This week, we move on to some “How” questions. I’ll try to keep these responses brief, though, as these are the sorts of questions where I could (and have) certainly go on at length (and also, I have a shit-ton of work to do this week, so I need to keep all of these non-work writings brief, as a result).
Today’s question: How can players make a world seem real?
Shortest possible answer: By being encouraged to contribute details.
Unpacking a bit: World building should not be the exclusive purview of the game master. Whenever possible, I make it a point for players in my games to contribute details of the campaign world. The fullest example can be seen in the Universe Creation Rules for ICONS (originally seen in the supplement ICONS TEAM-UP, and reprinted in the ICONS: ASSEMBLED EDITION rulebook), which had the players not only rolling up their characters, but also villains, guest heroes, and elements of the setting, so that when the game began, the world was already being fleshed out in their heads, and collaboratively constructed.
But even in a game without rules support for such things, I always try to have players give me brief details on elements they want to see in the game, and providing those details truly flesh out a world and make it seem real.