From Gaming Skills: William's Perfect World of Well Designed Games

edited February 2008 in Play Advice
From this thread
Posted By: cydmabHmm, you know, my reaction to many of the items on this list is that in a perfect world, a well designed game should negate the need for these skills, or make them trivially easy, or at the very least spread the work around.
My instinct tells me that good games help us focus, foster and strengthen these skills but can't replace a skilled player at the table. This isn't me saying, "Its a good game if you ahve the right players," but it is me saying that gamers need some skills to be good at what we do.

Other thoughts?


  • I think it depends on the items on the list, and the specific role of the game and the players.

    Like, say, scene framing. I do love games that let me scene frame well -- that have natural break points, good flags to frame to, descriptive elements about character or setting or whatever. (Say, PTA's custom locations, or the way Afraid gets you to pause when someone escalates.)

    However, there is still an art to scene framing -- its a thing that you do with your group to hit the note, the tone, the pace, and the tension your group likes. Any time mechanics try to too rigorously frame a scene for you, rather than helping you do it yourself, you risk blowing over what the group wants. (As one of our players said it once when we were playtesting a game with too many scene framing rules for us "I wish the game would stop stepping on my dick.")

    In general I want a game that helps, provokes, and maybe (maybe) even guides -- but a game that negates the need for player skills seems to be a game designed to negate players.
  • We could debate the point, but I'd really love it if this thread helped me figure out what things in what systems helped grease the wheels for particular skills.


    Wicked Age's setup phase helps me craft situations.
    Aspects in FATE help GMs use bangs from the player's sheet.
  • edited February 2008
    Let me list a few examples I had in mind:

    Polaris, by having different roles with different levels of intensity and story influence and rotating them, mostly "solved" the problem of sharing scene time for me.

    DitV, by having very specific protocols for generating towns and when to invoke mechanics (to escalate!) partly "solved" efficient time allocation while prepping an interesting game world and the skill of choosing when to oppose players and when to just go along

    DnD4 versus DnD3 hypothetically will reduce the need for the GM to have great skill and experience at designing challenging encounters for the players to face

    edit: to clarify what I had in mind, is that some of the things we think of as skills needed to have a good game are just patches to solve a problem that could of been fixed by the system, but isn't either because a) poor design b) we haven't invented a way to fix it yet c) it can't be fixed because it conflicts with some other design goal or d) we don't want to fix it, because flexing our skills is part of what makes a game fun for some people.

    For example, I used to think the ability to actively regulate scene time among the players was an essential GM skill. Then I tried Polaris, and realized it was (in my view) a headache that could be basically circumvented by using a different system.
  • I'm finding myself a little torn on this topic.

    I mean, yeah, some games help us do stuff we would otherwise need "skill" for. But the idea of a game so complete I would never say to another player, "Yeah! Wow! That was slick!" ... not so appealing.

    So, is "creativity" a skill?
  • edited February 2008
    Posted By: Paul T.So, is "creativity" a skill?
    I'd say it's many skills.

    Edit: Wait, that's a non-answer. Expression and articulation are a part of creativity, as are quick-mindedness (which is a skill I was forced to develop, hanging out with very sharp friends and trying to keep up) and a lack of blocking yourself. But, many of these are mental processes that might not feel like skills to some people.
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