Interview about Drifting Games

Eddy Webb, John Wick and I were on The Walking Eye podcast for one of their round table discussions. Kevin Weiser of said show wanted to talk with us about “drifting the rules of role-playing games.” From their site:

Kevin sits down with Ryan Macklin, John Wick, and Eddy Webb to discuss the pros and cons of drifting the rules in RPG’s. It’s a good discussion, and fair warning, the last 10 minutes or so are actually a tangent on the realities of being an internet microcelebrity, and how people act vastly differently to said celebrities when they meet them in person rather than how they talk about them on internet forums. Still  a pretty interesting conversation, but if you’re here just to hear about drifting, you might wanna skip the last 10 minutes.

The episode clocks in at just over an hour. It was really fun to do, and to hear Eddy, John & I mostly agree but use very different language and experiences to back it up was pretty fascinating. The last bit, which started with Kevin making a joke about how he grabbed the of the most hated people in RPG land for this round table led to a bit of venting about Internet bullshit.[1]

Anyway, worth giving a listen. And to restate a point I state twice in the episode: If you do that “you can drift X, but they you’re not really playing X,” you’re a fucking judgmental cockbite. Even if you’re the designer saying it. (Right or wrong, you’re a cockbite.)

Edit: Judd Karlman has a great fucking response on his bloggy blog. And the comments are on fucking fire, between folks like Rob Donoghue, Fred Hicks, Daniel Perez, Judd & myself.

– Ryan

[1] Which, while we recorded the episode last December, is awkwardly timely today. Or maybe it’s always that way.


3 Responses to Interview about Drifting Games

  1. jessecoombs says:

    Hated? I love you guys!

  2. Jesse Burneko says:

    Hey Ryan,

    I kept trying to reply over on Judd’s blog but not really feeling like my response fit in over there. That’s because what Judd is talking about is acknowledging the line between “just a hack” and genuine new design that is simply building on the shoulders of giants. Beyond a certain point it’s a disservice to yourself to say you’re “just playing AW” with a few changes. You’ve actually gone on to do your own thing which you deserve credit and recognition for. That is, indeed, awesome.

    But what *I* wanted to respond to is the notion that “You’re no longer playing X” shuts down the conversation and is dismissive and judgmental. When you come at play with a certain set of priorities there’s a point where “well, just hack it” or “well, just house rule it” is equally as dismissive. Those priorities are focused on mastering games on their own terms which is where a lot of my personal fun is.

    From that perspective it IS a little frustrating to constantly be met with hacking and house ruling as default expected behavior. As much as you found the phrase “You’re no longer playing X” to be dismissive, I find a lot of discussion about hacking and house ruling to be dismissive. Imagine going to a Chess club and talking about how you always inevitably end up with your rook trapped in a corner and being met constantly with, “So, just make it so Rooks can jump over pieces like the knight. It’s your game after all.” instead of actual discourse about how to avoid that situation or get out of it based on how the game actually works.

    I want to operate in a play culture where people who are met with something that is initially unfun or uncomfortable first look to challenge and change *themselves* to master a new and unfamiliar process rather than just change the process to better suit their own comforts. I want to operate in a play culture where the default response to, “This didn’t work for me.” is “How do I get better at it?” rather than “How do I change it?” Ask not what you want from the game but what the game wants from you, so to speak.

    That whole attitude is the reason behind me hitting Dresden Files so hard right now. I don’t like/get FATE very much but I’m trying my hardest to learn the skills/mindset necessary to make it work. At the end of the day I may STILL not really like it but at least I can say I put in the time, effort and work necessary to satisfactorily come to that conclusion. The process is EXTREMELY difficult in a discourse culture where people automatically jump in with ideas based on how Diaspora works or how Strands of Fate works or how they’ve imported this or that rule from this other website and so on.

    When I talk about “You’re no longer playing X” I’m objecting to the notion that hacking is an *assumed* part of the play process itself. I’m trying to point out a hypocrisy I see in the “story games” meme that Play > Design. When I kit bash TSOY Keys and FATE Maneuvers and Sorcerer Humanity into some thing that I then go play an awesome game of, what I see being praised is an act of localized design, not play. It’s simply sub-dividing design into a hierarchy: Local Design > Mass Consumed Design. We’re still talking about design.

    I’d like a place where I can talk about play — and ONLY play without that discussion being obscured by design based priorities (i.e. crafting a game that satisfies needs and wants different from the game under discussion). The only place I know where I can engage in that kind of discourse is the Burning Wheel forums. Even the AP forum of The Forge is more about comparative experiences across games rather than refining mastery of a particular individual game.

    Those are my thoughts.


  3. Jason says:

    Great post, Jesse. Everyone has different goals for their play. If I’m just screwing around shooting hoops and “Dirty” Kurt Rambis comes on the court to train, we’re going to get mad at each other and I’ll end up in the hospital.