Adult Games

No, not THAT kind of "adult" games.

I am an adult.  I want to play a game that treats me like one.  I want to be able to approach things seriously and intellectually.  I want to not have to wade through puns, pop-culture references, and wacky madcap slapstick humor.  I want to play in a RPG session where nobody laughs.

A good game (or a good game master), doesn't treat the rules like they exist behind some ineffable curtain that I'm not allowed to know about.  A good game (master) trusts that I can play 'responsibly' and 'intelligently' now, and lets me play the invincible flying sword princess or whatever right NOW, instead of having to slog through six months of play.  A good game (master) trusts that I am capable of making my own choices, and standing or failing on my own merits.

A good game doesn't collapse into side jokes, kibitzing, or anecdotes.  This may seem unusual, since it's something we're all used to.  I do it too.  But consider:  if the players are cracking jokes, they aren't paying attention to the game, which means that they are not interested in what's going on.  Player jokes are a signal to the GM that something is horribly, horribly, wrong.  The players aren't interested in each other's scenes, they aren't interested in their own scene, or the "action" scene is bogging down in resolution.

But I'm with my friends you say!  It's only natural that I would want to do that sort of thing.

Very true.  But four compare hours of joking around with game books on the table and some haphazard roleplaying to two hours of rock solid roleplaying with an hour of solid hanging-out on either side, and I think the choice is clear.

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6 thoughts on “Adult Games

  1. Tim says:

    Hmm. How do I reply to this without exceeding the word count?

    I think I know where you are coming from, because
    I’ve been there. Some 20 years ago, I wanted to “maturize” my AD&D group and run a “serious” Warhammer game. I told them up front that unless they were asking the GM a direct question about the game, they were to speak in character. Anything else that I heard them say at the table, I would assume that their characters literally said it. My intention was to eliminate the banter and jokes that “detracted” from the game. The result? About one hour of un-fun until the PCs were wiped out by an angry mob. After the session, I spoke with the players (which is what I should have done more of earlier) and realized that I had made the game unplayable.

    Today, I am of the opposite opinion. Out of game commentary is not just necessary as a players’ defense mechanism, it also highlights the darker moments. In our long-running Vampire game we regularly have rather tense scenes. I can identify these by the disappearance of the out of game conversation. But in horror, pacing is a paramount concern, and the darker scenes _don’t work_ if they aren’t juxtaposed with lighter periods. Some kibitzing actually helps to keep the game serious over the long term.

    Everyone has their preferred level of immersion, and this preference will continually change over the course of a session, let alone a campaign/chronicle. I’m not sure that lack of immersion is always a sign of disinterest. In heavy Sim play, players will actively separate themselves from an uninvolved scene as part of their firewalling process, because they don’t want to “taint” their character’s viewpoint with metagame information. Again, this applies to Sim play, which I know you are not fond of.

    You seem to want a game group that can shift from a period of casual socializing into a methodic stance and back again like flipping a switch. This can be very difficult for people to do. As a GM who has much more to occupy my mind during a session than my players, I can do it more easily than they can. But as a player in a traditionally Gam or Sim system, I find it next to impossible.

    In Nar play, kibitzing may be a sign that the players aren’t involved enough in the creative process. But even then, they might enjoy the game session on multiple levels, and by forcing them to focus on just one you are denying them a substantial source of entertainment. You might get one really deep session out of some players but also ensure that most won’t stick around for the campaign.

    -Tim

  2. Willow says:

    Don’t misunderstand. I’m not avocating exclusive in-character conversation. That would drive me batty, and I don’t think it works for most games. What I am advocating is an active effort on all participants to be more focused on the game.

    And I agree that forcing people to do this won’t work. My goal here is to figure out what I want, and then present it to others, and see if they’re on board too.

  3. Tim says:

    Oh, those “perfect sessions” do happen…when everyone is so focused on the game that five hours disapppear without anyone noticing…and they’re great. But, the more likely and relevant question is: “What if you work hard to create an intense gaming session, and come play time, everyone else just isn’t on board?”

    -Tim

  4. Willow says:

    You find new friends.

    But seriously, tonights Dogs game was awesome. It started slow and with some wisecracking (including some, ok, alot, by myself), but by the end of the night, it seemed like everyone's attention was glued to the action.

  5. Willow says:

    This post seems to bring alot of google hits to the site. Sorry people, I’m not talking about that kind of Adult Games.

  6. Rahvin says:

    Hey, this came up with a number one Google hit and all I was searching for was “Willow This Way Lies Madness” cause that’s how I get to your site. Don’t know why Google brings me here particularly. Trying to anticipate my needs? Creepy.

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