Week 02 - Question of the Week
This week, the question I am answering is from one of my new good friends, Mahar. I met Mahar through Rocky although there were many other opportunities I could have met him (due to interconnected lines of friendship with people from theater, art, writing and the like.) As of the late, Mahar has been playing in my ongoing Changeling: The Lost + Promethean: The Created roleplaying game called [Once].
Having been running games for the better part of my life, be it private sessions in someone's house, to public demos in open gaming meets, and even as far as gaming conventions in Los Angeles, I have had a wide range of exposure to gamers and gaming groups of all kinds.
While it may seem easy to try to define gaming groups in certain sets (such as separating the dramatic gamers from the roll-players, differentiating the action star wannabes from the emo goth rebel types, etc) ultimately, an ideal gaming group is one that has these three main factors:
1) The group is composed of people who are comfortable with one another
There is a huge importance in being part of a gaming group which accepts you as who you are and knows that the game is a game. Some gaming groups fall apart because one player finds the other "too violent" or the other "too Twilight.. este... too emotional"
On the other end of the spectrum of gamers, you occasionally also have the dating or married couple who games together. This is frankly a godsend if factor #1 is achieved. But if the game session suddenly becomes the couple's stage to vent out frustrations on one another, or becomes the source of unnecessary issues ("Why did you hit on that girl?" "She is a companion! I am playing a browncoat who likes companions!" "You're cheating on me!") then there is definitely something unheathy going on.
A gaming group should always be composed of people who are comfortable with one another.
This clearly extends to the players being aware of each other's need for personal space, hygenic practices and needs. So an ideal group does not have players staring at the other player who does not wash his hands after taking a dump. Or have players who slobber their food all over the table, then roll their dice with their gooey fingers.
2) The gaming group must trust the Storyteller, because the Storyteller respects this trust.
By trust, of course, I don't mean they become lax and let any threat or challenge slide, thinking the GM would never kill their characters. Rather, they trust the Storyteller that everything that happens in the game is either a) an appropriate outcome or ramification born from the actions (or inaction) of the characters, b) dramatically appropriate if not rule-wise legally sound. While there are some games where the GM is "out to get you", typical roleplaying games frown upon the GM playing god just to mess the players up when he wants to.
Imagine how horrible things can get if both #1 and #2 were not followed by a gaming couple with one as the GM. ("Okay, today, you are all playing hot but stupid hookers, that should be easy for you to play right honey?" "Grr...") Oi vey... that is one game other gamers better be smart enough to run away from real fast.
3) The gaming group is one that is having fun.
What's the point if the game won't be fun right? Why lock yourself for hours in the company of other people if ultimately the game you are in is bored out of its wits. Roleplaying games are fun social games that develop the imagination and encourage social and mental skills.
If you can't have fun doing that, then you might as well just read a Calculus book, then roll dice to see what page you'll try to solve next.
Unless of course that is what you consider fun. If so, then go create a group of your own! :-P
But there you have it, what I personally consider as the big three that an ideal gaming group should have. When those three are met, it won't matter if the group is an emo group, or a roll-play group, or a melodramatic one... or even a mixed one! The group would still remain ideal as everyone is working with the goal of having fun in mind while respecting and trusting each other.
Unless of course, the game is Paranoia.
When that's the game, you'll need a different set of factors.
But I am afraid that's outside your clearance level, you Mutant Commie Spy!