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The Stories We Want to See

June 13, 2009

There’s a particular understanding when you consider media in context of the greater culture: all stories hold ideas, themes and values, and most of the stories tend to come from a similar set, and a fair amount may not be what you want in your stories.

And so, roleplaying. Here, you and your friends can make stories together, stories with the stuff you want and none of the stuff you don’t want.

I had a conversation a few years back with Liam Burke when he mentioned that the reason there’s so much creative tension in roleplaying is that you’re working in a group to create a story and you’re trusting each other not to fuck it up.

Which makes a lot of sense, at the same time, I also realize roleplayers who are looking to create particular kinds of stories a) usually can’t articulate what it is they’re looking for, b) aren’t very good at forming play groups to do that – half of the “problem player” advice deals on a larger issue of creative agenda, but I’d say the other half is probably really poor advice on how to try to club someone into trying to tell the kind of story you want to see.

Ben is having a discussion/musing about what is the audience we want to design for, and in many ways, I feel that it’s also the same people we want to play with, and by that extension, probably the people interested in the same kinds of stories we’re interested in as well.

Which also says a lot about you, depending on the stories you want, the people want and don’t want to play with, whether you even consider the themes you create, or if there’s space to do that in the first place.

To flip the question I keep coming back to – it’s not “Why should we care about THOSE people?”, it’s “What kind of person are you that you get to matter more than anyone else?”

Ben’s disquiet is something I think many have and will continue to come back to, at least until we build greater networks or even entire scenes of gamers who are interested in considering the larger social issues as part of our design as well- as much as we decided to stop playing games we didn’t like or to keep playing with people we didn’t want to play with, this is the next step.

I know what kind of stories I want to see, I know who I want to play with. After all, roleplaying is a group activity. If all I wanted to hear was one voice, I’d go write fiction. If all I wanted was the same old stories, I’d just stick with mainstream movies and books.

Thankfully, despite the opposition, the creative spark and passion for geekery lives on.

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