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Author Topic: Pistols at dawn.  (Read 63129 times)

Levi Kornelsen

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« on: April 17, 2006, 12:33:04 PM »
Okay, Pundit, I'll take you on, seriously, if you're interested.  I propose these terms.

1) Grit out front.  I'll front up the things I think about gaming that I think you'll find objectionable, straight-up, upon your acceptance of these terms; there's enough for a good fight.  If you have thoughts you think I'll find objectionable, you'll do the same.

2) No holds barred, no shirking.  I'll answer every question about gaming that you put to me honestly.  I'll expect the same courtesy.  No other courtesies are expected by either party, but may be given as seen fit.

3) Just you and me.  You'll delete all posts to this thread except your and mine.

4) No crying to momma.  Neither of us posts about this anywhere but here until we get to ten pages or one of us is convinced.  Others may do so as desired.

5) Turns in order.  You post, I post, you post, and so on.

6) Ten rounds only.  At 100 posts exactly, the thread ends and is locked for good.  Yes, that means you get the last go.

Agreeable?

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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2006, 12:49:35 PM »
Besides the fact that I'm not entirely clear what you're proposing here, (that we tell each other what we think the other one will dislike about our views on gaming? Is that it??), I'm not convinced that this is a good place to do this, since the Moderation have made it crystal clear that this forum is nothing more than a joke forum.

RPGPundit

PS: Especially considering that they will apparently shut this forum down at their whimsy, meaning that the thread will probably be lost.

PPS: I'm not saying I won't have some kind of debate with you, if that's what you're looking for. I'm just saying that this place, being a joke, doesn't strike me as the place to do it.
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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2006, 12:56:14 PM »
I'll tell you all my 'Swinish' opinions.  You can take a shot at knocking them down for all to see, and I have to respond or look stupid.  If you have any opinions I want to knock down, I can attempt the same.

The Moderators here want to be entertained.  It'll be bloody enough for them, I expect, and, at the same time, I believe that you can trust me just far enough to believe that I'm not playing some kind of elaborate joke at your expense.  If they like, someone can start a "popcorn" thread on the side to make comments, and they can get their kicks that way, too.

I find that a worthy opponent is worth the trip.  You?

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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2006, 12:56:29 PM »
An actually serious conversation with give and take would be a wonderful thing.  And perhaps could act as a lesson for the swine and pundits.  A good thread can always be moved to a different forum and saved.

Trust me unless these forums get really, really bad their going to stick around for at least a week or two.

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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2006, 04:03:16 PM »
I'll do it, since it'll be interesting to me, and will set a good example. The problem with having a humourous thematic to a webforum is that it can easily slip into "pointless joking for its own sake", where you just mock everything and anything openly without allowing any discussion or debate free of mockery.

That'd be a TERRIBLE waste of a site like this, and I fear that this is what I see it de-evolving into right now.  A place where the censorship isn't in the form of fanatic mods banning people like you guys do over at RPG.net, but rather a place where nothing productive can be done because any discussion is met with  non-productive mockery (ie. mockery that presents no counterpoint other than "don't be so serious, man"!), often goaded on by the mods themselves.

So yea, I'll do it. You may begin, since you're the challenger.

RPGPundit

EDITed PS NOTE TO EVERYONE READING THIS: Since this thread has just been moved to the main Roleplaying forum frmo the "pundit's parlour" I will ask that you please be considerate and abstain from writing entries in this thread until we've completed the Disputation. The Nutkins already said that they'd delete them if you did, so you'd only be making them work more, and disrupting the flow of the debate. There are a number of threads that have been started by others to discuss this thread, usually with the header [popcorn] in front of it. Please put comments on those threads or start a new [popcorn] thread. Thank you.
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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2006, 04:35:50 PM »
Excellent.  My starting positions, for the purposes of this debate.

Self-Respect is better than vitriol.
What you spread in your rants and diatribes is vitriol.  Certainly, outrage has it's place, but if you believe that what you're creating is a stable center for any kind of movement, you're fooling yourself.  I say this as one Egomaniac to another - the only thing you'll create in this way is a cult of personality, and that's not even close to being the same as a movement.
If you want to bring gaming closer to being attractive to the majority of people, then what you need to do is teach self-respect to the gamers who don't have it, and encourage them to teach it, in turn to others around them.  Not everyone that needs to learn it will be willing to, instead choosing to bask in whatever miasma they've chosen - and by doing so, they'll "out" themselves far more effectively that you could ever do by getting your hate on.

Roleplaying Games are art.
Yeah, that's right.  When we play these games, we are taking part in the performance of art.  Art isn't some kind of elite title - If I draw two squiggly lines on a page, and manage to convey something by it, I've made art.  The problem isn't with people trying to make games into art, which has been your standpoint for a long time.  The problem is the idiotic pretensions that often surround and have grown over the process of making art itself, and that problem is in now way one that comes from RPGs or the players of them - it may have infected a few players, but it's not part of some "greater complex" of shit that deserves to be classed with all the other things you lump into your category of "swine".

Roleplaying Games create stories.
Stories.  You bet.  If I write a piece of fanfiction about how Harry Potter grows a set of wings and his rival Malfoy finds them irresistably sexy, that's a story.  If I write something kin to Huckleberry Finn, that's a story.  Most jokes are stories.  Movies are stories, most histories are even stories.  Story, story, story.  And, hey, people like stories, even crave them to some extent.  Stories that speak to their lives, stories that help them escape their lives and catch a glimpse of something else, stories that let them walk along with someone else for a time, real of imagined.  Journeys of wonder.

These stories *can* contain meaning.
Not *do*.  But *can*.  Sometimes, where a character in a story makes a choice that has meaning, morally, socially, politically, or in whatever other way, we notice.  We pay attention.  And sometimes it speaks to us.  We aren't necessarily converted by it; we may find their choices interesting, or loathsome, or any number of other reactions.  And when we are, for however short a time, cast into the place of that other person, the impact is potentially even greater.  From these choices, and our reactions, stories can take on meaning; they help us define who we are.  This isn't to say that games "need to teach".  Fuck that.  On those occasions where I'm interested in engaging with a roleplaying game at this level, it had better not be trying to force me around or control my reactions; games are *not* parables.

...Enough to get started?

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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2006, 06:03:29 PM »
My main argument:

Roleplaying Games are GAMES
the most basic and inherent quality of an RPG is that it can be defined as a "game". It is primarily meant to serve the purpose of a game: a set of rules for play in a group for entertainment. Any other values one might derive from an RPG are purely secondary to that, and trying to make one of those secondary values have too great of an emphasis in the hobby of RPGs will only harm RPG's popularity and viability; since the MAJORITY of gamers are interested in RPGs as games, and the majority of those who would join the RPG hobby would be interested in RPGs at the level of "games".

My Rebuttal:

Pragmatism must be the first order in improving the gaming hobby
Its perfectly nice to say that the best thing to do would be to help the social rejects to feel self-respect. The problem is that in the vast majority of cases that ship has long since passed. Likewise, saying that "vitriol is counterproductive" can really be code for "we're going to talk a bunch of sweet words about understanding and self-respect and do fuck all".
If the goal is to help the gaming hobby, taking an aggresive stance is the fastest and most practical way of brining about change. To suggest that what you call "vitriol" is not effective is ludicrous, aggresiveness has been an important part of countless movements for change. Saying "we're not taking this shit from you" is a significant and useful way to efficate change; certainly more effective than saying "I could help you do things differently" when the person in question has no interest in doing things differently, or saying "please stop your naughty ways or I'll.. I'll... ask you to stop a second time! So there!".
Likewise, this pragmatism also applies to the question of "expanding the hobby". There is a simple and common-sense approach to expanding the hobby, which would be to market to teenagers with books that are aimed to them, with straightforward rules that are not too light, "artistic", or pseudointellectual to appeal to them; in forms that would be afforable and artistically appealing to them; rather than having companies try to continue to cater and pander to an ever-diminishing group of obsessive, often non-playing "collectors"; or trying to appeal to "non-traditional" groups of demographics when the obvious demographic and the one most likely to succeed has not been effectively tapped yet. There's nothing inherently wrong in making products for collectors or non-traditional demographics but neither of these have the potential to actually "revitalize" the industry in the long term.
Gaming does not need to change into something other than gaming in order to be "saved"; it just needs to do what it already does, but better.

If You define everything as "art", then Roleplaying Games are "art", but so what?
There are several ways, by stretching the more traditional definitions of Art, that you could end up defining RPGs as "art". But so what? What good does it accomplish? Likewise, its all well and good to say "we need to get rid of artistic pretentions", but how the hell do you expect to accomplish that?
Its much more useful to say "RPGs are NOT art", so that those who have those artistic pretentions will not be drawn to be pretentious about RPGs. The more we present RPGs as a GAME which is what they primarily are, the less likely that the pretentious (the Swine) will seek to subvert gaming to create a "culture of pretentiousness" like what you see in the modern art scene.

Roleplaying Games Create Stories, But That's Only a Means to an End
Creating "story" is not the goal of the RPG. The RPG's "goal" is to be entertained by creating adventures for characters to experience.  The story is not the goal, the play and conflict (physical or not) is the goal.  The more a game is based on the concept of "story" as a goal, the more likely that the DM will be drawn to railroading and removing player agency in order to create a superior story.  RPGs are NOT stories like novels, or even like plays, because the story is secondary to the Character's ability to make choices. Unlike a novel or a play, the player of the character will base his choices (and should have the freedom to base his choices) on what his character would really consider priorities, and not on following conventional or even unconventional styles of drama or literary structure. At their core, RPGs are emulation (in the form of a game that simulates a genre, or a world, or a place or time), not literature or drama.
The stories these games create can end up having a beginning, middle and end; clear protagonists, or some kind of meaning or theme; but it will not necessarily have any of these. In particular, the existence of multiple players almost always guarantees that trying to follow any kind of typical literary model of a single lead protagonist will lessen RPG's values as a game, and therefore be counterproductive to the purpose of RPGs.  Having meaning or themes in these stories should emerge only in the context of either the emulation of genre (that is, if a particular "theme" is so absolutely essential to a genre that an RPG in that genre will inevitably touch on that theme), or it should emerge organically as a result of the players or the GM's adventure plot.  But games where the "purpose" of the game is either to teach this "message" or to intentionally "collectively explore" a theme will end up suffering in their quality as a game. Just as games are not parables, both parables and roundtable-study-groups make for crappy games.

Your turn.

RPGPundit


Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Excellent.  My starting positions, for the purposes of this debate.

Self-Respect is better than vitriol.
What you spread in your rants and diatribes is vitriol.  Certainly, outrage has it's place, but if you believe that what you're creating is a stable center for any kind of movement, you're fooling yourself.  I say this as one Egomaniac to another - the only thing you'll create in this way is a cult of personality, and that's not even close to being the same as a movement.
If you want to bring gaming closer to being attractive to the majority of people, then what you need to do is teach self-respect to the gamers who don't have it, and encourage them to teach it, in turn to others around them.  Not everyone that needs to learn it will be willing to, instead choosing to bask in whatever miasma they've chosen - and by doing so, they'll "out" themselves far more effectively that you could ever do by getting your hate on.

Roleplaying Games are art.
Yeah, that's right.  When we play these games, we are taking part in the performance of art.  Art isn't some kind of elite title - If I draw two squiggly lines on a page, and manage to convey something by it, I've made art.  The problem isn't with people trying to make games into art, which has been your standpoint for a long time.  The problem is the idiotic pretensions that often surround and have grown over the process of making art itself, and that problem is in now way one that comes from RPGs or the players of them - it may have infected a few players, but it's not part of some "greater complex" of shit that deserves to be classed with all the other things you lump into your category of "swine".

Roleplaying Games create stories.
Stories.  You bet.  If I write a piece of fanfiction about how Harry Potter grows a set of wings and his rival Malfoy finds them irresistably sexy, that's a story.  If I write something kin to Huckleberry Finn, that's a story.  Most jokes are stories.  Movies are stories, most histories are even stories.  Story, story, story.  And, hey, people like stories, even crave them to some extent.  Stories that speak to their lives, stories that help them escape their lives and catch a glimpse of something else, stories that let them walk along with someone else for a time, real of imagined.  Journeys of wonder.

These stories *can* contain meaning.
Not *do*.  But *can*.  Sometimes, where a character in a story makes a choice that has meaning, morally, socially, politically, or in whatever other way, we notice.  We pay attention.  And sometimes it speaks to us.  We aren't necessarily converted by it; we may find their choices interesting, or loathsome, or any number of other reactions.  And when we are, for however short a time, cast into the place of that other person, the impact is potentially even greater.  From these choices, and our reactions, stories can take on meaning; they help us define who we are.  This isn't to say that games "need to teach".  Fuck that.  On those occasions where I'm interested in engaging with a roleplaying game at this level, it had better not be trying to force me around or control my reactions; games are *not* parables.

...Enough to get started?
LION & DRAGON: Medieval-Authentic OSR Roleplaying is available now! You only THINK you've played 'medieval fantasy' until you play L&D.


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The most famous uruguayan gaming blog on the planet!

NEW!
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Dark Albion: The Rose War! The OSR fantasy setting of the history that inspired Shakespeare and Martin alike.
Also available in Variant Cover form!
Also, now with the CULTS OF CHAOS cult-generation sourcebook

ARROWS OF INDRA
Arrows of Indra: The Old-School Epic Indian RPG!
NOW AVAILABLE: AoI in print form

LORDS OF OLYMPUS
The new Diceless RPG of multiversal power, adventure and intrigue, now available.

Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2006, 07:16:24 PM »
Okay.

Roleplaying games are a fusion.

Roleplaying game do, absolutely,  serve the purpose of a game as you define it.  "A set of rules for play in a group for entertainment".  Completely so.  But what particular flavour of entertainment?  What kind of play?  You argue, and correctly, that the majority of gamers seek entertainment through games that are played as games.

Let's skip the idiot session of trying to play with the word "game", and get down to some cases.

Playing the card game Once Upon A Time yields a different kind of entertainment that playing the card game Munchkin.  They are both unquestionably games, yet the first yields stories as a direct and intended result of play.  In the first game, the creation of story is in many ways the entertainment - they act in synthesis, supporting each other.  In the second game, it's the humor and the light-hearted cut-throat nature of the game, among other factors, that provide the entertainment.

Playing the board game Junta provides a different experience of play than playing Chess.  The first is lighter in flavour, and creates a kind of very light roleplaying - as a player, I find the Junta is written well enough, and the details of the game support play well enough, that I as a player have some slight sense of "being there" as the cartoonishly-exaggerated leader of a corrupt banana republic.  And, again, these things support and create the fun.  Personally, I find chess dull, since truly good play requires a level of rote study I'd never put in given the potential rewards.

So.  I posit that roleplaying games can and do manage the same trick; entertainment can come from game elements in the forms I've stated.

Talk changes things

I don't think that the 'ship has passed' for the greater numbers of those under-socialised gamers you pick at; in plain fact, I think you state that because you'd rather spit from a distance than step up and say hello.

To say that making a call for teaching self-respect usually amounts to no more than talking sweet words strikes me as a touch odd; both what I was objecting to and what you're objecting to are talk.  Talking can, and does, change things.

As for an aggressive stance, I don't agree that it's the fastest and most practical means to effect change.  It's certainly one means, and it's the one you've chosen to generally put first.  Myself, I put the other foot first, and I profit by it not only regularly, but in almost every circle.  Can you say the same?

As to the expansion of the hobby

I hadn't actually put forward a thought on this yet, but I'll do it now.  I believe that the fastest way for gamer to expand on the hobby is for them to stop being ashamed of what they do.  Full stop.  A confident presentation is enough to get people interested; some will like it, some won't.

As to broadening the methods of play and the effect that this has on expansion, I believe that's neither here nor there.  More diverse kinds of people are playing, and they're playing more diverse games.  They like these games.  Rock on.

The Art Debate.

This point is on the verge of dissolving into pure semantics, which is as much my fault as yours; it's always close to that point, and we're not making any new progress on it.  I'm going to skip the "let's start posting bits of the dictionary" crap.  You know what I mean; I know what you mean, let's move on to the real and more interesting point you made there.

The possibility of a "culture of pretension".

I love this one, because it's one of the places where I've lived through exactly the kind of thing you're talking about.  That is to say, I play in several World of Darkness LARP games, and have for years.  In the specific case of those games, where I live, there were the beginnings of motions made on such a culture, and it died.  It didn't die because people railed against it.  It died because the people supporting it had aspirations to make games more like some false image of "theatre" that they had set up - and then people actually, professionally involved in the theatre started attending games.  It died of shock; exposure to real theatre killed the pretense, and we instead started seeing things that really were from theatre, and which have no pretense at all, coming in.  The fastest way to kill pretense is to demand that it give you exactly what it promises.

The story argument and player agency

See my points under "roleplaying games are a fusion"; I think I answered most of this here.

As to the argument regarding player agency, I completely agree that many games - especially those inspired or run by the White Wolf "Storyteller" advice from their older books - strip players of their agency in order to pursue story, and that doing so is contrary to the enjoyment of most, if not all, players.

But that's not the only way to pursue story in a game.

A game can just as easily pursue story, without conforming to a pre-set story arc or GM plot, by making the issues of the game relevant issues to the player characters.  

If a character has something about them, a flaw, a motive, an issue, and you put that character into a situation where they need to make real decisions regarding that thing, stories result naturally.  And for many people, that's entertaining.

Over to you.

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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2006, 02:09:56 AM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Okay.

Roleplaying games are a fusion.

So.  I posit that roleplaying games can and do manage the same trick; entertainment can come from game elements in the forms I've stated.


I will not question the specific points you make in this section; however, I will suggest that even conceding the various arguments you make it fails to fulfill the apparent suggestion of your title "Roleplaying games are a fusion".
Suggesting that Junta is different from Chess does not in any way prove that RPGs are in some way a combination of different games to create one kind of "uber game" that must be appreciated at different levels.
Indeed, your title raises several questions that you fail to answer: A fusion of what, exactly, are you arguing?

It is my position that RPGs are not a fusion of any kind of other games or play, they are their own entity; so any conflict or combination you see as inherent to them is in fact non-existent.

Quote

Talk changes things

I don't think that the 'ship has passed' for the greater numbers of those under-socialised gamers you pick at; in plain fact, I think you state that because you'd rather spit from a distance than step up and say hello.

To say that making a call for teaching self-respect usually amounts to no more than talking sweet words strikes me as a touch odd; both what I was objecting to and what you're objecting to are talk.  Talking can, and does, change things.


I disagree. I would suggest that for most of the anti-social gamers, the ship indeed "passed" long before they ever became gamers. Most of the "lawn crappers", the anti-social gamers, have entered the hobby specifically motivated by the fact that the hobby has a reputation for tolerating their kinds of social retardation. They are not interested in changing, and have gravitated to RPGs as a hobby because they know or expect that its adherents will not ask them to change.

Can this have exceptions at the level of the individual? Of course. But then, those who are really interested in participating in the RPG hobby will be willing to change their odious personal habits for the sake of having that privilege. While these people who are trying to change should be encouraged to do so, the onus should not be on the hobby to help "repair" these dysfunctional gamers; the priority of the hobby should be to reposition itself as a group that does not tolerate these behaviours and does not wish to continue attracting the kind of people who participate in them.


Just like the RPG hobby should not be depositaries for social rejects, the membership of the RPG hobby is not a therapy group and should neither attempt to nor be expected to act like one.


Quote

As to the expansion of the hobby

I hadn't actually put forward a thought on this yet, but I'll do it now.  I believe that the fastest way for gamer to expand on the hobby is for them to stop being ashamed of what they do.  Full stop.  A confident presentation is enough to get people interested; some will like it, some won't.


I agree that genuine gamers have nothing to be ashamed about. However, to me this issue is tied into the current dysfunctionality of the hobby; the fact that it has turned into a cesspool for the socially inept.  And the reservations normal gamers might have of revealing their participation in the hobby stem from fear of being mentally associated with these social retards.
Restoring "gamer pride" is an issue that is inextricably tied into cleansing the hobby of the terminally socially retarded and the hopelessly pretentious.

Quote

The possibility of a "culture of pretension".

I love this one, because it's one of the places where I've lived through exactly the kind of thing you're talking about.  That is to say, I play in several World of Darkness LARP games, and have for years.  In the specific case of those games, where I live, there were the beginnings of motions made on such a culture, and it died.  It didn't die because people railed against it.  It died because the people supporting it had aspirations to make games more like some false image of "theatre" that they had set up - and then people actually, professionally involved in the theatre started attending games.  It died of shock; exposure to real theatre killed the pretense, and we instead started seeing things that really were from theatre, and which have no pretense at all, coming in.  The fastest way to kill pretense is to demand that it give you exactly what it promises.


I agree with this; "pretense" is, after all, making claims to that which you are not. The Swine are "pretending" to be artists, pretending to be intellectuals, and for them creating a visage of intellect or art is far more important than actual intellect or art. The games that are "darlings" to them are games that are not revolutionary in mechanics or concepts, but that put on a show about being revolutionary.  When they encounter games (like the Amber Diceless RPG) that are genuinely revolutionary in structure without putting on the pretentious face-makeup, the Swine are not able to react and generally try to be dismissive because they recognize that it shows up their falsehood; the way fake modern "artistes" will react negatively against art that requires real skill or creativity, because it demonstrates how shallow and unartistic they really are.

I am in no way against creating intelligent games, or beautiful games. I am against the promotion of gaming as something pretentiously "intellectual" or "artistic", and the suggestion that those who play certain games are more artistic or more intellectual by the mere fact of claiming to like those games.

Quote

The story argument and player agency

See my points under "roleplaying games are a fusion"; I think I answered most of this here.

As to the argument regarding player agency, I completely agree that many games - especially those inspired or run by the White Wolf "Storyteller" advice from their older books - strip players of their agency in order to pursue story, and that doing so is contrary to the enjoyment of most, if not all, players.

But that's not the only way to pursue story in a game.

A game can just as easily pursue story, without conforming to a pre-set story arc or GM plot, by making the issues of the game relevant issues to the player characters.  

If a character has something about them, a flaw, a motive, an issue, and you put that character into a situation where they need to make real decisions regarding that thing, stories result naturally.  And for many people, that's entertaining.

Over to you.


Your point fails to address the central issue of my point: that any effort to artificially "produce" story in RPGs will naturally result in a loss of agency (player and GM, but especially Player) and an artificial and sub-optimal play experience.
The only context in which the GAME of roleplaying contains "story" is as a set-up for the play. So if you can say you create "story" in RPG, it is in fact only the "beginning" you can create consciously. If either players or GMs collectively and intentionally try to direct "middle" or "end", they damage the game experience.

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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2006, 03:30:59 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
I will not question the specific points you make in this section; however, I will suggest that even conceding the various arguments you make it fails to fulfill the apparent suggestion of your title "Roleplaying games are a fusion".


Hm.  Reading back, that's a fair enough criticism.

The fusion is between the game and roleplaying elements, and of any other elements that are successfully brought in with those two without replacing either.  It's the actual combination of those things that creates, for many, the appeal.

Speaking honestly, it's my belief that many of the games that claim to be innovative roleplaying games are, in plain fact, not.  They are story games, or some other combination - sometimes a successful fusion, sometimes not.  And they stand or fall on their own merits.  But that's pure opinion, as with so much else.

Now, I'll also answer here to your later assertion that deliberate creation of story through play is always artificial and damaging to the experience of play, just to keep this stuff together.

Story-making is an element that can be brought in to roleplaying games while still having them remain roleplaying games.  It is brought in generally through three possible means:

1) By having the GM artifically structure a plot, with a beginning, middle, and end.  This removes player agency, as you've described.

2) By having both players and GM make decisions "on the fly", on the basis of "what makes a good story".  This alters the game experience in ways that some people enjoy and might defend.  I don't enjoy it and won't defend it; it does, in fact, damage my own gaming experience.

3) Through creation of situations, which is a normal part of roleplaying.  The only difference being that these specific situations are created to focus on and put to the test elements of the characters engaged in them, be those character elements physical, mental, social, or emotional.  By doing this, and making it possible for the situation to resolve itself however it plays out, stories are created naturally through play.  

Quote from: RPGPundit
I disagree. I would suggest that for most of the anti-social gamers, the ship indeed "passed" long before they ever became gamers. Most of the "lawn crappers", the anti-social gamers, have entered the hobby specifically motivated by the fact that the hobby has a reputation for tolerating their kinds of social retardation. They are not interested in changing, and have gravitated to RPGs as a hobby because they know or expect that its adherents will not ask them to change.

Can this have exceptions at the level of the individual? Of course. But then, those who are really interested in participating in the RPG hobby will be willing to change their odious personal habits for the sake of having that privilege. While these people who are trying to change should be encouraged to do so, the onus should not be on the hobby to help "repair" these dysfunctional gamers; the priority of the hobby should be to reposition itself as a group that does not tolerate these behaviours and does not wish to continue attracting the kind of people who participate in them.


Just like the RPG hobby should not be depositaries for social rejects, the membership of the RPG hobby is not a therapy group and should neither attempt to nor be expected to act like one.


I disagree entirely regarding the motives you attach to what you call "lawncrappers", but have few specifics to argue from; it's very difficult to prove a negative.  Do you have a specific set of experiences that support you on that point?  If so, I'd ask you to share a couple of those.

Continuing, in order to encourage people to change their habits or opinions effectively, you must accept them.  It's impossible for the hobby to both "not tolerate" people and "encourage" them simultaneously; that kind of behaviour is more commonly, and simply, known as bullying.  

In addition, any hobby that chose not to tolerate certain of those that come to it seeking social acceptance and contact, would by it's nature require a clear means of judgement, whether a body of common and easily-referenced practice or a manifesto - a statement of intented practice - which can rationally and capably be carried out by those in agreement with it.  You've provided the hobby with neither, to this date.  Nor can I imagine either as being more than a series of stories of abuse or a statement of such elitism as to make almost everyone turn up their nose.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I agree that genuine gamers have nothing to be ashamed about. However, to me this issue is tied into the current dysfunctionality of the hobby; the fact that it has turned into a cesspool for the socially inept.  And the reservations normal gamers might have of revealing their participation in the hobby stem from fear of being mentally associated with these social retards.
Restoring "gamer pride" is an issue that is inextricably tied into cleansing the hobby of the terminally socially retarded and the hopelessly pretentious.


I think the number of people I'd consider terminally socially inept or hopelessly pretentious is so miniscule as to not even warrant considering.  In your estimation, I believe that you consider them as a small, but socially pungent, minority.

I'm not afraid to be associated with gamers.  There are football fans, science fiction fans, and fans of almost any continuing work of popular fiction that are at least as socially impoverished as the very least among us.  And yet the people of those groups discuss their fandom with confidence.  The difference between us and them in these terms is not the presence of such folk as you denigrate.  

I'll skip the point of agreement; neither of us has much use for pretense, we simply differ on how we'd like to address it, and we're already covering that ground above.  Good enough for me.  If you'd like to return to it, feel free.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Your point fails to address the central issue of my point: that any effort to artificially "produce" story in RPGs will naturally result in a loss of agency (player and GM, but especially Player) and an artificial and sub-optimal play experience.
The only context in which the GAME of roleplaying contains "story" is as a set-up for the play. So if you can say you create "story" in RPG, it is in fact only the "beginning" you can create consciously. If either players or GMs collectively and intentionally try to direct "middle" or "end", they damage the game experience.


As answered above.

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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2006, 02:03:45 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Hm.  Reading back, that's a fair enough criticism.

The fusion is between the game and roleplaying elements, and of any other elements that are successfully brought in with those two without replacing either.  It's the actual combination of those things that creates, for many, the appeal.

You see, I think that Roleplaying is the game, and that there isn't some mysterious "game that excludes the roleplaying" nor is there a "roleplaying without game".

Certainly, I can see where this opinion comes about. You look at, say, wargames; and then you look at interactive theatre-games, and you say "well roleplaying is a fusion between those two"!

However, my position is that this is not the case. Roleplaying is not a combination of the two, its a totally individual game that happens to find itself positioned somewhere in the spectrum between those those if you put all three together on a spectrum (and if you did, RPGs would be a hell of a lot closer to the wargames than the "theatresports").

While RPGs do have a small "spectrum" of their own where you can have slightly more or slightly less emphasis on mechanics; in reality if you veer very much in either direction what you create stops being a roleplaying game in any form.  Some of the games hailed by the Forge and others as "truly innovative" RPGs are games that have simply chosen not to be RPGs at all.

Quote
Speaking honestly, it's my belief that many of the games that claim to be innovative roleplaying games are, in plain fact, not.  They are story games, or some other combination - sometimes a successful fusion, sometimes not.  And they stand or fall on their own merits.  But that's pure opinion, as with so much else.

If you hold this position, which is pretty much identical to my own; you may want to rethink that idea of defining RPGs themselves as a "fusion".

Quote
Story-making is an element that can be brought in to roleplaying games while still having them remain roleplaying games.  It is brought in generally through three possible means:

1) By having the GM artifically structure a plot, with a beginning, middle, and end.  This removes player agency, as you've described.

2) By having both players and GM make decisions "on the fly", on the basis of "what makes a good story".  This alters the game experience in ways that some people enjoy and might defend.  I don't enjoy it and won't defend it; it does, in fact, damage my own gaming experience.

3) Through creation of situations, which is a normal part of roleplaying.  The only difference being that these specific situations are created to focus on and put to the test elements of the characters engaged in them, be those character elements physical, mental, social, or emotional.  By doing this, and making it possible for the situation to resolve itself however it plays out, stories are created naturally through play.  

I basically agree with your descriptions. To me, however, the third way you mentioned is the only acceptable way that "story" enters into RPGs.  This means that anyone looking for "story" in their RPGs had better be willing to deal with disappointment; because while occasionally this kind of crapshooting will result in spectacular stories spontaneously manifesting, in many cases creating the "setup" will result in something that is not "dramatically appealing" but is good gameplay.

So, my position is that since the only acceptable part of story that one can impose in an RPG is the "beginning of story", that means that RPGs:
1. Are NOT vehicles for the creation of story as some would wish them to be.
2. Will create disappointment in people who are really looking for some kind of mutual storytelling experience.  These individuals have the choice to leave RPGs and look elsewhere for their "shared storytelling"; unfortunately instead they often tend to try to subvert RPGs to try to awkwardly force them to satisfy their much more controlled story-making needs.

Quote
I disagree entirely regarding the motives you attach to what you call "lawncrappers", but have few specifics to argue from; it's very difficult to prove a negative.  Do you have a specific set of experiences that support you on that point?  If so, I'd ask you to share a couple of those.

Its common sense. And yes, I've seen it. Starting in high school where you get the freak kids, seeing that the more normal nerds play D&D, and try to worm their way in (and the normal nerdy kids usually let them on account that they have both been picked on by the same bullies and have a false sense of camaraderie).  By University, you have the total freak engineering students (often those who will never actually complete the program; and I'm certainly not implying that all lawncrappers are engineering students or that all engineering students are lawncrappers), who spend all their time in the student union lounge glommed onto the U of Whatever Gaming Club; trying to force their way into the gaming groups that operate out of there. After dropping out, these are the guys in their late 20s you'll see hanging out at the local gaming store making the place generally unpleasant. Apparently unable to control the volume of their voice, rarely if ever bathing, hitting on pre-adolescent girls (or occasionally boys); when these prime examples of humanity aren't living at home with their mom they're hanging out at the FLGS, because they certainly don't have mortal concerns like a job or showering to worry about.

Now, there's really only two ways you can look at these human losers in their relation to RPGs.  Either RPGs made them this way, or they were already like this before RPGs.
The former is an absurd assumption to discuss, given that there are countless of us who have played RPGs and end up being normal healthy members of society, given that there are plenty of lawn crappers who aren't in the RPG hobby, and simply recognizing that in most of these cases their social dysfunction is already painfully evident before they get involved with RPGs.
So if the latter is the case, you can assume that RPGs as a hobby are appealing to them because they see it as something that fits with their chosen lifestyle of dysfunction.

Now, we also see "lawncrappers" in various other "hobbies": Star Trek, Comic books, Anime, model trains, etc etc. Their attitudes and behaviours are the same as our lawn-crappers, and indeed in some cases they are the very same lawncrappers who are aggresive parts of more than one hobby. What they have in common is that all of these groups suffer from the Geek Social Fallacy: They do not believe in forcing people to change in order to be allowed to participate. They say "come as you are".

Our lawncrappers may choose RPGs over, say, model trains, because they happen to like RPGs more. In a few cases it might also be pure coincidence; it might be that there were more nerdy kids back in junior high playing D&D than playing with model trains, so that was the particular hobby he ran into. I'm willing to concede though, that in most cases there will be some interest in the particulars of the hobby; which may visibly manifest as an extreme obsession in the hobby, in fact. Just like if his hobby of choice was Anime he might have hundreds of minmei models in his basement bedroom, or if his hobby was Star Wars he might demonstrate an unhealthy amount of paraphanelia related to "the kid who played Anakin in EP.1", if his hobby is RPGs then he might have maps from all the old D&D boxed sets splayed all over his room and know every last detail about the Dalelands.

But in reality, all of this obsessive behaviour is purely a secondary effect of his particular social illness. The key reason why he's into RPGs is because he can have social interaction there without being expected to be socially presentable.

When I was younger, there were some lawncrappers who'd try to gravitate into my gaming groups.  At the time, being young and stupid, I was a victim of the Social Fallacy and tried to be "inclusive", and I figured that having a guy who was a "good roleplayer" was more important than whether the guy was otherwise pleasant.  But in a short time I came to realize something; most of the lawncrappers are also terrible roleplayers. Mainly because their interaction with gaming groups are really all about them being fulfilled, and not about playing the game. They want to feel accepted, important, even popular; and often bizzarely think that loudly showing off their own particular dementias are the way to get this.
In any case, I tried in some cases to be friendly to these guys, to socialize them, to tell them that they needed to learn not to shout, that it wasn't ok to hit on the female player, that no one wanted to roleplay their wierd sexual fetish in the game, that when you are in someone else's house you shouldn't go rooting through his room, or his sister's panty drawer, or fail to adequately use the bathroom and leave a mess.

But its no good. Under pressure, these guys will leave your group. They'll go to another group, one where they will be accepted as they are. They don't want to change. If they wanted to change, they'd be doing all kinds of other things beside RPGs.  And the process of "changing" them would need far more than just some friendly gaming buddies; they'd need years of therapy, better education, a job, help getting a woman, moving out of mommy's loving arms, whatever. But first and foremost they'd need the willpower.
Its far beyond what RPGs as a hobby or us as individuals can do. So all we can do, in fact, is to tell them "either change these things about yourself, or leave".

Quote
Continuing, in order to encourage people to change their habits or opinions effectively, you must accept them.  It's impossible for the hobby to both "not tolerate" people and "encourage" them simultaneously; that kind of behaviour is more commonly, and simply, known as bullying.  

No, its known as a code of conduct. I don't consider saying "You must demonstrate proper hygene to play in my gaming group", or "if you want to
run my company's demo game at the con, you must not hit on the teenage girls", or a simple "Shouting obscenities at random intervals means you don't get to play with us" to be "bullying". I'd call it Civilization.

Quote
In addition, any hobby that chose not to tolerate certain of those that come to it seeking social acceptance and contact, would by it's nature require a clear means of judgement, whether a body of common and easily-referenced practice or a manifesto - a statement of intented practice - which can rationally and capably be carried out by those in agreement with it.  You've provided the hobby with neither, to this date.  Nor can I imagine either as being more than a series of stories of abuse or a statement of such elitism as to make almost everyone turn up their nose.

I'd say its very simple; and doesn't require a code of conduct. It just requires saying that we, as gamers, agree that we will not allow anyone to participate in our games at home, activities at the FLGS or activities at Cons who would not be considered acceptable people to invite with you to your best friend's dinner party or who you would not feel happy about exposing to a young niece or a nephew.

We don't need to get into legalisms here, we all know how to spot one of the lawn-crappers. They make themselves very easy to identify.

Quote
I think the number of people I'd consider terminally socially inept or hopelessly pretentious is so miniscule as to not even warrant considering.  In your estimation, I believe that you consider them as a small, but socially pungent, minority.

I do, though I would say "socially poisonous". They are causing incredible harm to the hobby.

Quote
I'm not afraid to be associated with gamers.  There are football fans, science fiction fans, and fans of almost any continuing work of popular fiction that are at least as socially impoverished as the very least among us.  And yet the people of those groups discuss their fandom with confidence.  The difference between us and them in these terms is not the presence of such folk as you denigrate.  

Please give an example of a group with a percentage of lawn crappers equal or greater than our hobby's, where the normal members of that hobby openly proclaim their fandom to all and sundry.  I would suggest that these days the "Normal" Star Trek fan (the few that are left) would be very cautious about showing anything more than a mild appreciation of that show to the public at large, for fear of being mistaken for one of those who dress up as klingons to go to jury duty or ask for religious holidays at work for their "Vulcan Pon Farr Ceremony".
As for football; the sheer numbers of football fans in the united states make it so that the relative per capita percentage of lawn crappers is so miniscule that they are not associated with that hobby as a whole.

On the other end of the scale, look at Furries. That's a good example of a group that was completely subverted by lawn crappers who were not particularly interested in the hobby, but were only drawn to a social group where their sexual fetishes were permissible to expose in public, no matter how vile. Who in their right mind would cop to being a furry fan these days; at least without making some very serious apologetics and condemnations ("but not like THOSE kind") first?

The socially dysfunctional gravitate toward "nerdy" hobbies, they also tend to be capable of destroying these hobbies, in terms of reputation first, and then by atrophy in terms of membership, until there's practically nothing but the socially retarded left in the hobby.  We can't fix them, and our priority must be to act against this tide before we too reach a point of irreparable harm.


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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2006, 03:20:20 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
You see, I think that Roleplaying is the game, and that there isn't some mysterious "game that excludes the roleplaying" nor is there a "roleplaying without game".


Mysterious, no.  Dead, yes.

I refer you to the no-longer-produced Warhammer Quest for the first instance - a pure adventure game that fails if you try to consider it a roleplaying experience.

And for the second instance, I refer you to the equally-no-longer-produced Theatrix - a set of roleplaying guidelines that fails utterly as a game.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Certainly, I can see where this opinion comes about. You look at, say, wargames; and then you look at interactive theatre-games, and you say "well roleplaying is a fusion between those two"!

However, my position is that this is not the case. Roleplaying is not a combination of the two, its a totally individual game that happens to find itself positioned somewhere in the spectrum between those those if you put all three together on a spectrum (and if you did, RPGs would be a hell of a lot closer to the wargames than the "theatresports").


I've called it a combination of elements from both - which differs from a direct combination.  But this grows perilously close to being no more than a matter of expression without some clarifying.

I don't disagree that most published, and certainly the most popular, roleplaying games, are closer to wargaming than to theatresports.  But I think they can wander a fair bit inside of that middle ground before they break off and truly become something else.

Quote from: RPGPundit
While RPGs do have a small "spectrum" of their own where you can have slightly more or slightly less emphasis on mechanics; in reality if you veer very much in either direction what you create stops being a roleplaying game in any form.  Some of the games hailed by the Forge and others as "truly innovative" RPGs are games that have simply chosen not to be RPGs at all.

If you hold this position, which is pretty much identical to my own; you may want to rethink that idea of defining RPGs themselves as a "fusion".


I suspect that I consider this spectrum to be significantly wider than you would, and I expect that's an issue of some relevance here.  Shall we get down to specific cases?  I can provide them with a little looking around, or you can, if you'd prefer.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I basically agree with your descriptions. To me, however, the third way you mentioned is the only acceptable way that "story" enters into RPGs.  This means that anyone looking for "story" in their RPGs had better be willing to deal with disappointment; because while occasionally this kind of crapshooting will result in spectacular stories spontaneously manifesting, in many cases creating the "setup" will result in something that is not "dramatically appealing" but is good gameplay.


That's close enough in my experience, though I'd say that it produces spectacular stories sometimes, good ones with solid gameplay usually, and excellent but not particularly story-like play occasionally.  I'm in favor of all three outcomes.

It may interest you, and may be worth some debate, to know that the third method I described there is one of the core ideas used by many of those Small-press, Indie, and Forge-influenced games that you find so unappealing - the other ideas, which may be where your objection lies, often include:

1) Having mechanics more related to emulating a 'feel' than to emulating reality.  I enjoy some games that follow this practice, so I'd be willing to expand on this and defend it, if you're interested.

2) Granting more creative control to the players in specific forms.  Again, this is something that works well for me, so I'd be willing to expand on and defend this as well.

3) Including game rules that compell decisions pushing towards plot structure without requiring it.  I'm a bit iffy on many of these; I can expand on them, but my defense is likely to be somewhat lacking.

Quote from: RPGPundit
So, my position is that since the only acceptable part of story that one can impose in an RPG is the "beginning of story", that means that RPGs:
1. Are NOT vehicles for the creation of story as some would wish them to be.
2. Will create disappointment in people who are really looking for some kind of mutual storytelling experience.  These individuals have the choice to leave RPGs and look elsewhere for their "shared storytelling"; unfortunately instead they often tend to try to subvert RPGs to try to awkwardly force them to satisfy their much more controlled story-making needs.


As some would wish them to be?

Maybe - but maybe not.  Let me speak further from my own experience.

I was actually one of those people that tried to follow the White Wolf advice on what plainly amounts to building a happy little railroad, because I wanted story in my games.  Integrating the first few bits of advice worked well.  The next few bits made things even more storylike, but began to rob players of their agency.

The three numbered items a few posts back - Methods #1, 2, and 3 of getting story in games?  That's the progression I followed, moving from 1 to 2 to 3.  It wasn't until I got to the third one that I had to drive my head into my desk, because it was what I'd been trying to get all along.

I'm completely certain that I'm not alone in this regard.  No "subversion" was attempted on my part, nor on the part of any others I know that made the same trip.

But despite all that; yes, absolutely, there are limits to how storylike a game can become and remain an RPG.  

Quote from: RPGPundit
*Snip*


Here, I see two major points of argument; if I've skipped important items, bring them back up.

First, that they people you're referring to have chosen a socially dysfunctional lifestyle.  I don't think that's true.  I think that many of them want desperately to escape that dysfunction, and simply don't know how.  It's not hard for a few friends to give them a hand.  Now, certainly, a puny number are intractable and set in their way; I don't associate with them, but neither do I see why others that are willing to do so shouldn't be outright encouraged.

Second, when you refer to the social fallacy, you speak as if were either "on" or "off".  I don't agree.  I'll borrowing from a different statement of mine here.

Gamers tend to be inclusive; it's a virtue. We don’t spend as much time playing ego games over popularity as many others do, though we do play some. Further, we’re often willing to go an extra step to include a friend, helping them along and getting them up to speed. That’s a good thing, all told, and I love that about us. Gamers that don’t practice this virtue (and, like all virtues, it does require practice) are the ones that most often call for the “exile” of the least socially adept among us. Gamers that practice it in excess are the ones that feel that everyone, no matter how unwilling to take part in such basic necessities as regular bathing or refraining from being truly noxious, should always be included, without criticism. Moderate gamers, however, will give pretty much anyone a chance, maybe even a few chances and a chunk of healthy advice along the way, but are willing to send the truly hopeless packing when it’s obvious that including them is more trouble than it’s worth.

In excess, inclusiveness is the problem you describe.  In absence, it's what you seem to be calling for.  I'm not calling for excess; I'm calling for moderate amounts.

Quote from: RPGPundit
Please give an example of a group with a percentage of lawn crappers equal or greater than our hobby's, where the normal members of that hobby openly proclaim their fandom to all and sundry.


In my experience?

MMORPG players.  

Fan-Fiction writers.

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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2006, 08:00:37 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
Mysterious, no.  Dead, yes.

I refer you to the no-longer-produced Warhammer Quest for the first instance - a pure adventure game that fails if you try to consider it a roleplaying experience.


Well of course it does! That sort of supports my point, doesn't it?

Quote

And for the second instance, I refer you to the equally-no-longer-produced Theatrix - a set of roleplaying guidelines that fails utterly as a game.


Yup, which fits with my point about games that define themselves away from being real RPGs.

Quote

I don't disagree that most published, and certainly the most popular, roleplaying games, are closer to wargaming than to theatresports.  But I think they can wander a fair bit inside of that middle ground before they break off and truly become something else.

I suspect that I consider this spectrum to be significantly wider than you would, and I expect that's an issue of some relevance here.  Shall we get down to specific cases?  I can provide them with a little looking around, or you can, if you'd prefer.


If you would like to give some specific cases, please do.
For my part, I'll explain that I DO consider games like Nobilis and Weapons of the Gods to be RPGs, albeit rather poor ones.
I agree with you that Theatrix really wasn't an RPG. My feeling is that My Life With Master is a good example of a game that really isn't an RPG either.

Quote

That's close enough in my experience, though I'd say that it produces spectacular stories sometimes, good ones with solid gameplay usually, and excellent but not particularly story-like play occasionally.  I'm in favor of all three outcomes.


I have no problem with a game play that ends up creating a novel or tv-like story, when it happens organically. That's quite cool. But wanting the game to be like a TV show or a novel is where things get fucked up.

Quote

It may interest you, and may be worth some debate, to know that the third method I described there is one of the core ideas used by many of those Small-press, Indie, and Forge-influenced games that you find so unappealing -


Could you give me some examples? It seems to me that most of the Forge games I'm familiar with seek to impose story in one form or another.

Quote

the other ideas, which may be where your objection lies, often include:

1) Having mechanics more related to emulating a 'feel' than to emulating reality.  I enjoy some games that follow this practice, so I'd be willing to expand on this and defend it, if you're interested.


It depends what you mean by "emulating a feel".  Many RPGs seek to emulate a Genre. To me this is exactly what RPGs are SUPPOSED to be doing. A Star Wars RPG should create the feeling of the Star Wars universe when its played, for example. One of my criticisms of virtually every "supers" RPG is that they in no way effectively emulate the unwritten rules of comic books, where how badass a hero is depends not on his power level but on his level of protagonism.  Even otherwise good games like Mutants & Masterminds fail to do this; they can't really simulate the "Superman Vs. Batman" effect.
So if that's what you're talking about we're actually in agreement there. But given that you're talking about something coming out of the Forge, I wouldn't be surprised if their definition of "emulating a feel" has fuck all to do with what it sounds like.

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2) Granting more creative control to the players in specific forms.  Again, this is something that works well for me, so I'd be willing to expand on and defend this as well.


Please do; because I've found that almost always this makes for an irreconcileable power struggle in gaming groups and a shitty game. The Players should have control over their characters, the GM control over the world. That's one of the things that, to me, define RPG. And those games where the players can influence the world beyond the actions of their characters are to me games that can't really be defined as RPGs anymore.

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3) Including game rules that compell decisions pushing towards plot structure without requiring it.  I'm a bit iffy on many of these; I can expand on them, but my defense is likely to be somewhat lacking.


Could you give an example of what you mean here, because I'm not clear on that?

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I was actually one of those people that tried to follow the White Wolf advice on what plainly amounts to building a happy little railroad, because I wanted story in my games.  Integrating the first few bits of advice worked well.  The next few bits made things even more storylike, but began to rob players of their agency.

The three numbered items a few posts back - Methods #1, 2, and 3 of getting story in games?  That's the progression I followed, moving from 1 to 2 to 3.  It wasn't until I got to the third one that I had to drive my head into my desk, because it was what I'd been trying to get all along.


You see this is what strikes me as odd; something that continually vexes me about you game theorists; given that it seems that the few of you that get beyond pointless semantics and pseudo-intellectual bullshit posturing will instead talk about what I would DEFINE as "roleplaying", as in what I've been doing since day one and age 11, as though it was some holy grail that you had to discover. It makes me wonder if you guys weren't seriously fucked around by someone; I blame it on White Wolf, as I note most of you are part of what I termed that "lost generation". You never had a chance to see how normal people roleplay, and now you had to go through this whole unbelievably ridiculous process to get to the point where you do what the rest of us just learnt to pick up and do naturally.

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I'm completely certain that I'm not alone in this regard.  No "subversion" was attempted on my part, nor on the part of any others I know that made the same trip.


I'd suggest the "subversion" was on the part of the people who's products fucked you up so badly that it took you this long to figure out how to just roleplay. Your little life story up there serves to make my point about the story-based Swine and their effect on the hobby.

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First, that they people you're referring to have chosen a socially dysfunctional lifestyle.  I don't think that's true.  I think that many of them want desperately to escape that dysfunction, and simply don't know how.  It's not hard for a few friends to give them a hand.  Now, certainly, a puny number are intractable and set in their way; I don't associate with them, but neither do I see why others that are willing to do so shouldn't be outright encouraged.


Oh, I suppose most of them didn't just wake up one day and say "well, I think I'm going to decide to be a hopeless mouth-breathing social deviant forever". But I also know that for any of us there are moments where we can choose to make efforts to do things or not to do things. We are not the helpless products of our environments.  And in the end of the day, they are still fucked up there because they choose to be.
Certainly, if one of these guys comes up to me and says "I really want to change, I really do", I'd try to give him a hand, but most of the times these guys come into the game with the expectation that their lawn-crappery will be and must be tolerated and will see your criticism of them, or even well-intentioned efforts to help them change as "intolerance".

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Gamers tend to be inclusive; it's a virtue. We don’t spend as much time playing ego games over popularity as many others do, though we do play some. Further, we’re often willing to go an extra step to include a friend, helping them along and getting them up to speed. That’s a good thing, all told, and I love that about us. Gamers that don’t practice this virtue (and, like all virtues, it does require practice) are the ones that most often call for the “exile” of the least socially adept among us. Gamers that practice it in excess are the ones that feel that everyone, no matter how unwilling to take part in such basic necessities as regular bathing or refraining from being truly noxious, should always be included, without criticism. Moderate gamers, however, will give pretty much anyone a chance, maybe even a few chances and a chunk of healthy advice along the way, but are willing to send the truly hopeless packing when it’s obvious that including them is more trouble than it’s worth.


Well, you can accuse me of being "uninclusive" if you like, but I'm actually a fairly broad and open-minded individual. Lots of people have quircks or even bad habits, and I can take those. Some people may be going through difficult periods, and I can accept that too. But again, to me it is not "extremism" or "intolerance" (or "uninclusiveness" if you like) to suggest that a Game Store owner kick out someone who hangs out in his store and smells of cat piss, rather than expect that store owner to have to try to make the guy his social project.

Because, at the end of the day, gaming might be a "Hobby" and it may be a "business" (even an "industry"), but its not a "family" or a religion or a therapy group. We can place expectations of behaviour, cleanliness, etc on people in our hobby. And we have to.

I understand that you value that Gamers are tolerant. And its good that we are; but I think that your concerns that we could somehow turn from where we are into some group that unfairly excludes is unfounded. You are worried that we might run out of water when we are drowning.

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In excess, inclusiveness is the problem you describe.  In absence, it's what you seem to be calling for.  I'm not calling for excess; I'm calling for moderate amounts.


And you honestly don't believe we are currently in a state of "excess" of inclusiveness? How many more lawn-crappers do we need to have before you think that there might be too many in the neighbourhood?


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In my experience?

MMORPG players.  

Fan-Fiction writers.


I haven't had any experience with anyone telling me out of the blue that they are fan-fiction writers, much less with pride, so I can't really comment on that. Perhaps its just not the circles I run in, or perhaps its for other reasons.

You may have something of a point with MMORPG players, in that people have no problem with admitting that they're hooked on WoW or what have you; but again, the "freaks" in the world of WoW are like all internet freaks, anonymous. They don't affect the view of computer game players in society at large because they don't create a visible fandom that brings shame to the hobby, they're just characters on a screen (ill-mannered cheating pking characters, but just characters); there are no public "stereotypes" about them.

That is another problem with the lawn-crappers of our hobby (and others, aside from purely online hobbies like MMORPGs): the lawn-crappers tend to wear not only their sociopathy but also their fandom as badges of pride, creating the negative public image that damages the hobby, in the case of some hobbies to a terminal extent.  The grotesquely overweight unemployed unbathed 28 year old trying to convince a 14 year old girl to come back to his mom's basement with him by saying he's a "14th level Ranger" is the only place you need to look for an answer as to why gamers "lack self confidence about admitting their hobby to the public". Because we are already at the point that if a perfectly normal guy tells Joe Public that he's an RPG gamer, that image of "14th level ranger" guy is what will come into Joe Public's head.

The prosecution pretty much rests its case with that, as to whether we need to be less tolerant or more tolerant of those with social dysfunctions in this hobby.

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Levi Kornelsen

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« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2006, 09:24:07 PM »
I'm going to hit just a couple of specific responses here, and then state my positions on the new things we've recently opened up for debate.

Quote from: RPGPundit
You see this is what strikes me as odd; something that continually vexes me about you game theorists; given that it seems that the few of you that get beyond pointless semantics and pseudo-intellectual bullshit posturing will instead talk about what I would DEFINE as "roleplaying", as in what I've been doing since day one and age 11, as though it was some holy grail that you had to discover. It makes me wonder if you guys weren't seriously fucked around by someone; I blame it on White Wolf, as I note most of you are part of what I termed that "lost generation". You never had a chance to see how normal people roleplay, and now you had to go through this whole unbelievably ridiculous process to get to the point where you do what the rest of us just learnt to pick up and do naturally.


I find this pretty funny, myself.  Specifically, I find it funny because when people come to play with me, and I tell them about what I do in games I run, they say "Oh, yeah, I do that."

And then we play, and they say "yeah, I do that - but not the same way, or to the same degree".

So, I'd say that by means of an admittedly circuitous process, a lot of theory people have managed to dig out what are, ultimately, completely simple and dirt-common ideas that people did without even realizing it, and put them right at the forefront of their games.  It doesn't necessarily make the games better or worse; it just makes them different - more to one set of tastes and less to another.

And, of course, there's also some theory stuff that is pure drivel, or helpful only to the barest few.  That's hardly news, though.

Quote from: RPGPundit
I understand that you value that Gamers are tolerant. And its good that we are; but I think that your concerns that we could somehow turn from where we are into some group that unfairly excludes is unfounded. You are worried that we might run out of water when we are drowning.


Let me tell you a bit about my extended gaming circle and FLGS....

I LARP and tabletop both; in the last month, more LARP than tabletop because some of my regular players have University finals.  Our extended group of some fifty people over a good three LARPs and ten or so tabletops contains, so far as social outcasts are concerned, about three people that the majority of the people in the extended group roll their eyes at regularly, but that are regular attendees at events.

In the last three years, we've had contact with exactly one person that needed to be simply exiled.  In this case, well-bathed, well-groomed, but apparently a compulsive bullshitter that got caught out repeatedly inside the first night he appeared, and departed within a week because a few of our members called him on his crap every single time they caught him.

We have an FLGS we visit.  It has two or three regulars that aren't exactly socially adept, and the managers of the store have enough balls and enough sense that if there's a problem, they simply walk up and say "Hey. See you next week, earliest, or never again."

I've heard plenty of stories about places where it was worse, and I have  seen gamers in stores and at events that made me shudder - but I always need to wonder if those gamers haven't already been exiled to the degree you're talking about, and judging from the way they often can't seem to find a group and need to bitch about it, I suspect that many of them have.

Quote from: RPGPundit
The grotesquely overweight unemployed unbathed 28 year old trying to convince a 14 year old girl to come back to his mom's basement with him by saying he's a "14th level Ranger" is the only place you need to look for an answer as to why gamers "lack self confidence about admitting their hobby to the public". Because we are already at the point that if a perfectly normal guy tells Joe Public that he's an RPG gamer, that image of "14th level ranger" guy is what will come into Joe Public's head.

The prosecution pretty much rests its case with that, as to whether we need to be less tolerant or more tolerant of those with social dysfunctions in this hobby.


You know, I won't even deny the possible existence of such a repulsive figure.

I'll, instead, say this...

The public knows what they see.  If Joe Public only sees that one guy being gross, and never learns that five or six other perfectly cool people he knows are gamers, then Mr. "14th level ranger" has already won - even if he's been exiled from the hobby at large.

No confidence means no recovery of reputation.  

If, just for the sake of example, the hobby is 1% made up of people that cast an image just as poor as Mr. "14th level ranger", and 98% composed of people that keep their gaming habits quiet, awaiting the day when the stigma of gamers vanishes, then half of all visisble gamers are repellent, and the stigma won't vanish.

I'm not saying those numbers are correct by any means, mind you; I'm saying that if the majority (whatever their numbers) stand up, then Mr. Ranger suddenly dwindles in the public eye.

...

On to the new stuff.

RPG Boundaries
By my standards, a Roleplaying Game is what it is because it combines elements of both named things - roleplaying and games - into, as you've said, a singular experience available in neither.  Putting those on an axis, we get a range.

1. Just outside of RPGs, in "pure game" territory, we have, for example, Warhammer Quest.

2. Towards the game end of the axis, but firmly in the territory, we find Iron Heroes, D&D, WFRP and the majority of both the older and the more popular games.

3. Towards the roleplaying end of the axis, but still firmly inside the line, we get games that have fuzzier mechanics, or ones that govern only certain kinds of situations - Castle Falkenstein, for example, which can abruptly cease to be a game if you drop about two pages of rules, or can move suddenly to near the center if you add in the optional rules from it's supplements.

4. Just outside the area, we get Theatrix.


The Story Boundary
Again, by my own standards, spotting the boundary of what is and isn't an RPG in terms of "story inclusion" is a matter of cases.  Dogs in the Vineyard, with clear characterisation, speaking in-character, and a diced resolution system that includes tactics (though different ones than usual) remains an RPG.  Polaris, which is based off an extended negotiation as a dramatic device for playing and story-building around the character, goes outside; it's a Story Game (this isn't meant as any kind of statement on the quality of it, mind you, just where I think it goes).

On emulating a feel

Okay, on reflection, I meant two seperate things by this, and I'm going to seperate them for clarity.  

First, rules that emulate the feel of a genre; if a villlian get "evil points" they can spend to do villainous things, that's a mechanic that emulates something, and one I expect you'd enjoy if it was done well.  Many small games have those, but they also have...

Rules that are meant to emulate narrative pacing.  For example, one rule or piece of advice - it amounts in this case to the same basic thing - from Dogs In The Vineyard (and the only rule from that game that I somewhat mislike), is that the GM should constantly push for escalation in the game.  After the situation is constructed, they are to keep going harder.  Naturally, this emulates the feel of "rising action" - the middle of most stories - in a game.

Player empowerment without power struggle

This one is possibly the strangest case of deliberately missing rules I've run into.  In a few of the small-press and independent games, limits to player authority are handled by not handling them in a very specific way.  That is, when the text of a game makes it abundantly obvious that power struggles will ruin the game if you have them, and therefore you had damn well better sort out your shit together, people do.  Yes, I'm aware that it doesn't sound like hardly any answer at all, but I've seen it work - sitting down with my players and saying "you're free to narrate this and that and the other, and if you screw up the game, then you screwed it up."; and they blink, and then we play, and they pause every so often and we sort out a detail for a second, and we keep going.

...

Okay, I'm not sure I covered everything you wanted, but I'm out of cigarettes, so I'm going to stop there and go get some.

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« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2006, 10:45:52 PM »
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen

I find this pretty funny, myself.  Specifically, I find it funny because when people come to play with me, and I tell them about what I do in games I run, they say "Oh, yeah, I do that."

And then we play, and they say "yeah, I do that - but not the same way, or to the same degree".

So, I'd say that by means of an admittedly circuitous process, a lot of theory people have managed to dig out what are, ultimately, completely simple and dirt-common ideas that people did without even realizing it, and put them right at the forefront of their games.  It doesn't necessarily make the games better or worse; it just makes them different - more to one set of tastes and less to another.


You're basically saying here that "no really, its different from just roleplaying it" and asking me to just believe that.
Can you give some examples of HOW whatever you do is different from what I and most other gamers just do intuitively? Because I have to say, from just reading what you've said thus far, it strikes me as pretty much just roleplaying...

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And, of course, there's also some theory stuff that is pure drivel, or helpful only to the barest few.  That's hardly news, though.


No, it isn't news. But it is sort of news to hear an admitted game theorist admit that.

Quote

We have an FLGS we visit.  It has two or three regulars that aren't exactly socially adept, and the managers of the store have enough balls and enough sense that if there's a problem, they simply walk up and say "Hey. See you next week, earliest, or never again."


At this point I'll remind you that you and me are from the same 'hood, though I don't live there anymore. And this statement has got me asking "what the fuck FLGS does he go to?"

Because if you're talking Edmonton, there's basically WARP 1 and Whyte Knight.  WARP 1 is run by one of those sharklike profiteering assholes who vacuum-seals all the books and charges $5 extra on the cover price. You don't have people actually gaming in there, but the regulars that hang out there (and many of the staff members) tend to be of a somewhat questionable character (though, other than the owner, the staff tends to have a rapid turnover, so its always a different set of questions).

Whyte Knight, on the other hand, is the FLGS I tend to think of when I bring up a lot of my "Lawn Crapper" stories. The gang of fuckwits who regularly hang out at the gaming tables there are pretty much living breathing examples of the sort of extreme social dysfunction that I'm talking about here.  So unless there's some new FLGS in town or the situation has changed radically since the last time I was there,  I don't know where you're getting this from.

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The public knows what they see.  If Joe Public only sees that one guy being gross, and never learns that five or six other perfectly cool people he knows are gamers, then Mr. "14th level ranger" has already won - even if he's been exiled from the hobby at large.

No confidence means no recovery of reputation.  


I will concede this point to you. To me, both elements have to be part of the solution. You need normal gamers being open about their gaming, so that the public at large sees that in fact most gamers are normal productive members of society, and you need those same normal gamers making it clear that not only do the lawn crappers not represent them, the lawn crappers are unwelcome in the hobby's activities.

Quote

RPG Boundaries
By my standards, a Roleplaying Game is what it is because it combines elements of both named things - roleplaying and games - into, as you've said, a singular experience available in neither.  Putting those on an axis, we get a range.
1. Just outside of RPGs, in "pure game" territory, we have, for example, Warhammer Quest.
2. Towards the game end of the axis, but firmly in the territory, we find Iron Heroes, D&D, WFRP and the majority of both the older and the more popular games.
3. Towards the roleplaying end of the axis, but still firmly inside the line, we get games that have fuzzier mechanics, or ones that govern only certain kinds of situations - Castle Falkenstein, for example, which can abruptly cease to be a game if you drop about two pages of rules, or can move suddenly to near the center if you add in the optional rules from it's supplements.


To me it seems that the real "axis" you're talking about is not "roleplaying vs. game"; its "rules heavy vs. rules lite".  Please explain to me how the fact that D&D has more rules than Castle Falkenstein (or, say, Amber) means that it will in some way be played more as a game and less as roleplaying?

Its there where your argument breaks down, and where most arguments of theorists, who tend to be biased against D&D in subtle ways, breaks down. As well as the old "roll playing vs. role playing" arguments which are really veiled attacks against D&D.  I or any other average gamemaster could run a D&D campaign with just as much emphasis on plot, characters, and overall "roleplaying" as any "rules lite" game.

Rules lite does not equal more roleplay. It just equals less rules.

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The Story Boundary
Again, by my own standards, spotting the boundary of what is and isn't an RPG in terms of "story inclusion" is a matter of cases.  Dogs in the Vineyard, with clear characterisation, speaking in-character, and a diced resolution system that includes tactics (though different ones than usual) remains an RPG.  Polaris, which is based off an extended negotiation as a dramatic device for playing and story-building around the character, goes outside; it's a Story Game (this isn't meant as any kind of statement on the quality of it, mind you, just where I think it goes).


To me, DiTV pushes the boundaries of the definition of Roleplaying game. Whereas Polaris or Universalis or Capes are just plain not-roleplaying-games.

Quote

On emulating a feel
Okay, on reflection, I meant two seperate things by this, and I'm going to seperate them for clarity.  
First, rules that emulate the feel of a genre; if a villlian get "evil points" they can spend to do villainous things, that's a mechanic that emulates something, and one I expect you'd enjoy if it was done well.  Many small games have those, but they also have...


Done well, these things can be positive. I'll never forget the example of D20 Pulp Heroes, where an "Evil Mastermind" gets bonuses to his Leadership if he provides all of his henchmen with uniforms and has a secret base.

Quote

Rules that are meant to emulate narrative pacing.  For example, one rule or piece of advice - it amounts in this case to the same basic thing - from Dogs In The Vineyard (and the only rule from that game that I somewhat mislike), is that the GM should constantly push for escalation in the game.  After the situation is constructed, they are to keep going harder.  Naturally, this emulates the feel of "rising action" - the middle of most stories - in a game.


This to me is an example of an effect that can create artificiality in the game, when turned into a mechanic instead of being left to the organic interplay between DM and players.  There's a big difference from it being "advice" (which is good) to it being a "rule" (where it can end up creating railroading or other problems).

But besides that, I question how this equates to "creating story". It affects play, there's no doubt about that. But basically, if you aren't forcing the results on the players (or the players forcing results on the master), you aren't going to follow the traditional formats of stories.
Your point here neither demonstrates that RPGs are good at creating conventional stories, nor that indeed it is a worthwhile goal for RPGs to create stories in the first place.

Quote

Player empowerment without power struggle
This one is possibly the strangest case of deliberately missing rules I've run into.  In a few of the small-press and independent games, limits to player authority are handled by not handling them in a very specific way.  That is, when the text of a game makes it abundantly obvious that power struggles will ruin the game if you have them, and therefore you had damn well better sort out your shit together, people do.  Yes, I'm aware that it doesn't sound like hardly any answer at all, but I've seen it work - sitting down with my players and saying "you're free to narrate this and that and the other, and if you screw up the game, then you screwed it up."; and they blink, and then we play, and they pause every so often and we sort out a detail for a second, and we keep going.


So your argument amounts to "the absence of clear structure between DM and players will miraculously lead to players being responsible"?? That kind of the "Trickle down Economics" or "Clean Air Act" of the RPG theory world you got going there. Its the equivalent of saying that its better not to quality controls on products because that will somehow force corporations to maintain quality controls themselves...

And in any case, the moment a player can impose his will on the game outside of the character, you've created something other than an RPG. You might have a collective collaborative storymaking game there, but you don't have an RPG.

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