gbsteve (gbsteve) wrote,

MJH again

M John Harrison in his way ("every medium–cinema, theatre, dance, games & telling stories in the dark when you are eight years old ... reduces readers, writers, game-players and mall rats alike to the status of solipsists masturbating in separate darkened rooms.") has more comments on his blog on "What It Might Be Like to Live in Viriconium".

Apart from not seeing any point to gaming ("I don’t care one way or another if people invent, sell or play games based on fictional "worlds", though I don’t quite see why they bother.") he states that the main thrust is to highlight "the naive idea that a world exists on which a game may be based." I don't think anyone would claim it does exist, although those idealists amongst us might claim that even the real world is a fiction, whether you confront it solipsistically or not. So what's the difference?

Of more interest is the very related comment on worldbuilding. The thrust is that "Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism." I'd agree with this on many levels although possibly not for the reasons that MJH gives, "This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

Once I've found out how to login and comment, I want to push on this fear. Afraid of what?

The reasons I shy away from worldbuilding (in rpgs) are several:
- the time involved;
- you don't know beforehand what you need so you'd have to think of everything;
- you end up writing lots that is never used;
- tying things down detracts from the spontaneity of the experience;
- worldbuilding takes ownership away from the players and denies their creative input.

To a similar extent, this is why I find scenario writing difficult. It's not that I don't have interesting ideas it's just that I don't want to limit the experience to my ideas. I value the creative input and process very highly and my decisions as to what should happen tend to deny this.

Of course, once I've run a game, based on my meagre notes and the interaction with the players, I can write down what happened so that others can copy but I always get the dreaded feeling that they are slavishly trying to reproduce what I did rather than create their own thing, that they are missing out on the full experience. Maybe that's what MJH fears.

P.S. There's more on MJH and worldbuilding here but I haven't read it yet.

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