Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feeling Shut Down

Krista and I were talking about a recent game of Mortal Coil (posted as Arthurian Enthusiasm on the Forge by Michael Miller), and she mentioned that she felt I, as GM, was shutting down her contributions in the game. There is some history to this, both on my side and on her side.

Krista has suffered several complete sexist shut-outs in role-playing situations before, she has shared this with me. The guys playing the game derided or ignored any contributions she tried to make, and I don't think this is a unique experience among gaming women. I think she still carries a lot of this around, and when someone contradicts her in a game, this all comes up.

For my part, as a GM I try to take an even hand. I can also be abrupt, especially when dealing with seven players like I was that Friday. Because of my attempt at fairness, I think I might have gone overboard trying to avoid giving special privilege to my own wife. I know I have done that before.

I am not so sure about this time, because Krista, and Jason, who ended up helping her with her character, got to the game late, and missed a couple of crucial details. I think this contributed, because the first couple of things Krista tried to do contradicted things that Kat had done and established earlier, and I was concerned that Kat's contributions not get trampled on. Krista told me later that me cutting off those things really caused her to pull back in the game, and she didn't feel like she engaged the story because she was hesitant to try to add anything after.

It's a rough balance, and I really don't like offending people or making them feel marginalized, and even in a game like Mortal Coil where there is a lot of player contribution to the game, the GM still has a role as moderator, if only because he has the most information at the table. Talking it out helps, but I didn't even realize that Krista was feeling this way while we played, and that makes it really hard for me to deal with at the table.

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At 10:54 AM, Anonymous librisia said...

I don't think my previous sexist experiences had as much to do with all of this as coming to the game late did.

I think the problem was that I wasn't aware of the contract issues before I started making suggestions. If I had, I would likely have not made suggestions that directly contradicted the contract already in place.

I DO think my feelings of being shut down have to do with self-esteem stuff. That's not under my control. What WAS under my control was how I handled it. I didn't want to seem like a whiny crybaby/poor sport because my ideas didn't fit.

I enjoyed playing, despite those early set backs. The problem was, I didn't know the established contract. That, combined with the early shut-downs, made me feel like I couldn't contribute.

Had I taken a look at the contract (which I didn't think to ask about because this kind of play is totally new to me), I might have been able to make more constructive contributions that wouldn't have been shut down.

I also think I don't have a firm grasp on the MC rules. That makes me hesitant, too, because I'm not used to anything but standard RPG play.

Lots of factors involved - but I wouldn't hesitate to play again.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Brennan Taylor said...

Glad to hear it, because I felt like I hadn't done a very good job moderating since you felt shut down. I think a next session will work well, I am interested in the Arthur/Lancelot/Gwenevere love triangle.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger -kat said...

Mike and I have also suffered in the fuzzy contract world of GM's SO. When he GM's he's all but ignores me. Often forgetting my character is even in the game.

I on the other hand have a terrible habit of making him powerless or even killing him off in game- I take it for granted that he won't take it personal and he always surprises me when he does and then I realize its not him it was me, I over stepped my GM powers.

I think that might be why he wrote With Great Power... in a way that a players contributions can't be ignored. And why the GM doesn't disempower you, but the player chooses how and why to disempower himself.

For what its worth I recognized the pickle that Krista and I are in on the way home. I had an idea about it, but I'm not sure how the game Mortal Coil's Mechanics handle new suggestions.

My thought was this. What if Gwen is not the "future king" but Excaliber itself. The Excaliber gun is just a focal point to awaken Gwen to her Excaliber self.

This opens Krista's character back into having a greater destiny as the "Future King" the man who brings peace and prosperity back into the land.

and I get to do cool Buffy like things.


At 2:37 PM, Blogger Brennan Taylor said...

Kat, that's really cool. As far as the rules go, the theme can be adjusted if necessary to accomodate a new idea. I think this will help Krista out a lot, because she was suffering a bit not knowing what to do with the character.


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