Judd’s Jargon: Museum Games

Judd’s Jargon will be a regular thing, I think. It is more of an excuse to talk about some gaming thing, then really trying earnestly to insert new phrases out into the world. We already have words that we are trying to figure out to describe our gaming.

Today’s word, Museum Games, is inspired by Paul’s thread on SG. This is a phrase that me and Jim Bryant came up with back in the day. It described a GM we knew who did not want anyone futzing with his world or his beloved plot. Because in a museum, you look and do not touch.

Jim seemed to get his kicks by manipulating the group to do his bidding and altering the campaign’s direction through social pressure (I called this Back-seat GMing but that is a term for another day). I dealt with it by not showing up to these games.

It was most certainly a term meant in derision, because back then we thought people who use different techniques towards different goals and who got different things out of their games were gaming incorrectly. This isn’t to say that I am a saint now. Shit, there’s plenty of judgment and barbed language choices in this post. Feel free to call me on it if something particularly wrankles you. That is, after all, what the comments section is for.

Paragraph edited in after a night’s sleep:

It is a term that was not meant as a compliment but I am not sure it has to be used to insult anyone.  There are beautiful things in a museum and some of the best days I can think of were spent wandering a museum with friends, finding ourselves stimulated by what we saw there.  I reckon some folks like not having to make difficult decisions or have a tangible effect and god bless their chainmail dicebags, I say (yes, I totally do have a chainmail dicebag too).  I’d be interested to hear from folks who play in these games to hear what they dig about ’em.

Museum Games have a cool set-up, have adventurous shit going on and might even have fun moments but the fun drained away for me when I got to a set piece, a kind of masturbatory description in which the GM wants you to marvel at their amazing imaginations and you realize that there were no meaningful choices in getting there. You had to get here or else there would be no one here to appreciate how clever the GM’s world has turned out to be.

At the end of the day, we wished he had written a novel instead and left us to save or damn the worlds based on our choices and the roll of he dice.

This will cruise nicely into next week’s installment of Judd’s Jargon, The DelRosso Principle.

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