What I want to talk about this week, is play styles when it comes to table-top gaming. 2 GMs 1 Mic talked about the difference between immersive games and meta-gaming. What’s the difference you may say? Immersive gaming is when your players assume the role of their characters and make their decisions based off what their characters know, or what they would do in that situation. Meta-gaming, the players will make decisions based on each other’s actions and information that they know as a player. Both styles are fine, it just depends on
what you are shooting for.
I am currently running a lengthy Pathfinder campaign and I’ve found that both styles make an appearance during gameplay. In fact, I try to incorporate story and character/Non-player character (NPC) interaction for my
wife. She really digs interacting with people and doing fun things. The meta-gaming aspect really takes hold during combat. We use an online mapping system to show position and terrain, and my players are constantly scheming and maneuvering with one another to gain the highest advantage, sometimes even when they wouldn’t be able to plan like that if it were actually happening.
So with that information in mind, let’s talk about things you can do to help one style or the other. If you don’t mind meta-gaming, and your players like the tactics, then by all means use maps, grids, miniatures, rulers, etc. There’s no problem what so ever with this style and it can be lots of fun. It’s kind of like playing a miniatures wargame with heavy role-play elements.
If that’s not your style, then take the emphasis off of tactics, remove the maps and minis, and just tell the story. The more mechanics you use, the less immersive it will be. Use story to drive the game. Games that have fate
chips or things of the sort help promote this style, because it rewards your players for getting into the game. If your system doesn’t have something like that, it’s easy enough to incorporate.
Bottom line – it’s about having fun. If you’re having fun, and your players are having fun, then it works and good on you. If you’re not having fun, change it up, or change games. Simple enough. Now go play!