Simplicity

I’ve been mulling over how to get more people interested in RPGs. This isn’t anything new for this blog but I haven’t talked about it in a little bit. So lets get back into it.

Things Like RPGs

Video Game RPGs are common enough and most video gamers wouldn’t hesitate to play one if you plopped one down in front of them. Board games in some ways are like RPGs and are commonly accepted as a family fun kind of game. I was thinking about these two categories of games and mentally comparing them to RPGs.

One of my first theories was that a boardgame is more acceptable to the average person because it is less complex. That sounds pretty compelling when comparing a 200 page book to a board and a three page pamphlet. You might think “Aha! RPGs need to be less complicated and then they will be acceptable.” That however has already been done. There are plenty of one page RPGs out there. If the solution was lowered complexity, we’d be there already.

Then I thought about video game RPGs. Even though they’re called RPGs, they’re usually more “Adventure Game With Some Choice” (AGWSC?) and I think that’s the difference. When you play an video game RPG, some really have very little choice if you want to progress through the game. You have to do what the king or old man wants you to do or you won’t progress. Even MMOs are a series of hand holding steps. They tell the player exactly what their next step is. The player’s enjoyment comes from having the skill to perform those actions using the game controls. In some situations the player is challenged by the strategy or having the dexterity to accomplish the task.

Conclusion?

What if all our fears about giving the players the maximum amount of choice is wrong? What if compelling stories are with the players at the helm are the problem? What if, (and i’ve broached this subject before) if done in the right way Railroading is exactly what new players need to get comfortable. When I think about it, most of my new players, for the first few games are asking “What do I do now?” They’re not used to deciding for themselves. I think about my first games, when I was introduced to RPGs. There was very little choice. I was lead along, guided. Only later did I discover the value of choice.

What do you think? Is this train of thought madness? How were your first games?

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Filed under Experimental Mechanics, GM Advice

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