This is something I've spoken about on here before I think, though perhaps from a different angle, and I wanted to bring it up again. Why? Because it has been on my mind of late, and generally what is on my mind gets put on this blog. Especially when it is gaming related. So, for today, I want to talk about Stage Fright and how it may impact your game.
Even the shameless...
A fact that some of you may (or may not) know is that I have very little shame. Honestly, some of the crap that comes out of my mouth, or the actions that I'm comfortable doing, are just...bizarre and out there. Which makes it all the weirder that when I am GMing or RPing I often end up having stage fright. I stammer and summarize what I want to have the character say instead of just saying it. Is it a horrible thing? No, not really, but it can make the difference between a good/fun experience and a great/amazing one. So, just be aware of that.
Where are you uncomfortable?
Let's be honest, you're more likely to get nervous when in an area you aren't comfortable. After all, if you were comfortable where you were than it wouldn't be a problem, now would it? For RPGs this can mean a lot of things. Some people aren't comfortable being the center of attention. Some people feel weird having a conversation with themselves. Some people have issues hitting on their friend of 6 years when they're playing a character of a different gender. When you hit these areas, most people tend to retreat a bit and just gloss it over. This is, in my opinion, the root cause of stage fright in table top games.
So, how do you address it? Well, with baby steps. Taking the plunge into an area you are uncomfortable in isn't going to do anyone any good. Go slow, and take it step by step. Start with something casual, like a normal conversation - or a bit of light flirting w/ an npc. Don't be afraid to back out, but try to have fun with it too. You can lose yourself in fun, and it can protect you from those nerves, so try to go slow and have fun, it works well.
For everyone else at the table it is important to not pressure the person, especially when they're trying to venture out. Some people - even GMs - are shy. Some get nervous when in character. Some people are RPing to try and resolve personal issues, and at times they are touching very sensitive areas for themselves. Don't try to force them to go full IC or be dragged out if they are getting nervous or trying to retreat. Encourage them to do so, sure, but don't pressure them. They're more likely to improve with support than negativity.
Do you have any experiences with stage fright? Either as a GM or a PC? it is something I'm working on personally, but would love to hear your own experiences and how you've dealt with it.