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Author Topic: The Dysfunctional Trend- let's talk about it  (Read 2635 times)
Bankuei
Guest
« on: April 06, 2005, 02:06:36 AM »

So, a big issue for a lot of groups is dysfunctional play.  One or more people are NOT having fun.  Ok, that happens.  But what's the deal where that's not a "once in a while" thing, but the regular expectation?  Let's talk about it...

I'm interested in hearing what people got to say.
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Domhnall
Member

Posts: 97


« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2005, 02:13:48 AM »

Many, many possibilities.  Depends on the makeup of your group:  How many years played together?  Relationships outside the game (any conflict)?  Age of players, changes in lives, some want a deeper game, others want a quick, shallow game, etc.  

Don't think we can give any panaceas here.
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--Daniel
James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2005, 03:51:40 AM »

In a lot of the large groups I've played in, I've seen people enforce dysfunctional play -- like ensuring that other players don't have fun -- either as a way of bolstering their own status directly, or of accomplishing other social goals like driving unpopular players out of the game.

In the case of these groups, it stems, I think, from what a friend of mine calls "running the game as a public utility": you can't tell anyone they can't play, so when someone you don't like does play, you have to make sure they have a miserable time and leave.
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pete_darby
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Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2005, 04:46:24 AM »

Sheesh, geek social fallacies pretty much cover the base reasons for long term dysfunctional games.

Remember kids, we can't refuse anyone entry to a game if someone else in the game knows them. We can't get rid of them cause we'd be a horrid social excluder. We cannot stop gaming, as our identities are built around I Am A Gamer. We cannot talk coherently about emotions, so we must make our games into psychodrama's and then supress their content.

All of which point to deep seated self loathing expressed through projected hostility and passive aggressive acts.

But there is a panacea: act like an adult. Treat others like adults. Treat the hobby as something important enough to treat as a serious hobby like amateur actors treat acting, amateur sportsmen treat sports, rather than an extension of wilfully retarded social development. Most importantly, TALK. About what you care about, about what you want from gaming, about how to get that. And if you're current group won't act like adults, you owe it to yourself to leave.
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Pete Darby
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2005, 05:43:48 AM »

Well, there's two kinds of dysfunctional, at least. Probably more, but I'm thinking of two in particular:

One is where you have a different agenda than the others.

The other is where the others are just plain sucky people.

People stick with both kinds of play, which is a bummer.

But it's the latter type that's really unfortunate. And that's not anything specific to roleplaying, I don't think. People stay in relationships with other people who abuse them or are otherwise unpleasant for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes even when you know deep down that you need to leave, you don't.
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Brand_Robins
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Posts: 650


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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2005, 08:09:42 AM »

I have, at length and both on the net and in real life, gone on to people about how NO GAMING is better than BAD GAMING.

At first I thought I was just being a blowhard, which is cool as I like being a blowhard. Then people started telling me thanks, that I'd reminded them this was supposed to be fun and if it wasn't fun they should change something, and if they couldn't they should get out.

The result being that I've managed to shake some people out of dysfunction, and brought some of them from games that suck to my games -- which always rock.*





*This is not true. But at least when my games suck they suck because we all suck together.
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- Brand Robins
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2005, 09:15:53 AM »

I'm not looking for answers, just understanding.  Aside from the geek social fallacies, I think another issue is that for a hobby built on communication, a great deal of game advice and habits are counteractive to communication...

Let's take the couple where one partner is angry with the other for doing something/not doing something, but won't explain what that thing is...  Now consider railroading, The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, and bad Illusionism.

Then consider the friend who always manages to get a free ride, free food, and you always find yourself talked into helping them out... Then consider good Illusionism and "All Roads Lead to Rome" type play.

Consider the over controlling parent, who follows along the lines of "My way or the highway" and "Children are there to be seen, not heard" and then look at "The GM is God", "Don't let the players get out of hand".

...the passive aggressive person who lashes out in ways not related to what they're pissed about, and comes up with "reasons" why they're behaving that way, now look at the GM who punishes players through having stuff happen to their characters, or players who purposefully disrupt play through "roleplaying" their characters("But my guy WOULD barter for an hour and a half- he's a cheapskate...")

The couple who use "I love you" as a way to not deal with the real issues of the relationships and "We're all here to have fun"...

The person who is already planning marriage by the first date compared to the usual geek social fallacy of committing to long term play with people you don't know...  And then the feeling of rejection and such if the date/campaign doesn't pan out.

I think all these things as text advice, as common ways of play, reinforce and encourage dysfunctional behavior.  For people who already have elements of it, it gets boosted, for people who didn't have it before, they get to learn it through play.

Thoughts?
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xenopulse
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Posts: 527

Heretic Forgite


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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2005, 09:20:24 AM »

I'm considering my current group dysfunctional, and I'm not having fun. Why?

I call it preconceived notions of how play should be done.

There's no aggressive scene framing. We wander around in the fucking woods for 90 minutes until we make the orientation roll and look in the right place.

The input of players is severely limited. My character gets knocked out in the first minutes of battle. I am not allowed to contribute anymore ("Your character is out, you can't tell the other characters anything or make suggestions!"). So I sit there for another two fucking hours twiddling my thumbs.

Same when the party splits up. Half the people leave the room and are bored.

Old, traditional, fucked-up preconceived notions on how play should go.

Can you tell I need to see some changes or move on? :)
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Brand_Robins
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Posts: 650


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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2005, 09:32:42 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
Consider the over controlling parent, who follows along the lines of "My way or the highway" and "Children are there to be seen, not heard" and then look at "The GM is God", "Don't let the players get out of hand".


Lets consider that many tropes of RPG behavior come out of high-school boys gathering together into a mutual-protection clique and establishing paterns of dominance and submission typical to such cliques. One of them becomes the "Dungeon Master" and finds ways to make the others submissive to him in one way or another, while the players jockey for position among themselves -- alternativly currying favor from the GM and from the other players, often times at the expense of one over the other.

Even once we've grown up a lot of these patterns cary over in the unexamined realm of gaming. Some of them even become formalized in the "GM adivce" sections of RPGs, which tell us that the GM is god and the PCs must bow down and similar things.
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- Brand Robins
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2005, 09:35:49 AM »

Right, the Alpha Male syndrome.  Perfect example.
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James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2005, 05:35:52 PM »

Quote from: Brand_Robins


Lets consider that many tropes of RPG behavior come out of high-school boys gathering together into a mutual-protection clique and establishing paterns of dominance and submission typical to such cliques. One of them becomes the "Dungeon Master" and finds ways to make the others submissive to him in one way or another, while the players jockey for position among themselves -- alternativly currying favor from the GM and from the other players, often times at the expense of one over the other.


My pal Ted was once on his way to a concert with some players from one of his games, and they're driving around trying to find a place to park or something. And the person driving looks over at him and says "well, where is the best place to go?"

And he says "how the hell should I know?"

And she says, "but you're the GM!"
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Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2005, 06:20:24 PM »

Quote from: James Holloway
My pal Ted was once on his way to a concert with some players from one of his games, and they're driving around trying to find a place to park or something. And the person driving looks over at him and says "well, where is the best place to go?"

And he says "how the hell should I know?"

And she says, "but you're the GM!"


I'd be horrified by this story, except that I've a couple like it of my own. So my feeling is less horror and more a weary need to blow up the world.
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- Brand Robins
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2005, 09:27:45 PM »

I'll call it opal mining. But you can replace the precious gem with any other commodity prospectors have looked for.

In roleplay, you run across them and just have to have more. You even hear about other people running across them and having rich play.

So you go back, and much like RL prospectors do, you can toil away for nothing for years, burning yourself out.

It's not hard to understand if you equate it with the search for the mother load.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2005, 02:19:12 AM »

Quote from: Brand_Robins

I'd be horrified by this story, except that I've a couple like it of my own. So my feeling is less horror and more a weary need to blow up the world.

The thing is that I've seen this a lot, probably because I've played in a lot of games with very large groups where the smallest thing becomes a stick to beat the outsider with.

I think there's also a natural human desire not to hurt someone directly to their face. I played in a terrible game for months because I didn't have the heart to tell the GM that I didn't want to be in his game anymore. I know, I know, "if they're really your friends," etc., etc. but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't blame anyone, of course, but that's what it was like for me. He would have taken it so personally that I would have felt terrible.

Actually, one of the things I've really taken away from the Forge is to get rid of the whole "you don't like my game, you don't like me" thing. Now if only I could teach it to every other person I know.
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