"Inception" as a metaphor for RPGs

Tod's picture

I re-watched "Inception" yesterday, and now I'm thinking about how it's a good metaphor for traditional RPGs.

The GM is the "architect" who creates the setting, and the players populate it. The game is a shared dream. But once it starts, the architect's control is severely limited. The dream is always in creative flux.

I don't know if there's enough for a thread here, but what the hell.

DeReel's picture

... but it's a specific type of rpgs. You generalize a bit to reach for games like DayTrippers I think, because such is your taste.

Some games are much more tightly linked to Inception : Lacuna, Dr Chestel's method. And some scenarios from old games (Aard drug in Mega II, Sandman in Champion 3D) go the same route : entering and psychonauting a mind of the week.

DeReel's picture

I now read OP as : the GM sets the starting *situation* (it will evolve like you said) and set (pictures of the place). Then yes.
The metaphor works to explain things like "Sometimes players get to create their own bits of setting using character background."

I recently found it also works another way : at the layers of play level. Remember Existenz ? In both movies, the point is that when you go down the rabbit hole, you lose landmarks. Well Pretend play, theater, RPGs, they all do this. Slide between layers. What's in character and what's at the table : there are regularly shifts of one layer into the other. Not in a meta, over the top way. Just like in a conversation when you talk about the weather it's not just the weather. Regularly. It's part of the system is my hypothesis.