Monday, February 11, 2013

Always The Same Person, Essentially.

Always The Same Person, Essentially.
by Tobie Abad

My partner, Rocky, recently posted in his blog about how in a role-playing game in as much as people try to come up with new concepts or unique personalities to play, they all eventually end up playing the same person, or reflect personalities that have evident similarities to one another.  In his blog post, You Always Play Your True Self, he talks about his thoughts on the matter and to be quite frank, I agree with them pretty much.  In my more than twenty years of playing and running role-playing games, and having run games for so many people of varying ages, genders, social standings, educational backgrounds, citizenships, religious beliefs, and levels of interest, I've seen and interacted with the gamut of gaming styles and preferences out there to be able to say, "Yes in the long run, people tend to do play the same personality."

And by this, I don't mean that your Jedi Knight who once served as a slave under the Hutts is practically the same as your Smooth-talking Ussuran who loves to seduce Pirate ladies.  I don't mean your Daeva biker gang vixen who actually is hunting for the demon-worshipping Malkovian murderer of your Sire is the conceptual twin of your Mute Baroness who is Blooded of the Fox and can seduce others without a single uttered word.

I mean save for a very small selection of players in the many gamers that I've had the pleasure of playing with, most pretty much approach their characters in the same way when the game lasts long enough.  As characters deal with challenges, threats and risks to their well-being, very few retain the original concept in their design, and start shifting to a more common approach which better suits the player's social comfort zone in dealing with issues and confrontations.

And no, I don't mean to cite this as a bad thing.  Just as an observation that, frankly, surprised me more than not.  I had, for the longest time, found the hobby to be wonderful in allowing people to slip into new personas and enjoy a cooperative storytelling fest which offered them a more active experience than those that book, movies and television gave.  Now, I am starting to realize, in as much as we go for the interesting new concepts we can think of, we still slip back to dealing with interactions and challenges with what comes naturally or familiar to us.   I knew very few people who carried out a character's unique personality with each concept.   And those people tended to be people who were active in theater as performers.
from It's Machine Code meme

Given the length of what my partner had to say in the matter, I thought to add just this brief this:  given players have this tendency, how many game masters out there would be willing to admit to having the same kind of mannerism in how they run games.  Have your games become formulaic?  Do you hide that under a claim of being organized?  Do you want to try changing that?

Maybe deep down we can't change this because most of us are wired to play facets of ourselves.  Maybe deep down, we don't really want to play "someone else" and we just want to try wearing someone else's shoes.  And if its basically meant to explore different ways to have fun, I don't think there's anything lost there at all.

For those who want to explore something different, I invite you to check out my previous article, Character Challenges to see if it might be something you want to challenge yourself with.

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