The Shadow of the Save Point: How Video Games Can Harm TTRPGs

        We all love a good game, whether it’s a sprawling open world RPG or a tense tabletop campaign. But what happens when these two worlds collide? Can the influence of video game mechanics actually harm the experience of traditional tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs)?

        The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding yes. While video games can be a gateway to the world of TTRPGs, they can also bring with them a set of expectations and habits that can hinder the enjoyment and depth of tabletop play.

        The Illusion of Control:

        One of the biggest issues is the difference in agency. Video games, by their very nature, offer a level of control that TTRPGs simply cannot replicate. We can save our progress, reload a previous state, and even exploit glitches to gain an advantage. This creates a sense of safety and control that can be addictive.

        The Power Gamer Syndrome:

        This sense of control can lead to a ‘power gamer’ mentality, where players focus on maximizing their character’s power, often at the expense of roleplaying and collaboration. They might prioritize min-maxing stats, focusing on the ‘optimal’ strategy, and neglecting the emotional and narrative aspects of the game.

        The Reset Button Mentality:

        The ability to ‘reset’ a game in video games, whether by reloading a save or starting a new playthrough, creates a dangerous expectation. When things don’t go according to plan in a TTRPG, some players might feel frustrated, demanding a ‘reset’ or a ‘do-over.’ This disrupts the flow of the game, undermines the consequences of choices, and can lead to a lack of investment in the story and the characters.

        The Damage to Roleplaying Skills:

        The reliance on pre-defined mechanics and scripted dialogue in video games can also hinder the development of crucial roleplaying skills. In TTRPGs, players need to be creative, improvisational, and able to think on their feet. They need to build their characters from the ground up, crafting backstories, motivations, and personalities. Video games, with their rigid systems and pre-determined narratives, can make it difficult to develop these skills.

        Bridging the Gap

        So, how can we bridge the gap between video games and TTRPGs? Here are some tips:

        • Focus on the Narrative: Remind players that the story is the most important aspect of a TTRPG. Encourage them to embrace the unexpected, to roleplay their characters, and to engage with the narrative in a meaningful way.
        • Embrace the Uncertainty: Explain that TTRPGs are not about winning or losing, but about experiencing a story together. Emphasize the importance of making choices, facing consequences, and experiencing the ebb and flow of the narrative.
        • Prioritize Collaboration: Encourage players to work together to achieve their goals, to roleplay their interactions, and to create a shared experience.
        • Play Games That Encourage Roleplay: There are many TTRPGs that focus on storytelling and character development, rather than combat and power-gaming. Seek out these games to foster a more immersive and engaging experience.

        By understanding the potential pitfalls of video game influence, we can create a more enriching and rewarding experience for all players. Remember, TTRPGs are about more than just rolling dice and winning battles. They are about creating stories, exploring worlds, and forging lasting memories with friends.

        Hi, I’m Lorgryt

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