Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Game Rituals

I've been reading and re-reading my Kickstarter Playtest version of Motobushido, and it encourages players to start the game with a small ritual.  It's not much - you just basically salute one another and say the same phrase - but it reminded me of Polaris, where even the resolution mechanism had to do with the use of ritual phrases.

But it does something else, too: It signifies to the players that Game Is Starting. And that can sometimes be important.

I'm currently running one game and playing in three others, and in all four games, we generally get started when the GM says, "So, guys, where were we?"  Or, "So, last time you ... "

It's a small ritual in and of itself, really.

And it got me thinking. See, gamers are the smartest people I know.  Part of that is because I pretty much only know gamers and part of it is because gaming requires a level of thought that "normal" life generally doesn't.  It requires problem-solving and pattern recognition and ...

But that's a post for another time.

Here's the thing, though: Gamers are superstitious.  More superstitious even than most of the theater geeks I know - and that's saying something.

We all have our own dice-rolling or card-shuffling/drawing rituals. And we have our "lucky" dice and our unlucky dice. I know folks who always set their dice with the "best" results sitting up.  I have my "roll high" and my "roll low" dice that I have trained (nevermind that they ignore their training in the heat of the moment ... ).

I've seen gamers who just throw unlucky dice away.  I've seen gamers who bury them in the back yard.  I've seen gamers who melt them down, burn them, drills holes in them, shoot them, and crush them.

I wonder why that is.  The two most superstitious groups of people I know (and - yes - there is a great deal of overlap) are also the two most creative groups of people I know.  I wonder if superstition and creativity are using the same part of the brain.

Anyone know?

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