When you escape into a game, should you escape all responsibilities as well?
Escapism is a HUGE part of our culture. Everyone wants to soar with the eagles, surf the volcanic moons of Jupiter, or dive deep into the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately our lives turn into moments of waiting in lines, going to work, and paying bills.
When the gang gets together to “escape it all” on the weekend, be it for a round of Call of Duty or a night of 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons (he said 4th edition!!!), do you throw down your sense of being responsible for anything, or anyone?
Heroic adventuring takes gamers into fantastic worlds. When you enter those worlds, another facet of your personality comes out.
Maybe it is good to say “screw it, I just want gold and blood.”
But is appealing to our base instincts, even in game, good?
I challenge the notion that you can have fun — but only when you have no responsibilities.
Our ego driven culture is self-absorbed with what we can do to please ourselves. Our daily lives are a drive to further separate our personal universe, our reality, from others. We wonder why there is no sense of community. Why intolerance runs rampant in our Facebook feeds. The silly arguments and counter arguments over who is right, this justifies who I am, why are they acting like that… It is a show. Divide and conquer. Our society may have better methods of communication, but we are divided more than before.
I wont say being a level 16 murder hobo slaughtering orcs and robbing the dead is not fun. But…
What if you made an epic challenge and deal? To wrestle the orc leader, with winner banishing their people from the land forever?
Conflict is what drives our games. It brings us to the table as we look forward to finding out what happened down in the crystal caverns. But creating stories in which people care about the outcome of the conflict SHOULD be a priority for any GM.
Responsibility in game can and should be part of the fun. It is why I made New Gods of Mankind. Being responsible for a whole tribe and territory can be just as much fun as a SIMS game.
Creating a whole gang of Nurse Paladins is not the goal of this article. My goal is to make you think about the game you are running. Even though the game manufacturer set up your next dungeon bash, it is you the Game Master, and you the Player, who bring the performance to life.
Why not throw a bit of responsibility into the mix. Get your players to care about the team of mules pulling all that gold.
I am not so prudish as to think survival of a tomb of horrors cannot be any fun. Or that violence in gaming is destroying our society. What I am asking is for players to care about their actions. Just a small bit. Even chaotic evil Warlocks have pets from the demon planes they care about.
How do you bring about empathy and compassion in your next game? That is a subject for another article.
Until next time,