18 June 2012

Player vs GM (An Introspection)

Last week was pretty fun and RPG-rich. I played in a couple of games and game mastered one, all very different. (Also finally beat FFXIII-2. It was a fairly interesting experience, and I may or may not get around to writing a blog post about that later.)

Somehow, though, I got to thinking about my own shortcomings again. You see, I've always felt more comfortable in the game master's chair than as a player. But why exactly is this, I wonder?

Well, for one thing, I've always been very bad at making decisions and coming up with ideas on the spot. This is probably my biggest shortcoming as a game master as well (in addition to my relatively poor articulatory skills), but since I'm then dealing with worlds and stories I created myself, and know fairly well how they're supposed to function, this slightly mitigates the problem.

I'm also more a 'big picture' than a 'little picture' person. I tend to be interested in the overarching story more than little details. I find it challenging to view the story from just one character's viewpoint, or, for that matter, really 'relate' to any particular character. I'm a pretty bad actor, too (like I mentioned above, I'm not a great articulator), which makes really getting 'into character' even more difficult. As a game master my NPC performances may not always be the most convincing due to these reasons, but the 'big picture' mentality probably mostly works in my favour. (And I guess I'd rather act an NPC badly for a moment than a player character continuously...)

I've never been great at team work. Probably largely because I am, by nature, fairly shy and quiet. In a heated discussion I often have difficulty communicating my ideas (when I even have them – like I said, I'm not good at coming up with ideas on the spot). When you're the game master, people have to listen (or suffer the consequences :-p). Then again, just being quiet sometimes and allowing the players to talk amongst themselves for a while can be a good strategy. You can often glean some good ideas from the discussions, and get a feel for where the events are heading.

I'm very self-centred. It's not something I'm particularly proud of, of course, but it's a personality trait I fully acknowledge. Despite my shyness, I love being at the centre of attention (yeah, kind of a paradox, I know). This mostly isn't a problem in RPG's. Challenges often affect each of the characters equally, and even if someone else happens to be more in the limelight than me, I'm quite capable of enjoying just listening to the story unfold (though if it happens constantly, it can become a little disturbing – not out of jealousy, but insecurity about my own lack of ideas and assertiveness). It may, however, be one more thing that makes me enjoy game mastering even more.

There are probably many other reasons as well, but I'll leave it here for now. The human psyche is a strange thing indeed, and getting to grips with even your own (or especially your own?) is by no means an easy task...

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