Games Culture Zero: What do I mean by games culture?

There’s a lot of gaming advice out there, some good and some terrible. One thing that I have always balked at when presented with gaming advice – even the best of the best – is the cognitive dissonance that one philosophy of gaming would work for every table. It simply cannot. And thus it only has value when taken as a possibility rather than an absolute.

But boy, we love our absolutes, don’t we?

So I was thinking about how I could present gaming advice and there were two serendipitous happenings. In the first instance, I was reintroduced to the old Runequest adage of ‘Your Glorantha May Vary’ and at work I trotted out the pithy definition of culture – ‘the way we do things around here’.

These sort of unlocked my thinking about how I would approach the topic of gaming advice. All I can do is reflect on the way my games play out and some of the customs and practices that have evolved over the years and hope that these techniques might give some thought to the way you play games and have your roleplaying fun.

This series on games culture short articles is going to cover some familiar ground. I’ll talk about character death, experience, encumberance, backstory, playing on a grid, GMing and playing responsibilities etc. Nothing ground-breaking for sure. However, I hope that taken as a whole it will represent a philosophy – a culture – of gaming that you might find useful.

I’m also going to try to show how we draw parallels with different media that we try to emulate within our games. This is a big thing for us and it informs just about everything we do.

I should also add that there are other people who I game regularly with, who are far more experienced writers than I! If you want to read the same sort of material, from the same group, but structured in a far more cerebral manner, check out @NarrativeEscape at You should also check out @milnermaths at the Burn After Running blog, who specialises in one-shot sessions and listen to Baz and Gaz on the What Would the Smart Party Do? podcast.

Next: Starting at the end – Character Death

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