So if you follow me on twitter, you’ll know that I recently watched all of Community. I do this quite often – I inject a TV show straight into my brain in a continuous stream as I work at my sewing machine on dice bags. It took me about 5 days to watch all of Community. I’d been reluctant to watch it for awhile, but I’m very glad I did watch it. What makes Community awesome to me is similar to what makes me love gaming: suspension of disbelief. Since it’s almost October 19th, I figured I would talk about one of my favourite things about the show, and why it’s my favourite thing about gaming too.
First things first: pushing up my glasses about Community. Community has one official D&D episode, and it’s pretty cool. But when watching the series all at once, I hold firm that it’s the second D&D episode the show has done. The first is the season 2 christmas special.
Talk about theatre of the mind – the group is sitting around a table keeping up with Abed’s fantasy at any cost. They’re deep into the story out of fear and necessity, but they’re roleplaying all the same. D&D isn’t usually this dark (at most tables), but it is often this involved.
On a cheerier note, the group suspends their disbelief like this all the fucking time. (see: all the paintball) Nobody ever steps back and examines what’s going on, because that would deflate the entire episode. The group’s commitment to every outlandish scenario is why it’s so beloved, and it’s one of the key material components for gaming table magic.
Suspension of Disbelief at the Table: Basically Magic to Me
It can be hard to suspend your disbelief. It’s an irrational decision that can’t be forced. If you’re into facts it can be a huge challenge to shut off the gears in your brain telling you that something is impossible. But I’m going to guess that almost every gamer has experienced game table transcendence: the whole party falling under the spell of a good hook at the same time. Whenever it happens to me, it feels like we’ve slipped out of time (and we usually do, resurfacing 2-3 hours later when someone gets hungry).
When it does happen, I do everything I can not to break the surface. I don’t think too hard about committing to it, I just do. It has a magical quality to me, and it’s why I try new games and go back to the table.
It’s hard to talk about my love of a group of 6 grown-ass adults becoming so invested in being elves that we lose hours of time without the little “ESCAPISM” voice going off in the back of my head, but that is really what it’s about. It’s a few delicious minutes of finding a new timeline. It is refreshing and incredibly fun. It is also a mystery to me, because I can’t figure out how to make it happen. If I were to DM a game, I don’t know how I would flip that switch in people. All I know is when it happens to everyone at the same time, I am the happiest nerd in the fucking world.
What’s your favourite experience with suspending disbelief at the table, as a player or inducing it as a DM? Does it feel as magical to you as it does to me?