Cutting Words | The Cake is a Lie

Cutting Words is a weekly review of Misdirected Mark–a summary of what games, what definitions, and what advice came from the lips of Christopher Sniezak and Phil Vecchione about “gaming and game mastering“. Of course, be there LIVE and strap in for the #Chatroom4Life with Bob Everson every Tuesday–because really, the show is about entertaining YOU, the listener!

Welcome back to Cutting Words! Have some cake–nope, no cake today, but Misdirected Mark did talk about the layers of gaming.

A quick summary of the layers: character, group, game, story, campaign, personal, and out of game. That is a lot of depth–okay, enough puns. The episode was in response to people talking about immersion–where a player is so engrossed in the game that they lose themselves in it, in whatever fashion. A great part of this conversation was that Chris and Phil pointed out tools for people to use in order to immerse themselves in a particular layer or how to interact with it. This is particularly important to note because I believe that most other people would leave the layers at a definition–which Misdirected Mark already does very well. By taking this extra step, it makes it a lot easier apply the information from the episode. There is really no way to summarize a 7-part topic, but luckily it is all available as a podcast to listen to.

As a player, the most useful piece of advice from this episode is to understand where your play style is. Knowing where your headspace thrives and the most fun is derived is valuable information for you and the Game Master as you play. I find that people are generally unaware of themselves or the things around, so part of becoming a better player is understanding where in the game your thoughts lie–like the cake does. Also, just understanding there are different layers–be specific with words here gentlemen, because you used “levels” a few times and there are cross-definitions with that word–makes moving between them smoother.

The best advice for GMs here is two-fold. First, understand what layer you and your players want and enjoy play. Everyone is obviously there for the game layer, but where do they want to go? This is important because the episode gives tools and skills to use in order to facilitate play and bring play into that layer–a completely wonderful idea. Honestly, I have never thought about a game broken up this way, but now I see how mechanics work to give a specific layer experience, whether it is in-character roleplaying or writer’s table storytelling. Second piece of advice, moving between layers requires a cognitive load or drain. When something requires effort to do, it drains energy–whatever form that takes. While Chris and Phil refer to the process of lightening this drain as “system mastery”, I believe it equates more to practice and habit of real life. A habit–good or bad–does not require any mental drain or energy. Practice switching between layers until it becomes a habit or second nature and that drain disappears. However, until you are aware of the issue, you may not understand why this drain happens.

Overall, another great episode. Some minor sidetrack and rambling, but really well done handling such an extensive topic.

One small criticism: Why is there an apostrophe in the title Layer’s of the Game?

Done reading my ramblings? Check out the Misdirected Mark Google+ community for more to do between episodes, check out Talking Games and Down with D&D on the network, become a Patreon of the show, but do not be late for the #Chatroom4Life at 8:45 PM Tuesday nights and join the discussion LIVE! 

But… what do I know…?

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