Smashed flat in the Social Footprint

TonyLB starts a conversation about the Social Footprint inherent in various game and non-game activities — the potential time required to get ready for an activity and then actually do it… including the ‘follow-on’ time required for a continuing activity, like an RPG campaign.
Telling quote here, relevant to the massive dearth of FtF RPG activity around the Casa in the last year and change:

I think when you consider a computer game like World of Warcraft [doyce: insert obvious CoH comparison here], which, technically, has a very small social footprint (sit down, log on, play for half an hour, log off), you can see why it is gobbling up a lot of traditional roleplayers, as traditional rpgs have a very sizeable social footprint, especially if you’re the GM.

Now, purposely-addictive gameplay aside, this is a really great point: one of the best things ABOUT CoH play for me (still true), is that if I have an urge to game on a random Tuesday evening, I can log in, start a mission, beat up some bad guys, finish the mission, and log out… and during that time there is (or was — not so true now) a fairly good chance that I’d be able to chat with a fellow player I knew, and socialize.
That’s fucking hard to compete against in the real world, where even with a lot of players around, it’s hard to just call someone up and say ‘let’s do something’, without warning, and having something to play that’s actually FUN with just you and one other guy. Yes, watch a movie, or tv-on-dvd or something, but that’s passive. Even quick-and-fast Jungle Speed really needs about 4 people, preferably more…
I’m betting that’s why Cataan works so well out in NYC — “I’m bored, let’s do something,” and with three people, you can, and still sort of get your Escapism on.
So the question:
How do you combat that? We mostly have disposable incomes — do we purposefully go out and acquire games like Bang and Cataan and Memoir ’44 and Battlelore in order to have that kind of “small Social Footprint, but appealing” stuff at the ready? I think maybe we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’) do.
And yes, I know we (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘Dave and Margie’) have a lot of party games, but when you’re in the mood to Smash Evil, Turbo Cranium just doesn’t get it done — it doesn’t even sound attractive. Thus the question.


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9 Replies to “Smashed flat in the Social Footprint”

  1. To be fair, there is an awful lot of set-up involved in Catan. It’s not quite an instant game. And it usually involves a couple of hours, so not so quick and easy either.
    I don’t know. I feel like on a “let’s do something” kind of night, we’re as likely to sit around and talk, or mock bad movies, as anyone else.

  2. And, y’know, it’s even a frustrating thing in CoX, since all the really *cool* kids are expending huge footprint on writing long, involved game logs and stuff like that. (Something which I’ve been notoriously unreliable about, far as that goes.)
    Here’s two complexities to the thing.
    1. Some of us (coughmecough) are notoriously bad about ad hoc activities. Spontaneous ‘Rn’t Us. Really. When I’m driving home at night, I know (more or less) what I’m going to be doing; if something else pops up unexpectedly, even if it’s the spiffiest funnest most wonderful opportunity in the whole world (“Hey, Joss Whedon is going to be playing a pick-up Serenity game over at my house, wanna come over?”), there’s going to be that initial mental inertia about Changing the Plans.
    That’s me.
    2. It’s just hard to be spontaneous when you have little kids around (which is deeply, deeply ironic, given how spontaneous *they* are — Conservation of Spontaneity?). Especially at night, when the kid should either be doing homework or be in bed or eating dinner. It *can* be done, but it’s not an 8-o’clock-call-and-gather-for-an-hour. Heck, way things are going, that whole model keeps getting further and further away (as Kitten, then Kaylee, get more school and extracurricular stuff).
    That’s us.
    So, what’s the answer?
    Well, looking at your last point, finding fluffy-light gaming games is a possibility — not an intellectual exercise like Turbo Cranium or Apples to Apples, but something like SPANC or Munchkin or maybe some of the stuff you mention. Hell, Parcheesi.
    Another alternative is to try and be non-compulsively intentional about it. To wit, if we can generally allocate Monday nights as Munchies, can we allocate a mid-week night for something else? That’s not spontaneous “I’m bored, let’s board,” but it comes close(r).
    See, there are two problems here.
    1. What does one play spontaneously, with little prep, that provides some sort of challenge and social thingies and has that “Smash Evil” aspect?
    2. How does one make opportunities to play such?

  3. To be fair, there is an awful lot of set-up involved in Catan.
    Not compared to an RPG. I’d hazard an opinion that nothing has so great a social footprint as prep and play for an RPG.
    I mean… you set up for a Cataan game with two other people, and I’ll make a character up for a Game that we each know or don’t know at different levels…
    You will be ready to play WAY before me. (Unless the RPG is Risus. 🙂

  4. 1. What does one play… oh, Munchkin… Bang… that Memoir 44 or battlelore for more crunch… I mean, the games are out there.
    2. Spontanaeity… yeah… or just having stuff ready and available.
    Great points about the kids, though — it was one I’d meant to mention and forgot.

  5. Not compared to an RPG. I’d hazard an opinion that nothing has so great a social footprint as prep and play for an RPG.
    I mean… you set up for a Cataan game with two other people, and I’ll make a character up for a Game that we each know or don’t know at different levels…
    You will be ready to play WAY before me.

    Well, duh, yeah, of course. Because we’re playing a board game. I’m just saying Catan’s a pretty involved set-up FOR A BOARD GAME.

  6. Right.
    I guess what I’m saying is: “I like the smash evil fix I get from RPGs, but RPGs don’t always slot into the time I have available, and spontaneously starting up a quick game of… well, any RPG… that’s just unlikely as heck. How do I get that ‘fix’ for some play in a quicker-starting/playing/ending way?”

  7. “Not compared to an RPG. I’d hazard an opinion that nothing has so great a social footprint as prep and play for an RPG.”
    Except team sports. And music. Daily practice eats up huge amounts of time.

  8. Let’s see. Episodic, changing cast (whomever can make it), easy system…
    Exiles or a fantasy or SF equivalent, done with Risus. Stick them into movies, novels, whatever.
    (For those not familiar with Exiles: a mixed bad of superheroes — and some baddies — is plucked from their timelines by the Plot Device and sent on missions to fix crisis points on different timelines.)

  9. There is some wisdom in what you say. Risus certainly has that “pick up and play” ability, and enough GM-Fiat to let you say “This is what you’re doing.”
    InSpectres, if you have dice and sheets at hand and run it enough to remember the rules, also starts fast and ends pretty quickly for an RPG.
    The more I read it and read between the lines of actual play, I think Primetime Adventures will play very much in that vein (quick setup, lots of plot-via-players, with a resource-dictated end-of-episode), but with the bonus that it can be quite serious.

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