Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why Brennan Was an Asshole

I have mentioned before (just not on this blog) that I used to be a real asshole as a player. I was demanding, and, when bored, totally destructive toward other players in the game. When I actually had fun in a game, I was almost always playing the same sort of character: an arrogant, self-righteous jerk who thinks he knows the answers to everything. These characters viewed the world in black-and-white terms and everyone else was forced to negotiate with the character's world-view in order to work together in the game.

Just recently, however, I played two very different games. In a game of Dogs in the Vineyard, I played a young man who was very insecure, and doubted his ability to be a dog. Then I played a game of Burning Wheel with an extremely naive elf prince. Both were extremely fulfilling experiences, and I got a big endorphin rush from both. The best gaming I have ever had.

Whenever I tried to play naive or vulnerable characters in my games previous to this, I got nothing. This led to the bored, destructive play I mentioned above, because the GM and the other players ignored my issues. When I played a complete asshole, they couldn't ignore my issues and have my character around. My character shoved his issues in their faces, and they reacted. This made me happy as a player, and, for the most part, made the other players happy. Everyone I discussed my characters with, including me, thought that I was playing this type of character out of some sort of wish-fulfillment, that I had some desire to be this morally certain.

It turns out that I was just hitting the other players in the face with my emotional cues because that's what got them out on the table. The new systems I am playing with now, like Dogs in the Vineyard and Burning Wheel, let me explore a full range of emotional issues with my characters, and the other players at the table all help me. I don't need to play the hard-driving asshole anymore to get my play agenda addressed. That doesn't mean I won't play this type of character any more, it just means that now I don't have to.

What a relief.



At 4:50 PM, Blogger Thor Olavsrud said...

Brennan, I know exactly where you're coming from. In fact, I posted something pretty similar in this thread over at the nerdnyc boards today.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Brennan Taylor said...

Yeah. Your post over at NerdNYC, combined with Alexander's LiveJournal post, pushed me to post this. I had been thinking about it over the weekend, and come to the conclusions I detailed above.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Bankuei said...

Have you checked out what Matt Machell had to say about Alpha Players?

I think a lot of people end up with similar reactions just trying to get play to move along in interesting ways.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Brennan Taylor said...

Yeah, I read that post. I've commented on my own problems before, but a lot of what went around the blogosphere this week really seemed relevant. I'm relieved, really, to be able to play in some games where I can get my agenda recognized without having to be so pushy about it.


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