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Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on April 29, 2004, 01:53:54 PM
(Anybody who happens to not know, "lines and veils" is a way to talk about players' comfort with in-game material.  Ron introduced the terms in Sex and Sorcery.)

Emily Care and I made characters for her game in development Breaking the Ice.  We were driving out to Tom's gargantuan game gala just past.

Breaking the Ice is about dating.  You play a character who's unlike yourself but like your fellow player - so I was creating a woman and Emily a man.  The idea is to get some informed feedback about your portrayal of your character.  Emily's duty is to give me insight into playing women, mine's to give her insight into playing men.

So you brainstorm some words using a cool process and then you use the words to inspire your character.  I'm not the brainstormer Emily is, so I was skeptical, but it worked.  I'm sure we'll talk more about that part as she brings the game out.

Turns out that my character is a 32 year old woman who works for the county housing office.  She has car trouble and she broke her leg skiing, it's still in a cast.

Em's character's a 31 year old man who works building houses.  He volunteers time to Habitat for Humanity and has several birds as pets.

She broke her leg, he keeps birds.  They date!

Emily's driving and I'm scowling at our characters.  They're, y'know, completely flat.

"They could just go happily along forever," I say.  "There's nothing to them, they aren't in motion."

"Well there's a last step," Emily says.  "It's: what makes their upcoming first date problematic?"

Bam! it comes straight into my head.  But I don't say anything.  I keep scowling, for a long, long time in fact - Emily glances over at me more and more.

"Can't think of anything?  Do we need to go back to -"

"Oh no, it's not that," I say.  "This is a real moment of truth, you realize?  I have just the perfect thing, but I don't know if I'd want to roleplay it."

"Well, that's good though, isn't it?"

"Yeah.  It's: I'm a virgin, I've never had sex."  (Isn't it funny that I felt the need to define "virgin"?)

Emily's eyebrows are up, though, anyway, in a "yeah, that'd make dating problematic" way.  Also a "yeah, that kicks your character into motion" way.  And definitely also a "yeah, that'll make the roleplaying more personal and intense" way.

I have this picture in my mind of my character, this woman, stressing and in almost a crisis over shaving her legs before the date, which I don't even tell.  "Your turn," I say.

"My last relationship was really bad," Em says.  "Not restraining order bad, but..."

"Why not restraining order bad?"

"Well," she says.  "Men very rarely get restraining orders against women, you know."

"Sure.  But I meant the other way around."

"...Oh shit," she says.  And I'm like, ha!  Put that in your what makes dating problematic pipe and smoke it.

I'm not really like that.  But kinda I am.

"Oh shit," she says.

She's a virgin with a broken leg, he's got power tools and a restraining order against him.  They date!

Much better, no?

But about actually playing this...

"I've got an idea that the players choose a movie rating to set the limits of the game," Emily says.

"So we could play this out at PG?" I say.  With obvious relief, I'm sure.

"PG?" she says.  "With all the sex and domestic violence issues?  Are you on crack?"

"We could," I say.  "I mean, we could."

"It'd be a fucking after school special, Vincent.  You suck."

Owie.  "...PG-13?  PG-13 please?  No way I'd play this an R.  Way too scary."

She rolls her eyes and doesn't press me.  Which sure, I suck, that's okay, but whew.

So I dunno, I don't think I have a conclusion to draw.  Lines and veils.  Just imagine me there in the car, turning over and over in my mind this woman's anxiety about sex and love and loneliness and dating.  I don't even say anything, it seems so intense to me.

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Jason Lee on April 29, 2004, 02:16:22 PM
Hmmm... a 32 year old woman who is a virgin is probably not having anxiety about sex, she's simply not seeing it as an expectation for dating.  

From what I've seen it seems to me that the longer a person remains a virgin the less they care how they lose their virginity.

This is, of course, assuming there isn't some psychological trauma keeping her away from the act - like molestation as a child.  Which could go all sorts of awful in lots of exciting ways with creepy stalker man, particularly if she has that 'submissive victim mindset' thing going on.  All right, now I'm making myself depressed.

Just some random thoughts, which may have no basis in reality.  Hope I didn't 'R' it up too much ;).


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: DannyK on April 29, 2004, 04:04:54 PM
Interesting.  A 32-year-old virgin might also be one of life's natural celibates -- someone who is very passionate about other things and never saw a good reason to go through all that indignity with another person.  Sort of like the Katherine Hepburn character in African Queen.

Or, she could be a very closeted lesbian.  

Honestly, I can't imagine playing this game unless it was played somewhat for grim laughs, sort of The Bachelor Kills Puppies for Satan.  But then, I've never played a female character; I just can't get my head around it.  Running female NPC's, no problem.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Emily Care on April 29, 2004, 04:23:54 PM
Quote from: DannyK
Interesting.  A 32-year-old virgin might also be one of life's natural celibates -- someone who is very passionate about other things and never saw a good reason to go through all that indignity with another person.

Or someone who is shy and socially awkward and so has not found a relationship of that intensity, but with enough whatever was required (luck, self-esteem, strength) to allow her to retain her virginity rather than to have sex in a less than satisfactory situation.  In fact, what does it mean that she's a virgin? Could mean many things. Maybe she's never had sex with a man.  Maybe she's never had an orgasm (can I write that here?), maybe she's had many romantic involvements, but never had intercourse for emotional or health reasons.  Lots of possibilities, and many possibilities to explore this character as a human being.  
 
Quote
Honestly, I can't imagine playing this game unless it was played somewhat for grim laughs, sort of The Bachelor Kills Puppies for Satan.  But then, I've never played a female character; I just can't get my head around it.  Running female NPC's, no problem.

I don't see that, though Jason's suggestions would be quite dramatic, and very intense. But still could be played true to life.  My take was different. I saw the male character as someone who got entangled in a relationship that he tried to end peacefully, but it got out of control.  Maybe he struggles with a short temper, maybe he was accused of violence that he didn't commit. Maybe he did do something he deeply regrets.  Lots of possibilities.  

It's curious for me to imagine not being able to play a character of the opposite gender. Its something I don't quite get.  Vincent's strong reaction to just imagining the character he created feels very rewarding to me. It will be interesting to see if I can convey this to other folk, not so inclined normally.

What makes it hard to imagine really playing a character of a different sex or gender?

Yrs,
Emily Care


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Andrew Norris on April 29, 2004, 05:44:13 PM
Quote from: Emily Care
It's curious for me to imagine not being able to play a character of the opposite gender. Its something I don't quite get.  Vincent's strong reaction to just imagining the character he created feels very rewarding to me. It will be interesting to see if I can convey this to other folk, not so inclined normally.

What makes it hard to imagine really playing a character of a different sex or gender?


There was a really out-of-control thread about this very topic on RPG.net this week, and I thought it was interesting to note that every one of the people rabidly arguing cross-gender roleplay was impossible was male. Most of the arguments against it were along the lines that there's some ineffable quality to women that men simply can't understand, which I found rather amusing to hear men argue.

I've personally found that my most rewarding sessions (both as a player and a GM) dealt with relationship issues, and further that the less experienced a player was with roleplaying, the less hesitant they were about jumping right into these issues. I'd be fascinated to explore these types of situations from the perspective of a woman, as I have to admit many of the cross-gender play situations I've been involved with were more "Here's this person, in this situation... oh, and they happen to be female." Both male players in my current game who play female characters have steadfastly avoided any relationship entanglements in-game.

As a matter of fact, I'm really intrigued about Breaking the Ice, the more I think about it. The last two people I've introduced to roleplaying have been women, and they showed, without my prompting, a very pronounced tendency to want to explore relationship issues. (One of them was so intense it was almost scary -- the character creation session I did with her for Sorcerer felt like therapy over her recent divorce.)

My mind is racing at the idea of introducing a few couples I know to Breaking the Ice as a kind of party game, introducing them to roleplaying without going through the usual spiel about why they might like this. It just seems like a setup that would provoke a lot of interesting conversation. Any chance you can tell us more about the game? I'd love to playtest it.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 29, 2004, 07:44:49 PM
Um, they're gonna do it, aren't they? Aren't they?

I mean, y'all were just about to deal with that, and wham, we start this bogus discussion about cross-gender play (like we haven't beaten that into its perfectly obvious conclusions a couple of times here). Talk about sublimation!

C'mon! Are they gonna? Are they gonna right now?

Best,
Ron


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Doyce on April 29, 2004, 08:34:00 PM
Quote from: cruciel
This is, of course, assuming there isn't some psychological trauma keeping her away from the act - like molestation as a child. Which could go all sorts of awful in lots of exciting ways with creepy stalker man, particularly if she has that 'submissive victim mindset' thing going on. All right, now I'm making myself depressed.


Man, that reads like Actual Play for Nicotine Girls. :)

Not that that's a put down, because I like Nicotine Girls, if only for the Riding in Cars with Boys feel.

Hmm.  I'm trying to think of a book or movie parallel to Breaking the Ice and coming up blank.  Anyone have any thoughts?


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: talysman on April 29, 2004, 09:26:48 PM
Quote from: Doyce

Hmm.  I'm trying to think of a book or movie parallel to Breaking the Ice and coming up blank.  Anyone have any thoughts?


I thought immediately of Amélie, which I finally saw recently. or, well, tons of romantic comedies.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: C. Edwards on April 29, 2004, 09:34:33 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I mean, y'all were just about to deal with that, and wham, we start this bogus discussion about cross-gender play (like we haven't beaten that into its perfectly obvious conclusions a couple of times here). Talk about sublimation!


There was even an audible sigh of relief.

Vincent's "way too scary" is intriguing.

Hey, Vincent. Would the scary level go up or down if you were to play with the R rating with someone you didn't know as well as Emily?

While thinking about playing with the R rating, did you even briefly consider "cheating", like using satire, parody, spoofing, etc. in order to avoid an uncomfortable amount of disclosure?

Oh yeah, and are they gonna do it?

-Chris


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on April 30, 2004, 05:29:52 AM
Hey!  C'mon.  They're gonna do it under these circumstances: a) Emily's satisfied enough with her resolution rules that she wants to give 'em a try, b) Emily catches me in another long drive or something where I can't weasel out.

To admit that yes, they're gonna do it right now would be to play before play, which is improper.

Quote from: Chris
While thinking about playing with the R rating, did you even briefly consider "cheating", like using satire, parody, spoofing, etc. in order to avoid an uncomfortable amount of disclosure?

Y'know, that's a really interesting question.  No, I didn't, it never even occurred to me.  I think that - with Emily - if the disclosure'd been uncomfortable I would have been able to disclose anyway or not disclose, safely either way.  Like how I told her about the virgin thing but not about the shaving thing.

Quote from: Chris
Would the scary level go up or down if you were to play with the R rating with someone you didn't know as well as Emily?

Up.  Good lord.

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: bluegargantua on April 30, 2004, 05:31:38 AM
Hey,

The Virgin Issue:  There is also the possibility that she could be a "technical virgin".  This comes with a completely different set of problems (some of which may be even more warped than usual).

  The "Do It" Issue:  I dunno.  Is the game all about the first date or do you follow the relationship?  When it's a date (as opposed to picking up someone in a bar or something) there's not usually an expectation around having sex that night (OK -- at least *I* don't have those expectations, but I sense it's also a general policy in American society...I might be wrong).

  And here's the other deal -- it's a first date.  It can be a little awkward, but it's also a time when people try really hard to put a good face on things.  What's going to tease out all the problems these people have?  If the guy isn't a complete bastard, he probably won't act up.  If he really does have a short temper well, you might be able to annoy him to the point of losing his cool, but I don't know how that really moves things along.  The virgin issue is interesting but I think it'll be very tough to move that forward.  And again, unless the guy is a complete asshole No Means No and that'll be the end of it, possibly without any explanation as to why.

  I suppose you could rate it at NC-17 and have the No be ineffectual and I think there's potentially some powerful stuff that could come out of that, but...it's not what I game for.

  Em:  I assume this is meant to be played mostly in co-ed situations?  Huh, actually it appears to be just for a pair of players, which is neat.  BTW -- I totally call dibs on the polyamorous bisexual kinky woman because nothing will make a first date go more awkwardly than constantly running into people who remember licking your boots at the club that one time.  Possibly more romantic comedy than serious drama, but still...

later
Tom


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on April 30, 2004, 06:15:59 AM
Tom, the game's about their early relationship, their first three dates.

Building rules that provoke us into digging in instead of backing away is what Em's challenge is, I'd say.  Left to freeform, I'd scramble away like a scared monkey, our character's'd have a polite first date with no spark, no second date, and I'd be relieved but nobody'd pay to watch that flick.  I'm totally counting on the rules to get me through my avoid-y suckitude.

Properly provoked, I can imagine them doing it on their first date.  Or instead of their first date.  But we'll see (provided a. and b. above, of course).

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Christopher Weeks on April 30, 2004, 06:29:38 AM
Quote from: Vincent
You play a character who's unlike yourself but like your fellow player


Quote from: Tom
BTW -- I totally call dibs on the polyamorous bisexual kinky woman


Dude!  If that's you're with, don't you have something better to be doing?

Seriously though, I think the idea of this game sounds fantastic.  If you can pull it off, I think it could be a very important piece of work.  Also, how would play of this game work _as_ a first date?

Chris


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: bluegargantua on April 30, 2004, 07:00:56 AM
Quote from: Christopher Weeks
Quote from: Vincent
You play a character who's unlike yourself but like your fellow player


Quote from: Tom
BTW -- I totally call dibs on the polyamorous bisexual kinky woman


Dude!  If that's you're with, don't you have something better to be doing?



  Of course, but there's that pesky refractory period.

  I guess I missed that point when I was reading the play example.  And it doesn't seem to hold up in any event because I'm pretty sure Vincent's never had a restraining order slapped on him and I don't think Emily is still a virgin.  I have no proof for either statement (and I apologize for making such familiar assumptions with Vincent and Em), but it seems like those elements were added by the players themselves and don't reflect knowledge of the person they're playing with.  And reading a little further into that paragraph of Vincent's quoted above, it's mostly their cross-gender portrayals that are of interest (or initial interest at least).

  Personally, I would never use this as a first-date game.  Too meta.

  I'll be interested to see what Em comes up with to get people to dig in.  Is it something like, you have to reveal part of "your deal" in order to accomplish tasks?

later
Tom


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Emily Care on April 30, 2004, 08:32:00 AM
Quote from: Ron
C'mon! Are they gonna? Are they gonna right now?

Sure, s'long as it fits yer social contract.  That's actually what I'd envisioned the rating being about, primarily.  You know, "G" they hold hands, "PG" they kiss,  "PG-13" heavy petting and so on. Trust between the players is a huge issue in this game, so as I'm working on it I'm paying attention to ways that the steps of the game can function to help create safe-space and easy transitions for the players.  It's very interesting that this kind of game gets such a strong response about how intense and difficult it would be to play with strangers, while blowing folks to bits is easy peasy with any old body. Go figure.

Quote from: bluegargantua
 And here's the other deal -- it's a first date.  It can be a little awkward, but it's also a time when people try really hard to put a good face on things.  What's going to tease out all the problems these people have?  If the guy isn't a complete bastard, he probably won't act up.  If he really does have a short temper well, you might be able to annoy him to the point of losing his cool, but I don't know how that really moves things along. The virgin issue is interesting but I think it'll be very tough to move that forward.  And again, unless the guy is a complete asshole No Means No and that'll be the end of it, possibly without any explanation as to why.

What I'm aiming for is for the first date to actually be pretty darn awkward. (Awkward for the characters, comfortable for the players, that'll be a trick.) Of course everyone will be trying to put their best foot forward, but that's also the time when you're feeling out the boundaries with somebody else. Anything you say could piss them off, you don't know what they're allergic to, you have no idea how what you do or say will come off.  Balanced off with a healthy dose of emotional/physical attraction, you've gots of juicy stuff for conflict that will get resolved over the course of the game. You're trying to see if there's enough common ground underneath all the differences to be a good foundation for a relationship.  Sex is just another area where you've got to figure out your boundaries.  Higher stakes, but same same.  

Quote
Em:  I assume this is meant to be played mostly in co-ed situations?  Huh, actually it appears to be just for a pair of players, which is neat.  BTW -- I totally call dibs on the polyamorous bisexual kinky woman because nothing will make a first date go more awkwardly than constantly running into people who remember licking your boots at the club that one time.  Possibly more romantic comedy than serious drama, but still...

To spill the deal, it's not just about gender differences, it's whatever difference lies between the two players. (Yes, it's a two player game).  A bi-girl could go on a date with a gay-girl, a punk with a geek,  a GOP member with a Green Party activist.  Gender is kind of an easy target.  The assumption is that anybody can play any character. "Use your imagination dummy."  But it helps to have somebody closer to the source to explore situations outside your RW experience in a deeper way. And the point is to exploit those differences for their dramatic potential.

Quote from: Chris Edwards
While thinking about playing with the R rating, did you even briefly consider "cheating", like using satire, parody, spoofing, etc. in order to avoid an uncomfortable amount of disclosure?

More social contract stuff.  Or maybe good for a different system. I can also totally see a spoof type game where you play out all the most stereotypical versions of the "other" you're dealing with. Traditional role reversals played to the hilt for humor.

As far as the inspiration for this game: romantic comedies, natch.  I'm working on making folks dig in by working out a conflict resolution/reward system that pulls you into the hard stuff. Thanks so much for all the input!

--Emily

ps Chris w: It's an ideal cover for a first date, don't you think? :)  I'm hoping it will be cool for that, but we'll see.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Matt Wilson on April 30, 2004, 09:03:18 AM
Quote
C'mon! Are they gonna? Are they gonna right now?


It seems to me that Emily and Vincent's games could somehow work together. Or maybe I'll just burn in Hell.  Suggested edits below:



Characters have a Nookie Readiness stat. It includes whatever nookie readiness includes: situational awareness, capacity to do the deed, personal honor, opportunistic exploitation of circumstances, the works. It doesn't include specialized training.

Nookie is Stressful. Stress is measured in three categories: Intensity, Danger and Confusion, each of which will be low, high, or spiking. Intensity = identifying with your partner. Danger = risk to you. Confusion = volume of information requiring attention.

In order to effectively "do it" with your target, you have to beat all three Stress levels with your Nookie Readiness. Beating low Stress is easy, beating high Stress is hard, and you can't beat spiking Stress - it prevents you from ... uh, you know.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Jason Lee on April 30, 2004, 02:14:06 PM
Matt, that is fucking high-larious.

In all seriousness, I could see a comfort/awkwardness state change system really working for this.

[Off Topic:  
BTW Emily, whether or not this is what you had in mind, I'm seriously considering this game as proof of concept for exploration of self (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10119), and possibly The Social Mode (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9808).  Ha!  Take that Vincent, you are your own undoing :).  I guess you did say you would participate in the design of such a game... ]


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on May 01, 2004, 02:59:17 AM
Emily and I about got into a fistfight over that very issue, Jason, didn't we Em?  I say: huh?  Player authorship of characters in conflict across a moral line, commenting on a problematic human issue collaboratively in play, what's not Narrativist?

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Callan S. on May 01, 2004, 06:47:37 PM
Room for someone to whinge here?

Ahh, I'll just push in anyway. I really don't like it. Not the mechanics or anything, but basically what it's mining for material. People are going to learn intimate details about each other as a game. Sounds great? Learn this, I don't share intimate details for the sake of a game.

If the material your mining actually then stops that mining, play breaks (in this case early), or relies on peer pressure to continue (C'mon on, its just a game, its fuuuun).

So how well it operates depends on how you evaluate intimate details. Some people have them but are willing to share them out whenever (I've met a few on public transport). But I imagine if those people had to pay $10 a minute to sit in a group and chat, they wouldn'y (barring group therapy and whatever that costs). Likewise I wouldn't hand out intimate knowledge for a game. It's like the ten bucks...its not that I wouldn't pay $10 a minute for anything in the world. Some things I would, just not a casual game. Likewise with intimate details, I wont 'pay' them to play in a game that wont work without them.

Perhaps the idea is that your making a PC thats like the other person means that ones intimate details aren't covered. It screams otherwise, to me, though. The uncomfortableness expressed about the rating especially...not to mention the 'you suck' for not casually granting access to such things.

I had much the same feeling with that narrative demo that Ron did to compliment his Narra essay. The part where it asks for a real life terrible event from everybody. Sorry, I'd rather pay the 'currency' of learning a 1000 entry random table or some such, than pay that much for a game to operate the way the writer intended.

Seriously, this is a design concern as much as having heavy math or tons and tons of rules you have to memorise, are. Some people aren't phased by hard math and thick rule books, but its still a design concern. Personal investment is right next to them.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on May 01, 2004, 11:02:02 PM
Then don't play it.

I trust Emily and I'm not peer pressured by her.  Don't let my tone worry you.

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: DannyK on May 02, 2004, 09:02:15 AM
it would be interesting to discuss this... maybe in the RPG Design forum, though.  I'm wondering if there's a Gamist aspect to this -- maybe based on evolutionary psychology -- or if it's more of a freeform exploratory sort of game.  

It would also be interesting to talk about the mechanics for simulating a romantic comedy -- there's traditionally some reason for the heroes not to just fall into bed together; in a lot of more modern films in the genre, the rationale can be pretty strained.  For that reason, I find most romantic comedies made after the 1960's excruciating to watch.

So, please don't let the doubting commentaries shut you down; it's a very interesting experiment.


Title: yikes
Post by: Nev the Deranged on May 02, 2004, 03:01:47 PM
As someone who plays roughly 50/50 male and female characters, and isn't afraid to take that into the relationship arena in play...

 I would still be terrified to play this game as outlined. Not that I'm afraid of the issues or the boundaries... but that I don't think I could ever play this in a social setting without resorting to cheap stereotypes and goofiness-as-retreat they way some have mentioned Vince might have.

 That said, I think it's a cool idea that would make a great "transition" between party-game and roleplaying for some, but would never work for others. Fortunately, I don't think anyone for whom it wouldn't work would be interested in playing, so that problem kind of solves itself, peer pressure notwithstanding.

Just my 2c. I'll be interested to see how it goes in actual play.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Callan S. on May 02, 2004, 03:40:18 PM
Quote from: lumpley
Then don't play it.

I trust Emily and I'm not peer pressured by her.  Don't let my tone worry you.

-Vincent


No worries. Apart from the technical aspect I mentioned, someone else talked about it as a party game. I'm just worried that the amount of consent required could be being underestimated. As the center piece of a party and/or as an introduction to roleplay, I'd imagine that having real impact.

Anyway, I'll grant my point perhaps clashes agains the original idea too much to help in refining it.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Christopher Weeks on May 02, 2004, 06:51:48 PM
Quote from: Noon
someone else talked about it as a party game. I'm just worried that the amount of consent required could be being underestimated. As the center piece of a party and/or as an introduction to roleplay, I'd imagine that having real impact.


I'm not quite 'getting' this.  

I'm not a real friends kind of guy.  I mean, I don't really have them.  I have folks that I play board games with and folks that I role-play with and folks that I chat with at work, but I wouldn't take a bat to someone's head who fucked them over.  Other than family, there's really only one person that I'd help to evade capture by the authorities after committing murder.  So what I'm saying is that I don't have a big circle of intimate friends with whom I share everything.  And yet, I'm having trouble imagining the danger that y'all are feeling from this.  And it seems like to bend it toward humor would be really pissing the opportunity away.  

I mean, aren't we supposed to sometimes really feel something when we play these games?

I can particularly imagine my one game group from college (where much of life revolved around dating and drinking and gaming and screwing and eating pizza and revealing more than would normally be kosher) playing such a game -- assuming for a moment that it ends up being fun, and having very intense sessions that would have colored our relatinships out of the gaming context.

I dunno.  I'm not seeing the pitfalls, just the raw power.

Chris (Who would love to have someone take a crack at explicating the danger.)


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Emily Care on May 03, 2004, 05:32:03 AM
Hey Noon,

Quote from: Noon
So how well it operates depends on how you evaluate intimate details. Some people have them but are willing to share them out whenever (I've met a few on public transport). But I imagine if those people had to pay $10 a minute to sit in a group and chat, they wouldn'y (barring group therapy and whatever that costs). Likewise I wouldn't hand out intimate knowledge for a game. It's like the ten bucks...its not that I wouldn't pay $10 a minute for anything in the world. Some things I would, just not a casual game. Likewise with intimate details, I wont 'pay' them to play in a game that wont work without them.

Perhaps the idea is that your making a PC thats like the other person means that ones intimate details aren't covered. It screams otherwise, to me, though. The uncomfortableness expressed about the rating especially...not to mention the 'you suck' for not casually granting access to such things.


It's funny because I have been thinking about introducing elements that bring the player's own self or memories into the space of the game.  But not how you're thinking, I believe.  In this game, I hope its clear that folks are going to play characters, not play a version of the other player.  Anyone who wants to play will be given an opportunity to use their personal experience to help give themself and another person insight into what it might be/feel like to be a given character. As has been clearly expressed here, doing that sounds like waaaay enough disclosure.  Going into your own deep dark personal issues would be too much.  Allowing your deep dark personal issues to help make a character more real and convincing, now that's more like it, but that doesn't mean you unload on the other person.  But all I really think anybody will have to bring is just their plain old, day-to-day experience of reality.

As for the  "you suck", I just want to clarify that Vincent added that for effect. (Sorry V!) Yeah, swearing at somebody and one-upping them into being willing to reveal doesn't sound like a great way to establish trust and safe space.

I can well imagine this game not being for everyone.  I think it'd be hard to write if I tried to make it so. I'm glad it's intriguing to some folks.

Chris W: Thanks. I agree. We do feel when we play, why not make use of that.  It's rich material.

Jason: yeah, I think it's a step in that direction.  We'll see!

--Em


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on May 03, 2004, 05:44:41 AM
Callan!  I just realized this morning that maybe I mis-explained.

All the virgin / restraining order / keeps birds / broken leg / builds houses stuff is made up.  We didn't reveal practically anything about ourselves, other than that I'm male and Em's female.  The character creation process is very much like the brainstorming you'd do in a summer class about writing short stories, and it amounts to "make up a person with something to lose and something to win."

So my discomfort doesn't come from disclosing intimate facts about myself, because I ain't.

But that's not to say that your discomfort is misplaced or that playing the game wouldn't be revealing.  In fact, I'd expect to reveal a lot in play - little secret details of my attitudes about dating, sex, women.  Presented and exposed to comment.

Chris, maybe this is (part of) where the danger is.  What if, unbeknownst to all, I'm secretly a pig?  Playing this game will reveal it, and Emily might punch me in the head or yell at me, which would suck.

(Please, nobody think that Emily might actually punch me in the head.)

edit:
Quote from: Crossposting, Emily
As for the "you suck", I just want to clarify that Vincent added that for effect.

I stand by it, however: I had you say that I suck because I do suck.  Suggesting that we cut our game off at the knees by playing it at PG is a suck thing to do.

(I stand by "Emily might punch me in the head" too, as a description of my own insecurity, not as a description of any sort of reality of our relationship.)

-Vincent


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Jason Lee on May 03, 2004, 07:40:40 AM
Quote from: Vincent
All the virgin / restraining order / keeps birds / broken leg / builds houses stuff is made up.  We didn't reveal practically anything about ourselves, other than that I'm male and Em's female.  The character creation process is very much like the brainstorming you'd do in a summer class about writing short stories, and it amounts to "make up a person with something to lose and something to win."


I was picturing Emily more of a dog person, but with Vincent I could see a restraining order...

:)

Quote
So my discomfort doesn't come from disclosing intimate facts about myself, because I ain't.

But that's not to say that your discomfort is misplaced or that playing the game wouldn't be revealing.  In fact, I'd expect to reveal a lot in play - little secret details of my attitudes about dating, sex, women.  Presented and exposed to comment.

Chris, maybe this is (part of) where the danger is.  What if, unbeknownst to all, I'm secretly a pig?  Playing this game will reveal it, and Emily might punch me in the head or yell at me, which would suck.


Yeah, in a game with only 1 part per million theme, you'll still end up revealing some intimate details if anyone is looking for them.  The movie rating scheme seems adequate to keep that at comfortable levels - anything more complicated is probably just asking for it not to work.  Though, if you want people to up the rating the more they play (I don't know if either of you do), you might need some mechanical incentive.  I guess it all depends on who's playing (if one person wants a higher rating than the other), but if people get sort of stuck in PG out of comfort/fear and never get to R, then I think part of the point might be lost.

Quote from: Vincent
(Please, nobody think that Emily might actually punch me in the head.)


When you said 'fist fight' I envisioned flailing and slapping in the car ride and maybe some obnoxious noise making (sorry, just watched The Fifth Element again).

Quote from: Emily
Jason: yeah, I think it's a step in that direction. We'll see!


I'm watching.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: quozl on May 03, 2004, 08:05:25 AM
Quote from: lumpley
To admit that yes, they're gonna do it right now would be to play before play, which is improper.

-Vincent


Frankly, I think how they deal with each other afterwards would be much more interesting.  I would spend 5-10 minutes on the first date and then the rest of the time on the aftermath.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: John Harper on May 03, 2004, 10:41:29 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
It's very interesting that this kind of game gets such a strong response about how intense and difficult it would be to play with strangers, while blowing folks to bits is easy peasy with any old body. Go figure.

Dating, romance, relationships... these are things that we have to deal with in our real lives. The stresses and joys and sorrows of this stuff are familiar. More than familiar. Initimate. The average person has intimate first-hand knowledge of dating. When you ask someone to roleplay something this familiar, it tugs on real memories and remembered feelings. It's automatically charged, to some degree.

Most of us do not have first-hand knowledge of life and death combat. Or killing. Or surviving a deadly attack. All we know about are aciton movies and stories from wartime. When we roleplay lethal violence, it's a distant thing that hasn't ever actually happened to us. The emotional response isn't familiar. We don't have the context.

But try to play Vincent's Vietnam game (you ARE working on it, right?) with some veterans and suddenly the intensity gets turned to 11. They were there. It really happened to them.

Same goes for the first-date game. We've been there, man. We've lived it.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Callan S. on May 03, 2004, 05:14:33 PM
Hi Christopher,

I didn't mention danger. That's another of the problems I have with this sort of project, it tends to lead to miss diagnosis 'You don't want to play...too dangerous for you and your scared?', then tying in with pressure to conform on the issue.

I mentioned cost. There are some RPG's that have a lot of complicated charts and rules in them, that I don't want to play. I don't want to pay the cost of doing/learning all that when it's just for a game.

Something which discloses personal details just in order to play a game, is more cost than the product/game is worth IMO. To me it doesn't dignify those details. This is just me, but then again, at a party you get a spread of people and not just those that are of the same mental set as the author.

Quote
I mean, aren't we supposed to sometimes really feel something when we play these games?


Nope. That's one play technique and one that doesn't have to be supported by the particular technique outlined here, either.

Quote
I can particularly imagine my one game group from college (where much of life revolved around dating and drinking and gaming and screwing and eating pizza and revealing more than would normally be kosher) playing such a game -- assuming for a moment that it ends up being fun, and having very intense sessions that would have colored our relatinships out of the gaming context.


I imagine in that sort of environment where your all sharing details, that playing a game is yet another means to the same end that drinking together or eating pizzas together achieves. It gets you talking about stuff, and if the game is used, the games just a means to that end and not the end itself.

I'm talking about it as an end in itself and what its worth paying to play.


Hi Emily,

Essentially the disclosure revolves around the 'play a PC who is like another player' and goes from there into the intimate relationship intricacies that a date is...after all, dates happen to tell us about another person. That someone is pretending to be some other PC/wearing a mask isn't going to stop details about that person being revealed despite the mask.

You mention 'deep dark personal issues' and such. I'm not talking about these and the sort of negative effects they could have. I'm talking about the requirement of revealing personal details of certain level, simply to play a game. The sort of details I might share with you anyway if were drinking and playing pool at 3AM in the morning...but I'm not interested in sharing for a game. The game isn't worthy in itself...3AM pool is more of a worthy moment to convey such things. All IMO of course.

An analogy is a game which has a design goal which it forfils by having tons of rules to learn. Some people think a game session is worth that, I myself would think going to work and being paid for something like that, is worth it.

In terms of the 'you suck' issue, its half about the pressure of human curiosity. Humans have a hard time, after imagining the potential of something, to then not to see it through. The urge to see what happens next is stronger than 'Well, does every potential examined have to be explored fully?'. There tends to be a culture of maximisers around, and as Devo (sp?) sang 'You must whip it, whip it good'. Devo were actually making a critical comment on this...no, you don't have to whip the problem or do something just because you'd feel like your missing out on something otherwise. Thus the rating system wouldn't really cap anything, its vulnerable to 'we just have to do this' excitement overcominng what the rating system.


Hi Vincent,

No, I understood the extra details were just add ons. It's primarily the idea of you playing a PC which is like another player, that's the sticking point. In addition, the extra details seem to be there to extract more out of that sticking point. You may indeed not be saying a single thing about yourself during character creation. You are, however, setting yourself up to do so something fierce, IMO.

In terms of 'cutting the game off at the knees' and rating, I think this is another point of consent. Exactly what is your priority? Is it because all good idea's must be explored to the full or because you want to play this game and what it entails? It sounds like the former is being argued, which makes a rating system moot if it MUST be played out (rating is under the thumb of concept, not the other way around). But I really think you both want the latter, because you want to explore the game fully and are commited to that. The prob here is if you argue the former at a party its crap in terms of this rating system because of the reasons stated.

And in terms of the latter at a party, its either "we play and whoever doesn't want to can go spin off into another social group (perhaps of one) at this same party but not really part of the same party" or play even though you don't really consent to this and your probably going to fall back on jokes or such because you don't want to give out the info. NOTE: When not at a party but with people who have been primed for this in advance, it wouldn't have this problem at all, of course.

Quite frankly all RPG games have problems like I'm stating. You run into players who will not show the least bit of emotion about game events because they feel it will betray them (well, how much it'll betray their macho self image). So most of this is a logical extension of pre existing conditions in the hobby.


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: lumpley on May 04, 2004, 07:35:41 AM
Callan, cool, I think we're on the same page about what the game entails.  (Let me confirm: you understand that I made a character who, like Emily, is female, but who isn't "like Emily" in any other way, right?)  I think we're also on the same page about the game's potential for creating intimacy / revealing intimate details between the two players.

Given that, we each get to decide for ourselves whether it sounds fun, who we'd want to play it with, under what circumstances.

I got no prob.

-Vincent

(It's a one-on-one game, not suitable for a party unless you're all going to pair off, but I don't think that matters to the issues.)


Title: Lines, Veils, Breaking the Ice
Post by: Callan S. on May 05, 2004, 06:57:12 PM
Hi Vincent,

Well in terms of that confirmation, actually I did read it as being like Emily in some other ways. I got that from here:

Quote
Breaking the Ice is about dating. You play a character who's unlike yourself but like your fellow player - so I was creating a woman and Emily a man. The idea is to get some informed feedback about your portrayal of your character. Emily's duty is to give me insight into playing women, mine's to give her insight into playing men.


For example, your only roughly going to give emily an idea on how to play men...in general. Mostly your going to give an example playing like a man that is like yourself, and she'll do the same for how to deliver a female performance.

BTW,
Quote
She broke her leg, he keeps birds. They date!


Shouldn't that be ". They fight crime!"?