I'm reading an enormous amount of RPG material these days, to the point of obsession to be honest, and this is one of the reasons I've started writing this blog. With all the stuff that's going in, I feel a great need to also get something out.
Anyway.... one thing that's bothering me right at this moment is one aspect of the discussions and blog posts that seem to dominate posts on all sides of the debates. I'm talking about categorizing players into types. They're munchkins or butt-kickers or whatever, and it seems to imply players as static, uncangeable objects.
Now, I'm going to assume everyone using these terms already understand that most players have some of all or at least several of these player tapes within them, but that is not my point. I keep seeing stuff like "My players are like this or that, so I should do this", and "How to handle this or that player type" and the like.
What all of this seems to miss is the fact that players are actual humans, and that humans are in fact susceptible to change. It isn't set in stone that as a certain individual prefers a certain way of playing he or she will keep playing that way forever, or that he or she can't learn to enjoy other ways of playing. This has to be part of the GM's mission, in my opinion. As the GM, you are the one who is running the game, which in turn means you get to set certain premises for how that game is to be run.
Of course, I see the danger in this. I don't propose despotism from the GM seat. It's not really about getting what you want, it's about teaching people to appreciate things they have so far been unable to appreciate. There may be people that are entirely stubborn and would refuse to do anything but what they themselves want, but in all honesty such people would be kicked off my gaming table. If roleplaying is about having fun, then this should count for the GM as well, not just the players.
In my experience, though, RPGers are generally intelligent people, and intelligent people are genereally more open to new things than most others. So, to sum up, what I'm saying is that influencing players and guiding them towards the style you like best isn't a bad thing. It's a thing that will be beneficial to all involved. It would enable you to run the kind of game you most want to play, and as a result perhaps even run a better game, and it would broaden the horizons of the players, giving them more ways to enjoy themselves than they already had.