Setting Saturday: System Matters

I was originally going to write a review of David Brin's Earth, but I got side-tracked...

There are endless debates over on ENWorld and RPGnet about how much influence a system impacts an RPG campaign. One side of the argument says that the system doesn't matter because people will bend a system they like to meet the needs of their campaign. The other side says that the system used does matter because it reflects the genre conventions of the campaign.

I'm here to say that system does matter... to a point. The reality I've been dealing with for many years now, meaning I deal with real-world gamers who couldn't care less about philosophical arguments over gaming, is that the system chosen is influenced by the genre conventions of the RPG campaign people want to play. From that initial starting point, the system gets bent and shaped to meet the needs of the gaming group. Nothing more, nothing less. It's just that simple.

What this means for theorists is that the answer actually lies in the middle. The system and genre influence each other in an organic fashion, just as they influence and are influenced by other aspects of a game group's play. Since a game group is a social construct, the various aspects of the group dynamic (which includes the choice of game system and choice of genre/setting) influence each other- because it's an organic process anyway. It evolves.

Basically... yes, system matters. So does setting. So does genre. So does the social dynamic of the game group. All of it matters, not just system or setting. The trick is understanding what the game group's priorities are.
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