The GM is Not There to Entertain You

Reynard

Legend
I wanted to spin this out of the "power creep" thread because I think it is worth its own discussion.

I see a lot of people making comments that strongly suggest they think that it is the GM's job to provide them with entertainment. Most obvious is the "restaurant" analogy I see popping up more and more often, with the GM cast in the role of chef and restaurateur. I think this is wrong headed and detrimental to the fun of everyone at the table. An RPG is more like a dinner part, where everyone is contributing to the enjoyment of all. Even if one person is cooking, they aren't the "chef" in what that implies about service.

Now, this might not be true with paid GMing -- which is why after having done it a little, I am not a fan. Even at a convention, I am still a facilitator of fun, rather than a vendor of it, if that makes sense.

Do you think the GM is responsible for your fun when you play? Does how you feel depend on whether you are playing with friends, randos or pros?
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Do I think the GM is responsible for my fun when we play? Yes, but it's a shared responsibility. It's also mine and every player at the table's responsibility. So I'm on board with the idea that the game is more of a dinner party with the GM hosting and not a restaurant where I'm presented with an experience that I receive. And that's true whether I'm playing with friends, random weirdos, or a professional GM.
 



aco175

Legend
I'll say it.

gladiator GIF


I do think be default the DM has the most responsibility for making the game work and be fun for all. It is he who is looked at to make decisions and given the power over the world. He who generally gets the people together and does the most work. It is right, likly not, but that is the way it is.
 


MGibster

Legend
I see a lot of people making comments that strongly suggest they think that it is the GM's job to provide them with entertainment. Most obvious is the "restaurant" analogy I see popping up more and more often, with the GM cast in the role of chef and restaurateur. I think this is wrong headed and detrimental to the fun of everyone at the table. An RPG is more like a dinner part, where everyone is contributing to the enjoyment of all. Even if one person is cooking, they aren't the "chef" in what that implies about service.
If you want to use the dinner party analogy, then think of the DM as the host who has all the responsibilities associated with that position. And all the players are guests with the responsibility of being good guests.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
The GM is a player. Just happens to have a different role in the game to the other players. When a group of people get together to enjoy a a social activity together, they’re all responsible for it.

(I’m not sure how I’d translate that to the idea of pro GMs though; they’re service provider, I guess?)
 

Yora

Legend
The best term I could come up with for the function of the GM in a game is as the facilitator of play.

The GM provides the players with toys to play with. But the players still have to play with the toys themselves. RPGs are not a puppet show.

(That being said, the vast majority of published adventures are "come gather around, old GM is reading you a story.")
 



pogre

Legend
It is important to me for a group to bring energy to the table or I get burned out. I have had some groups who have sat back and basically wait for me to give them a show - that gets exhausting in a hurry. I do hope to bring a fun and entertaining session, but not a one man show.

I think this is a big reason online play is so exhausting for me - I just cannot engage and feel the players' energy in the same way.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Do you think the GM is responsible for your fun when you play? Does how you feel depend on whether you are playing with friends, randos or pros?
I'll flip it around - I'm the GM most of the time so my players are at least partly responsible for my fun. If I wasn't amused and engaged by what they were doing at the table I wouldn't run games.

So by that metric yeah, I'm also partly responsible for their fun. If they aren't engaged and amused by what I'm doing then they're not coming back. And this comes back to my feeling that the division between "GM" and "player" is silly - we're all players. The GM's role as a player is just different.

Now is the GM solely responsible for the fun of the other players? No of course not. Anyone who makes that argument is likely either a GM who is putting the weight of the world onto their own shoulders and needs to dial it back or someone who has never GM'd and needs to try it to get a different perspective. Or a GM who is a frustrated entertainer and uses gaming as an outlet for their desire to have an audience listen to them perform I guess (I had one of those once at a con a few decades ago - worst game of anything I've ever played in my life.)

I take issue for that reason even calling the GM's role the "facilitator of fun" . The GM is the host of a party that they want to attend - you can have party hosts who are so busy worrying about everyone else's fun that they don't have fun at their own parties, but it's a sad event when it happens, not a typical one or a goal to shoot for. (I guess in this analogy a paid GM would be an event planner who gets to also attend the party? Analogies are failing here...)
 




BookTenTiger

He / Him
I just know from experience that the more work I put into making the game fun for my players, the more fun I wind up having.

A character died last session after two years (in real life) of adventuring. Personally I find permanent death fun... I like the shock, the sense of gravitas, knowing there are real consequences... But I left it up to the player, and they really want to keep playing their character. So we are finding a cool way to bring them back.

Even though their fun is a little different than mine, I know that my experience as a DM is going to be better because I'm making the game more fun for my players.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
The GM is not solely responsible for the players fun.

The GM provides the setting and scenario. It's up to the players to decide how to interact within that framework.
 

Yora

Legend
I think fun is a misleading term for GMs.

Running games isn't meant to be "fun" or "entertaining". You're not doing it to get the kind of adventure that you want to see. It should definitely be enjoyable and rewarding, otherwise there'd be little point in doing it. But there are many kinds of work that are very enjoyable to certain kinds of people, even though they are work and not play, and you couldn't call them fun. And plenty of people do them for free, investing their own time and effort.

I think that's a much more productive approach to being a great GM than trying to make the game "fun" for yourself.
 


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