Playing with your Toys Wrong: Public

edited June 2012 in Story Games
A comment on another thread got me thinking, well, reminiscing.

My friends and I often played with our toys "wrong" back in the day. We would assign new personalities to Star Wars figures (those of us who were lucky enough to own them), for instance (since some of us had not seen the movies) and we did horrible things with my sister's three Strawberry Shortcake dolls (they lived in a Cthulhu-esque nightmare world before I really knew who H. P. Lovecraft was - but I'd seen Alien.)

Who else did this? What did you learn?

Me, I learned that shapes suggest many different patterns. That a dark-haired man can be a hero or a villain and someone with a tube built into their arm (for a lightsaber) has just suffered a terrible accident and needs to go to the hospital with the nurses in gas-masks (who would otherwise be called stormtroopers.)


  • You are not playing with your toys wrong; you are just a little twisted (which is fine, by the way).

    I play war games every now and then and the idea has always been the same from day one of gathering trinkets. You play with them and pretend they are something else for entertainment. It's either that or I'll serious-face over my Mandalores minis and complain their uniform is Pre-KOTOR, not after.

    I done did learnt a physical appreciation in my games because of it. In fact, 3 of my games involve physical props because they define the game aspect for my games. The reason why is everyone has their own idea on what something looks like in their mind. The physical toy tells everyone what you are seeing and allows everyone else to mold their imagination in the style of that physical item. It gets them on the same page as you, which in turn can make it easier for story telling.
  • edited July 2012
    There is no wrong way to play with toys unless the proverbial "someone's eye gets poked out". I never have played with toys or any game the manufacture's suggested way; I have never cared for "girl's toys", and also don't like toys for a specific type of play, all the commercialize stuff. That stuff is cool to collect but really anything can be used for play, it doesn't have to have the right look to it. Empty boxes (TV size or even better refrigerator size) being the absolute best toy ever! Legos and other toys you can build anything you want and stuff animals for companions on pretend adventures were also absolute favorites. Empty notebooks have always been very appealing to me, so much potential for stuff to be written down or drawn inside. My brother and I played the game of "Life" over one winter break daily, just one game on and off for two weeks, with specific house rules. We had to make our own paper money, as we ran out, and had piles of "kids" we were dragging behind us in another car each.

    What I've learned? I dunno, "rules" have never meant a lot to me ever (about anything) and I don't really like toys made by adults for how they think kids (or adults) are going to play. Fortunately most young kids will totally ignore all this and use whatever they have available to imagine and make up whatever worlds and stories they want. I just think it makes it easier for kids to play the way they want with sort of generic toys like boxes, Legos and non specific stuffed animals/dolls, rather than have adult direct how kids play with commercial merchandise. However, I'm not sure the kids even care, as they are going to play with stuff the way they want to regardless.
  • What did you learn?
    I learned that when it comes to play, with or without toys, the ends justify the means. Regardless of what the manufacturer (or game designer) intended, if fun is had, then there's no right or wrong way to approach the play experience. Sure, you can adhere completely to the rules as designed, but if you stray from the path, and you enjoy the experience, then all is well, and you played with your toys right.
  • I had a similar situation to Arpie, although more silly and less dark. I was introduced to this kind of play by a neighborhood friend. It had an impact since we gravitated to toys that we could name, give personalities to and define their abilities. Although now that I think of it, even when I was really little all my stuffed animals had names, personalities and super powers.

    Now that I think of it we did some pretty cool role play even when I was a little kid. We had reoccurring super hero characters with tragic backgrounds and would put them in situations we had seen in movies or TV.
  • In elementary school I accidentally engineered a charismatic cult around a bendable Close Encounters alien doll I somehow acquired.

    Imagine a tiny me thinking "this has gone too far. I have to destroy the doll".
  • I guess the doll had to return to the mothership then? :-)

    I could seeing doing some deliberately bad-wrong-fun by playing a RPG in public with sock puppets, just to freak out the mundanes.

    Cute fuzzy puppet with googly eyes: "I murder the golbins and take their stuff."
  • I've learned that trying to talk about using minis in a more more story-game inspired fashion with folks online makes me empathise with the character in brave New World who is trying to share a poem about his mother.
  • edited July 2012
    And that's too bad, komeradebob (er... sorry, Bernard), because story games desperately need something like minis if we want to see the "new paradigm" grow. Store owners like minis. I like minis... well, okay, I don't like ALL minis. I prefer kawaii minis, about 1" maximum, usually with super-deformed proportions. Fairly smooth and simple to paint. But I'll take ANY mini that doesn't have a lot of guns or weapons on it - unless the weapons are really exaggerated and fun-looking. I dislike realistic minis... which are mostly what game stores sell.

    It goes back to having to pretend a wind-up frog was space ship. I don't think I ever had a more awesome spaceship. More awesome than a helicopter ride over Mustafa Mond's Atlantic.

    (PS. Yes, I've heard of Super Dungeon Adventure. No, I can't afford it... and the minis are a little too big, anyway. I'd certainly gravitate more to cute minis I could buy, say, a single figure at a time for a few bucks each. That's how I ended up with so many Gregory Horror Show pieces and RocketMen ships - even though both rule sets actually sucked.)
  • Well, honestly Arpie, most of my interest is simply in promoting a style of minis play I like, and it's a bit different from most minis play that people write sellable books about. Those books are mostly about competitive miniatures bashes, all pretty much about combat and not much else. Which is great. I buy those sorts of things myself.

    Me, I'm more interested in a style of play that's a bit more like taking the stuff HG Wells talked about in Floor Games, and stealing a bunch of tools from non-minis story type games and bashing them together. Not for something terribly tactical, or even artistic, but for simple Play Pretend Joy over the course of an afternoon.

    My frustration tends to be that seemingly the only use for miniatures as seen by a large number of folks I've chatted with over time online is fiddly, tactical, and time-consuming, and almost only ever centered on combat ( and by implication, competitive in some sense).

    There are all kinds of games that have successfully dumped tons of that kind stuff out of their designs that are discussed around hereabouts. And wow are they good!

    It just seems like there's a sort of dain-bramage that centers around minis use, one that leads folks to a conclusion that it is simply impossible to dump those things from minis play too. And that's what makes me empathise with old John Savage or whoever that character was from BNW.
  • I'm trying to imagine this, a mini's game that is not as combat heavy. The first wave of thought is that you would need to bring in new actions and goals, perhaps from the boardgame world (since sex moves with my Tyranids would be a little creepy.) Harvesting and construction are good verbs. Capture the flag or perhaps a tower defense game, then? Objects that would encourage exploration and race mechanics. It could be done. Perhaps the way to pitch it would be as an adventure game?

    Just rabbling in my game designer brain space. :-)
  • edited July 2012
    I agree with you there, komeradebob. I remember that "village" rpg you were putting together for your daughter. It seemed like a really good direction to be moving (and it fits on this thread, too.)

    I would much prefer some kind of game with miniatures where the positioning of the miniature in the play space had some effect on story. It would add an interesting tactile element to an otherwise mostly verbal and visual presentation.
  • edited July 2012
    Heh, my daughter is a good bit older now, and any interest in game+play pretend when she engages it is much more pointed towards freeformyish LARP or borderline cosplay.

    What I'm thinking of doesn't necessarily not have action, or combat, or wahooism. It just doesn't focus the mechanics there. It also doesn't tend to focus on in-fiction competition.

    If there's challenge involved, it tends to fall more into these kinds of categories:

    Can I offer bits of input that other players latch onto, and expand on willingly and joyfully?
    Can I use other people's input in the way I want mine used?
    Can I identify times when the fiction we're collectively putting together from freeplay has a split in the road that could throw things in a couple of different directions, and can i pick an appropriate tool to use at that point to pick between them in a way that's fun?
    Am I accepting of those results of using a tool, and can I build forward from them?
    Are we using the physical toys for inspiration and showing events?
    Are we maintaining a good balance of using the toys and using non-toy fictional input?
    Are we making sure that everyone involved has a chance to focus in on stuff they're interested in/gets a bit of a chance to do some GM-y type stuff? That everyone gets a chance to play/portray characters?

    Ack, this is going silly off-topic! I'll try to post a thread over in Praxis and link back to here in a bit.

    Okay, here's me blathering over in the Praxis section
  • Well, as soon as I've read the other post, I'll comment on it... but you posted a lot and I've only got a few minutes of computer time left!
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