So, let’s talk about golf. Well, in a moment.
Let’s talk about sports, first. Why do athletes get paid nine figure contracts? Because there’s money in popular stuff. The world is an opulent place (with high levels of variance in personal wealth, of course). A boardgame KS with cool minis [ha] can get you $4.2m. On the other hand, two people I know have companies/organizations fundraising at the moment. One company is working on drugs to combat the typical effects of aging. The other group would be a group that involves my brother who has found a film festival to show the Abaarso School film he made and who is working on building a bunch of schools in Somaliland.
Woodstock Film Festival Somaliland
Yup, sports. Wait.
Sports. Sports are entertainment. One of the things that tends to get forgotten when commentators obsess over winning and losing, where winning often correlates to popularity but isn’t the be all and end all of popularity. Sometimes, you can claim the lovable losers category, have sellouts for a decade while losing, keep players around to give your team a sense of identity rather than come up with a “process” or chasing the Moneyiest Ball of them all.
But, also, sports are an activity that quite a few can relate to. In watching The Needle move this weekend, I was asked about taking up golf and noted that it was the most frustrating sport I tried up until fencing. It’s so much more fun to exclaim at a TV (yes, I’m that old school that I don’t say monitor) about “just hit 2 iron, then middle of the green” than actually want to be hot, sticky, muddy, and frustrated by topping a ball, which are vague recollections I have from high school. Meanwhile, I wish I could find a good wall to throw a tennis ball against to see how messed up my shoulder really is or whether it’s just lack of training.
Golf is an international sport, so I imagine that unless something weird is going on at the moment in the world of futbol, Tiger is the biggest sports story in the world.
Story. Stories. Finally, I get to my theme.
I was at a birthday BBQ yesterday and there was a point during conversation where there was a question as to whether what makes the better story is what drives human existence or procreating. Fortunately, this one is easy.
There are multiple aspects to Tiger’s tournament win. It’s not just another “Will he catch Jack?” or the banal nonstories 24/7 sports coverage likes to obsess over, such as what a sports figure will do after saying something stupid/offensive/politically incorrect. Get a lot of pointing out how much humans like comebacks, blah blah blah.
Tiger isn’t my favorite golfer, yet I’ve rooted for him more than any other. LeBron isn’t my favorite NBAer, yet I root a lot for him, Jordan is also not my favorite NBAer, yet it might be hard to tell back when I watched WGN constantly to see Bulls games. Another aspect of sports is that people’s favorites can be quite arbitrary. Other than my mother or maybe someone I’ve told, I don’t think there’s any way someone would guess who my favorite MLBer is. I’ve lived almost my entire life in one region of the States and none of the local teams rate as favorites nor have local players been among my favorites with maybe a rare exception. There is an incredibly strong pattern to what are many of my favorites, but I don’t think the reader cares – I’m not looking for sports memorabilia as presents. I’m not really into presents, at all. Meanwhile, I have often rooted against teams or even individual players because they were rivals to my favorites.
But, I digest. No, wait, my blog posts aren’t remotely digestings.
So, good stories. After all, it’s not *that* hard to not tell bad stories.
I come back to the concept of feeling like I’m being challenged in RPG play without necessarily actually being really challenged. I come back to that, but that’s just one aspect of a good story. You also need to plotacize your story. Well, I think so. Is there a good story without a plot?
To ponder this some, I looked up the definition of plot. There are good aspects to stories that aren’t part of the definition of plot, sure. But, do you really have a story if you lack a plot? Well, I wasn’t much of an English student and I didn’t read most literature that got foisted upon students back in the pre-computer days of my youth, so my feeble mind probably can’t make use of this topic and this is not the direction to be moving in.
“I rolled a 20, then confirmed my crit, and the sinister priest exploded.” I’m fairly sure this isn’t a compelling story to you all. This particular description of events is either what happened in a memorable situation I played in or I critted on a 19 and confirmed the crit. Anyway, that session and the results were meaningful.
I find when GMing that the good stories don’t seem that common. There are events and dice are rolled and wounds are recovered later and I’m not sure what the story is. When I play in campaigns, I remember what happens, at least in recent sessions. Okay, maybe I’m a special snowflake who cares far more about such things to where I devote brainspace to trying to perceive and engage with a narrative. Except, if that’s the case, how come narrative-ridden offerings are as popular as they are? Folks must like stories. Gooder stories. Wellier stories.
What’s today’s big story? Tiger wins tournament for first time in 5 years. Not Justin Rose wins FedEx Cup. Not Rory choking.
I see the advantage of RPGs over other sorts of games is that you can achieve stories that move the needle for yourselfem to the same degree. I have, of course, said the same thing before because I wake up a certain Dog all of the time (shout out that there isn’t much of the Year left).
We are in a hiatus period on Rokugan 1600 because of work, work, travel, travel. I considered filling up some of the down time with stories written by the GM, a GM who doesn’t make memorable villains and therefore reduces the rapturousness of the players. Behind the scenes views into the lives and times of “Who is that guy? Whatshisname?” may make events resonate more.
Because, as much as I might like HeroQuest or may have played SSI gold box AD&D games to nondeath, there’s more to existence than procreating. Maybe.