I Don’t Really Like PtA

After having played a few games of it, I have to say that I really don’t think Prime Time Adventures is that great.

I know what the big fuss is about: fan mail.  Sure, it’s basically an engine to have peer-review built into the game, and have peer rewards, and people pushing each other to do things that they want to see, and to get people involved in each other.  I hear that party line all the time on story-games, but I just don’t see it.  Last time we played, I was the only one giving out fan-mail.  The game breaks when that happen.  Even when people actually do give it out, so what?  Is it necessarily that big of a deal?

The conflict resolution system seems too arbitrary for me.  I get what it’s trying to do, but there’s rarely enough solid differentiation between the parties involved for it to be much other than chance as to who gets what they want, with the resulting story being a zigzag of priorities, a mismash, rather than a compromise.  PvP conflicts seem rather hokey, as if the mechanic was tacked on and the designer couldn’t bring himself to excise the role of a GM, but the PvP conflicts are those with the greatest potential for drama.

I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be playing here, or what the game is supposed to be.  I suppose it works as Simulationism for a TV-show experience.  It feels like that alot.  But for me, with my heavy Gamist priorities, it’s a hollow system.  I’m surprised that the narrativist legions of indie gamers support it so- it seems to have absolutely no tools at all to support that agenda.  Sure, each character has an issue, but there’s no rules that tie into it or support it.

I give the game a C+.  It does “let’s pretend we’re in a TV show” well, but nothing else.

One thought on “I Don’t Really Like PtA

  1. Tim says:

    Silly gamist, fan mail is for kids!

    I can’t really get behind what you’re saying here; the openness and flexibility of PTA’s character-driven resolution system is what makes it fun for me. For what it’s worth I believe the fan mail stinginess was a symptom of some of the inexperienced players we have. And I was handing out FM too. 😛

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