I put together a Frequently Asked Questions page for Story Games Seattle.
“But wait,” you ask, “you’ve been running the thing for three years? You’re just posted a FAQ now?” Yep. There have been assorted pages discussing what we do or don’t do but nothing quite as comprehensive as this.
Oh right, you were asking why I waited this long. Our process has been under constant evolution. Seriously. What I said two years ago and what I said a year ago about how and why we do things are different from what I would say now. Because, y’know: learning from experience.
Women in Gaming Communities (Sat 6-7 pm)
Gender inequality among gamers continues to be a frequent topic. Women and girl gamers often feel unwelcome in the boys club, and gamers can be clueless or dismissive of gender inequality. What are some successful ways to get women into gaming? What are some things to avoid? How can event organizers and game designers make women that show up more comfortable?
Lillian Cohen-Moore, Ashley Cook, Ben Robbins, Gwen Yeh, Mickey Schulz
The description didn’t actually specify whether it was about face-to-face tabletop gaming or video games / online communities, which are very different topics, so the discussion jumps around a bit between those two themes.
(you can also download the mp3 directly instead of using the player)
“I have a secret agenda… we only play the kind of games that allow everyone at the table to have strong and equal contributions”
I don’t talk a lot about why I set up Story Games Seattle the way I did. Why I intentionally focused on games with no GM and no prep, games that give each player the same creative authority. Games that might even require each person to speak up and participate.
This is why. Because women can come to our meetups and know their contribution is vital, that we want to hear what they have to say. Because anyone can come to our meetups and know that their contribution is vital because it really is. We’re not kidding when we say that without you the game will fail.
I get flak sometimes on the internets for being some kind of tyrant who apparently hates GM’ed games, which is doubtless pretty funny to anyone who has followed this blog and my gaming career. But really that’s my own fault for not explaining my reasons.
They’re seeing the negative, which is that they can’t play the particular game they want at our events (or more specifically, GM the game they want to GM). But they’re missing the positive, which is that people are coming and enjoying role-playing games who might be or have been turned off by that strange player-GM power hierarchy that we veteran gamers don’t even think about. They’re missing that we’re empowering droves of new folks to play and enjoy role-playing games and revel in their own creativity and the sheer fucking wonder of creating things with other people.
Yeah, there is some irony in being a tyrant who mandates equality. I’m okay with it.
“Imagine a third kid there who’s very quiet, who never says anything”
Now imagine me standing in front of a room full of people, talking about GMless role-playing games for an hour. Too hard? No problem! Like magic you can just listen in as though you were there…
Fifty-four minutes of anecdotes of human awesomeness peppered with outbursts of laughter. You can also download the MP3 if you prefer.
Stay tuned, more Norwescon panels are on the way.
Ever wonder if you’ve read every single ars ludi post? Afraid you might have missed some gold? Well to make it easy for you I’ve added a chronological list of every single ars ludi post. But pack a lunch before you head out because there are over 300 of them all the way back to 2005.
Talk about a walk down memory lane. I’m pretty sure I’ve read them all. Pretty sure.
Now I just need a way to flag the classics…
UPDATE: Lo and behold, the classics are marked. I’ll probably refine the list over time but right now those are the best of the best. I added separate icons for favorite articles and epic game summaries.
“Hey, you haven’t talked about Kingdom in a while. What’s up with that?”
Good question, caller.
Imagine a cave. A dark cave. In a swamp. Lit only by the intermittent glow of fireflies.
Now in the cave put a figure. A figure facing a wall of rock. Solid rock. Rock from the heart of the world.
And in that figure’s hand put a chisel. A very sharp chisel. A chisel that *could* carve rock. Even really hard rock.
Now imagine that figure isn’t moving. Or lifting the chisel. Imagine that figure is bending his total will towards the rock and trying to carve it with the power of his mind!
That’s how Kingdom is going.
To be fair, that’s exactly how Microscope was in the homestretch too. It’s also how I wrote a paper about Oedipus Rex my freshman year in college. Apparently it’s just a thing I do but clearly I save it for the important stuff.
To translate that from drama into English, I’m scrutinizing every detail of the text with my piercing gaze, making sure it’s what I want it to be and that it’s doing what I want it to do. I’m looking back on all the very best Kingdom games I’ve played and making sure I am emphasizing the things that spawn games like that. And I’m looking back on all the very worst Kingdom games I’ve played (there have been a few) and putting procedural snipers on rooftops to prevent games like that from happening.
I’m rather pleased with how it’s going.
There will come a time soon(ish) when I will let slip the dogs of kickstarting. When that time comes I will dearly need your help to get the word out and make Kingdom happen. I’m not bad at designing games but I’m ass at marketing and self-promotion. I’ll seriously need your help.
I’m reading David Wright’s translation of Beowulf. I’ve read Beowulf before but one of the points Wright makes in his analysis is that it’s not just the events that happen in Beowulf but that the audience of dudes in horned helmets knew who the historical figures in the tale were and knew both their histories and what happens to them after the story of Beowulf is over.
The text is full of allusions to the future beyond the epic, things that have nothing to do with the current story. Warriors who are good friends now but who will one day murder each other. The peerless hall of Hrothgar which Beowulf saves from Grendel’s depredations but will itself be consumed in fire.
Tall and wide-gabled, the hall towered overhead; yet it was to endure terrible and leaping flames, when in the course of time a deadly feud between Hrothgar and his son-in-law should be kindled by an act of violence.
So the old skald telling the epic of Beowulf knows the audience knows all those things that are going to happen after the story. He’s counting on them knowing because that knowledge changes the entire meaning of the story.
Without that knowledge, Beowulf is a tale of heroism and monster-slaying. With it, it’s a reflection on the impermanence (and perhaps even futility) of man’s deeds and the material world.
Knowledge of the future changing your perception of the present? Yeah, it’s viking Microscope.