It isn’t observed or talked about but most Gamers aren’t trained. Or even really deeply analyzed about what makes one Player (or GM, but out of this focus) better than another. And maybe that is training/mentoring more than anything else. We do not have schools of RPG but we can learn from each other and there are some persons, groups and advice that make a sort of mentor relationship, informal schooling or lessons that can help.
One of the things we have to be careful of is assuming that time spent at the table is as valued as really stretching their skills. This was recently discovered by me and seemed timely and relevant to my quest:
“Well, the one thing that I’m mostly concerned about is, and I’ve met a lot people who are counting hours that they’re doing something and then assuming here that accumulating enough hours will eventually make them experts. Because I think that is a fundamental, incorrect view that is so different from what we’re proposing — namely, that you intentionally have to increase your performance, and you have to be guided, ideally by a teacher, that would allow you now to incrementally improve. So that idea that people actually think that they’re going to get better when they’re not — that, I find, to be the most troubling.”-K. Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
According to the expert, we need to deliberately try to improve our gaming skills. So when I talk about having started playing in 81′ it does mean something… just not as much as someone who works harder at it, perhaps three times as hard from 2001 to 2016, hopefully by working with a mentor of some sort. Thusly by the science this hypothetical player would be a better gamer than I am.
That is all to the good, it is ok for someone to be better than us, individually or as a group. Just make certain to learn from them, get them to mentor you if you can.
I see that I need to pick up everything I can from Arron Allison’s Strike Force both from its first incarnation and most recent if I want to become a better GM. But still, unless someone wants to correct me If I am wrong… I think Players still need more resources and I aim to uncover them if I can, and create them if I must.
Next time I want to bring up an interesting point about Experts: They sometimes don’t know what they know until they need to know it or someone asks.
I also need to look at something Dennis McDonald postulated: that he holds the idea that great gamers are born not made much like Steven King holds that (to misquote King here): a great novelist must be born. Even if you can turn a mediocre writer into a good writer.
In the meantime tell me what you think greaet and small.