overrun by the risen and vengeful faery? I'd love to run in that campaign -- the moral issues alone raise fascinating and compelling questions!
Re TSR and its lawsuits with GDW and RoleAids -- the impression I'd gotten (and sorry but I'd rather not get my informants into trouble! ;-) was that TSR wanted the Dangerous Journeys stuff because it was something Gygax was working on when he was a TSR employee. Gygax does not strike me, on superficial examination, to be a very bright man. Apparently TSR kept everything he'd written for them. Upon glancing over the Dangerous Journeys rulebooks, they noticed entire paragraphs were lifted intact from material they had, which they'd contracted Gygax to write for them. So, unsurprisingly, they claimed that material. RoleAids, on the other hand, seemed to simply be a matter of TSR flexing its copyright muscle.
However, there was a happy ending to this story. The legal outcome, for both RoleAids and GDW, was that they would sell all the remaining contested stuff they had in their warehouses to TSR and not make any more. This gave rise to a small "in" joke for a while -- that if you were a small, struggling game company, the best thing you could do was make a lot of product that infringed on TSR copyrights, and if you were lucky, TSR would sue. Then you could settle out of court for TSR to buy it all -- something you were unlikely to be able to do on your own! There was also the joke about where all this product was being warehoused... next to the ark of the covenant and Amelia Earhart's plane perhaps?
No, you haven't seen the picture of Moriah, my cat-person PC yet. I do intend to send a batch of artwork to Pete soon though... no, really! Quit laughing! ;-)
Re: your comment to Jenny & Tara Glover on tactics: "Some people at 11 are a bit unnerved when they are first introduced to tactics" -- I LOVE 'EM! One of the most satisfying gaming experiences in my life involved tactics! It was a game with a lot of PCs (about 12 to 15 usually), and the GM frequently would divide us up into two groups, one having combat and the other doing non-combat gaming. I was having particular problems with one player, who apparently saw my PC as a threat to "his" authority, and whose PC seemed to think that leadership consisted of rudely ordering each PC to fight an individual NPC with similar powers. When my PC objected to being dictated to, she was told that it was for the good of the group. She pointed out why she thought the orders were foolish -- two on one bad guy will knock them out much faster, and hurt less, and similar powers frequently have defenses against that very power -- and was basically told to shut up.
And yet -- the orders were foolish. There were no tactics involved. Furthermore, my PC was worried that her team-mates would be seriously injured in some combat if this... "gentleman's" orders were followed. Sure enough, the group he was leading (which thankfully in that run I was not a part of) got involved in a combat with disastrous results. All the bad guys got away, taking the macguffin with them, mocking the heroes as each hero was knocked down, leaving all the heroes unconscious -- some seriously injured. The only reason things didn't get really ugly is because the GM decided to have the villains suffer an attack of conscience and not kill, kidnap, or unmask any of the heroes!
So... I waited. And sure enough, the group I was in got sent into combat with the exact same group of bad guys, in almost the exact same situation! Excuse me while I wax smug here, but my team, under leadership that consisted of a variety of tactics, phrased as polite suggestions rather than rudely barked out and thoughtless orders, won! We captured all of the bad guys as well as the macguffin -- and none of either my team or the villains were seriously hurt! The only downside to this coup was that the player group didn't seem to grasp the significance of teamwork -- the next combat they went right back to the previous style of play! Ah, well... :-)
Enjoyed your essay in IR #8 on whether or not role-playing is art -- you clearly set forth some of the objections I felt also.
Horror in a game... oddly enough, one of the most horrific bits I ever played in had very little physical effect on my PC. Our group of paranormals had just defeated a cult leader and his group that were involved in some sort of "dark" magic. We'd been asked by a "white" mage to stop him, but it wasn't until the mage pointed out that children were disappearing that we agreed to help, since we were all pragmatists -- "Evil magic. Right. I suppose you believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny too?" :-)
Once we'd defeated the cult leader, we went through his study looking for something the white mage had asked for -- an "artifact of such power it could twist the unwary user!" Which had us all thinking, Uh-huuuh... But since the white mage could prove it had been stolen from him, we were willing to 'bend' the laws a little for him -- he had been quite helpful, after all, in some previous endeavors we'd tried.
One of the things we checked was a video tape. There was a large screen TV, so we clicked it on. The video started with a really pretty scene -- emerald green grass surrounded by huge, dignified old trees, a dark gray slab of stone with a pretty child lying on it, the smiling cult leader in a suit standing next to the child... very normal. The cult leader started talking, very calmly and reasonably, about how energy could be summoned. He was very objective, very professorial. We were deeply startled, both as players and as PCs, when the man produced a small scalpel and started peacefully vivisecting the restrained child, discussing how blood flow was important to maintain maximum energy creation, and one didn't want to cut too deep -- a light touch was preferable -- and you'll want to channel the blood just so...
My PC ran out of the room in horror. Some of the other PCs quit watching. One doggedly forced himself to watch the whole thing -- he'd been having second thoughts about whether or not to be a vigilante with our team. When the police arrived, they thought we were just being melodramatic. Since my PC looks like a human-tiger cross, she got a lot of cheerful hassling about being so weak stomached. Then the police started watching the video... my PC stood outside the room, leaning against the wall and waiting. Sure enough, several cops eventually came running out, looking green. I will say, to my PC's credit, that she gave accurate directions to the bathroom. :-)
Many game sessions later, an NPC accused us of being just as bad as our opponents, using violence to impose our will. He asked us if we thought we'd actually changed anything for the better? Our group fell silent, thinking, and then one of us said softly, "The cult leader." There was a heartfelt and universal chorus of agreement to that -- we had been left with such a sense of disgust and loathing that to see him convicted on the basis of that video had been a relief. To us, that had been an unexpectedly horrifying experience.
Enjoyed your zines, Doug! Wish you were still writing. Remember that poli-sci paper I printed as a zine? You asked if it was really a Poly-Sci 3 class, and what grade I'd gotten. No, it was merely the third poly-sci class the professor taught during the week, and I got an A.
Food and gaming... well, I know that we tend to gnosh a lot while gaming -- if someone brought anything! Most of the time we share, although if you bring fast food it's considered yours... However, I've seen Scott Ruggels do a pitiful 'I'm staaaaarving!' look at me while I was eating some fries that made a basset hound seem positively cheery in comparison! Yes, I fed him -- I'm a sucker!
Regarding your comment to Phillies re: combat frequency:
Interesting observations on the culture shock between East and West (coasts, that is). Do you think the relative difference in combat frequency is a function of group preference, or more of a generalized regional difference?
Umm, actually the 'culture shock' (which I think is over-glorifying it) was in regards to combat levels. Bob, who designed the PCs, simply didn't realize that the East Coast contingent didn't use them very much. Combat levels (in Hero system at least) can really unbalance the game if you're the only ones that have them.
Amusingly enough, I believe one of the things that made the EC group decide we were okay was the initial combat used to introduce us. We rapidly realized that the horde of bad guys simply weren't good enough to touch us effectively. We had already captured the macguffin. I looked over at the GM and said hopefully, "So... can we just hand wave the mopping up and move on to the gaming?" I think she approved!
Re comment to me about reprinting the last TWH zine I wrote:
I don't object to reprints, Collie. In fact, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on passion in characters in TWH the first time around.
I'm glad you liked it! It's always nice to hear that, even if it's simply, "Nice stuff!" The comments weren't so much included, however, as not excluded -- I sent the zine in via e-mail after midnight of the last day zines were being accepted, hoping against hope that Pete was once again being a night owl! I got lucky -- Thanks, Pete!
Re: the "Wired" article that you mention in IR #2 -- could you send me a copy of that? It sounds fascinating, but I'd prefer not to comment until I've done my research.
[This is in response to a letter of comments he wrote me -- thanks, Mark!]
I'm glad you liked the comments to your last letter, Mark -- and no, I didn't lose your address, I just thought maybe I could cajole you into contributing! Also, I know myself well. I have a limited amount of time, and inclusion here means you'll actually get my answers, rather than having the letter sit forever on the computer while I waffle about printing it out and sending it!
As far as the locations for all my "nifty quotes" (Thanks!), I crib from everywhere -- the net, the CorrectQuotes 1.0 on the machine, any books I happen to read... I like words!
Regarding why I game, and stress in gaming... *sIGh* I've had two or three people react oddly to that zine, and I think I should take the time to clarify what I was trying to communicate. Obviously I didn't do a good job of describing it.
Gaming, for me, is something I do to relax. However, I apparently don't relax the way other people do -- I like having to think hard, to stretch, to reach for that last little iota of whatever. I like adrenaline -- and I can get it from either mentally or physically stressful (as in demanding) activities.
When I was younger (and stupider :-), my sister and I used to take foolish chances with ourselves, horse-back riding. Some of the tamer stunts were seeing if you could drop out of a tree onto a horse's back as it moved under it (not if the horse sees you first) or if two could ride double bareback at a canter, with the non-steering rider facing backwards (yes -- it's kinda fun). Some of these, um, exercises in creativity our parents still don't know we did!
During this time a frightening thing happened -- the private Catholic school system I was attending taught me to love learning. Consequently I became enamored of always finding out new things, learning about them, stretching my brain around new ideas and concepts, and constantly trying new things.
Since I've gotten older and lazier, I tend to stick to the more mental exercises for my adrenaline. So yes, I game to see how people react to stress -- but I don't feel you, the other player(s), should have to be stressed as well, if you don't want to. I just want to have to stretch my PC, and consequently my brain, within the game. Therefore, the people that are being stressed in the game are, hopefully, only my PCs -- not other people!
"Le gran passion" -- yes, it can devolve into melodrama, but I try to avoid that. I want to see what happens as realistically as possible. This is one of the reasons I like super-hero games. I don't want to play silly supers, although it is easy to do. I want to play what happens when someone finds out they can do something amazing -- how will society react to them? How will they react to society? Will they retain a sense of responsibility? Morality? Will the culture revere them or fear them? What about their families? Their neighbors? How will this emotion affect them?
Heh... I quote from you, "One of the problems with generating passion is that it requires an imagination and acting talent to create...." Thank you! I've always liked to think I had an active imagination. As far as my acting capabilities -- come and find out! I'll game with almost anyone once -- twice if it wasn't painful!
And yes, I agree passion is probably addictive. Why do you think any hobby catches someone's interest and fires them with a desire to do it to the exclusion of many other things -- sometimes including common sense? But just because I have a passion doesn't mean I must lose all common sense. I believe part of maturity is knowing when it's time to stop doing something you love so that you can do things you must do -- like eat, or your job, or car tune-ups, or whatever.
Regarding playing obnoxious lone wolf PCs and expecting tolerance -- that was simply an example I was using in the zine. I don't like lone wolf PCs -- they resist involvement, and that's what gaming is all about. I like playing within a good, connected team. In fact, not being helpful is something I've never been accused of by anyone who knows how I play. I'm more than willing to have my PCs extend themselves, both gaming and concept-wise, to help someone else's PC get more involved. Once I even got accused of being too helpful. Don't ask me what that's supposed to mean... I don't know.
I'm not sure where you get the idea that I prefer PC concepts that don't mesh well with a group. Just as an example, in the games I've been in recently, one PC has what I refer to as 'the wolf-pack attitude' (she believes everyone should work together and help each other, or our enemies will eat us all); one is quite religious -- she believes she is a "bad person" and is hanging around with the PCs in the hopes of becoming a "good person" (and maybe not being condemned to hell); one has been moved to NPC-dom, since I picked up GMing the game (and she grew up alone in a forest and upon discovering people decided they were much more interesting to be with than just a bunch of animals); and one is simply a person working with her friends to accomplish a goal (she's got no reason to be obnoxious -- if insulted enough she'd simply leave).
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that you'd hit me with the old chestnut about running a campaign if I'm complaining about the quality of GMing in the area. However, I perhaps wasn't quite clear enough before. I wished to know why I apparently intimidate GMs. I did not wish to indicate that I believed the GMs in the area are not up to my standards. Indeed, there are several people in the area I'd like to run with. And as far as intimidating GMs, I've never tried to do that deliberately. If I would dislike having someone try to intimidate me, then what in heaven's name would indicate to me that they'd like it?!
Also, I've never been a part of a successful game where the GM isn't willing to spend some time working individually with each player to make sure there's some 'mesh' between their world and the PCs. Actually, that's become one of my informal standards -- if the GM won't talk to me, pre-game, about my PC then it's probably not the game for me.
Regarding Vampire: the Masquerade and why I don't care for it -- um... actually, I think I'd like to try it. I just haven't been in a good game yet! It's way too easy to let it slide over into "supers" that happen to have odd dietary habits. To me, that would lose the pathos of the story -- what is an ethical killer to do? Which brings up an interesting thought -- I wonder if truly ethical vampires kill themselves?
Interesting that you should compare my tentative PC idea (Tease/Pyrite) to Star Trek's Data. I don't see them as alike at all. Data was an experiment -- to see if a machine could comprehend and develop humanity. If I understand correctly (I didn't watch the show much), it was an ongoing experiment and everyone realized that Data could never be a human. Tease, on the other hand, was a human that'd been physically enhanced by machinery and who'd had her humanity stripped away. There was no experiment occurring with her, unless you count the player trying to see if one could regain a humanity one had never known.
I was also being somewhat facetious -- Tease, per se, did not personally crush the campaigns. Upon talking it over with other people, it seems there were a variety of reasons. These ranged the gamut from a GM with a short attention span (he couldn't seem to keep a campaign going past about the third run), to having a PC that couldn't lead in a group full of players that didn't want to lead.
Mark Goldberg says:
Yeah, once you get a reputation for so selfishly ruining 'paigns for so many other GMs/players, its logical to assume that they want a chance to either get revenge, or to see you run a successful paign -- a force for creativity rather than Destruction. [sic]
Actually, I've found it's very easy to get a reputation, regardless of where or what you are. I've found being pigeon-holed is usually based on preconceived notions, misconceptions, and lies. Therefore, I decided long ago that I'd simply ignore such gossip. In my opinion, if someone wished to believe such nonsense without having the thoughtfulness to check me out for themselves and form their own opinion, then they probably weren't worth knowing, for me.
I'm sure there are people who may have felt I ruined their campaigns. I will point out, in my defense, that every game I've been in that collapsed did so after I left -- I did not destroy them and then walk. Upon talking to other players in those games, they seemed more relieved than anything else: "Thank god you quit -- I didn't have the nerve to be the first to go!" To blame me for the demise of those games is to blame the messenger bearing bad news.
Revenge... That is not why I game. If I were running a game, and discovered that someone was in the game solely for 'revenge', I'd toss them out. The motivation of revenge is a poor reason for gaming. It isn't fair to either me or the other players. I believe in objectivity; I am not my PC, and this game is not a statement of my worth as a person.
Also, I have run a campaign. I don't like running campaigns. Before you point your finger and say, "Ah-hah!" I'll add that I don't like running because I can't do the very thing I enjoy most about gaming -- I can't see how my PCs react under stress. I could probably do that to the PCs when I run, but I happen to know that most players don't enjoy that type of gaming, and I'm not so rude as to impose it on them. Finally, I don't like GMing because I know pretty much what's going to happen -- all my sense of wonder is lost.
I'm sorry you got the impression that I felt it necessary to be a force for destruction. The section I wrote on Tease and campaigns collapsing was supposed to be an amusing lament about not being able to play a particular PC concept, not a triumphant manifesto of destruction. Actually, I do not stay in campaigns where I feel I am detrimental to the game. That was one of the reasons why I left the V:tM game. Not only was I getting bored, but the other players were getting frustrated.
Finally, I don't believe one can only chose between playing in a bad campaign or GMing. There's always the third choice -- don't play. There's lots of other ways to spend free time. Hiking, reading, writing, building models, horse-back riding... I've spent several chunks of time in my life where I didn't game because I didn't feel challenged.
Mark, campaigns in California that are "long term" are usually about a year, year and a half long sum total, that I've been told and seen... and that's a long one. I'd love to find a group that wasn't incestuous, that wished to run for longer than that! But the only ones I've found are being run by imports.
Were the Modesty Blaise books written by someone British? Hmm... wouldn't surprise me if so. She did have British citizenship, after all. But I know I was told anecdotally by a friend that they were very popular amongst the Viet Nam soldiers.
WRT the ex-cop who told me about the police training film, I don't know what he's doing now, but at the time I knew him he was a fellow fighter in the SCA.
WRT "interrupt processors": yes the stoolie testified, but only after two other PCs verbally jumped the interrupt processor. Wasn't me!
WRT the PCs I had in Shadowrun and Vampire: the Masquerade: the Shadowrun PC was a straightforward wolf shaman, based on the archetype the book had printed in the front.
The other character was supposed to be someone who rounded out the PC team. All the other V:tM players had very physical-stat based characters, so I came up with a mentalist. She was rather amusing before the GM got intimidated. At one point the other PCs were breaking into a well-defended compound. It was decided that my PC should remain outside, so she wouldn't get hurt. The GM ran the invading group for a while, and they were getting beaten up pretty badly. The GM decided to keep me entertained by hassling my PC too while the other players took a much-needed munchies break. He had some security guards come up and inquire as to what my PC was doing there alone in a parked car near a secure area.
Boy, can a bored lady get into trouble fast! In short order, she got the guards to walk her back to the security shack, mesmerized them into showing her how to use all the equipment, then put all four guards present to sleep. She tucked them neatly out of sight, put a visitor card in the car so it could legitimately be parked nearby and then strolled back into the guard shack. There she activated the cameras and started following her friends around the compound whilst playing with the security equipment.
When the other players came back from their break they couldn't figure out why things had suddenly gotten so much easier for their PCs -- they were just breezing through! But they decided not to be stupid, since they were pretty torn up and ragged by that point. They got the macguffin and withdrew, and happened to pass by the guard shack on the way out.
There was my PC, guards neatly laid out nearby, all the security turned off, with a security cap on her perfectly coifed hair. She swiveled the chair around, still immaculately dressed, grinned at the bloody and ragged group and said, "You boys have security passes for in here?"
It says something for the popularity of my character that they didn't immediately pound her for being a smartass! ;)
If you're interested in body language, I'd suggest some classes in acting. Also, Desmond Morris has written some fascinating books on the subject.
*chuckle* Oh, yes, gaming is addictive for me. But I like to think it's not blindly so -- I'd rather not game at all than game poorly.
The system that I "sorta played" at the con was Bureau 13. Also, I did mention the psychlim during character creation. The GM told me I didn't need any more points. So I decided to play it for the fun of it, rather than for the points.
I have not looked closely at Over The Edge, although I have played Castle Falkenstein. I was not impressed by Castle Falkenstein's card system. It made role-playing less important than using the numbers to best advantage. Yawn.
Scott Ruggels is an art contractor, currently working for 3DO, and quite pleased with it! No, he doesn't have much time for APAs any more, alas.
Mark writes: "Not sure what you define 'housetrained' as -- does this mean everyone and the cat use the same bowls and litterbox? ;-) [sic]" Of course not! That'd be silly. What it really means is that I don't let any of them lie on the monitor while I'm typing -- no matter how much they purr! :-)
Yes, almost all the Old Testament books are believed to be originally orally preserved. One of the interesting things study of them can show you is where later authors inserted sections to make things turn out the way they wanted. For example, the Book of Job was originally much grimmer. Later additions had Job finding enlightenment whilst arguing with Yahweh, and a happy ending was also tacked on.
Ah... 'I can't imagine playing with someone who -- mentally intimidate me' -- yet that seems to be something you try to do with various GMs -- and then get surprised when they stop wanting to play?! [sic]
Actually, no, that's not what I try to do. A better description of what I like in a GM could be found in Henry Higgins' words. He said he was looking for a "consort battleship." I'd have to say I was looking for something similar, both in my gaming and in my life. I don't want people I can push around -- I want someone who can give as good as they get!
I'm not surprised there are people that don't want to play with me, as either a player or a GM. Weak people don't like feeling pushed, I'd think, and I have it on good authority that I'm pushy! ;) Once I discover someone isn't very strong, or is feeling pressured, I don't try to force them to game with me again -- I'm not a torturer. I just want to game -- strongly and well! I want it to be fun for everyone, and if I'm scaring someone, it's not fun -- for either that person or myself.
WRT your comment on computer games, I'd have to disagree somewhat. I guess, to me, computer games are like sausage -- you don't want to know what goes into them! True, the computer net has become a major source of new players and games. However, I've spoken with several friends who work for the computer game industry. You write "... putergames are a multi-B$ industry whose products get substancially better.... [sic]" Basically, I've come to the conclusion that computer games are an industry that has decided style is more important than substance. I know this is probably the norm in American industry, but I'm referring to computer games in particular in this fashion because a) I've had some interesting conversations with friends concerning computer games and the industry in general, and b) you asked!
Just as an indicator of lack of substance, I know of several games that went out with (I am not kidding) less than a week of playtesting. One of them was playtested for less than a day!
It is also common to use a project to 'make or break' someone. The politics are cut-throat. Thus, if your project isn't a big seller, you are considered to be incapable of generating any big seller. It doesn't matter if your budget was cut, or your victory conditions were changed mid-project or what. You have been pigeon-holed, and unless you get a second chance at another company, you'll never be given another chance. Indeed, it's a good bet you'll get laid off when the project is done.
Also, the games are frequently simply rehashes of older games. Thus you have "Impressive Name", "Impressive Name II", ..."Impressive Name VI", and so on, ad nauseum. At some point, the consumer realizes that I.N. was fun the first time, but hasn't been so for several revs now.
There are several other reasons I don't care for computer games. One is when the industry is held up as a reason that girls don't really understand computers -- if they did they'd buy the games. Hogwash. If anything worthwhile was written, girls would buy it. And I don't mean saccharine.
Price is another thing I dislike about computer games. Usually they come out with an outrageous price tag, which rapidly plummets to under wholesale, and you never see them again. I don't like playing that kind of betting game on quality with my money.
Another reason is that I can't communicate with someone. I like communication -- that interpersonal interplay is an important part of gaming for me.
Interestingly enough, I've heard that the actual sales of computer and video games this last Christmas STANK in comparison to projected sales. They were only about a third of projected sales. Reasons given for the lack of consumer interest were frequently "there wasn't anything new and interesting" to "they're too buggy" to "they're too expensive for the amount of play time you get from them." So... maybe the industry will listen, mmm? Right... I'll keep dreaming. ;-)
Thanks again for the letter! Keep writing!
A belated welcome to Interregnum!
If you enjoyed "Eat Drink Man Woman", go see "The Wedding Banquet"! It's by the same Taiwanese director, and it's funnier! The basic premise is a young Taiwanese man in America whose parents (still in Taiwan) are pressuring him to marry a nice Taiwanese girl -- they sign him up in some very exclusive Taiwanese singles clubs so he can meet nice girls. Unfortunately... he's gay! But he can't tell them that, so he and his lover come up with an impossible list of qualifications for the singles club.
Of course, he gets back a letter from his mother which runs something like this, "We're so sorry we couldn't find a girl that was 5'10" -- is 5'9" all right? Also, she's only got 4 academic degrees instead of 5 -- but one's a doctorate, will that do? However, she is an opera singer, as per your request..."! So he and his lover decide to tell his parents that he can't marry this girl because he's already engaged. His parents are very old, they live half-way around the world -- it should be safe.
Of course, the parents send a letter saying they're on their way for the wedding! In desperation, he and his lover cook up a scheme whereby he'll marry a Taiwanese girl who'll do this and then leave in exchange for her green card. Things get... interesting from there! ;-)
Thanks for the compliment on my zine!
Jenny & Tara Glover
Hi and a tardy welcome!
In regards to how a group here might take having an 11 year old girl as a player: umm... my first thought was if she's mature enough to match the level of maturity of the other players, who cares what her age is? However... I was talking to one of my room-mates about this, and he had an interesting, and I believe valid point to make.
Initially he agreed with me -- let her play! Flippantly I said, and what about interpersonal relationships in the game? Everyone but her PC has them? He got a thoughtful look on his face. Then he said, no, there'd be no sex or mention of anything similar in the game. Then he got an even more thoughtful look, and slowly said, no, he'd have to change his mind -- an 11 year old wouldn't be welcome. He'd be regretful, but he would have to turn her away. Astonished (this room-mate is very equal-opportunity on most subjects), I asked why?
A bit of background -- we live in California. I don't know what it's like where you live, but in California child molestation is a ludicrously hot button. Just as an example, there was a single father who was potty-training his 3 (I think?) year old daughter. When the child informed a child care employee that her father wiped her, he was told by state authorities that he had to stop this -- it was child molestation. Unsurprisingly, the child developed a rash soon after, and was consequently removed from his care because he was, according to the same state authorities, neglecting her!
Bob, my room-mate, used to own a game store, and in the back room he'd run role-playing games for pay. As he put it:
Think about it, Collie. Me and up to six minors, whose parents aren't there, playing a game where I'm teaching them to loot and pillage! And if the subject of the other gender, let alone sex, should actually come up -- I could be cited for child molestation. And even if there's only one minor -- that simply means the other players are 'guilty' too!
So personally no, I wouldn't mind gaming with you at all. I believe you'd add an interesting perspective to a game. But from a worrying-about-the-law perspective... even if your mom was present, I suspect in California a 'smart' GM would have to politely decline your presence. I'm sorry that is so -- I happen to believe people that are treated as mature and intelligent tend towards being mature and intelligent. But the laws here don't need your parents to complain to decide you're being neglected or harassed or whatever -- they just need a complaint.
BTW, Bob later actually read your zine and asked me who this person was -- he liked the cozy feel of the zine and thought these would be fun people to game with. ;-)
Owl stretching?! *snicker* As someone who's worked with owls -- good luck!
Re Marvel changing their X-things line: Purina did a study many years ago, trying to see what would boost sales most predictably. They came to the conclusion that 'change' was what did it. You could sell the exact same dogfood, but in different packaging, and sales would rise. So, every few years or so, they bring out something new, or change packaging -- simply to boost sales.
Marvel does this every couple of years also. Writers change, or the editor gets a metaphorical brain aneurysm, and the entire book or line undergoes some change, making the characters entirely unrecognizable, and rendering all previous history moot. As a customer put it in the comics store I used to work in, as he looked at an X-book cover, "Oh, great. *sigh* All the X-men die in another universe-shaking cross-over that will ultimately change -- nothing. Again?!"
Re your comment regarding the theft from a games store of Magic cards -- there's a store here that was burgled three times in three weeks. Each time, the only thing that was stolen was all the store's stock of Magic cards. I don't like thieves anyway, but that's pathetic. Magic cards are not a necessary staple of life.
Last Updated: Sat May 17 1997