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The Seer Vitz

Serious Gaming or Lighthearted Enjoyment (Part 2)

We must first take into account that an RPG is a game. By default, games are usually played to have fun. Yet, does that mean that there should be no serious matters in the game? Does it mean that it is perfectly all right for players to joke around while playing (out of character, that is)?

I decided to answer these questions in two separate articles, so that it does not get too confusing, and so that it may spark more conversation in the newsgroups <s>. Last week, I concentrated on the external matters, the ones that deal with "player mentality". This time, I will discuss what issues are appropriate, and whether or not there are inappropriate matters. (I.e. Discuss whether all is "free game")

In my opinion, it totally depends on the players you are dealing with. In my experiences, it was always better to leave out certain topics. Yet, if you think that your players can handle it, then by all means bring up the topic. But do remember that this is a game. You might think that it is interesting to bring up, but do you think that it would enhance the game as a game?

If you are trying to make a statement, beware; your players might think that you are going overboard, and then they will not pay much attention to your GM’ing. If you try to bring in thoughts about politics by having you NPCs make casual remarks it could go well. But, if you decide to have them sit in front of a king, for example, and have him perform a diatribe, then chances are your players will find something else to do (such as read a magazine or accessory).

But, this is a game. Most players play to have a good time, not to be concerned with politics. I have found that in my games that the less it deals with reality, the more the players enjoy it. That probably isn’t the way with everyone, for my players are odd, but chances are no one wants to put any deep thought into the game.

But what about things such as rape and drugs? These ideas come up often in games I have played in or GM’ed. It may well be just because of the people I associate with (and I do hope so), but if it happens with you, how do you deal with it? The problem is in games I have experience with, the players almost always have their character rape a barmaid (or any other female there is!). [One time, there was a player that had his character rape a dead character… definite sicko] To deal with things such as this, you could try to leave out things that would lead to situations such as these. But how realistic is a world without females?

I think that a game should not be very serious when it comes to content. Since it is a game, it should be entertaining. Yes, some serious situations can be interesting, but chances are that you could have just as much fun without dealing with them. (For example, imagine a group of fighters that wipes out an orc village. This can be seen as limited genocide, but in game terms, it is supposed to be a good thing. Therefore, I suggest don’t worry about "real" repercussions). The situation where you do not even consider the politics is actually more enjoyable. The situation can be interpreted either way, but why look for something that is only there if you look for it?

I guess my point is to make sure you have fun. Do not worry about serious matters, leave those for the after game snacking. While you are gaming, make sure that everyone is enjoying himself or herself. If someone appears to be bothered by a topic, make sure you get away from that topic real quick. The last thing you want is an offended player. They always appear to bring others down. But I digress <s>.

Till next time!

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist