19 Aug 2016

potatodialogues: (Default)
"Best way to learn a new game?"

Tongue-in-cheek, the first thing I was about to say is, "I have to play it to learn it," but upon some reflection I realize that this isn't actually true. There are some systems that I learned better by reading them, like Cypher/Numenera and Remnants, leading me to be the one to teach my fellow players (and even the GM) the mechanics of play. There are others that I learned better through play despite reading the text because I found the text difficult to mentally follow and translate into action, like Fate Core and Houses of the Blooded, so I had to rely on going through the motions numerous times to get it; Houses of the Blooded in particular remained something of a mystery to me until I read a really comprehensive review online that laid down the mechanics in a structured way that I could parse. Others still, I will admit that I didn't even read at all before the game, and only relied on my GM to teach me the mechanics during the game, like Malifaux, D&D 5e, Legends of the Five Rings, Shadowrun 5E, and Exalted Ex3.

What I do notice though is that if I read the text at some point, I'll tend to remember the details better. For broader systems like Shadowrun, D&D5e, and Exalted Ex3, I tended to read only the parts that were relevant to my character to get a better understanding of their unique systems, so that I don't have to be bothersome to the GM when it came to my actions and their mechanics. This is particularly true for the crafting system in Exalted Ex3 (as I wrote about in my review here, especially since I was the only one in the table actually using those mechanics.

I think it's all to do with information flow and retention. It's a lot like studying for school (and I am always in a class of some sort): if I have to process it and restructure the information to teach someone else the information, or at least teach myself, I will remember it forever. I can teach Cypher to pretty much anyone because of this.

This seems more or less in line with some material I found online about learning things, particularly this pyramid from Sunday School:



Because even in the process of reading I tend to re-organize the information in my head to better convey it to others, which I suppose raises my retention rate for them.

I am pretty fortunate in that I am playing in a group full of educators, teachers, tutors, reviewers, and other patient people when it comes to teaching others games, so if there is something I have difficulty understanding, approaching others is something I can do.