Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
This phenomenon is just as real in the RPG hobby as it is anywhere else. Very often we can get wrapped up in one part of the experience. We focus on the game, or upon the system. We concentrate our attention on the people we play with, or the techniques we use, or upon the social contract. Maybe we pay close attention to the fiction. Perhaps we concentrate on the techniques and methods we use to produce a certain aesthetic or feel. The RPG experience has many facets, and each one of them is fascinating in its own right. I’m just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to focusing my attention upon the trees and not the forest?
So what IS the forest in the RPG sense anyway? I remember having a conversation with Ron Edwards where we touched upon this. (It might be in a video on his channel Adept Play, I don’t remember at the moment.) I was talking about having parallel experiences during a game session. An experience as the characters in the fictional world. Another experience as the actual people at the table interacting with each other. Another experience as an audience member watching the drama. Yet another experience as players interacting with the system. And so and so forth…
Ron mentioned that this was why the “Big Model” moniker was chosen. All of these experiences are happening at once, and when we play we are having this multi faced experience as human beings around the table. It’s not just about the dice or the fiction or the genre. It’s about the interactions and relationships we have together as people as well.
The forest is vast, and there are many different trees within it. Sometimes we need to remember to take a few steps back and admire it as a whole.