Monday, February 15, 2010

Doom & Tea Parties Solo: Why I'm Not Writing About It

So let's see. I've written about the group game this month, and I'm not going to run out of things to say about it anytime soon. Next month is going to be why Trollsmyth won't kill boytoy's character, I think. Unless she gets eaten by a slaadi or something in the meantime. Which would be good, because then she won't die after I write that post and make me look dumb.

The solo game is a little trickier. While I've written about it a fair amount in the past, I've very deliberately not mentioned a number of key circumstances and events in the game, and I'm going to continue that policy. I've shared some of those circumstances with offline friends, in the course of those "what crazy thing just happened in the games we're in" conversations that I occasionally give in to, but there's a fair amount I haven't told anyone, and won't until the game ends. And maybe not even then.

A lot of what's made that game so interesting and involving, in fact, is that I don't talk about it. I don't have to explain it, or understand it well enough to explain it, or justify it. I can do very odd things and go very odd places, with no audience except the DM, who's mostly busy doing stranger things anyway. It's an experimental space.

Which is a bit odd, since RPGs tend to be very much public affairs. There's that whole "let me tell you about my character," actual play report culture; a lot of my conversations with people I've just found out play roleplaying games tend to turn towards various events from campaigns past. People like talking about their games. And a game, obviously, involves more than one person, usually a fair handful. It's not like reading a novel, or watching a movie--and even those examples point to a general publicity of entertainment, at least in our culture. One of the chief joys of novels and TV and stories in general is in discussing them.

But I don't think my experience with this game has been anything approaching unique. After all, one of the features that so marvelously distinguishes roleplaying from reading or watching is that the experience is so much less public. It's not something that anyone who picks up the book can experience; only I and the few other friends who were there ever can. Which means that it can be a much more private experiences, with all the advantages that go along with that--not least being that it only ever needs to interest and please us, the people participating. And that remains true no matter how many players are in the group. And even when I do give in to the temptation to tell all my friends about a character's latest escapade.

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