What do you think? Do you think of world building as largely a GM responsibility? Do you think of the "game" as a whole as a shared responsibility? Do linear games versus sandboxes versus railroads/rollercoasters versus free for alls fit in?
All of the above; and also none of the above. I think finding the right mix of players for a group is the real challenge RPGs face. I know some players and GMs that need nothing more than a shopkeeper, mayor info-dump, and a neon sign saying dungeon this way . Neither GM or players in this instance have much of an expectation. Others, of course, put a lot of thought and creativity into their world building and want players to explore it. Issues arise when you got a mixed bag, and in my experience you always have a mixed bag.
My first step is get on the same page as a group. I usually start with one shots so we can get to know each other. Find out who is reliable, who likes what play style, etc.. Next step is to settle on a consensus about setting, theme, system, etc... Off to the races from there.
I have not had any luck on homebrewing a setting and having any takers. Like, at all. So, I dont bother doing it anymore. I work with existing primarily in Third Imperium for Traveller and Golarion for Pathfinder. I find the players enjoy the wealth of info available, and dont seem to mind if I bend them a little and get creative. I think adventure paths have become popular because of how much footwork they can provide and offer for groups. Adventure modules, setting material, players guides etc.. Also an entire internets worth of shared experiences for both players and GMs.
I do think the GM has a large responsibility in the system they run, campaign they choose, and in which setting. As a player, I have respect for that and do my best to be engaged and enthusiastic. If I cant muster it, I will respectfully bow out. With the internets now I can be more choosey than ever. Thats not a knock on anybody else, because as I said, there really is no general idea of how this responsibility should be shared, if at all.
Huh. I think you've got the wrong end of that. The referee builds the world to be explored by the players. Not for their own self-gratification. You as a player made that character because you thought it would be fun to play with. I as a referee made this world because I thought it would be fun to play with. Neither of us can play without the other. I come to the table with a world, you come to the table with a character, we put them together and play pretend with some dice and see what happens. I build worlds to be explored, destroyed, and/or built up by the players. That's literally their function. The world isn't for me, it's for the players.
True, and occasionally I do edit the logs long after the fact to note or highlight the relevance of details then to things only learned of later, or to fix typos (I cave like typeman) and-or clarify wording. Nothing ever gets deleted, though, or materially changed unless it was intentionally put in wrong to begin with in order to preserve a secret at the time.
But what are we interested in discovering when we play? I may not be as interested in discovering the world you lavished over as I am in discovering my character. I may very well be discovering my character in the process of adding details to the world as a player even if I am not discovering your world that you built for your own self-gratification.
You are still talking about this solely in terms of discovering the world. My point is that even if I add details to the world as a player, I may be discovering something about my character in the process. Discovery in the game is not limited to discovery of the world.
I'm not going to pretend there is no self-gratification the original building process, but it is also explicitly built for the gratification of the players, both in providing them discovery of the sort of things that they enjoy discovering, and to pointedly provide circumstances, scenarios, and opportunities for the players to explore their characters, especially the facets that are added in the course of play. If it is only full of things that I alone enjoy, I haven't done my job.