Look, it’s just a given that Fiasco is brilliant. There’s no other game like it. That’s the baseline for discussion from my perspective. But there are some interesting discussions that flow from that, one of them being the prospect of Fiasco as a gateway game, one to draw in non-gamers.
This is an interesting proposition, and a compelling one. Fiasco has few rules to learn and is very flexible while still providing sufficient structure and rigidity to give play a direction. It has no GM so it’s dynamic is much more like the kind of game that people think of when they talk about games. It’s small, unthreatening, and as the number of playlets increases, more and more likely to have a specific implementation that appeals to a given potential player.
And yet, I am uncertain.
For all that Fiasco is quite simple, I wonder how much that simplicity is built upon a foundation of the language of RPGs. In comparison, when you read the rules to a board or card game, there’s a procedural element to it which presumes little knowledge beyond turn taking and card drawing. Most powerfully, this allows you to play games correctly without necessarily playing them well. That is to say, you can make poor decisions in a game of Monopoly or Magic and, while you may be more likely to lose as a result, the game will still proceed forward. For Fiasco (and RPGs in general), that cushion is not in place. It is entirely possible to grind a game to a halt without an understanding of what the next step can and should be.
Now, I think this is something worth remembering for all the folks who think there is only one true purpose for a GM. In many games, the GM’s most important role is to help get past those moments of freezing up and keep the game moving. Power, authority and all that are often just tools to serve that end.
To that end, many Fiasco games may well have a GM-in-all-but-name, the person who brought the book, explains the rules and so on, but then we’re talking about how _teachable_ the game is, which is subtly different from how well it can serve as a gateway.
This is not to say that I’m dismissing Fiasco as an introductory game. i think it’s a good one, and with direction and people inclined to teach, I think it’s fantastic. But I’m thinking about where it falls short with an eye on how those gaps might be filled.