Is dependent fun badwrongfun?

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In a recent post, Centauri recommend that when it comes to entertainment, you do what works for you, and other people do what works for them, or else. Expectations that mix the two will cause despair.

I mean that as a summation, not a strawman.

Going off of that, would that mean that you should never rely on entertainment that requires two or more, even in a group activity? For example, I once took part in a game where the interaction between people was absolutely minimal. Not exaggerating when it was really 5 people talking only to the DM, and the DM responding in kind. Like 5 solo games going on simultaneously, rather than a group game. And yet, contrary to my expectations, people seemed to like it. That would rank as a successful game, according to most. (for the curious, the DM later admitted to me later on that he considered it a trainwreck. A fun one, but ruinous overall)

To me it seems natural that in a group activity, you depend upon others to provide your entertainment, and vice-versa. If you wanted to tango, but your "partner" was content to simply stare at you, would it be faulty to expect him to tango with you too? Or is he the victor in having his self-attained cake, whereas you are the needy have-not?

Hopefully I'm making sense here. What are your thoughts on the nature of entertainment, group activity, expectations, and compromise regarding gaming?





The play together but not talk together is a modern form of entertainment called online gaming where "chatting" is available but not required and often ignored.  Entire online worlds exist with millions of participants that are interactively playing together but don't speak to each other at all.  Its a modern version of a group activity as a result of the invention of the internet.

I can relate however, I have seen the "talk to the GM but not each other" games over the years, in particular with new groups made of players that don't know each other particularly well.  In most cases this kind of resolves itself over time as people get to know each other.

Other times however its less an issue of interaction and more an issue of embarresment or stage freight as it applies to role-playing.  Players are nervous about role-playing so they handle their activity through the GM through the 3rd person and that's quite common among new players to the hobby.

Role-playing is inherently a group game, in fact, while definitions differ, most agree that role-playing is the act of collaborative storytelling primarly.  I think a good DM will always pursue and encourage people to interact with each other and ultiamtly role-play, though this takes efforts and usually many sessions to get going in a particularly shy group.  

I do however agree that ultimatly you have to let the dynamic of your groups take hold and once established, just let it be.  People inherently play games together for entertainment, but what entertains them in particular is a very personal thing.  As it applies to role-playing games some people are their for the story, some for the social event, others to role dice and fight, while others still are their for very specific interests like an interest in magic for example and as such are only happy and entertainted when playing a magic user.  As such you have to allow people to get what they want out of the game else rather than being entertained, they are instead "forced" to participate in something that is the exact oppossite at which point things usually will fall apart.  If a player loves D&D because he loves to roll dice and fight and you don't put that in the game, they won't be happy but this may be at direct odds with someone who is interested only in role-playing and is always trying stop, avoid or finish fights quickly.  It can be a problem and group dynamics have to work in order for the value of getting together being there for everyone involved.

In my experiance though, most groups find some sort of middle ground compromise and while it might take sometime to get there, they almost always do.  I disagree however in regards to the "do nothing about it philosophy", I think a good DM always finds a way to make sure everyone gets what they wanted, including himself and including the core of what the game is about (interaction).  Its always in the details. 

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I believe you may have missed Centauri's point. What he was saying (and he can correct me if I'm wrong here) is that, as it pertains to in-character interaction or entertaining you, you can't control the other people's contributions in this regard. You can only control yourself, so engage in in-character interaction as much as you want and be as entertaining as you want. Others will respond in kind or they won't. Find entertainment in what you do and be pleasantly surprised by what others bring to the table.

If you sit down at the table and expect everyone else to engage in the type of roleplaying you enjoy and expect them to entertain you, you may be rightly disappointed in the results. Session Zero helps with this, as far as helping you put together a group that shares the same expectations.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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In a recent post, Centauri recommend that when it comes to entertainment, you do what works for you, and other people do what works for them, or else. Expectations that mix the two will cause despair.

I didn't say anything about despair.

The issue is not the expectation so much as what the expectation often leads to: trying to change others and disparaging them when they buck that attempt or ignore it altogether. As far as roleplaying goes, it's better not to try to change others, and instead to either change oneself or leave the group. Compromise is also an option, as is politely asking someone to leave if they are in the minority.

To me it seems natural that in a group activity, you depend upon others to provide your entertainment, and vice-versa. If you wanted to tango, but your "partner" was content to simply stare at you, would it be faulty to expect him to tango with you too? Or is he the victor in having his self-attained cake, whereas you are the needy have-not?

Poor analogy and odd terminology. Roleplaying is not the tango. One can roleplay regardless of what anyone else is doing. And it's nothing to do with victory or loss, especially since, as I say, you can successfully roleplay regardless of what anyone else is doing.

Hopefully I'm making sense here. What are your thoughts on the nature of entertainment, group activity, expectations, and compromise regarding gaming?

My thoughts are that you're creating a fallacious and misleading argument, even if you don't mean to.

If an activity doesn't entertain you when you think you should be entertained, refrain from that activity. If the activity is something you're paying for, the loss of your custom will contribute toward either the cessation of that activity or its alteration along the lines of what you find entertaining, especially if enough other customers share your taste. If it's not something you're paying for, but your presence at the activity is greatly desired, those involved will make an effort to alter the activity to suit you.

Most non-roleplaying group activities have pretty clear expectations, someone directly hosting them, and not a lot of other restrictions. If you're invited to a party, or to bowling, or to participate in a sporting event, you judge whether to attend based on what you think of the activity and the others attending. Once there, as long as you're not breaking any rules, you're generally allowed to behave however you want. In a team sport, you are expected to act for the benefit of the team, though unless it's professional you're probably excused for putting your own comfort ahead of the team's success.

Roleplaying is not a team sport. It can be done by oneself, without diminishment by anything anyone else is doing. It is also not a performance, as there is generally no audience. Those involved are acting for their own enjoyment, and need not feel obligated to entertain others.

People prefer to be around those who entertain them. Not entertaining others when they wished to be entertained, is a good way to find oneself alone. However, if someone's expectations are too far above the local standard, they are likely to find themselves alone.

Expectations are just expectations, and yours don't outweigh anyone else's. You are welcome to explain your expectations to others, but they are welcome to decline to meet them. You are also welcome and encouraged to part ways with others who don't meet your expectations. If you can't or won't do that, then you are welcome to change your expectations.

Compromise is a wonderful thing. I'm all for it. Open the lines of communication wide and prepare to give some ground.

The bottom line is that no one is obligated to entertain you at the roleplaying table. If you think they are obligated and they're not meeting their obligation, there's nothing you can or should do to them directly, and probably nothing objectively "wrong" with them.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy