[Ed. note: This was not the post I intended to write today, that post is still coming, but I’m trying to bash the ideas into shape. 🙂 ]
I want to play serious games. And I take games seriously.
I’m looking for exploration of an idea, a concept, a feeling, or a theme. When I sit down at the table, I expect everyone to be ready to explore these things through the frame of the game we’ve chosen. If I sits down to a game of Dungeons & Dragons, I’m probably not looking to explore the theme of scarcity, or the concept of technology changing life. If I go to play Shadowrun, I’m probably not expecting to explore the feeling of romance or a Monty Python-esque romp through the countryside.
When I select a game to play with people, and we all agree to that game, I feel like we’ve agreed to at least a baseline of tone, theme, and concepts. It is then my responsibility to bring a gameface to the table that matches those choices, and I expect everyone else to assume that as their responsibility as well.
Sometimes this provides difficulty because the game has not provided adquate signalling about what it wants to be about. (World of Darkness games are still notoriously bad, in my opinion, at flagging their themes and concepts because they draw on too many things to make any one thing an over arching idea.) Sometimes this provides difficulty because others do not read the themes and ideas the same as I do. And sometimes this provides difficulty because there is no fundamental agreement about which ideas we’re flagging to play with and explore with this game.
Because I take games seriously, I think this is another conversation that needs to happen more often at the gaming table. I think we need to make sure that we’re all in the same place when we sit down to game. Not, necessarily, having the same perspective on the issues at the table…but that we know what the issues on the table are.