It’s not “your” game

Over the years I’ve encountered this problem a few times, and I just need to say something about it. I realize a lot of players and GMs will not agree, which I personally find sad, but never the less it bugs the heck out of me.

There is a saying in the role-playing community, and that is that “the GM is always right”. It comes in many minor variations, but no matter how it’s stated, I find it borderline idiotic. No offense.

The worst thing about it is that it rests upon the “brilliant” argument that it’s “the GM’s game”. I used to think that too, but I like to think that I’ve gotten wiser.

First of all, what does it mean that it’s “the GM’s game”? In my experience, it means no less than that the GM can do anything to everyone, disregard any rule and in general just be a complete douche, if it fits him. The most surprising thing is that a lot of players just accept it.

OK, so not all GM’s who think it’s “their game” behave like this, but still, is it even a fair thought? In my opinon it’s not. No, never, ever. Why? Because it comes from the notion that the GM is more “important” than the other players, because he/she has a larger workload.

This thought is bogus to me. You are not more important than anyone else, just because you are the GM. You are playing a game that is all about collaborative storytelling. Why should one person be more important than the others?

Maybe it’s just my experiences that let this get on my nerves. Every GM I have ever played under who had this viewpoint was just railroading everything, and if there’s one thing I truly hate in gaming, then it’s spending time and effort creating a character that doesn’t matter.

When you invite players to play a game, how is it not their game as well? Do you really expect a player to just sit there and accept that he will only be able to impact the game, if you “let him” do it? Why some players take this crap is beyond me. My guess is they’ve never tried anything else.

Please, for the love of God, tell me I’m not the only one bothered by this?



About Undreren

I'm a university student from Denmark, currently taking my candidate degree in Mathematical-Economics. I have played pen & paper RPG's since 2004, but my interest for the phenomenon sparked about 3 years prior to that. I'm an amateur programmer and knows Java and Haskell as well as some rudimentary HTML, CSS, PHP and Javascript.

5 responses to “It’s not “your” game”

  1. chindividual says :

    I agree. Fortunately, I have never met a GM who followed this horrible rule. RPG’s are collaborative efforts, and as soon as one person claims ownership of everything, it tends to go downhill very fast!

  2. Nifelhein says :

    I agree with you, but I do understand that in games that end up developing a strong plot the GM ends up with a strong feeling of authorship, having played in a game that was just that and went on for 2 years and around 100 sessions and then another 2 years with a different group for another 100 sessions (I was only on the first game) I can tell players also feel a sense of authorship over the game.

    The game is entirely collaborative, even in a railroad, straight follow the plot game, otherwise you could just sit down at a table, get snacks and beverage and tell the story.

  3. juddthelibrarian says :

    Agreed. I think the wires become crossed for some folks and the labor of love that is GMing becomes tedious and the idea that the game should have creative leadership at the table becomes ownership.

    I like our game rather than my game.

  4. flynnkd says :

    It depends. Basically I agree, but 5 years ago I might not have. It depends on a lot of things, mostly what sort of players you have. I had a group of players at one time who were more interested in talking shop than playing the game, so to get them into the story and the game I sort of took over and forced events. It mostly worked, but the problem then comes learning how to let go once you get off on a meglomaniac rant. On the other hand I certainly have been in games where the GM thought they had “ownership” and it really annoyed me.

  5. hbunny says :

    Definitely not just you. There’s a great post over on the Escapist on this subject:

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