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Play Unsafe on Audiobook

Posted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:40 pm
by Jared Rascher
In addition to Phil's game advice masterpiece, I noticed there was a sale on several game advice related audiobooks, including Graham Walmsley's Play Unsafe.

I know this has been out for a while, and it proceeded the modern wave of focus on safety, but it was an interesting listen, and not entirely what I expected.

I appreciated the advice to be less prepared and more spontaneous, and even the discussion on making less fleshed-out characters and trying to do more impetuous things and then to justify them later.

That said, it felt really strange to listen to the sections on pushing yourself to do things you, personally, don't want to do (not things your character wouldn't want to do). While there was a lot of talk about not shutting down other players when they communicate a desire to do something (very good), there was also a lot of value placed on pushing boundaries hard (not as good).

There is a discussion about reading the social cues of fellow players when you push hard on controversial topics, but that comes way towards the end, and almost feels like an afterthought.

The examples used in the text (violence against women, sexual fantasies) and the kind of advice given in a few places (play with people you don't like to see how it goes) really read like someone with the privilege of not worrying about their own safety as they push the limits of their improvisation.

By no means do I think Walmsley was advocating for anything untoward, I just think its interesting to see that it wasn't even that long ago that safety wasn't as much in the forefront of discussions even in more philosophical game spaces.

It is really interesting as a snapshot, but if I had to recommend a book on improvisation as it relates to RPGs, I would feel way better pointing people towards Improv for Gamers as a more modern take that has a lot more useful, carefully constructed advice and actionable exercises.

Re: Play Unsafe on Audiobook

Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:19 am
by Emmett
I could see striking a balance between safety and pushing your boundaries. Maybe pushing your soft boundaries (veils?) but respecting hard lines. Also that the pushing should be something the player wants to do, not something that's forced on them.

I think I read Play Unsafe a while ago. I'll have to see if I have the pdf somewhere.