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“I hate it when games reward X, it penalizes people who aren’t Y” is a common theme about games. Common pairs include “Roleplaying/talkers”, “Creativity/Fast on their feet” “Tactics/wargamers” but there are many, many more.

If you feel this way? That’s legit.
It is with that in mind that I am not disagreeing with the premise, but I also want to unpack a little bit of how you talk about it. That *feeling* is legitimate, and the choices it drives are legitimate, but as generalizations there is one big problem.

It’s...kind of the point
Different games reward different things. Sometimes one game rewards many different things. Sometimes only one. Sometimes the table culture adds its own layer of rewards.

This is a SUPER REASONABLE metric to use when deciding what game to play.
Think of it like genre. You may not *like* cyberpunk games, or you may have *strong opinions* about cyberpunk games, but that is not an opinion about *gaming*, and it would be weird to frame it as such.
Making a game to serve those other tastes is not done to penalize you, and recognizing that may make it easier to speak to what you *actually* want in a game.
The alternative is to frame it as a versus situation, and yes, I know we have I time honored tradition of treating our own fun as truth, but this is one more space where it’s worth remembering that doing so is pretty destructive.
Personally, there are things I like in play. Some of those things are thing which other people don’t like because they reward people who act/think/play like me.


But then what?
(Caveat: as a super cishet white dude, if they reward me for *that*, the game can go fuck itself. Just to be 100% clear. I’m talking about shit like “making puns” or “stunt rules”)
I mention all this because I *also* do not want to play things that aren’t fun for me. I like to think that’s the default state for most gamers. We would like the fun, please.
Now, obviously, there are a lot of other factors. One of gaming’s greatest challenges is “I have only one group and they suck” and there’s never a good solution to that, but it’s also a pretty different problem.
But one of the dangers of turning a genuine emotional response into a generalization is that it robs you of your opportunity to engage other people on it.

I profoundly get this. It is easier to generalize than it is to talk face to face, and I’m no one to judge that.
But I mention it as something to maybe watch for your own sake. Your upset, frustration or boredom are real. They are legitimate and useful causes for action. Frittering them away just gets you more of the same.
Man, that went down a deep hole than expected. Mostly I was just pondering order of operation around roleplaying that that just kind of fell out.
BTW, this is one of those reasons designers are always going on about rewards. It’s not just about handing out prizes and wuffie. There can be deep intent behind this stuff.
It’s also a very serious valley of Mediocrity issue.

A game which no one dislikes probably has very little to get excited about.

If a game does something well enough to be excited about, it will almost certainly alienate some of its audience.

That’s a good thing!
If I make the best, most amazing game possible about Monster Trucks, then (excepting the people I charm with my enthusiasm), the people who hate Monster Trucks will probably also hate my game because I have SUCCESSFULLY DONE WHAT I SET OUT TO DO.
There are terrible games out there, yes. But there are also amazing games which I hate, and they are treasures.
(Hate is a strong word, and I’m using it in the taste sense, not any kind of moral one. Things I hate for *those* reasons are a different category)
So, just remember - next time you’re at a con and read a description for a game and think “Ugh, i would never want to play that!” Set aside the instinctive “that sucks” and consider instead a moment of gratitude that someone communicated that clearly.
There are few things I dislike in play more than a game promising one thing and delivering another. As such, I put huge value on games that know what they are, so that I can make my choices with confidence.
As an aside, this is one of the things that I find is *wonderful* about this golden age of gaming that we live in.

More games that are not for you (or me) are a function of there being more games *for* you (or me).

It’s awesome.
Oh, crap, and flipside: Designers.

It’s ok that there is a not-audience for your game.

I have seen perfectly good games tie themselves in knots pretending to be all things to all people and the result is always sad.
Here’s the hard math:

If your actual game will appeal to 20% of the audience, the instinct is to market it to appeal to 100%.

However, at that point you are competing with EVERYTHING, so you might get 1% penetration. If you’re lucky.
But if you focus on that 20%? Appeal to *them*? That’s where your game can find purchase. Find your “true fans” or whatever the buzzword of the moment is. They are easy to target, and if you reach a quarter of that audience, that 5x better than your shotgun approach.
This is a two tweet summary of a topic that entire books have been written about, so apologies for the simplicity of the model, but the short form is this: Owning what your game *is* (and making it what you want it to be) is better business than trying to chase D&D.
This doesn’t guarantee success, of course, but nothing does.
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