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Author Topic: Pistols at dawn.  (Read 63990 times)

RPGPundit

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« Reply #90 on: May 10, 2006, 06:04:41 PM »
I'm just coming down from one of the best gaming sessions I've done in a long time, where we concluded my epic OD&D campaign, one that started with the pcs at 1st level, and got them all the way to immortality, playing by the (sometimes confusing and obtuse) letter of the law according to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

It was incredible.

And it made something very clear to me.  Your points are very pretty, but I would be remiss if my rebuttal actually attempted to engage your points at their level.

So my rebuttal is this: Why the fuck do you people force me to do this?

I mean, really: Gaming isn't found in sitting around doing mental wankery on internet forums. The internet should be a place to talk about the games you like, the sessions you play, house rules, systems, etc.
But trying to create grand theories that will in theory either "improve play" or "improve game design" is a fools errand.

The key to improving those things is to actually go out and do them. To see what works in practice and follow it, not to try to re-invent the fucking wheel.

And you might say "we don't force you to do anything, you like coming on here and pissing on our parade"; but that's not the case. To say that I don't "need" to be opposed to you guys, when you're trying to overtake and influence fora like this one (or like RPG.net, which you already own lock stock and barrel) or (MUCH more importantly) try to influence the direction the game "Industry" goes in (and thus directly affect the games I purchase and play), is a little like saying that you don't "have" to offer a rebuttal to the Creationists who are trying to subvert your local school board. They want to redefine science; and if you just let them have their fun/beliefs while you have yours, then pretty soon your kids are learning about the Flood and Noah when they should be learning Biology 101.

Its disingenous to say that you only want to do your thing, when what you are setting out is to prove that theories that you all invent ab ovo are the superior form of game play/design. Its an obvious point that if that premise is accepted, then talking about these theories must occupy a central place in online fora, and that promoting design based on these theories should be the direction of the industry.

We lived through that once with story-based gaming.

RPGs are games, which gamers like to play. You guys are playing a different game, which is the game of "thinking great thoughts" about RPGs.  You could just as easily have been thinking great thoughts about basket weaving or astrology or how many angels dance on the head of a pin. The game for you is to show off your own intelligence to yourself and others by pondering deeply on things that are not worth pondering deeply about.

Now usually, my response to that is to use your own methods and practices against you. But interestingly enough, it got to be my turn to write this just after I played a really bitching game session in a really bitching campaign that required NO fucking theory to run well, violated pretty much all of the precepts that the Forge-gang claim must be followed to produce "functional gaming" (proof that these theories are full of shit), and could never have come about if I were to take the sort of things you claim are needed seriously.

So today, I find myself not in the mood to provide the rebuttal from the perspective of accepting the premise that this is an intellectual topic worth debating. I'm being more honest than usual today.

I will only say that, in the course of our 90 posts so far, you have failed to prove the one fundamental point to your entire argument for "your" side: that any of the stuff you talk about is in any way useful, much less necessary.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #91 on: May 10, 2006, 11:30:29 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
I'm just coming down from one of the best gaming sessions I've done in a long time, where we concluded my epic OD&D campaign, one that started with the pcs at 1st level, and got them all the way to immortality, playing by the (sometimes confusing and obtuse) letter of the law according to the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

It was incredible.


Yep, I read about that.  Sounded like a great game.

Quote from: RPGPundit
*Snip*


Who the fuck are you talking to with this?  

Because while it may be "theorists", it sure isn't me.  In the last two weeks, I've played two games and run one, as well as working on design for another one yet.

I've never called my way of gaming "superior" for anyone but me.

And I've never considered any theory I have to be a "great thought".

Sorry Pundit, but while you may have successfully kicked the shit of the air here, you didn't touch me once.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I will only say that, in the course of our 90 posts so far, you have failed to prove the one fundamental point to your entire argument for "your" side: that any of the stuff you talk about is in any way useful, much less necessary.


It helps me.  Others have stated that it helps them.  It is, therefore, helpful.

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« Reply #92 on: May 11, 2006, 12:25:27 AM »
But that is, nevertheless, the crux of our debate.  I'm not expecting one or the other of us to "cave" here, but let's assess this discussion. Fundamentally, I think the key to it comes down to that argument: is gaming theory useful?

Its why the "who's winning" thread seemed so stupid to me; you could only possibly "win" if you convinced me that Gaming Theory is actually essential enough to merit its practice; and I could only "win" if I could convince you that it isn't.

I think perhaps we've both managed to convince the other of little things, that certain aspects of gaming theory are not without their applications, and on the other hand that many other aspects of gaming theory are indelibly tied into the frameworks of elitism that tend to float into any "hobby" area of human pursuits (or indeed, some would say any area of human pursuit period).

But fundamentally, my argument is that you haven't shown me yet that your uses of definitions, or that other theorists' uses of structured hypotheses for game design or game play, make a real difference in gaming; especially not a real difference that can't be accounted for by the gaining of overall experience and practice at the gaming table.

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« Reply #93 on: May 12, 2006, 01:20:55 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
But fundamentally, my argument is that you haven't shown me yet that your uses of definitions, or that other theorists' uses of structured hypotheses for game design or game play, make a real difference in gaming; especially not a real difference that can't be accounted for by the gaining of overall experience and practice at the gaming table.


My evidence, as all evidence along these lines, is anecdotal.

So it's story time.

1. Since the first draft of that little glossary on the purple site, I've recieved a total of seven PMs at that site from people thanking me - not for defining the terms clearly for use, but for giving them a way to talk to their GM about things that they want to talk about.  At least two had been looking for a way to express it for years.

2. The idea of a conflict system - a rules engine that treats all conflicts in the same fashion - came from theory developments.  It has made my gaming, and the gaming of quite a few other people I know locally substantially better.

3. Among my extended LARP group, I've used theory to talk to a few people about problems with different LARPs and how to work on them.  I've had one game organizer, after reading it over, suddenly realize that her problem was that she was still stuck in the mode where she decided how her plots should end, and I showed her why that was a bad thing.  She's been running games for many, many years, and I don't think she could have figured what I was trying to tell her if it hadn't been put into a value-neutral statement of "some different things players want".

...Would you like me to continue?  I can do this all day.

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« Reply #94 on: May 14, 2006, 02:52:39 AM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
My evidence, as all evidence along these lines, is anecdotal.

So it's story time.

1. Since the first draft of that little glossary on the purple site, I've recieved a total of seven PMs at that site from people thanking me - not for defining the terms clearly for use, but for giving them a way to talk to their GM about things that they want to talk about.  At least two had been looking for a way to express it for years.


I think that's a great advocacy for bettering communication skills, but I think you can do that without gaming jargon, probably better than with; so it comes down to the "experience at the table" business.  I'll give you partial credit, but as I said I'd already done that before, I'd already said that there could be some applications. But surely you're not saying that Gaming Theory is the only possible way to create better communication between players?  I seriously debate that idea that it would even be the best method.

Quote

2. The idea of a conflict system - a rules engine that treats all conflicts in the same fashion - came from theory developments.  It has made my gaming, and the gaming of quite a few other people I know locally substantially better.


Wait, what are you talking about here? Are you talking about a single unified mechanic in a gaming system? Like what D20 does? because I really don't think gaming theory can take credit for that!

If you're talking about something different, you'll need to explain what that is.

Quote

3. Among my extended LARP group, I've used theory to talk to a few people about problems with different LARPs and how to work on them.  I've had one game organizer, after reading it over, suddenly realize that her problem was that she was still stuck in the mode where she decided how her plots should end, and I showed her why that was a bad thing.  She's been running games for many, many years, and I don't think she could have figured what I was trying to tell her if it hadn't been put into a value-neutral statement of "some different things players want".

...Would you like me to continue?  I can do this all day.


Well, I could talk about reams of thank you letters I've gotten from people since I started my blog, people saying that I'm saying the stuff about gaming that they've always felt but never could get around to saying; either for fear of seeming "stupid" in the light of the so-called cognoscenti, or from frustration that it wouldn't change anything, or just from an inability to express it effectively.

But its not really relevant to the point.  I mean hell, Shooting Dice could probably drum up scads of people who claim that White Wolf's story-based gaming is the panacea for all the world's ills, and the guys who designed F.A.T.A.L. could probably find some dude who'd claim that it cures cancer.

But there's nothing objective in that, which you can show a skeptic like me that will be reproducible direct proof of utility.

Gaming Theory seems to be taking Astrology and trying to sell it off as Astrophysics; or alchemy sold as chemistry.  There might even be a bit of a science in there somewhere, but its so surrounded by dogma and bullshit that on the whole you're mostly better off starting from scratch than trying to build on what's gone before.

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« Reply #95 on: May 14, 2006, 11:25:44 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
Wait, what are you talking about here? Are you talking about a single unified mechanic in a gaming system? Like what D20 does? because I really don't think gaming theory can take credit for that!


No, not that.  A game which can treat any use of mechanics as a conflict.

It may not be to your taste; it is to the taste of enough people.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Well, I could talk about reams of thank you letters I've gotten from people since I started my blog, people saying that I'm saying the stuff about gaming that they've always felt but never could get around to saying; either for fear of seeming "stupid" in the light of the so-called cognoscenti, or from frustration that it wouldn't change anything, or just from an inability to express it effectively.

But its not really relevant to the point.


Oh, really?

If people find it easier to remove staples with one of those stupid-looking jaw-shaped things, then that thing is useful.  If people find that theory lets them get better gaming, then theory is useful.  It doesn't need to be useful to everyone, just like not every game needs to be interesting to everyone.

Unless this is some new definition of "useful" I've never heard of before.

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« Reply #96 on: May 15, 2006, 04:11:19 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen

If people find it easier to remove staples with one of those stupid-looking jaw-shaped things, then that thing is useful.  If people find that theory lets them get better gaming, then theory is useful.  It doesn't need to be useful to everyone, just like not every game needs to be interesting to everyone.

Unless this is some new definition of "useful" I've never heard of before.


What I'm defining as "useful" is something that provides an advancement or progress for a player that can be objectively demonstrated to either be impossible to achieve without the use of gaming theory, or far simpler to achieve with the use of game play as opposed to regular play and practice and talking about play and practice without resorting to the jargon and particularities of Gaming theory.

Gaming Theorists try to argue that their ideas or principles are like a science, that someone who participates in them will have a better game; what I'm saying is that its a pseudoscience, and that any effect outside of the "placebo" effect (ie. what would have come about with regular game play and conversation, without having to resort to the use of Jargon, GNS, or creating other kinds of hypotheses about the nature of games, gaming groups or game design).

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« Reply #97 on: May 15, 2006, 07:33:33 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
What I'm defining as "useful" is something that provides an advancement or progress for a player that can be objectively demonstrated to either be impossible to achieve without the use of gaming theory, or far simpler to achieve with the use of game play as opposed to regular play and practice and talking about play and practice without resorting to the jargon and particularities of Gaming theory.


Ohh.  Okay, great.

How about you objectively prove to me that you enjoy pipe smoking?

It's impossible?  Great.  There you go.  No such proof can exist; I mean, you sound like you do, and you can probably tell me stories about it, but you can't, you know, actually prove it, can you?

Same deal.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Gaming Theorists try to argue that their ideas or principles are like a science, that someone who participates in them will have a better game; what I'm saying is that its a pseudoscience, and that any effect outside of the "placebo" effect (ie. what would have come about with regular game play and conversation, without having to resort to the use of Jargon, GNS, or creating other kinds of hypotheses about the nature of games, gaming groups or game design).


And I'm saying that sometimes, writing down ideas on "how this shit works" can help clarify them.  And discussing or reading people's ideas on "how this shit works" sometimes shortcuts over into realizing something useful that would never have come to mind otherwise.

None of that other crap is required, though sometimes it helps to have the right words on hand.

It works quite well for me.  And others, it seems.

That's theory.

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« Reply #98 on: May 16, 2006, 01:12:05 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Ohh.  Okay, great.
How about you objectively prove to me that you enjoy pipe smoking?
It's impossible?  Great.  There you go.  No such proof can exist; I mean, you sound like you do, and you can probably tell me stories about it, but you can't, you know, actually prove it, can you?
Same deal.


Ah, but therein lies my point. I ENJOY pipe smoking.
I absolutely love it.
I'm not asking you to prove that you enjoy gaming theory, in fact I'm a hundred-percent absolutely certain that you do.  That's the entire crux of my point.

What I can't prove is that pipe smoking makes people into more decent human beings.
I would like to think that, I almost believe it sometimes, when I look at the kind of guys who've smoked pipe; when I see my buddies in the pipe club, and notice how great they all are.
But in the end, that's just a feeling I get based on the fact that I really, REALLY like smoking a pipe.
Plus, there's always Josef Stalin. He smoked a pipe. Not a good guy.

What I'm saying, and what your very argument has unwittingly revealed, is that gaming theorists like doing gaming theory in and of itself.  

You're not doing gaming theory to be better gamers. You're doing Gaming Theory because you really love sitting around theorizing about games!

And you might really, really, like it. But that doesn't mean it makes you a better Roleplayer for it, and it sure as hell doesn't mean that it'll make others better roleplayers for it.  That's just an excuse you tell yourselves to justify spending your time doing Gaming theory, and for some gaming theorists to feel smug about what they're doing and lord it over gamers who aren't theorists.

Its like if I started telling others that they need to smoke a pipe to be more moral people, and claimed that this is why I smoke a pipe.

Why the subterfuge? Why not just admit it: you and all other gaming theorists don't do Gaming Theory for the sake of RPGs. You do it because you like Gaming Theory, in and of itself!

Admit that, be happy, spend your time making up theories about games. Hell, in some cases if some of you admitted it then they might not be inclined to ever have to bother actually playing RPGs anymore, just like a total asshole thinking he has to be moral in order to smoke a pipe.
Others, might actually enjoy both gaming theory and RPGs, but will come to understand that they aren't doing one for the sake of the other, and at that point might be kind enough to stop trying to push it on the rest of us by claiming that you need gaming theory to do gaming well.

Look deep in your heart, and know that its true. That you like Gaming Theory for its own sake, otherwise you'd never be doing it.

And those of us who don't like it, don't appear to need it to be good Gamers.  I'm willing to bet that I'm a better DM than many so-called gaming theorists, and I've never been "helped" by GNS.

So you aren't doing Theory because its something necessary to save or improve your gaming.  You (and all other Gaming Theorists) are doing it because you like to make up smart-sounding theories about games. Case closed.

I'll remind you that your next post on this thread is the last one, then I have the last word and this thread comes to a close.

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« Reply #99 on: May 17, 2006, 09:29:09 AM »
I was considering making some kind of big closing statement here, full of specific points, or attempts to show you where I thought we were making use of stratagems instead of arguing openly, and the like.  

But, in the end, it would be pretty much pure showmanship; and while I do like being showy, I like to think that it's not my primary thing.

So I'll keep this simple.

I've learned a whole lot about both your viewpoint and about how I'm stating and expressing my own.  I'll be chewing on a few of your points here for quite a while, even though we did wander into a fair bit of argument-just-to-argue in places.

And to your last point, I'll say this - I like playing, and then discussing, and playing, and discussing.  As it happens, yes, I like abstracting the discussion a bit, because it helps me carry the stuff I got out out of this game here over to that one over there.  And to me, that's all that good theory is; taking notes on things I can carry from one group of games to another, or that I think can apply to all games generally in interesting ways, and sharing them.

Naturally, you can argue that a lot of highly visible theory isn't that at all, and there's some justice to that.  I've wandered off into wank-land a few times, myself, getting caught up in the "pure" abstraction; and every time, the results of getting caught up like that are profoundly unsatisfying.  Others do seem to find some intellectual satisfaction to it.

And now, the dispute is yours to end.

A good day to you, sir.

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« Reply #100 on: May 19, 2006, 02:18:39 AM »
My closing statement:

This thread has been good for telling me more about you personally as a gamer, Levi. And I've come to the conclusion that you're a thoroughly decent guy, and that you're probably a good and consciencious gamer/GM.

I've also come to wonder how the FUCK you got mixed in with the rest of the Forge-gang. You and a couple of others, who seem mostly reasonable guys. Likewise, why you persist at this point to keep (fruitlessly; IMO) working in that context when so much of it is so clearly and by your own admission contrary to your own stated goals and interests, one must wonder why you'd fight the tide in this way.

Some have suggested that I was hamstrung in this argument by the very fact that you are seen as a reasonable human being, and thus not an "honest broker" for your side of the argument, that you lack the extreme pretentiousness of others in the area of Gaming Theory, or certainly of most of the other RPG.net mods.  But I don't really see that as a disadvantage for me; first of all, its just the way it is; most of the other types wouldn't have had either the balls, or the mental capacity, or the  overall disposition to engage in this kind of debate with me. Second, even if they had it wouldn't have been much more than them screaming at me and me mocking them for 100 posts, and what the fuck would have been the point of that?!
But finally, you were a contrast that worked to my benefit.  Pretty much everyone recognized right away that the entire debate was only possible BECAUSE you were more moderate than the Swine, and that strengthened my point about the rest of them.  At one point I said that you're a token; sort of their Colin Powell, and like Powell, or the Black Republican Senator or whatever, you ultimately end up working against the public image you're supposed to better, because you only serve to highlite what an absolute anachronism and ill-suited figure you are in contrast to the rest of the group.
Your moderate nature only serves to highlite the extremity of the rest of your group. The very fact that you admit occasional forays into "wank-land" as you put it only emphasizes how many of your fellow Forgeites or RPG.netters are permanent citizens of that foul kingdom.

To close; one could say of this thread that never was so much written by so few about so little of importance.  Except, of course, on RPG.net or the Forge.

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« Reply #101 on: May 19, 2006, 11:19:24 AM »
Closing statements have been made.

The management of Nutkinland would like to thank both participants for this thread, it has proved interesting to watch evolve.

The thread will now be locked. At some point in the near future, we intend to archive it, and perhaps offer it in PDF format for anyone who wishes to review it. for now, it will remain locked and sticky'd in the general forum.