Tucked into one of Ben Lehman’s recent posts about bricolage is this bit that I totally agree with:

And why am I opposed to [freeform] consensus, personally?

Not all consensus has to be like this, btw. This is just talking about the consensus games that I have played in, personally. I would love to hear anecdotes to the contrary, particularly with explanations of the social situation and techniques.

You know how everyone has this image in their head about how the game is going to go? People get really attached to those images. In the absence of systematic elements to tear them away from their initial conception, they will stick to it and fight tooth and nail.

I think that a lot of consensus gaming is devoted to allowing all the players to keep the illusion that they can get their whole story into the game. This can be done as long as nothing is really ever used; nothing happens in the game. Thus, the games tend to be a whole lot of nothing. If someone suggests that something dramatic happen — something that will redefine and change the game and its direction — everyone generally clamps down on that person: they are a threat to maintaining your own little story in your head!

The thing is that, universally, everyone is happier when stories have things that happen, and have resolution. The story in your head is not nearly as cool as the story that would come out in play.

This is a dead-on description of how things went in a pbem game I was in for a short time, and how things have apparently gone for the long months since I left. There’s no real conflict, nothing really ever happens, and the characters just talk around and around in circles. I, personally, don’t see how a total lack of story is fun.