I’d really like to recover the nearly-unique power and fun of playing Primetime Adventures. This video is intended to help people join me. It’s about scenes and real-play as opposed to workshopped-play.
I have a long history of discussing this issue, as I recognized it as a problem all the way back in 2005, and so did Vincent, as he puts so well here:
The third prob: destructive preplaying. Ben says that he's seen this now in every PTA game he's seen. One person suggests a scene, and the group starts hashing out implications before we even frame it. Somehow "it's a flashback with only Helen and Cyrus' father in it" becomes "Cyrus made Helen into a demon?!? That ruins the whole game for me!" Also, "let's have a scene..." becomes "what's the conflict going to be?" and I'm like arrrrgh, let me do my producerly job and start the damn scene, we'll find the conflict once there is one! We struggled like that with every single scene up to the father's death one, like "whew, that last scene worked out great after all, once we stopped hashing it out and played it, but let's hash this next one out just in case..." ----- from [PTA] a very good episode, a very hard session.
I'd rather that you watch the video and stay with its topic, but history does matter, so ...
... briefly: Polaris, Primetime Adventures, and Capes were released and played almost simultaneously, and many people active at the Forge mixed them up uncritically to produce a kind of awful patchwork play that Paul Czege described as workshopping and Jesse Burneko accurately described as player-side railroading. This became confounded with the term "Stakes" in the next round of design, and the written examples in the games carry, The Shab al-Hiri Roach, and a few others reinforced this way to play (or not-play) even though the games' actual rules were much better than that. The final factor involved came in 2006 and 2007, when so many new published games were frankly at beta development stage, like the first version of shock:, Mortal Coil, and many others.
I am convinced that the drastic swerve toward playing (specifically) PTA as a conference/workshop arose from "telephone" at the tables, with people teaching through doing (badly). It came to be associated with some presumed functional "story-ish" way to play that everybody just knew, which as it turned out was found in no actual published game, nor was it functional at all. The Italian play community seems to have been hit especially severely by this phenomenon, during the period of aggressively promoting the PTA about ten years ago.
The tragic consequence is that "story gaming" as a term and subculture is infused/infected with it, with the exception of good designs by people who'd be producing them regardless of whether that term existed or not.
Here are some old threads illustrating the phenomenon from the Forge, for the bold: [PTA] Players wanting their PCs to fail? (a better title would be "players not wanting to play PTA"), [PtA] How are the narrative authorities working in this scene? (answer: they're not), and [Primetime Adventures] Pilot episode – Cakewalk. Again, however, my goal here isn't to pick through the problem. I want to live the solution.