Over at Playing D&D With Porn Stars, Zak S. writes a terrific, brief post that I think is crucial to having a good time with roleplaying games. (Or, at least crucial to the kind of RPG play I like, and the kind of good times I want to have playing RPGs.)
Here’s a portion of it, and the general thrust of the post:
THE ONE THING EVERYBODY PLAYING SHOULD DO
There is one thing that I think applies across the board to players and GMs in pretty much all RPGs and all playstyles and all personality types and that even experienced players and GMs can always push themselves to do better in every game (myself 100% included): support the reality of the other peoples’ inventions.
What that means is: when someone (within whatever parameters the game says is legit) establishes they’re doing something or something is there or something is like that–constantly casually acknowledge it in how you talk. It’s basically a lot like the old improv rule: “Say ‘Yes, and…'” but it doesn’t ask for as much. You don’t have to top them or even build on it–just mention what’s there, whatever it is…
The only consistent difference between hanging with your buds and playing one of these games–the only reason we chose to do the second thing instead of just the first–is whatever it is we get out of a shared imaginative space. Simply reminding them “Oh you imagined that? I am now imagining it too” deepens what we get out of that, no matter which direction we then want to use that space to go.