Play Emotions

Two very different sources (with incompatible philosophies) point towards something that I have stupidly not considered: we engage in play for the emotions we hope to feel.

The most useful idea I got from the “Solo Game Master’s Guide” was this one:

Play emotions, not mechanics.

Solo GMG, page 21

Revisiting Alexis Smolensk’s “How To Run”, I was again hit with a similar idea:

The virtue of my campaign depends upon the emotional satisfaction of my players… A rush is what players crave. They demand action, entanglement and conflict.

How To Run, page 93

We can’t tell the players how to feel but we can seek to elicit an emotional investment in their characters. This happens over time and through the emerging narrative that they will be constructing from the events in play.

Villains must make us seethe with hate. Martyrs need to elicit compassion. We need to care about the characters and the NPCs in the game. If we don’t, the events will wash over us like so much tepid water.

It’s not easy but it’s a worthy goal. If we can tempt them to care about the game then perhaps they will desire to play again.

Game on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.