So. Right now, amongst many other things, Maury and I are working on our presentation at Intercon O, Gaming With Empathy, and we’re in discussion regarding what information to present and how. We’d tried out some roleplay where she’s slowly making a case for empathy to a strawman played by me, which we thought was fun and would be very entertaining, but I’m having second thoughts on using it because of the potential to lose some opportunities to communicate earnestly for the sake of entertainment.
Our basic goal with the presentation is to invite folks to consider an empathetic approach to their larp gameplay. For those that practice that already, I’d hope the presentation would be validating and encouraging, not only for their gameplay, but also for conversations with others about empathetic play. For those that don’t make empathy a focus of their gameplay, I’d hope it’d be at least food for thought, and maybe something that they might try experimenting with in the games that they’ll enjoy that weekend.
One of the items that I’m struggling to convey convincingly is the motivation to try it. We can lay out some incentives to do it, and plan to do so in our presentation. Though there’s one in particular that’s a big deal and a little thorny to express. For me, empathetic play itself actually feels really good. But why? Is this merely a case that I’m fortunately empathetic on a neurological level, and so I experience pleasure during empathetic play? And if so, can I effectively make a case to someone who is a little less empathetically inclined that this is worth trying?
I’m struggling with it. So far the best analogy that I have so far is related to food. As a dude who lives by himself with a cat, the joy of cooking is precisely “not”. The only time I’m really motivated to put time in with my meager kitchen (M: No one needs to know exactly how meager my kitchen is.) is when I have an opportunity to also make some food for someone else. The work to prepare food for just me feels like a waste of time, and the work to prepare food for me and one other person feels like a great investment of time and energy.
I don’t think that this is unique. I believe that there’s some level of pleasure in sharing an experience with someone. Favorite ice cream shop? Dude, you have to try this. This game is fun to play? Dude, you’ve got to experience this. I think this sense of desiring to share an experience might make the case for empathetic larp gameplay being a genuinely pleasurable experience.