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.