Over on his blog yesterday, Coyote wrote about shared experiences in gaming. Talking with friends about games you’ve played; what was similar, what was different.

He mentions live gaming with canned modules, run by different DMs. That’s probably the prime example, since each group and DM has their own approach. So everyone would have played the same adventure, but experiences would be different.

With computer gaming, this is not so easy to come by. Even when a game isn’t tightly-scripted, there’s not much room for variation. Most players will go through the same actions and obtain the same results.

Of course, there can be some differences. In a game like Geneforge 5, several paths are available, and they aren’t all alike. Yet each path in itself doesn’t change.

Personally, I don’t think it matters so much, because there’s almost always room for individual tactics. You might relate the nerve-racking experience of sneaking past hordes of monsters in the Cave Of Death, while I battered them into jelly, feeling no less nervous.

I’ve found, when talking over old games with friends, there was often a fair amount of difference in our experiences. Naturally, many things were the same, too.

It’s this interweaving of same/different that makes talking about games so much fun. Coyote wants to see more of this in RPGs, and less of the “Final Fantasy nothing changes” approach. So do I.

But my favorite shared experience was real-time, and not in an RPG. The game was Sierra’s multi-disk adventure extragavanza, Time Zone

A friend and I were playing it, in a sort of friendly competition to see who could finish it first. Friendly, because we were always swapping what we knew/found out.

I called him up one night, and he happened to be in the middle of a session. Immediately, I brought TZ up on my computer, and for the next two hours (long distance, ouch) we were playing, so to speak, side by side.

We discussed various puzzles and possible solutions. We went buzzing off to different time zones. He’d go one place, I’d go another.

As it turned out, we didn’t make a lot of in-game progress; not much was solved. On the other hand, we were able to eliminate a lot of time zones which were dead ends or death traps.

Since we’d been checking different areas, in the aggregate that saved us a lot of time we’d have otherwise wasted. Plus, playing together that way was really fun. I’ve not had such a good time since, not even in the few MP outings I’ve done.

Yeah, there are all sorts of ways to have a shared game experience. Even when the game isn’t an RPG.

Shared Experiences and Swapping Game Stories on Coyote’s blog