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Reverb Gamers Prompt #3

Atlas Games is doing this thing called “Reverb Gamers 2012″, with 31 question prompts to kick off 2012. I’m going to post one up each day, including weekends, throughout January. I invite you to do the same! And check out @ReverbGamers on Twitter or Facebook.

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #3: What kind of gamer are you? Rules Lawyer, Munchkin/Power Gamer, Lurker, Storyteller/Method Actor, or something else? (Search “types of gamer” for more ideas!) How does this affect the kinds of games you play? For example, maybe you prefer crunchy rules-heavy systems to more theatrical rules-light ones?

I have to start by throwing a yellow card on this prompt, for two reasons: (1) This is, unfortunately, about Creative Agenda. And talking about CA on the Internet tends to result in unpleasantness.[1]

(2) It assumes that we’re one-dimensional people. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not.

I’m a Rules Lawyer when I feel like the expectation of the rules in a given moment is challenged, and suddenly the safety net of structure is threatened.

I’m a Munchkin or Power Gamer when the game demands it, like D&D Third Edition did. The one time when I wasn’t, I was heavily penalized for that by feeling incompetent in the game.

Lurker? Nah, not me. But I do dial it back when it’s not my moment.

I suppose I’m a Storyteller type by default, as I appreciate drama & narrative & other hippie shit. And I wouldn’t use the term “Method Actor” for that. I don’t go out stabbing dragons or anything.

I’m a gamer. I am large, I contain multitudes.

– Ryan

[1] Especially when it’s erroneously applied to game design.

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6 Responses to Reverb Gamers Prompt #3

  1. Cam Banks says:

    I think this is 99% about Robin’s Laws and the types of gamer used in there, whether or not you want to ascribe that to Creative Agenda a la Big Model or not. Or if you want to use cool labels for them or not. A better discussion, perhaps, would be to go into how games affect that style of play more than the other way around, for instance, which you get started on doing here.

    • buzz says:

      I agree with Cam, and was about to post something similar. Reverb #3 isn’t about Creative Agenda in the Big Model sense. I think the fact that Macklin’s conclusion is “I’m a gamer. I am large, I contain multitudes” says a lot about how unhelpful Laws’ gamer types are as a classification scheme. They conflate personality types with what the Big Model would call Techniques, iirc, and thus don’t necessarily tell us all that much.

      I wonder if the various options in Chris Chinn’s Same Page Tool would actually prove more useful here.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Given that these are essentially takes on CA (Power Gamer = Gamist, Storyteller = Narrativist, etc.), that’s untrue.

      – Ryan

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Robin’a types map to Creative Agenda.

      And I agree that that is a better conversation, so long as we don’t fall into the trap of claiming a game to be built for a specific agenda or type of gamer. Those are reactions to rule sets and to moments of desire.

      – Ryan

  2. buzz says:

    I think that’s an oversimplification, Ryan. CA classifies the agendas of a given group playing a given game when observed over time. i.e., what they are “grooving on” as they play. Laws’ types classify individual behaviors, or behavioral tendencies. It’s entirely possible to have any one of these types present in a group that’s focused on any of the three CAs. Or, eve have conflicts in what may seem obvious combinations. The “Storyteller/Actor” is often completely at odds with a Narrativist agenda, while a Power Gamer thrives. And what is a Lurker after? To see his pals step on up, to watch an elaborate setting in action, or to see premise addressed?

    I was re-reading the “Frostfolk and GNS aggravation” thread on the Forge this weekend, and it’s a good match for what we are talking about here. Laws’ types are mostly techniques, and techniques don’t determine agenda. While you can certainly foresee tendencies, I don’t think one can really map one to the other directly.

    And why is claiming a given game can be built to facilitate/support a given CA a trap? Isn’t that kind of what the Forge has been talking about all these years?

  3. Ryan Macklin says:

    And why is claiming a given game can be built to facilitate/support a given CA a trap? Isn’t that kind of what the Forge has been talking about all these years?

    The Forge illustrates my point for me.

    – Ryan