Whose Fun is it Anyway?

I’d never heard of this blog until today. Still haven’t had time to read much of it, but I always enjoy sharing a great post.

This is a valuable insight. I always enjoy the pang of envy that accompanies reading someone else say what you’ve been searching for the words to say. I’ve never felt responsible for my friends’ fun. I mean, I want them to have fun when we game — why would we do it otherwise? I want people to leave the game table feeling excited, energized – I want them to be chomping at the bit to get back to the table the next week. And I do believe that it is part of the trust my friends place in me — by choosing to be players in a game I’m running — that I will do my part to make sure that everyone is having fun. I accept and embrace that aspect of being GM. And the fact is – I’m almost always the GM.

That said, I’ve always just taken it on faith that players show up to the game for more than just to “have fun.” Like fun is something that will happen TO them. What makes RPGs so special, what makes this my favorite thing to do with my friends, is that it is a social endeavor. It is a give and take. Everyone is putting in. This is not a passive entertainment. I have those. I love comics, and books, and movies. Heck, I’m super excited about the Expendables 2 coming out this weekend… but if I had to choose, I’d always choose RPGs. Because it is not a passive entertainment.

I write here about how I love to empower players to invent details, to be as involved in setting the scene and building the world around them as the GM is. But it’s more than that. I actually expect it. I take it on faith that players are as “into” the game as I am… that’s why we’re all together. If a players shows up to one of my games waiting to be “entertained” then they won’t enjoy my games at all. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I have friends who are comfortable with roleplaying to a greater and lesser degree. I have friends who love the social aspect more than the game aspect, etc. I am accommodating in my tastes and preferences at the game table — but when I’m a player — I make my own fun. Why does a player need an “incentive” or a “reward” for contributing to the game? Contributing to the game is the reward. Everyone wins. Everyone has more fun.

My goal as a GM is not to make sure that everyone has fun. My goal is to give everyone a framework (my campaign ideas) to hang all the details they want to on top of — to build their own fun. I don’t care if I’m running a sandbox, an adventure path, or even a one-shot. I’m not a provider of fun, merely a facilitator. Like many things in life, you get out what you put in.

So I expect my players to be responsible for their own fun, just as much as I am responsible for my own fun — because if we all contribute — we all have fun.


6 responses

  1. Amen. Together, the group is an alchemical formula which creates fun~

  2. I think you will like the posts going on here: http://happyjacks.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=generalgamingdiscussions&thread=958&page=2#7668 where I have basically said” The GM is the system and audience is content. Role-playing is like any other situation involving other people – it can be dysfunctional as hell. I am not one for blogs, but much more for the open conversation of forums, something that’s fallen out of fashion I guess. And with the conversation developing at the link, I would like to read your rhetoric on it. I think we’re on the same page. We have been in the past.

  3. From your keyboard to the ears of the rpg gods.

    I blame the microwave and cable companies for the “Fun On-Demand” mentality that seems to have pervaded culture so deeply that it has impacted even our hobby.

    If you want to have fun in my games, then step up and make it fun… you might just be surprised that the fun you work to put into the system might just combine with the fun I put into the system and trigger someone else to input some fun.

    That’s when the real magic begins,,,

    Because fun has this crazy critical mass thing going on.
    When we all feed the system, it has a tendency to reward us all back in spades.

    1. The system is the players’ conversation at the table, that thing that happens between the players – not the characters. Just as Kevin described. The system is the tools…. but the actual “system” is the players in either concert or disharmony. The GM as maestro is the system.

  4. The game is a symphony.
    The system is the musical score.
    The players are the musicians and the instruments.
    The GM is merely conducting.

    Alone there is no music.

  5. Thanks for the great comments all. Seriously… this is what I’ve been trying to say, I just keep trying to find the right words. The game is an interaction… that’s what matters. I’m a big fan of your final analogy Kevin. That’s good stuff.

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