I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'm a sucker for questionaires. Here's somebody's questionaire about gaming style, with my answers. I don't think this is quite as good at pinning down GM style as the Merit Badges (it's much less succinct, for one thing, and also curiously not as comprehensive) but I like approaching the same question from multiple angles to see if doing so susses out nuances or details.
Question 1: Which of these genres interest you the most? (choose one or more)
Sci-fi, fantasy, modern, historical, horror, humor/satire, realistic shooting, superhero, surreal, detective, post-apocalyptic, multi-genre, other?
Fantasy, but honestly I like my fantasy to be a bit non-traditional and often mingled with other genres. My own setting I see as a hybrid of fantasy, swashbuckling pirates, westerns, and Arabian Nights with a strong overlay of horror and spy-thriller type intrigue.
Question 2: What sort of emphasis would you like the game to have? (choose one or more)
Troubleshooting, action, tactics, plotting, wackiness, story, character growth, technical stuff, business-simulation, epicness, survival, other?
Action, story, character growth. Most of the best games I've run or played in have had a fair helping--although not overwhelmingly so--of wackiness too.
Question 3: Will you be willing to get to know the game and learn to understand the game-world? Will you read the GM’s e-mails and hand-outs outside the game?
Within reason, absolutely. If he's inundating me with the equivalent of a dissertation, though... probably not.
Question 4: Which of these are you and how much? Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist
My tastes and approach to the game are definately mostly narrativst, with a dash of simulationist. I find gamism as an approach to my RPG to be tiring and I quickly lose interest in games that focus on those elements.
Question 5: What guarantees a good game? Short answers please.
Well, nothing guarantees it of course, but it seems to be most likely to happen when you're with a bunch of guys (and/or gals) that you like hanging out with, and you have a somewhat similar approach to the prospect of gaming.
Question 6: What is the ideal size of a gaming group?
3-5 players plus GM.
Question 7: Do you prefer a designated GM or a GM hot-seat?
I don't mind different GMs for different campaigns, but within a single campaign, a single GM please.
Question 8: How challenging the game should be to player characters? Please note that this has nothing to with how challenging the game is to players.
Fairly challenging. The crux of good drama is when bad and difficult things happen to interesting characters. This means that by default, a good game is one where the characters are challenged. I know that this isn't what you're asking, but a lot of the traditional methods of challenging players (puzzles, tactical challenges, etc.) on the other hand bore me to tears, and I really don't want to spend my leisure time engaging in them.
Question 9: Can bad dice rolls kill characters? Can characters die at all?
Yes. Character death should always be a possibility... although at the same time, it ideally it would also happen rarely.
Question 10: How much the GM should help players in game? With rule-questions the GM must help of course but if the character is in a tight spot and should make a decision, should the GM offer an option (thus putting words in the players mouth – “ok, I’ll do that!”) or should the player be given the right to make his/her own decisions, whether right or wrong? Should the GM have a GMPC which guides players through difficult spots?
As much as he needs to and absolutely no more. The GM's job is to facilitate the game and make it as fun as possible. To accomplish this, one of his key skillsets is the ability to "read the crowd" and react immediately and appropriately. If the players seem frustrated with a situation, then a hint is a good idea. If they're having a great time anticipating and dealing with a challenge, then back off. If they're having a great time anticipating an action that you think is a bad idea, maybe you should rethink your plan and be more improvisational. Being warned off by a heavy-handed GM from something that you're really excited to do can be a real enthusiasm damper. If you really must do it, you better be darn sure that what they have to take as a consolation prize is really cool and exciting so they don't feel gypped.
Question 11: What do with a PC when the player can’t come?
Quietly ignore the fact that he's not there.
Question 12: Do you like traditional gaming (whatever that is?) or do you enjoy groundbreaking, innovative games.
I rarely appreciate mechanical innovations for their own sake. Give me something tried and true so I don't have to focus on the mechanics and can just get busy playing.
That said, I've had a lot of fun with Dread, for instance. Then again, there really aren't a lot of mechanics to think about.
Question 13: Do you want the GM to prepare the session and to write the story or would you like the characters to create the story themselves? Script vs. freedom, which do you prefer?
I like the GM to provide lots of hooks; things that we could potentially pursue. But if I later feel like I can't actually play the game other than to follow along a pre-programmed course, that's usually a major letdown.
Question 14: How fast-paced the game should be? Can we stop to buy equipment for an hour or should the GM be ruthless and skip over the parts that he doesn’t deem vital to the story? (referring to “guards at the gate”)
Again, the GM needs to know how to "read the crowd." Sometimes that kind of stuff can be fun. Sometimes its not. He should skip when players are obviously feeling bored or ready to move on, he should stop and savor when the players are enjoying it. I think pace control is mostly an element of the game that I look to the GM to control, but there's no one size fits all answer to the question of what kind of pacing is the best kind. Even within the same group. Even to me personally. Sometimes I like to savor the little world-building moments. Sometimes I find shopping tedious and want to get on to something more exciting. Mostly, I'm keen on a faster pace. But not always.
Question 15: How do you feel about having off-game discussions about in-game-issues, i.e. meta-game table talk?
I feel that it's absolutely essential for a successful game.