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Story Games Seattle Message Board Everything Else › Should we ban GMed games? Monsterhearts?

Should we ban GMed games? Monsterhearts?

Tim M.
TimM
Seattle, WA
Post #: 6
This whole thing is very complicated, and I have edited this post probably two dozen times now. I don't pretend to know the right answer to this, but this post reflects (essentially) the feelings I had when I first wrote it. Please take it as such. For my actual opinion on what I think might be a good solution, please refer either to my last post or Martin's summary. Also, one of the original versions of this post was a little more hardcore, which I ultimately decided was inappropriate. It was that version of the post that inspired Manu's comment directed to me below. Manu, I apologize if it seemed that I was directing the post at you. I just hope that whatever solution ultimately rises out of this, it doesn't result in conflict within the group. This group is important to me, and all I really want is to hang out and play games.



The main thing that is troubling me about this issue is the effect the recent hard policy enforcement has had on some of the long-term members of the group (two in particular that I know of, perhaps others). While I know that the reason for this change is a good and valid one, hearing some of the views of long-standing members (outside of this forum discussion) that are completely opposed to this change has left me troubled, as I do not feel that these views have been properly honored as valuable (again, not related to this forum discussion.)

I would be supportive of a weekly or biweekly meetup that was specifically for GM'd games (much like the monthly Playtest meeting is specifically for playtesting). I do, however, feel that if we have a GM'd meeting, it would be important that we be flexible as to what could potentially be brought there, so we did not have a repeat occurrence of the unpleasant situation that started this whole ball rolling. Either that, or we could have some sort of list of GM'd games we play (updated when new games that fit were released) to keep things clear for new members attending the GM'd meetup.

I also believe that if we could find a hard, defining line to be able to use as a delimiter other than GM'd / Non-GM'd, that could be useful as well. I think Jason and Sam both gave some good ideas in this regard. I also like Sam's idea (or my interpretation of it, anyway) of not having anything be "unacceptable," but instead requiring that facilitators make clear when their games do not fit with certain core concepts...so that player's can make an informed decision.

While my initial response to this question was along the "everything goes" line, I understand that we are trying to create a specific sort of experience here that is unique from many of the tendencies of traditional role-playing, so I want to honor that. I also think that the people that have already found a safe, welcoming place for themselves in this community should be honored as well, and I do not believe that this total ban is properly honoring to the current members of the community.
Jay L.
Coxcomb333
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 24
I'd like to point out how funny it is to me that we're arguing about (though not exclusively) Monsterhearts because it has a GM, not because of the content of the fiction: troubling sexual and violent content involving teenagers.

I agree that a positive list of attributes would make a more productive and inclusive set of guidelines than banning based on a crude mechanical distinction.

To my mind, the games that the community gravitates toward have:

  • fictional content that emerges through play with meaningful input from all players, if not equally then thoughtfully distributed
  • opportunities for all players to introduce things to the fiction outside of the actions of their own avatar
  • methods of apportioning narrative authority that do not rely solely on the whims of individual players


Such a definition clearly includes *World games (unless the facilitator is drifting them away from the rules as written) but excludes games like D&D, Pathfinder, World of Darkness, etc. for which players have many other outlets in local Meetups.

All that said, I can only guess at the events that led to the renewal of this discussion in the spring. From what little I know, it seems like the problem was with individual facilitators, not with game systems as such. I know, for example, that a game was played on a Saturday that didn't go well, and that it was a game that I had pitched and played successfully at a previous Meetup (which is by no means to say that I don't have games that fall flat from time to time). It is my suspicion that the facilitator was the issue. No set of rules, valuable though they are to set expectations, is going to be able to remove the occasional necessity for event hosts and coordinators to have difficult conversations with individuals who misunderstand or ignore the spirit of those rules.
Ben R.
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 421
Story Games Seattle has been about GMless games since I took over and overhauled it, three and a half years ago. Like I say in this post, I generally don't like boring people with policy and theory, but here's some perspective for those who are interested:

The Game Policy
A former member
Post #: 57
Ben, we've occasionally played GMed games for as long as I've been here- the oldest record of one I have is you GMing Inspectres in 2010. GMless games have always been the focus, but the focus has never been laser-tight, and obviously the success of the community hasn't depended on having a laser-tight focus. There's no reason to think that success will go away if we keep doing what we always did. We just need to find a good way to describe our community's norms so that new people will know what they're allowed to do.

Everyone: I'm updating the first post with a summary so that people coming to this thread don't have to slog through everything to know what we're talking about. If you think I'm getting something wrong, tell me and I'll fix it.

Also, I'd rather not get into a discussion of the incident that originally triggered this debate, because that's likely to get personal. Let's just talk about what we want to do in the future.
Ben R.
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 422
Yeah, I know what games we played. I was there, right?

We actually played a lot more GMed games in the first few months. I was still figuring out what to do with the whole thing, how to actually run meetups, etc. as anyone who was there will attest.
Manu
user 75984102
Seattle, WA
Post #: 25
To Martin, thanks very much for explaining in more detail about why Monsterhearts is a borderline case, I appreciate the clarification. IMHO, the fact that the MC is responsible for Hard Moves for all the characters still gives her more creative control than the players over the story, though I appreciate the point that this is to a much lesser degree than in other GMed games.

To Tim, my sincere apologies if I came off as too hard-line or judgmental; the main thing I feel strongly about is that whatever the rule is, it be clear and unambiguous. I'm not making any judgment about whether GMless gaming is superior or anything like that. And I don't think the policy that Ben articulated is intended to either :)

Instead of thinking whether we should "ban" a certain kind of game, the way I'm thinking of the question is, "is having a group that is devoted solely to story games where all participants have equal creative authority a good thing to have? Is it valuable?" IMHO I'm still thinking yes; it's nice to know that I'll have a particular kind of gaming experience at SGS.

The fact that SGS specializes in GMless games does nothing to prevent me from playing GMed games at other times. Perhaps we can start another Meetup specifically intended to include GMed story games? Maybe alternate Saturdays at the Wayward?

Best Wishes, Manu
Manu
user 75984102
Seattle, WA
Post #: 26
In other words, at this point I am in favor of keeping SGS solely for GMless games and would rather help start another sister meetup group than change this group's policy. This is because (A) I think it's valuable to have a group that focuses on GMless games where everyone has equal creative authority, and (B) the alternative rules people have suggested will not be easy for new folks to understand and there's a bit too much interpretation necessary to apply them.

Best Wishes, Manu
Tim M.
TimM
Seattle, WA
Post #: 8
So, after a little more thinking, my opinion has shifted somewhat.

While I would very much like for things to go back to the way they were before, and I think that finding a different clear-cut way of defining the games we play might help to achieve this, I do want to acknowledge that--from my perspective--Ben does ultimately have the right to make this decision. I know that his reasons for doing so were good ones, and (from what I understand) it was the original direction he had intended for the group to go. Like Manu said, if we want a group with a different emphasis, we can always start one.

It is the lack of consultation, or even warning, that bothers me most about the ban, which is why I felt it important to write my previous post.

While I would like for GM'd story games to be integrated in some way, I will stand by the group regardless. I am also more than willing to pitch in financially (and logistically) for an additional meetup group should we choose to start one.
A former member
Post #: 58
Manu, I'll update the summary.

I'm not really in favor of splitting the community in that way, though, because it would be a ton of logistic hassle for not a lot of benefit. Also, can you picture how THAT would look to new people? There's Story Games Seattle, and then there's Story Games Seattle 2.0, which plays the story games that Story Games Seattle banned? That sounds like we're having a turf war. I'm not sure I can see how having a second community that meets alternate Saturdays with different rules is better than just having a different rules meetup on alternate Saturdays.

Tim, I'm mostly taking for granted that we'll all stand by the group, but it's good to say. What I want from this thread is for everyone to say what they want most, so the group can make an informed decision.
Tim M.
TimM
Seattle, WA
Post #: 9
Thanks, Martin. You're right. I have a tendency to be overly dramatic and get off subject at times. Out of the options that are being thrown around, I believe I would be most in favor of having a biweekly meetup that specifically met to play GM'd story games, or perhaps even a weekly meetup if someone wanted to step up as an organizer. That way the other meetups could hold true to having only games with equal to near-equal narrative authority--keeping the vision that Ben originally had for the meetup, which absolutely has value--and the members who feel called to play GM'd games could do so within the community.
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