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Forming

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 5 months ago

In this stage, the group has just got together, and the members and their exact goals, how they'll all work together, and they tentatively feel their way around each-other. People will be polite, friendly and accomodating and will avoid open conflict and confrontation. This is often seen when a game group gets together. "What sort of game will we play?" "Whatever you guys like that's fine."

 

No group of people always agree on everything, but in the Forming stage of group development, people suppress differences so they can get along. So there's not much conflict, but because people are suppressing their personalities and ideas, not much is achieved, either.

 

Example of Forming

Anna meets Bob in their class at university, they exchange a few words and start sitting next each-other in each lecture. During one lecture Anna is bored and gets out her copy of Kill Things and Take Their Stuff Magic Guide and looks through it reviewing the rules. Bob suddenly realises his new friend is a roleplayer! They talk and Bob says how much he likes magic in his games. Really Anna thinks magic is lame and much prefers a warrior swinging her axe, or a rogue sneaking across rooftops; she was just reading the magic book because the lecture was so boring. But she doesn't know any other roleplayers at uni yet, and doesn't have a game group, so she says, "Yeah, magic can be cool." Bob says, "So if you ran a game, I could be a wizard? Cool!" She says, "No problem!"

 

When Anna gets up to leave the lecture, Bob realises that some of the boot black from her boots (her Army Reserve boots, which she wears quite a lot) got on his bag. It's his favourite bag, and that boot black stuff never washes out, but he doesn't say anything because he only knows Anna at uni, certainly doesn't know any other roleplayers there, and if he snaps at her the way he wants to, she probably won't run a game for him, he thinks.

 

Both of them have differences with each-other, but suppress expression of them to keep things smooth. Their conflicts have not been resolved, but set aside.

 

This pattern continues when they meet Charlie, Dave and Erika. Each has different ideas about what's good in a roleplaying game, and each has a different way of behaving and expressing themselves. They each keep quiet about these differences, saying to themselves, "well, it's no big deal." And it isn't – yet.

 

Most rpg books do not talk about the stage of Forming at all. Some address it indirectly, for example by suggesting that the GM ask the players what sort of game they want, or that players should write a background for their character. If the members of the group have an idea of what the others want, some of the potential conflicts will be resolved before they ever become open conflicts.

 

It should be noted that what's here called "Forming" is normal social behaviour. We suppress minor differences simply because they can be usefully suppressed. If someone bumps into me in the street and doesn't even say "sorry", just presses on, even though I'm irritated, I'll set the issue aside with a little muttering to myself, since the issue of whether this random person is polite, rude, clumsy or whatever doesn't really matter - I'll never see them again. It's just not worth the trouble. "Forming" behaviour lets people live together in a civilised fashion, lets them bump up against each-other in a busy life without too much painful friction. It's only when they keep meeting that these small issues may become important.

 

Sometimes a game group may become stuck in Forming, simply because no-one in the group is willing to confront anyone about anything, however minor. This will be a very pleasant group to be in, but unproductive. It's the Brave New World of game groups. "Everybody is happy nowadays... when the individual feels, the group reels!" It may be necessary to use one of the methods found in Stagnation to move the group forward to Storming.

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