So, there was some noise going on at Game Chef about “Would you play this game?”
To which I say, well, that’s not a super great question, now is it?
There’re a couple of reasons for that, but the first and foremost one is, Nobody wants to play every game. Like, in my case, I basically don’t want to play games unless I can imagine stuff that never happens in real life, and also I generally don’t like to have an uncertain grip on the fiction. If something’s within my rights to affect, then usually I want free rein to affect it however I choose.
Whereas, maybe you prefer games where anything can be wrested out of your grasp, in the appropriate conjunction of circumstances, or maybe you like games that are really close to the ground, and if things happen in them that can’t happen for real, it takes you out. Okay. That’s fine.
But what that means is that there are some games that I’ll play that you won’t play, or vice versa, because of facts about ourselves.
The early history of storygaming effectively masked this phenomenon by being dominated by games like The Pool, Shadows, etc., in which strong genre or color reinforcement was absent. This makes it possible for many groups to play The Pool, and one group can play “Magic Swords,” another group can play “Furry Noir,” and a third group can play “Domestic Abuse Dance Theatre,” while all still nominally playing the same game. I’m going to call these games “colourless.” Even apparently coloured games from this era, like Trollbabe, have strong Internet traditions of being hacked shallowly to play with different colour (in Trollbabe, one usually just changes the names of some things), in part because they don’t systematically resist this treatment. Try doing the same thing to a more strongly coloured game like Polaris or carry and you’ll find it’s not as easy!
The reason I’m going of about colourless games is that they’re important to the “would you play this game?” question: By removing colour from the question, they allow the answer to be “yes” for more players, and as a result, they act like social glue. The people that played Furry Noir and the people that played Domestic Abuse Dance Theatre have some common ground to talk about their games, because their system text (distinct from Baker Care Bear Stare system) is the same.
Since “talking about games we play” is the most accessible social glue we have in common (as an Internet community, the standard “hanging out” glues are harder to come by), this creates a social pressure to play the same games as other people even if you don’t share tastes with them.
But that doesn’t change the fact that, even given unlimited time and resources, I wouldn’t play exactly the same games as you, and it’s not personal. I just like some stuff you don’t, and you like some stuff you don’t.
Thats the other issue about “Would you play this game?” too. That is, can I play this game? I don’t mean, “Is it possible in an ideal world?” I mean, “Given my resources of material, friends, and time, and my current social calendar and priorities, would I make this game fit into my life?”
The answer to this question almost always has to be “no.” We just don’t have that much time on our hands.
So, I mean, it’s not a terrible question, but it is ambiguous, and to answer it in a way that’s useful to the person who asked, you’ve got to know which question they’re asking and which you’re answering.