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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 01:36:25 PM



Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 01:36:25 PM
(see also my livejournal post at http://www.livejournal.com/users/chadu/119466.html)

Recently, I had a very pleasant phone conversation with Paul Czege, author of My Life With Master (http://www.halfmeme.com/master.html).

Amongst numerous threads of discussion re: the gaming industry, games as they are played, and personal pontification (on both sides of the phone line; in the good way, mind you), we traded interesting anecdotes about the playtests of our games -- his MLwM and my Dead Inside (http://www.atomicsockmonkey.com/products/di.asp). (Go buy a copy of each; they make great, er, Mother's Day gifts. . . yeah, that's the ticket!)

Paul was telling me about something his gf's character did in the playtest; it's his story to tell, but let me assure you it was pretty creepy.

This got onto a tangent about women gamers, and I idly mentioned that one of my two personal playtest groups for DI was composed mostly of women (3 female and one male, plus me, a male GM), and that it was a different sort of gaming experience, even compared to the other playtest group (2 guys, long-time members of my gaming group).

This led to a discussion about observed female play styles, general play styles, barriers to entry for newbies, interesting newbies in an RPG, interesting fans in a new RPG, and the value of marketing-advertising-demos-word of mouth. Paul mentioned how gratified he was about all of the "actual play" threads re: MLwM in various fora; I whined loudly amount the relative lack of spontaneous discussion and comment on DI and how I wish threads would crop up on various messageboards and/or in the comments sections of places like here, RPGnet, Game Review, and RPGNow (though I am truly, madly, deeply honored by all the excellent reviews DI has received).

Paul mentioned that my playtest anecdote(s) could make an interesting and commentable thread on the Forge, if I take some time to write it up and do some analysis of why I felt the game was different when mostly women made up the group. I said I'd try to analyze my memories and impressions, and allow them to cohere for a day or so before posting.

The ladies in question were:
B: My wife. Gamed a little with her ex-husband, whose issues and playstyle really killed her (mild to start with) interest in gaming. However, she "speaks gamer" and understands the gist of my RPG ramblings. She played an activist character who broke her soul.

E: Utter newbie to gaming. Played an idealized, fictionalized version of herself, whose soul had been stolen as a child.

R: Long-time gamer and LARPer, from Vampire to Champions. Favors "bruiser girls" (her word), but played a shy, nervous girl who had been born without a soul.

(The guy in this group, ER, played against type, too -- instead of a combat monster, he played a portly middle-aged psychologist who had lost his soul by giving too much of it to his clients.)

Rationale behind chargen: B wanted an active, athletic character who really believed in something which then bit her on the ass. E had no preconceived notions and just went with the flow. R & ER told me they both wanted to explore the moral (and possibly therapeutic, though I'm not advocating the game as a therapy tool) aspects of the Dead Inside setting.

In all cases, chargen took 10 minutes or less, across the board, as we stepped through the process as a group. Then we were ready to play.

And the play experience was different and interesting.

The core concept of DI is "you've lost your soul -- what are you going to do about it?"

In the male-only group, the guys stayed on target, moving very linerarly to acheive their goal of ensoulment. In the mostly-female group, they moved in curves, kind of "straying" from the go-go-go and sightseeing. . . but when the situation merited it, they came together and crashed down like a tidal wave. (Luckily, the adventure design structure I advocate in the book -- typified in the Intro Scenario -- can easily support both of these styles.)

ASIDE: Hmmm. This strikes me as an interesting analogy with types of martial ares -- the straight strikes of karate  vs. the looping strikes of kung-fu. Intriguing.

In both groups, the players were very pleased with the game. But the difference between their play experience intrigued me. So I've thought about the situation off and on. I eventually chalked it up -- rightly or wrongly -- to differences in the way that men and women in my experience tend to play RPGs. (This is a gross generalization, I know. But bear with me.)

Now, there are plenty of "Women in Gaming" articles out there I've read. . . most written by women. They often give what I think are falsely-gendered general gaming stylistic issues (in terms of gaming style: while common knowledge asserts that "women like deep-immersion, character-based roleplaying," I've seen numerous posts from women who love to hack 'n slay.)

All the differences I've seen with women in gaming vs. men in gaming are mild tendencies. Many male gamers display the following traits, too, just as many women do not display them:

* On the average, women spend more time on roleplaying/developing their character's character and backstory and motivations and less on (and note the emphasis) worrying about their stats, skills, and capabilities.

* Many women gamers seem slightly more amenable to intentionally exploring personal (that is, their own) psychological/sociological aspects via a PC than most men gamers. (Specifically absent from this element is the unintentional psychological displays and issues that crop up amongst both men and women gamers; the stuff that makes you go "WTF? Ick!" I'm also excluding meta-game interpersonal issues here.)

* Women gamers -- again, in my experience -- tend to require a strong in-game social or character context for character motivation; mission-based goals in the absence of such context ("clear that dungeon!" or "save that prisoner that you don't know for some money rather than personal reasons") are apparently less interesting.

* A woman's PC will tend to relate to all aspects as the setting (often socially) as characters rather than "game tokens" or "faceless obstacles." This includes scenery and equipment.

* Female gamers are often more concerned about all (or a very high majority) of a group having buy-in to what their objective is.

* A group of women gamers' PCs can sometimes seem to get sidetracked from the plot unfolding, because they tend to get caught up with the issues mentioned above (roleplaying the character, backstory, context requirements, buy-in requirement, social relation to everything). To a goal-oriented male gamer, this often appears to be "dithering": it's not. It's engine-revving.

* When a group of women's PCs "stop dithering"/"get revved up," they move like lightning and thunder, operating with strong context- or character-based drives to succeed, social/personal relation to setting (this time, it's personal), group buy-in, and remarkable amounts of teamwork.

So, I talked about these issues and my thoughts as to why this difference exists, with my playtesters and with other gamers male and female.

Here's some additional info gleaned from informants and my experiences:
* Women tend to be more pragmatic with their time. While many men seem to see "game night" (be it RPGs or Poker) as its own reward, its own event, even if it's relatively slow and plodding -- this could be related to the restricted number of low-impact, friendly social venues for men.  

* Women gamers desire more intense situations, with a minimum of pointless or slow spots. Be in "hack and slay" or "courtly skullduggery," to justify the time spent (see above), the game has to be worth it. If it's dull, it's off the schedule.

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

* Content and Style matter. If a woman gamer doesn't like the content or style of a game, then due to the above points (wasting time, desired value), the game is a loss. While I know men who will play a game whose Content or Style they hate becuase of the cool System, no woman I've talked to would do this.

* For newbies of any sex and many current women gamers, the shorter the chargen time, the better. This builds on all of the above points: a long chargen wastes time, is generally lacking in the character aspects that women prefer, is the System getting in the way, and dilutes the vibe and interest in the Content and Style.

* For newbies of any sex and many current women gamers, the shorter the session time, the better. This relates directly to the time for value bullets above. A twelve-hour marathon session better be damned well-worth it, in terms of the opportunity costs being paid to do so.

PRELIMINARY WILD-ASS GENERALITIES TIME: Men are all about structure; women are all about content.

So, I throw that out and look at it, and it doesn't look right, based on my personal experiences in gaming and GMing. I ponder further and come up with this:

REFINED WILD-ASS GENERALITIES TIME: Men are all about imposed, external structure; women are all about organic, internal structure.

Again, let me qualify: I know men who play like this, and women who don't. Many of these things are simply tendencies. Lord only knows if they're indicative of biological, psychological, or socio-cultural differences between all us XXs and us XYs.

Personally, given the above stuff, I fit in the middle in my personal playstyle. I'm either a male gamer who digs more intense character stuff than the norm, or a very goal-directed female gamer.

To sum up: People are people. Gamers are gamers. Averages just show tendencies, the middle of the bell curve; everything's a spectrum. But in general, women gamers want more bang for their buck in a game.

Comments, thoughts, refutations, and sor forth requested.


CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 05, 2004, 02:02:12 PM
Not this again.

Every once in a while the men drag out the "women in RPGs want X" threads. It's been my experience that:

A. The men know no more about what women want in RPGs than they know about what women want in general. Meaning almost nothing.

B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.

C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.

D. Apparently from your analysis I am a woman. But if you've ever seen or met me, you know that this is distinctly not the case - I'm about as male as one can get (I offer the lack of hair on my head as a good example).

I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand. So please just refer back to those old threads if you want to re-experience the pain.

That said, I'm not a moderator, and feel free to abuse yourself at your own lesiure. I, OTOH, will be giving this thread as wide a berth as I can should it continue to garner responses.

Bye,
Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 05:16:05 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Not this again.


Yeah, I expected this sort of response. Hell, I had it myself.  But...

Quote
B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.


. . .I see where you're going here, and I'm not saying that you're necessarily wrong.  (Indeed, as I noted towards the end of my post, I personally fit the "female gamer" profile I outlined quite well -- except that I'm slightly more goal-oriented than interaction-oriented.)

But your point about "women need to be analyzed as special cases" is well taken. In theory, I think this sort of compartmentalization based on sex is terrible; in practice, from what surveys have been done of gamerdom (I'm thinking of the WotC survey here), women gamers are a small minority in the hobby. In that regard, and especially for analysis purposes, I think it's okay to treat them as a special case.

I agree that the personal bias (i.e., being male) of the person doing the analysis (i.e., me) has more to do with this than any Platonic definition of a gamer. I did try to use "gamer" as a gender-neutral term.

Additionally, I'd like to point out that for both groups I was using the same system, setting, and scenario. Both playtest groups were run within the same time frame (alongside other unrelated RPG sessions). And the difference between the two groups method of approach was strikingly different -- in my opinion, "more different" than any other two groups in my past experience.

Perhaps my attribution of this difference to a female-majority group is specious. But it seems compelling to me.

Quote
C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.


For the first part of your sentence, I'd say "all people are individuals," which is true. I disagree that analysis of this sort would do no good at all. In sociological terms, general cases can be seen to operate en masse where they don't at the individual level. It's like how you can have a roomful of people with an average height of 5'8", but no one in the room is actually 5'8".

Quote
D. Apparently from your analysis I am a woman.


As am I, as noted above, or at least an androgene (in the original post).

Quote
But if you've ever seen or met me, you know that this is distinctly not the case - I'm about as male as one can get (I offer the lack of hair on my head as a good example).


You've never met a bald woman? I have. :)
 
Quote
I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand.


I can dig that too, except -- and this is the very trenchant part -- a large part of this analysis is information related to me by women (both those involved, and those commenting on the anecdote). If women want to be pissed off about the assertions made in the earlier post, I'm afraid that alongside your humble servant, they'll have to take it up with my female informants.

Quote
That said, I'm not a moderator, and feel free to abuse yourself at your own lesiure. I, OTOH, will be giving this thread as wide a berth as I can should it continue to garner responses.


That is, of course, entirely your right. I think it's unfortunate that you'll be avoiding it, because I think it'd be interesting to hear any further thoughts you might have during the course of the thread. Alas.

Sincerely,

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: TonyLB on May 05, 2004, 07:34:28 PM
I have concerns with whether you'll be able to make useful general statements about the "statistical woman", but for different reasons.

Women do not, generally, play alone.  And the one thing I am quite confident of, from past experience, is that the presence of women in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play.

Men cast women into roles that are hard to escape (mediator, voice of reason, etc.)  Women cast men into roles the same way.  We all react both to perceived expectations and to our own desire to present an acceptable self-image.  No man (nor woman neither) is an island.

So if you're observing only the ways in which your game is different with grrl-gamers in the mix, and then attributing that to "females play differently" you may be missing a whole fascinating landscape of human interaction.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Ben O'Neal on May 05, 2004, 08:40:39 PM
Yes this topic has been done before many times, but guess what? I missed them all. And I enjoy conversing about this sort of stuff, more than merely reading what other people have said in dead topics. So fuck it, I'm gonna converse.

Quote
A. The men know no more about what women want in RPGs than they know about what women want in general. Meaning almost nothing.

This ^, coupled with this:
Quote
B. The threads are always brought up in terms of how women are different. Note how all of your initial comments were about women before you started making your analysis. This assumes some standard baseline for men, and that women need to be analyzed as special cases.

...makes for some very interesting reading. From A, we have the premise: Men don't know shit about women; and from B, we have: It's bad to assume women are different.

Call me crazy, but if we don't know shit about women, but do know about ourselves (collectively as men), then is it not entirely reasonable to assume that women are, indeed, different? For surely if they were similar to ourselves, we would be able to use our knowledge about ourselves to predict their behaviour as accurately as we can predict our fellow males' behaviour, and in turn, would be entirely justified in discussing it. Is it not also reasonable to discuss women from a male perspective, as this is the only perspective we can be trusted to use? What perspective would be better? We can't use a female perspective, because we are not females, nor are we qualified to speak on their behalf (due to us knowing fuck all about them). Should we invent an imaginary non-gender and speak from it? If so, how could this be achievable without combining both male and female perspectives, but lacking the female perspectives, we would be left with only the males', and thus we are back where we started.

W. If A and B are both true, then men don't know shit about men (false)
X. If A is true and B is false, then we don't know about women, but it's still fine to discuss women
Y. If A is false and B is true, then we do understand women, but cannot discuss women (illogical)
Z. If both A and B are false, then we do know shit about women and we can discuss them.

Both W and Y must be discarded, which leaves us with X and Z. The only difference between them is the truth of A. Z is perhaps optimistic, and X is very pessimistic, but in both cases, we can conclude that it is perfectly acceptable to discuss the gaming tendencies of women.

In conclusion, males have no choice but to use themselves as a standard baseline from which to compare women, just as women have no choice but to use themselves as a standard baseline from which to compare men. To do otherwise is to presuppose access to the very knowledge we are trying to analyse.

Quote
C. Women are individuals, and no analysis of this sort is going to do any good at all.

As chadu mentioned, we are all individuals, and such a statement asserts that the foundation of psychology is non-existant, and thus all information gained about the human condition is meaningless.

Quote
I don't want to rain too hard on anybody's parade, but this has been done before, and usually just ends up pissing off the women - which I can understand.

Whilst I can't claim priviledged access to the inner workings of any female who gets pissed off at such discussions, I would assume from my knowledge that what would be most likely to piss women off is the assumption that they are different to men, which is directly contradictory to modern feminism. Although I haven't seen him around in a while, Doctor Xero was/is a champion of modern feminism, which makes it very clear that all men and women differ only in sexual organs. Being a psychology student, and currently working on an essay explicitly dealing with the biological and neuropsychological differences between the genders, I cannot stress enough the fact that males and females are fundamentally different in many ways, and sometimes the difference is extreme.

Another plausible reason for women getting pissed off at discussions of their play styles by men could concievably be the perception that the generalisations made in such discussions do not fit them, and thus are reflecting negatively on them. Such a reaction is perfectly understandable, so long as you understand how a generalisation can be taken personally. But of course, generalisations aren't meant to be taken personally, they are merely rules of large-scale observation.



I will chip in my own experience with the female gamer in my current group (not the only girl I've played with, only the most recent), and what I have gained from discussions with her and her boyfriend (my best friend, and another player in my group) about his success with her playing in his games. Basically, his experiences with her as a gamer practically mirror mine.

-It does seem that the longer any session runs, the lower her interest falls, regardless of action.

-Any moments where the excitement lapses, such as necessary gaps between encounters or action, or when the spotlight falls exclusively on someone else, she loses interest, either picking up her cross-stitch or sometimes leaving the room.

-She does tend to enjoy other people exploring their character's personalities more than they themselves report.

-Contrary to what chadu reported, she seems to be uninterested in getting "sidetracked", and prefers to just get to the point.

-On most other points that chadu bought up, I would agree. It seems she really doesn't care much for the system rules, regardless of what they are or let her do, so long as they let her get involved in a good scenario.



So basically I've found the same sorts of things with girl gamers. My sisters are similar to what overall has thus far been described, but obviously vary on the individual observations.

[disclaimer]In closing I have two things to say:

1. As chadu mentioned, all observations are necessarily of a small sample, and thus are only accurate within a range. Any given individual may be outside of that range. Generalisations are not affirmations, and are only definitively accurate for those specifically observed.

2. I don't think I would be wrong in assuming that chadu is with me on this, but no observation of mine carries with it a value judgement. Any percieved value judgement on the behalf of a reader is either projection or misinterpretation of my (possibly mispresented) meaning. [/disclaimer]


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Callan S. on May 05, 2004, 08:53:13 PM
I'm not sure how we can piss off 'the women' when they're individuals and not a gestalt, or how we can understand they'd be pissed off if we know nothing about 'them' (even though they aren't a 'them', they've been stated as individuals).

Can we get off the cringe wagon? Yes, too many times women have been studied as if they are some sort of robots that do X when you push button Y. Yeah, that's crap. Wow.

Basically the video game industry has been looking into getting more female gamer, so they've been trying to find out what games they like. This isn't so they can define women as robots...they want the cash-ola, da money, da loot that is untapped from a certain significant demographic.

This post seems to start with the same idea: Tapping a significant demographic for more players.

So: How can we turn this information into a tool to gouge out more players from this rich demographic?


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 09:40:10 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
Women do not, generally, play alone.  And the one thing I am quite confident of, from past experience, is that the presence of women in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play.


So long as you agree that the reverse is true ("the presence of men in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the men play"), I'll agree with you. I'd even go so far as to say "the presence of new players in a game has subtle but far-reaching effects on how the current players play."

Quote
We all react both to perceived expectations and to our own desire to present an acceptable self-image.  No man (nor woman neither) is an island.

So if you're observing only the ways in which your game is different with grrl-gamers in the mix, and then attributing that to "females play differently" you may be missing a whole fascinating landscape of human interaction.


No doubt, and good point. I'm perfectly willing to accept your statement in general, in a limited fashion. However:

1. I'm a big one for "being myself," and am such with all my friends, male or female, and indeed, as often as possible. (About the only times I strongly clamp down and censor myself is at the day-job, to keep things on a professional level.)

2. Everyone in the female-majority gaming group has been friends for some years; we've just never gamed together before. Also, there was no additional shift in our interrelations and interactions save that which could be explained by roleplaying a character. So, if I altered my expressed self-image in their presence in the game, it's the same alteration I perform in their presence (and have been doing it for a very long period of time) when we're not gaming.

3. I made a conscious attempt to run both playtest groups in the same GMing mode -- trying to keep the voice characterizations, the presentation and amount of information, the pacing of scenes, the response to character actions, etc., consistent. The intent at the time was to nail down a decent, standard presentation that would translate well to the page and be a solid text for a GM to use (and embellish or refine) as an intro adventure. Invariably, no plan survives contact with actual play, and I found myself providing elaborations in description and characterization depending upon areas of PC focus and interest -- just as I did for the all-male group. But starting from the baseline state, the areas of embellishment were strongly different for each group. Again, that may be a function of:
* Simply being a different group,
* Being a group that was half-composed of newbies/semi-newbies to one extent or another, or
* Being a group that was mostly women.

As I've played with several different groups in my experience, some of which had many newbies, and this experience was even more variant that those, I decided to explore if the last option was the reason for the shift in play.

It occurs to me that another bullet point could be "being a group that was strongly composed of adult newbies" as a possibility. Hmmm. Must ponder that.

Anywho, to get back to your point -- yes, what you say is a possibility. However, given this particular situation, I think it's unlikely. But it's still a valid and useful point to raise.

Thanks!

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 09:52:12 PM
Quote from: Ravien
Whilst I can't claim priviledged access to the inner workings of any female who gets pissed off at such discussions, (snip)


Just FYI, all: I'd like to take this opportunity to point out -- since I'm unsure if I adequately explained this -- that a decent number of my general assertions on what women tend to want in game were either taken directly[ from comments from several women, or synthesized from those comments and my observations. Please see the LiveJournal post and it's comments that top my initial post here.

I just wanted to make sure that was understood.

Quote
Another plausible reason for women getting pissed off at discussions of their play styles by men could concievably be the perception that the generalisations made in such discussions do not fit them, and thus are reflecting negatively on them. Such a reaction is perfectly understandable, so long as you understand how a generalisation can be taken personally. But of course, generalisations aren't meant to be taken personally, they are merely rules of large-scale observation.


Exactly. Thank you.

Quote
-Contrary to what chadu reported, she seems to be uninterested in getting "sidetracked", and prefers to just get to the point.


At least two of my informants matched up with this "get to the point" mode you're talking about, but then immediately qualified it by saying something like "but I play like a guy." And please take into account that they both said this before I nailed down my generalizations on male/female playstyles.

Quote
2. I don't think I would be wrong in assuming that chadu is with me on this, but no observation of mine carries with it a value judgement. Any percieved value judgement on the behalf of a reader is either projection or misinterpretation of my (possibly mispresented) meaning.


Personally, I didn't read any, nor was I making any value judgements in my initial post. If it appears that I was to anyone out there, then I apologize for my failure to communicate my lack of desire to assigning relative value to male or female playstyles. I'll try harder next time.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 05, 2004, 10:00:14 PM
Quote from: Noon
This post seems to start with the same idea: Tapping a significant demographic for more players.


Exactly. Thank you.

Quote
So: How can we turn this information into a tool to gouge out more players from this rich demographic?


Well, I had vaguely thought about some of these issues ("what women tend to like in games") in the wayback when writing DI. Of course, I was conceptualizing it more as "what newbies tend to like in games" at the time. (And frankly, I think I'm sliding back that way, somewhat. Still, the noticeable differences between my previous gaming experiences with newbies in the group, all-newbies in the group, all-male groups, female-minority groups, and a female-majority group are yet provocative enough for me to continue to feel that there is a distinct social dynamic created by more women playing  than men that is different from the other examples.)
 
But that's just my feeling and impression. I could be unconsciously skewing the memories.

CU


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: xiombarg on May 06, 2004, 05:59:56 AM
I think this thread would be better in Actual Play -- really, it's about Chad's personal experience in running his game. The generalizations are just gravy, and admittedly based on a small amount of data.

That said, generally, I find this thread interesting, tho I don't have much to add. I agree that it's more about the subtle interaction between male and female than it is about "women in general". My understanding is that all-female groups (i.e. no men present) act differently if even just one male is added to the mix.

I agree that one can't generalize too much -- women are people first, as it were, and people vary -- but our society does impose gender roles socially and this has an effect on how men and women interact socially. And given that roleplaying is largely a social activity, it makes sense that gender makes a difference. Heck, isn't that half the point of Ron's Sex and Sorcery?

All that said, there's a gender-unrelated nit I want to pick:

Quote from: chadu

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

Women or no women, you've underlined here why system does matter, in that it can get in the way of or enhance the type of fun the group is trying to have. Whether or not women want to have different types of fun than men or not, it's generally true that system makes a difference in terms of that fun, for good or ill.

In fact, System is content -- in that it generates results, as you mention. It generates content for the game. So to say system doesn't matter undercuts your point about women and content. (Tho I think that's pretty generic -- men like content, too, just arguably different content.)


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 06, 2004, 07:04:43 AM
Perhaps I was too hasty. Still, more bullets, however:

A. Women are different from men. I never said otherwise or even implied it.

B. While, yes, women seem to be a minority in RPG play, no annectodal evidence from as small a sample as indicated is going to say anything empirical about women as a group. Neither women who play RPGs now, much less women in general.

C. Psychology or other social sciences probably do have relevant things to say about this. See Ron's book Sorcerer & Sex for a well thought out discussion of such matters of not only individual gender at the table, but how mixing affects play.

D. Even with Ron's work, I've seen no advice ever that comes close to being as efficatious in getting women to play RPGs as this: treat women with the same respect you treat everyone playing and they'll be as attracted to play as everyone else. It's a social activity first. As long as they feel comfortable with the people, then what you do in the game comes a distant second in importance.

E. Not all women get pissed off about this stuff, most of them just ignore it. Some do try to participate in a positive manner as well, but in general that doesn't seem to help too much other than to re-establish what we all know: that women are individuals. Likely you'll get many women coming on here and telling you how they don't fit your profile. Given that annecdottal evidence and yours and mine, chadu, that'll more than overturn your other annectodal evidence.

F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before. Not using the search engine to discover the previous information, and then posting to a thread like this when you've been told that it exists only makes you look assinine.

To whit, here are some typical examples for those who claim that they don't have the mental facilities or time to learn how to use the search engine:
Depiction of women in gaming in general (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=131)
The effects of Cheescake (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10420)
Trollbabe and Feminism (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=355)
Trollbabe and Femininity (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1469)
Cross Gender Play Issues (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=857)
More Cross Gender Play Issues (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8364)
Even More Cross Gender Play Issues (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4523)
Gender Bias In RPG Texts (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9785)
Feminism in Game Design (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9738)
Romantic Partners who Game (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=3464)
Gender Pronouns (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4526)
"Adult" RPGs (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8689)
Roleplaying and Dating (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9800)
Taste Issues (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11005)
Women and The Forge (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6147)
Male Dominance in RPGs (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9841)

Many threads on Sex and Sorcery:Sex and Sorcery Preview (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4457)
Do a search for a lot more discussion there.

Dear to my heart: Universalis and Gender (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8335)

And perhaps most importantly:
Sexism in Gaming (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4433)
Combating Sexism in Gaming (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=4495)
Designing Settings for Female Players (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8052)
Designing Text for Female Players (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8352)

This is what I found without trying hard, or without stretching at all to include them. Each of these threads has important things to say about the gender issue.

Now, if there's something useful to be said after reading all of that, then great, I'm all ears. Color me skeptical.

Mike


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: DevP on May 06, 2004, 07:22:03 AM
Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: chadu
* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.

Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

I think the system-mattering behavior in this case *might* be more like a very-pervy/transparently-vanilla distinction, and more generally some care less about the system in particular than its play. Some do find a pleasure in Exploration of System itself (in all its crunchy detail) while other players see it as just a potentially obstructionist means to an end.


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 07:35:18 AM
Quote from: xiombarg
I think this thread would be better in Actual Play -- really, it's about Chad's personal experience in running his game. The generalizations are just gravy, and admittedly based on a small amount of data.


If a mod wants to move it there, that'd be cool.

Quote from: xiombarg
All that said, there's a gender-unrelated nit I want to pick:

Quote from: chadu

* System doesn't matter, except if it helps enhance the enjoyment of a game. If the System gets in the way, slows down play, or produces weird-ass -- or worse, dull -- results, this is bad, because you're wasting the woman gamer's valuable time. If the system adds to the experience, speeds up play, and produces interesting or exciting results, then System is a bonus.


Um, Chad, doesn't this amount to "System doesn't matter, except when it does"?

Women or no women, you've underlined here why system does matter, in that it can get in the way of or enhance the type of fun the group is trying to have.


Yes. But let me clarify: I think System matters most at the very high and the very low ends of enjoyment curve, and matters least in the middle bulgy bit of the curve.

So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.

Does that make sense?

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 07:56:08 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Perhaps I was too hasty. Still, more bullets, however:

B. While, yes, women seem to be a minority in RPG play, no annectodal evidence from as small a sample as indicated is going to say anything empirical about women as a group. Neither women who play RPGs now, much less women in general.


To be honest, nothing anyone says here is going to say anything empirical about gamers as a group. We don't have the tools or the information -- they closest we as a hobby have ever got is the WOtC survey from a few years ago.

I see this -- what we're doing here -- as a point of departure for discussion, not a statement ex cathedra. "Here is my current opinion and thinking; let's talk about it. . ."

Quote
C. Psychology or other social sciences probably do have relevant things to say about this. See Ron's book Sorcerer & Sex for a well thought out discussion of such matters of not only individual gender at the table, but how mixing affects play.


I recently read Sorcerer & Sex about six weeks ago. I found it interesting, but not the last word on the subject.

Quote
D. Even with Ron's work, I've seen no advice ever that comes close to being as efficatious in getting women to play RPGs as this: treat women with the same respect you treat everyone playing and they'll be as attracted to play as everyone else. It's a social activity first. As long as they feel comfortable with the people, then what you do in the game comes a distant second in importance.


Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  

Quote
E. Not all women get pissed off about this stuff, most of them just ignore it. Some do try to participate in a positive manner as well, but in general that doesn't seem to help too much other than to re-establish what we all know: that women are individuals. Likely you'll get many women coming on here and telling you how they don't fit your profile. Given that annecdottal evidence and yours and mine, chadu, that'll more than overturn your other annectodal evidence.


And, for my part, that's all to the good. I want to hear all sorts of anecdotes.  

Quote
F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before.


Respectfully, I disagree. I don't think the issue has been worked out (in the sense of solved or understood completely). But that's my opinion.

Quote
Not using the search engine to discover the previous information, and then posting to a thread like this when you've been told that it exists only makes you look assinine.
(snip list)


How do you know I haven't looked at previous information? I didn't say either way, you'll notice.

Since you've brought it up, and since I say as much above, I have read several, but not all, of the threads you cite. And, for the most part, I feel the issues involved haven't been worked out to my satisfaction. Thus, I post my thoughts and discuss them with folks like you.

Additionally, I am sharing a personal experience of mine that I found interesting, in the hopes that others would find it so as well.

Frthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed. And I'm qualifying my statements and asking for comment so as to refine the concepts and my own thoughts, as well as sharing what might be a valuable insight.

Lastly, I'm interested in exploring RPG Theories for supporting entry-level play, in the interests of increasing my own sales and strengthening the hobby.

Quote

Designing Settings for Female Players (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8052)
Designing Text for Female Players (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8352)


BTW: These two I seem to have missed, and will read them without delay.

Quote
Now, if there's something useful to be said after reading all of that, then great, I'm all ears. Color me skeptical.


All right. You're skeptical-colored. Now your pants don't match your shirt.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 06, 2004, 07:59:27 AM
Hey everyone,

Check out at least a few of those threads Mike listed, please. There's a lot of work there, and it would really be a crying shame if this discussion didn't benefit from it.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 06, 2004, 08:27:52 AM
Quote from: chadu
To be honest, nothing anyone says here is going to say anything empirical about gamers as a group. We don't have the tools or the information -- they closest we as a hobby have ever got is the WOtC survey from a few years ago.

I see this -- what we're doing here -- as a point of departure for discussion, not a statement ex cathedra. "Here is my current opinion and thinking; let's talk about it. . ."
Agreed. My point is that this "point of departure" looks very familiar to me.

Quote
I recently read Sorcerer & Sex about six weeks ago. I found it interesting, but not the last word on the subject.
Again, agreed. What I'm saying is that this seems to be generally the best way to approach the subject, from outside disciplines working into RPGs. From empirical evidence to how that affects RPGs.

Quote
Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  
That's usually considered axiomatic around here. The social level must work well first in order for anything good to happen. That said, the only thing to be said here is to use the same skills that you have with women (and with men) that you use everyday, presumably. We aren't trying to teach people how to be social here, are we?

Once you get past that level, then there's the question of whether things like design or techniques can affect female enjoyment. But I think, again, the sumum bonum applies to both genders equally, and that is to design games well. Because if it's true that women seem "impatient" I think it has to do with the fact that they're less conformist than men (how's that for a pop psychology generalization) and therefore not willing to put up with bad designs for the same amount of social appeal that men are. But that doesn't tell us anything specifically about women other than your design should be doubly as good if you ever expect women to play them. Since we're all trying to design as well as possible, however, I'm not sure how the advice helps.

Quote
Quote
F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before.


Respectfully, I disagree. I don't think the issue has been worked out (in the sense of solved or understood completely). But that's my opinion.
Again, we actually agree. I wasn't saying that it had been worked out to some solutions or truths. Just that it's been attempted enough that I think that this approach isn't likely to produce any more truths than the other attempts - if, indeed, there is anything to uncover (which I doubt).

That is, I don't think that women are functionally so different than men that you can do anything in design that appeals to them more than any other design.

Quote
How do you know I haven't looked at previous information?
I don't know that, and didn't assume that you hadn't. I wasn't refering to you.

Quote
Frthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed.
That I'd buy. At that point start looking at all the threads about newbies and "accessibility."

Quote
All right. You're skeptical-colored. Now your pants don't match your shirt.
Story of my life.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 08:58:20 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  


That's usually considered axiomatic around here. The social level must work well first in order for anything good to happen. That said, the only thing to be said here is to use the same skills that you have with women (and with men) that you use everyday, presumably. We aren't trying to teach people how to be social here, are we?


Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.

Discuss. :)

Point of Departure: I designed the conflict rules in Dead Inside to replicate what I felt were the aspects of "give and take" and "wearing down" when characters are in opposition, be it in a debate, in a duel, or in a race.

This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)

Quote
Once you get past that level, then there's the question of whether things like design or techniques can affect female enjoyment. But I think, again, the sumum bonum applies to both genders equally, and that is to design games well. (...) Since we're all trying to design as well as possible, however, I'm not sure how the advice helps.


Agreed.

In the interests of moving this conversation to a less-anecdotal and more-theoretical basis, let me isolate some aspects of my earlier posts.

A. There is a group of players that seem to share characteristics, composed of some males, many females, and many newbies. Let us call them Group A, in the interests of mimizing -- but not erasing -- possible gender-based issues.

B. Some aspects of game design that seem to appeal to Group A:

B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.

B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.

B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).

B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.

C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.

Quote
That is, I don't think that women are functionally so different than men that you can do anything in design that appeals to them more than any other design.


Possibly. While I agree that people are people, there is an aspect of how to pitch or spin information to target groups that could be valuable.

Quote
Quote
Furthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed.

That I'd buy. At that point start looking at all the threads about newbies and "accessibility."

 
As I've only started to reconfigure my analysis -- (izzard) in my mind (/izzard) -- to more firmly chunk together "Group A," I'll have to go a 'searching.

Thanks!

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 06, 2004, 09:58:07 AM
Quote from: chadu
Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.
Gads, sounds so...remedial. Do you mean that we need to teach people here at The Forge how to be more social in threads to that effect, or something like that (I'm seeing net classes or something, which is, of course, ironic). Or that the games should teach these things?

See, I'm not sure what that would look like. I'm seeing a section in the book that would sound like Miss Manners: When your guests arrive, compliment them on something, and make sure that they have a place to sit near somebody with whom they can talk. Then ask if they'd like refreshments.

Call me a cynic, but if people have gotten to be adults without knowing how to be appropriately social, I'm not interested in them playing my game. And I sincerely doubt that including stuff like this in my game is going to actually sell more copies.

Quote
This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)
Trying to follow this: are you saying that the duplex mode is more socially enriching? If so, then we're threatening to have to go back to the thread on immersionism (ack).

Quote
B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.
OK, this needs clarification. It seems to me that all things created in-game in a RPG can be interacted with. Are you indicating mechanical or metagame interaction is indicated?

Quote
B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.
This seems to be something that everyone enjoys. That is, there's always a rate of data exchange that forms a feedback loop. If that rate isn't producing enough enjoyable results per unit time, or per unit effort, then the whole is seen as undesirable. I'd propose that any groups that you've observed that seem to like "slow" play, were actually cherishing some feedback element that you don't (or this group does not). Meaning that it's not the rate, which should always be optimized, but also the nature of the feedback itself that's important.

Quote
B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).
Again, I'm not sure what your terms mean here. How are in-game objects like NPCs mentioned above, not "content?"

Quote
B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.
I think you'll have to explain better what you mean by "Doesn't Matter" here. Are you saying that the optimum system for your group would be one that did nothing but meters pacing? Have you seen the Pace system (or Universalis  for that matter)? Have you considered freeform? These are all systems, and saying that they would be better is saying that System Does Matter.

Quote
C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.
You'll have to expand on this, too. That is, the social dynamic is constantly a factor in what happens in all play. Is there some particular effect that you're describing?

Quote
Possibly. While I agree that people are people, there is an aspect of how to pitch or spin information to target groups that could be valuable.
Marketing? Well, sure. Do we have any marketers here? What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

There might be some extension to how this might be applied in play, but I would be really skeptical that this could be applied anywhere outside of "Group A."

Mike


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: xiombarg on May 06, 2004, 10:25:56 AM
Quote from: chadu
So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.

There's a third option you're not considering: You can think of the system because it actively enhances your fun.

And I don't mean assuming you're a "crunchy bits" person that enjoys system for its own sake. I'm talking about system bits that come to the fore of the game, but enhance what the game is about.

You seem to assume a system is either transparent or awkward, when it's possible for system to enhance play without being transparent. Your assumptions are very "system lite," in that you assume a sytem must either get in the way and or out of the way, that it's a "necessary evil", when in fact the system can rev up the game, like a car can transport human beings faster than they can go on foot.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 11:34:56 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.


Gads, sounds so...remedial. Do you mean that we need to teach people here at The Forge how to be more social in threads to that effect, or something like that (I'm seeing net classes or something, which is, of course, ironic). Or that the games should teach these things?


The latter.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
See, I'm not sure what that would look like.


Have you had a chance to see DI? :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm seeing a section in the book that would sound like Miss Manners: When your guests arrive, compliment them on something, and make sure that they have a place to sit near somebody with whom they can talk. Then ask if they'd like refreshments.


To an extent, yes -- but in two ways: out-of-game and in-game.

For example, I address what I suppose would be considered as the "social contract" here (what I'm calling out-of-game") in passim throughout my game. So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.

In terms of in-game social education, rulesets can be constructed to reward or punish types, styles, and manner of play, always with the proviso, of course, that such things can be ignored. However, if the mechanic in question is central to the game or close to central -- I'm thinking here of Pendragon's virtues system as well as the majority of the rules of MLwM and DI's overall take on soul-cultivation/soul-decay -- it becomes harder to ignore the education tool as a subset. (Indeed, in those cases where the mechanic is distasteful, I'd say that typically the entire game then gets ignored.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Call me a cynic, but if people have gotten to be adults without knowing how to be appropriately social, I'm not interested in them playing my game.


Somewhat agreed with what I see as your intent behind the statement, but disagreed in that I'm interested in playing with people who might not be adult or appropriately social (children, teenagers, adults who have a foible, etc.).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And I sincerely doubt that including stuff like this in my game is going to actually sell more copies.


Not directly, no. Indirectly, I believe it will. As RPGing is a mostly orally-transmitted, social sort of hobby, I think that supporting and encouraging social adeptness will have benefits down the road, as newbies are welcomed and permitted to retain interest in the hobby by more socially-ept gamers.

Yes, I am a megalomaniac, bent on world domination.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)


Trying to follow this: are you saying that the duplex mode is more socially enriching? If so, then we're threatening to have to go back to the thread on immersionism (ack).


I wouldn't use the word "enriching," as it seems laden with an unintended value judgement. Perhaps "socially-efficient" or "more like natural, out-of-game social interaction." I'll ponder how to express this better.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.


OK, this needs clarification. It seems to me that all things created in-game in a RPG can be interacted with. Are you indicating mechanical or metagame interaction is indicated?


Not mechanical. I'm not sure about metagame. What I'm talking about is "performance" or "portrayal" of the PC by the player. For example, the PC doesn't use Jumping skill to cross the 5' gap, the PC summons his/her energies and athletic prowess to jump over the smoking chasm that the fleeing wizard placed behind his horse to deter pursuers. Or, instead of the +1 sword, it's Halfblack, the blade carried by an ancestor of the PC.

Mechanically, the jumping the chasm and the magic sword are the same thing. In performance, they are characterized -- they have a context in-game, a presence, a feel. They are portrayed at the character level, and evoke more interest (IMAO).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.

This seems to be something that everyone enjoys. That is, there's always a rate of data exchange that forms a feedback loop. If that rate isn't producing enough enjoyable results per unit time, or per unit effort, then the whole is seen as undesirable.


Agreed, 100%.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'd propose that any groups that you've observed that seem to like "slow" play, were actually cherishing some feedback element that you don't (or this group does not). Meaning that it's not the rate, which should always be optimized, but also the nature of the feedback itself that's important.


Agreed. I accept this addenda.

Now, here's a sticky bit: why are some feedback natures unappealling to Group A, when a large proportion of gamers apparently enjoy them? Is this simply individual taste, group taste, or something inherent in a gamer? (And we're back to Square 1.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).


Again, I'm not sure what your terms mean here. How are in-game objects like NPCs mentioned above, not "content?"


Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.


I think you'll have to explain better what you mean by "Doesn't Matter" here. Are you saying that the optimum system for your group would be one that did nothing but meters pacing? (snip)


No. What I'm saying is that the choice of System for a game is irrelevant, unless it specifically supports or undermines the desired style of play. That is, one could play a bog-standard Fantasy Heartbreaker game using absolutely any set of game mechanics -- rolling dice, adding up dice totals, adding up dice successes vs. a target, flipping playing cards, casting yarrow stalks, looking up random words in the dictionary, going completely freeform, whatever.

Unless the chosen set of mechanics makes the game substantially more enjoyable for the players and supports their interest (or becomes substantially dull, boring, or frustrating for the players) it doesn't matter which one you use.

To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Have you seen the Pace system (or Universalis  for that matter)?
 

Haven't seen Pace or Universalis. Would you consider trading me a copy of Universalis for one of DI?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.


You'll have to expand on this, too. That is, the social dynamic is constantly a factor in what happens in all play. Is there some particular effect that you're describing?


Simply that newcomers to a group notice the way group interactions obviously effect play when they enter the group; this may include interactions and dynamics that extant group memebers do not perceive. (No doubt there are inobvious effects as well, that the extant group would notice before newcomers to that group.) That was about the extent of my thought here.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

There might be some extension to how this might be applied in play, but I would be really skeptical that this could be applied anywhere outside of "Group A."


Well, look on the bright side: your pants and shirt now match, Skeptickal Guy.

Kidding aside, the best thing I can say is that I'm not as skeptical.

CU


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 11:38:49 AM
Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: chadu
So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.


There's a third option you're not considering: You can think of the system because it actively enhances your fun.


Um, actually, that's what I meant when I said "enhances your fun greatly" in the quoted bit. Three options: 1. don't think, 2. enhances greatly, 3. actively interferes.

I suspect you read my serial comma as an apposative.

Quote from: xiombarg
And I don't mean assuming you're a "crunchy bits" person that enjoys system for its own sake. I'm talking about system bits that come to the fore of the game, but enhance what the game is about.


Exactly.

Quote from: xiombarg
You seem to assume a system is either transparent or awkward, when it's possible for system to enhance play without being transparent. (snip)


Um, no, as above.

Just to be clear.

CU


Title: Re: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 11:40:29 AM
Quote from: chadu
I suspect you read my serial comma as an apposative.


Crap. This looks like it's my bad -- I used "either" to refer to three choices.

St00pid fingers.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 06, 2004, 12:51:01 PM
Quote from: chadu
Quote from: Mike Holmes
See, I'm not sure what that would look like.


Have you had a chance to see DI? :)
While I like to pride myself on keeping up to date with new publications, that doesn't mean that I can afford to buy every game that comes on the market. :-)

But I'll take it on faith - what does your game do that teaches good social behavior.

Quote
For example, I address what I suppose would be considered as the "social contract" here (what I'm calling out-of-game") in passim throughout my game. So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.
I'm probably not the world's most sociable person. But I'd like to think that I have what it takes to be social enough to be a decent participant in a RPG. So wouldn't I find material like this at the very least ancillary, and at worst insulting? And, again, if a person hasn't learned to be social by now, are they really going to become so from your game?

To be clear, I think that the vast majority of us are actually at the level where we can do just fine. I don't think that there's a lot to be "fixed" here. I thimk that the designer's imperative is to assume normal humans, and build the game to be good from there.

Mostly when we talk about the social aspect of games here, it follows the theory from "The Big 5" series of posts, in which we generally say that the usual problem isn't that people are antisocial, or don't know how to be social in RPG situations - it's that people assume that enjoyment of the game substitutes for a good social situation. Meaning that people play with others that they wouldn't otherwise associate with under the assumption that play will make everything OK. The assumption is that the social level doesn't need to exist, that all play can be constantly like one giant convention game.

So the "advice" that we give people is just to play with people who you can get along with. And nothing further seems at all neccessary. We then focus on making the games good to play.

Quote
In terms of in-game social education, rulesets can be constructed to reward or punish types, styles, and manner of play, always with the proviso, of course, that such things can be ignored. However, if the mechanic in question is central to the game or close to central -- I'm thinking here of Pendragon's virtues system as well as the majority of the rules of MLwM and DI's overall take on soul-cultivation/soul-decay -- it becomes harder to ignore the education tool as a subset. (Indeed, in those cases where the mechanic is distasteful, I'd say that typically the entire game then gets ignored.)
I'm of the opinion that "rules that can be ignored" usually are. That is, to have an effect on play, rules need to be linked to events such that they occur in a mechanical manner. Can you give me an example of such a tool?

Penragon's mechanic doesn't tell anybody about how to act on the player level. That is, mechanics that affect character action don't mean diddly-squid to the players. To whit, I was once playing a game of Pendragon with Ralph, and he and the GM got into a heated debate about what the result of the use of the virtue system had produced. Totally OOC.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Somewhat agreed with what I see as your intent behind the statement, but disagreed in that I'm interested in playing with people who might not be adult or appropriately social (children, teenagers, adults who have a foible, etc.).
Nope, if I can't form an appropriate social context with these folks, I don't want to play with them. And I don't want to make anybody else think it's a good idea either.

That said, I have a great social context with my child. So I'd have no problem playing a game with him. I think you're now straying into the realm of the "maturity myth." Which regards "immature" gamers. There are no such things. Oh, you think you've met them, but what you've met were people with whom either you didn't bother first setting up a proper social context, or with whose play you had an issue because of GNS incoherency.

Yes, some people take longer to establish a good social context with, but if you don't, I think that no system in the world will help. If the person is truely incapable of getting to that point, then, again, no system can help you.

Quote
Not directly, no. Indirectly, I believe it will. As RPGing is a mostly orally-transmitted, social sort of hobby, I think that supporting and encouraging social adeptness will have benefits down the road, as newbies are welcomed and permitted to retain interest in the hobby by more socially-ept gamers.
This is the main method of transmission that we here tend to rely upon. That is we think of word of mouth of good play as the primary method of selling games. The point is that I sincerely don't believe that it will make play any better. I mean, if you take a paragraph and say, "play with people that you like," then I think you've done about all you practically can do.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I wouldn't use the word "enriching," as it seems laden with an unintended value judgement. Perhaps "socially-efficient" or "more like natural, out-of-game social interaction." I'll ponder how to express this better.
Someone did some communication model anayses of RPGs a while back. Can anybody rememeber the threads? I know that John Kim has done something that's connected. Can anybody help out with links?

Quote
Mechanically, the jumping the chasm and the magic sword are the same thing. In performance, they are characterized -- they have a context in-game, a presence, a feel. They are portrayed at the character level, and evoke more interest (IMAO).
Ah, you mean existing as more than just metagame - more than a number on the paper. OK, I get that. Enforcement of this sort of thing hasn't been precisely easy in designs in the past. Often it occurs as an effect of some gestalt that the game provides.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Now, here's a sticky bit: why are some feedback natures unappealling to Group A, when a large proportion of gamers apparently enjoy them? Is this simply individual taste, group taste, or something inherent in a gamer? (And we're back to Square 1.)
Yes, I think that's it, these things are too individual to count on trying to see trends here.

For example, people often throw out in these discussions, "women like to see romance, and other forms of interpersonal interactions in play" which is inevitably followed up by somebody posting about the girl in their game that makes the men look sensitive by comparison with how "hack 'n slash" her play is. Even more problematic is the suggestion that women don't like math in their play - that's garanteed to get some female member here hot enough to post a rebuttal - as well they should, IMO. I can't think of one assertion like this that's ever been made to stick to any group of players.

Why not just do the easy thing and say that if people like romance, then they'll enjoy romance in their games? What does the gender matter?

If you're wondering why more women don't play, see the posts about cheesecake, etc. There's more than enough reasons that RPGs are offensive to some women without having to look for the feedback of play being the problem.

Quote
Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).
Again, confirming that you don't like to see metagame (or group A doesn't). That is the appearance of numbers and stuff is seen by your people as "getting in the way" of getting to the heart of the matter.

Quote
Unless the chosen set of mechanics makes the game substantially more enjoyable for the players and supports their interest (or becomes substantially dull, boring, or frustrating for the players) it doesn't matter which one you use.
Well I guess it all depends on what you mean by "substantially." All systems have some effect on all play (or they're not being used). System always does matter.

Quote
To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.
You're using System to mean just the mechanics. That's not  the usual use here at The Forge. According to the Lumpley Principal, System is that set of rules by which we determine what happens in the Shared Imaginative Space. Meaning that all that stuff that you call "content" is all created by system.

For example, in one game, it's OK for players to create NPCs. In another it's not. This is System. What you're refering to, we'd call just the mechanisms of the game. This seems to be our communication problem here. If you use our definition of System, do you see why System Does Matter?

Quote
Haven't seen Pace or Universalis. Would you consider trading me a copy of Universalis for one of DI?
Heh, if I had a spare, maybe. But I'm just a designer, not the owner, so I don't have any extra copies. Pace, however, is still free, from what I remember. Moreover, what about freeform? Mechanic-less play?

Quote
Simply that newcomers to a group notice the way group interactions obviously effect play when they enter the group; this may include interactions and dynamics that extant group memebers do not perceive. (No doubt there are inobvious effects as well, that the extant group would notice before newcomers to that group.) That was about the extent of my thought here.
Agreed, but, again, this is universal. How could a player come to any group and not be informed about how to play by the players already playing? What about this is unique to Group A? Or was this just a generic observation?

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 01:38:50 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Have you had a chance to see DI? :)


While I like to pride myself on keeping up to date with new publications, that doesn't mean that I can afford to buy every game that comes on the market. :-)

But I'll take it on faith - what does your game do that teaches good social behavior.


Well, as an out-of-game example, there's a boxed text talking about in-game disruptions created by out-of-game interactions (the "Being Lameass" textbox). It pretty directly speaks to putting down the dice and working out what ever the issue is out-of-games.

As an in-game example, the mechanics for soul cultivation and decay aren't strictly limited to the game world -- they're things people could take with them away from the gaming table. The soul cultivation/decay system can serve as a "practice area" for social interaction, if the game is played in a manner conducive to that.

Quote from: chadu
So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm probably not the world's most sociable person. But I'd like to think that I have what it takes to be social enough to be a decent participant in a RPG. So wouldn't I find material like this at the very least ancillary, and at worst insulting?


Anything's possible. It's my hope that these pieces were written well-enough to not be insulting to those who already have them internalized. Whether I was successful in this is up to other commentators to decide.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And, again, if a person hasn't learned to be social by now, are they really going to become so from your game?


I think my formal stance here is: "Couldn't hurt." :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I don't think that there's a lot to be "fixed" here. I think that the designer's imperative is to assume normal humans, and build the game to be good from there.


Which I tried to do.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Mostly when we talk about the social aspect of games here, it follows the theory from "The Big 5" series of posts, in which we generally say that the usual problem isn't that people are antisocial, or don't know how to be social in RPG situations - it's that people assume that enjoyment of the game substitutes for a good social situation. Meaning that people play with others that they wouldn't otherwise associate with under the assumption that play will make everything OK. The assumption is that the social level doesn't need to exist, that all play can be constantly like one giant convention game.


I'd agree with that.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So the "advice" that we give people is just to play with people who you can get along with. And nothing further seems at all neccessary. We then focus on making the games good to play.


Again, agreement.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm of the opinion that "rules that can be ignored" usually are. That is, to have an effect on play, rules need to be linked to events such that they occur in a mechanical manner. Can you give me an example of such a tool?


Please see: My Game: Dead Inside (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9527 )

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Penragon's mechanic doesn't tell anybody about how to act on the player level. That is, mechanics that affect character action don't mean diddly-squid to the players. To whit, I was once playing a game of Pendragon with Ralph, and he and the GM got into a heated debate about what the result of the use of the virtue system had produced. Totally OOC.


DI spins it such that when the result is dictated by the mechanics, the player's role is to answer why the result ended up that way. This can act as a tool for understanding, if used sincerely, I think.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
. The point is that I sincerely don't believe that it will make play any better. I mean, if you take a paragraph and say, "play with people that you like," then I think you've done about all you practically can do.


What about people that you like in general, but not in specific cases?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Why not just do the easy thing and say that if people like romance, then they'll enjoy romance in their games? What does the gender matter?


In general, no argument. In the context of this thread, gender matters in that it was one of the distinct variables between two playtest groups.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).

Again, confirming that you don't like to see metagame (or group A doesn't). That is the appearance of numbers and stuff is seen by your people as "getting in the way" of getting to the heart of the matter.


I'd say that that is true for Group A. Somewhat true for me -- I like metagame, up to a limit.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu']To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.[/quote]

You're using System to mean just the mechanics. That's not  the usual use here at The Forge. According to the Lumpley Principal, System is that set of rules by which we determine what happens in the Shared Imaginative Space. Meaning that all that stuff that you call "content" is all created by system. (snip example) This seems to be our communication problem here. If you use our definition of System, do you see why System Does Matter?[/quote]

Ah, I see. Yes.

[quote="Mike Holmes
Moreover, what about freeform? Mechanic-less play?
I think I cut and lumped it into my earlier discussion in that it Rules ("System") doesn't matter, whatever it is, unless it boosts the experience or gets in the way. And I do think that the ruleless nature of a freeform game can get in the way, typified by:

COWBOY:"I shot you!"
ROBBER: "No, you didn't!"

. . . while the Indian Cop walks away, shaking his head. . .

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How could a player come to any group and not be informed about how to play by the players already playing? What about this is unique to Group A? Or was this just a generic observation?

 
Mostly a generic observation, but note: I'd not talking about "how to play" (rules explanations), I'm talking about "how it is played" (Jimmy gets loud, Janey won't touch her dice until she's ready to throw, Jao always undercuts Jaq's plans with pointless rules discourses, etc.).

Good convo.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Paul Czege on May 06, 2004, 03:26:35 PM
Hey Mike,

Marketing? Well, sure. Do we have any marketers here? What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

The cover story of the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur was on this topic.

And isn't Matt Wilson in marketing?

Paul


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: John Kim on May 06, 2004, 04:42:28 PM
Mike mentioned something by me.  I think he may be thinking about Group Narration: Power, Information, and Play in Role Playing Games -- an essay by Liz Henry which appeared on my website. She addresses the relation of gender to communication:
Quote from: Liz Henry
Ede and Lunsford point out that most of the collaborations they studied depend on a rigidly structured hierarchy, which results in high efficiency in producing a final textual result. According to Ede and Lunsford, in collaboration that is focused on productivity and efficiency, "the realities of multiple voices and shifiting authority are seen as difficulties to be overcome or resolved." They associate this hierarchical structure in part with male gender, calling it "a masculine mode of discourse."

Ede and Lunsford assert the existence of an alternate method of collaborative writing which exemplifies Bakhtin's concept of the dialogic; in dialogic mode, the group is loosely structured, authority and goals are fluid, and the process or experience of writing and collaboration is valued over the result, end goal, or textual product. Ede and Lunsford think of this mode as predominantly feminine (133).

Many gamers describe this split in game playing philosophies as gendered. Knights of the Dinner Table's one female character, Sara, consistently emphasizes character, storytelling, and non-violence in her play. Hong Ooi, in a humorous article "Real Men Don't Play GURPS", contrasts the Real Man with his opposite, the feminine or feminized "Quiche Eater":
Quote
The easiest way to tell a Real Man from the rest of the roleplaying crowd is by the game he plays. Real Men play Dungeons and Dragons. Quiche Eaters play GURPS and Storyteller. Mark Rein*Hagen, the designer of Storyteller, was once asked, "How do you pronounce the dot in your name?" He replied, "It's unpronounceable, and symbolises how meaningless are the labels that we attach to ourselves." One can tell immediately from this comment that Mark Rein*Hagen is a Quiche Eater. Real Men don't need the abstract concepts introduced by Quiche-Eating games - like characterisation, immersiveness or realism - to get their jobs done.

Some women gamers also seem to associate gender with playing style:
Quote
Women that I've known online have been much less competitive. It's not about beating up someone else, it's about the story. The process by which a goal is reached, not the goal itself. I think we have more fun with the telling than with beating an enemy's head in. (Elizabeth B.)

These statements conflate violence and goal-oriented stories, and reify a group of binary divisions assigned to male and female genders (Fig. 4). I believe this binary model is part of the problem of sexism and internalized sexism in gaming. Further work should be done by RPG theorists to deconstruct model.


It's important to note that these are about "masculine" and "feminine" modes of behavior, which may be culturally-fostered associations with women that do not correspond to genetic predisposition.

P.S.  An etiquette note here: both Chad's and Mike's recent posts have had something like 14+ quotes in them.  Just a reminder that the Forge etiquette policy is against line-by-line replies.  It usually helps communication if you summarize.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 06, 2004, 05:35:36 PM
Quote from: John Kim
P.S.  An etiquette note here: both Chad's and Mike's recent posts have had something like 14+ quotes in them.  Just a reminder that the Forge etiquette policy is against line-by-line replies.  It usually helps communication if you summarize.


Oh, crap. Sorry!

Thanks John -- both for the above reminder and the text you quoted.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Callan S. on May 06, 2004, 06:24:30 PM
I'll choose assinine, actually. My choice is to work from just this thread (for certain reasons), glad I was asked. Though I checked out four of the listed threads to see if I should change. No.

They all get so freakin' wrapped up in not stepping on poor womens toes, they don't achieve any goal. Every time someone gets close to a goal, they get wrapped up in women not enjoying this or that, and then stab at this or that. That's not the way to reach a goal, it is a method you can use to make heatbreakers...'Its D&D done right! We we through it stabbing at the bits we hate with no real design goal and here it is, hot and steaming'.

Its flibberty jibbet micro tactical changes and not a strategy with a goal. Back and forth someone identifies something women don't like, so they attack that system component. Then they attack something else which, once removes, makes that previous component come back into dominance again. Then Jane comes in and says that's not her at all and everyone hops to this, even though weve all seen Jim come in before and say something isn't for him and weve all ignored him. God, this is a woman, she must understand everything about women...not that we'd grant this power to any guy who comes in (one man doesn't understand all other men, but one women understands all other women...yah, right)

An inherant component of why this is fucks up is because, yes, women ARE individuals.

THAT is EXACTLY we should to lump them into one big ball of behaviour. Because how the hell else do you attack getting a share of this demographic? How else have we been attacking the male demographic? No, its not because the posters who do it are (most usually) male and thus can somehow lump male behaviour into categories and that's not sexist. Bull shit you can talk for me and my behaviour! The reason your allowed to is because you need to make some generalities about your target audience, in order to try and reach a design goal (or sales goal). You HAVE to work in generalities, it'd be fantastic if we didn't, but lacking super computer minds we don't.

So we lump the target demographic into generalities of behaviour. Males tend to dominate the RP demographic, so were lumping them into these generalties.

But god no, we can't lump women into them! Poor things! Actually, screw all that 'white knight' sexist crap. We can treat them the same. And we can apologise to both genders equally, when we use these generalties so we can try and reach some sort of goal. Ah, screw the apologies, lets just do it.

God, I sound like the demented moral of a south park episode! And damn have I used up some space in what is just a call to focus! Beh, I knew I was gunna RPG.net on the forge one day.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Ben O'Neal on May 06, 2004, 08:22:15 PM
Quote
I'll choose assinine, actually. My choice is to work from just this thread (for certain reasons), glad I was asked. Though I checked out four of the listed threads to see if I should change. No.

Actually, I believe Mike was referring to me. Yes Mike, I have read a few of the links you gave before this thread existed, and I just read a few more.

That said, I applaud your candid post Noon. Basically you just summed up how I feel on the whole thing. Well done and thanks!

Everyone's an individual, but everyone is also, first and foremost, a human, and there's nothing individual about that. Also, before anyone became who they are today, they were either male or female. This simple fact coloured everything that led them to becoming who they are today. So we have two facts: One, we can best make generalisation about humans as a whole, but unfortunately these generalisations will be the least universally individually applicable. Second, we can make generalisations about males or females as a whole, and these generalisations will have more predictive power than those about humans as a whole, because we are cutting down our sample size.

The smaller the group you are trying to observe, the more predictive power you have in your generalisations. This is why the most powerful predictions are those made about an individual based on generalisations about that individual gained from observations of that individual. But of course, this is incredibly impractical.

Claims to the effect of "but I'm not like that, so you are wrong" or "but I'm an individual, so all generalisations are futile" are completely and totally pointless, and entirely contrary to the way the mind works. I would be just as justified in saying "but I am like that, so therefore everyone is". And yet more consideration is given to the claims of individualism for no other reason than it appeals to the desire of people to be unique and special, and in many cases, a "mystery".


One last thing... I keep hearing "anecdotes are useless because ". Come on! If I collected 1 million anecdotes, I'd have me a VERY powerful and respectable study. Anecdotes are research on a small scale. A thread such as this, designed to collect and collate anecdotes around a similar theme (such as "in your exerience, have women gamers played differently to male gamers, and if so, how?"), is essentially a survey, and no-one balks at surveys being described as data now do they? My anecdotes are very powerful in describing observations of the subjects of them, yours are too. Why can't the anecdotes of 100 people be considered powerful descriptors of some people in general?

-Ben


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: John Kim on May 06, 2004, 10:29:59 PM
Quote from: Ravien
  Second, we can make generalisations about males or females as a whole, and these generalisations will have more predictive power than those about humans as a whole, because we are cutting down our sample size.  
 
Quote from: Ravien
  One last thing... I keep hearing "anecdotes are useless because ". Come on! If I collected 1 million anecdotes, I'd have me a VERY powerful and respectable study. Anecdotes are research on a small scale.  A thread such as this, designed to collect and collate anecdotes around a similar theme (such as "in your exerience, have women gamers played differently to male gamers, and if so, how?"), is essentially a survey, and no-one balks at surveys being described as data now do they?  

Well, if you collected 1 million objective data points and analyzed them in a scientific and unbiased fashion, then you would have a powerful and respectable study.  On the other hand, if you just sifted through a whole bunch of anecdotes (which all answer different questions with different parameters and context) and wrote up your general impressions, you'd have some Cosmo magazine articles.  

Seriously, while generalizations can be true -- that doesn't mean that any particular person's generalizations are true.  A surprising amount of "common sense" and "accepted wisdom" turns out to be false when compared with accurately analyzed data.  Of particular concern is that preconceptions and emotions can strongly affect how one remembers events.  You tend to remember most strongly events which are emotionally moving, for example.  What makes something respected research is the careful attempt to remove bias and objectively analyze, not just the number of people contacted.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Ben O'Neal on May 06, 2004, 11:34:31 PM
Regarding John's post: Of course, what you say is true, but the good thing about anecdotes is that they not so much that they provide information about the target in question, but about the observer's interaction with the target, and sometimes this can be just as important.

Also, what makes a generalisation true? Is it that is is accurate for one member? Over 20%? Over 50%? Over 90%? The more possible variables there are for the generalisation to consider, the fewer individuals it must be accurate for in order to be considered "true" (this is predictive power).

I am also a firm believer in using the tools you have available. If the very best we have is anecdotal evidence, then there is no reason to dismiss it, as to do so leaves us uninformed. Until I see some respectable large-scale studies relevant to gamers and gender, anecdotes have my vote. On the other hand, when superior evidence IS available, anecdotes can be dismissed or at least treated as dubious, such as with UFO sightings and what-not.

If you need to bash a nail into a piece of wood, but you don't have a hammer, you use a rock, because it's much better than your forehead.

-Ben


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Christopher Weeks on May 07, 2004, 02:38:02 AM
Quote from: Ravien
One last thing... I keep hearing "anecdotes are useless because ". Come on! If I collected 1 million anecdotes, I'd have me a VERY powerful and respectable study.


This is completely, totally false.  The plural of anecdote is not data.  Go to Nature with your million anecdotes and see if they're jumping to publish.  What John said.

Quote
Why can't the anecdotes of 100 people be considered powerful descriptors of some people in general?


Because they are not, in fact, the result set from a survey.  You can conduct a survey, but it will ask specific questions if you want respected quantified data from which to work.

Now, you _can_ make a descriptive, qualitative study.  But even that isn't just a bunch of folks telling what they see (as colored by what they already think).  It is a trained, scientific observer watching the subject behavior and instead of classifying events for quantification, simply describing it and making what they think are important observations.  Preferably over and over.  And many people (I include myself) think those studies are damn near worthless.

I think that the absolute closest that a thread like this can come to having a place in scientifically determining truth is helping us to collate observations of phenomena so that we might determine what questions are worth asking in an actual corellation or (later) an experimental study.

But neither 100 nor 1000000 anecdotes is a study.  I think the analogy between gendered gaming and UFO sighting is spot on in describing their scientific importance.

On the other hand, I like these threads anyway and think it's silly for folks to get pissy about the drawing of conclusions when simply pointing out the errors is much more effective.

Chris


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 07, 2004, 07:53:38 AM
Callan, Ravien, it's precisely my point that starting with anecdotal evidence in the past has gone nowhere. That's why I posted those posts, to show that we've tried this tactic before, and that it hasn't worked. And it's not just because of an overly PC approach. It's because use of annecdotal evidence to try and categorize an entire group of gamers is doomed to be unconvincing.

My point about individuals is not that you can't generalize. I've never said that. It's that combined with anecdotal collection of data, it means that you aren't getting a representative sample. If all women were the same, then just asking one or two would do the trick. But since they're individuals, the only way to generalize is to use appropriate statistical methods.

And why not use the convincing stuff? I mean, we have psychological studies, marketing research, and all manner of real sources of data from which to work.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to crack this nut, I'm just saying that we do have the hammer (actual research) and that we've been trying to use the rock (anectotal evidence). Or that the rock may turn out to be a potato which  is never going to do any good.


Also, the replies that Chad was making weren't line-by-line, but point by point, an appropriate response to my bullet point presentation. Neither of us has voided any Forge etiquette in doing what we've done (we're not using disingenuous methods of disection to destroy each other's arguments).

Most importantly, Chad and I were actually getting somewhere before people came rumbling back in with discussion of appropriate methods of data collection. If we could get back to the matter at hand, that would be nice.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 07, 2004, 08:20:47 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Most importantly, Chad and I were actually getting somewhere (. . . ) If we could get back to the matter at hand, that would be nice.


Vis a vis -- I think it's your serve, mang.

This has been an interesting conversation, which has ranged all around the map.

I guess another way to isolate the first point I'm curious about (and trying to determine) is "why did this female-majority group give me a quite different RP/GMing experience, which was unlike that of previous groups?"

It's not simply quality of play -- I've run or played in kickass groups.

It's not simply the mere presence of women -- I've played in mixed-sex groups before.

It's possibly the simple combination of people, but while that point can be separated out if necessary, I think it's important to note that the majority of the people were female (just as if I'd note that they are all professional, all white, and all over 30), but the importance of the aspect of player's sex is the point at hand.

The second point I'm trying to analyze is methods of game design to enhance and support that sort of play and/or buy-in from those sort of people (which can lead to that sort of play).

The third point I want to think and talk about is one of access to the hobby; the periennal "how do we interest more people in RPGing?" and "how do we keep newbies interested and playing?" questions.

Am I missing anything?

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 07, 2004, 10:02:42 AM
Quote from: chadu
Vis a vis -- I think it's your serve, mang.
Well, I was hoping that it might develop into something more than a dialogue on those points we were discussing.

Quote
It's possibly the simple combination of people, but while that point can be separated out if necessary, I think it's important to note that the majority of the people were female (just as if I'd note that they are all professional, all white, and all over 30), but the importance of the aspect of player's sex is the point at hand.
Quote
Single or married? Were the earlier groups not all professional, white, and over 30? Are these differences?

I think that there was almost certainly an effect of the grouping of females. But I also think that whatever that effect was, was still unique to that group. That's not saying it wouldn't happen in other groups, and not to say that it wouldn't happen more with majority female groups, but just to say that even when it does happen, the group dynamic in every group is so individual that it's hard to make generalizations. And in this case, that's not because of the anecdotal problem I gave above, but because the permutations really do make groups distinctly different.

At least that's been my anecdotal experience. :-)

Quote
The second point I'm trying to analyze is methods of game design to enhance and support that sort of play and/or buy-in from those sort of people (which can lead to that sort of play).
That I totally support. At the very least you're supporting your group, and any groups that are "like your group." Which may be a substantial group, who knows?

So what effect do you want to start with?

Quote
The third point I want to think and talk about is one of access to the hobby; the periennal "how do we interest more people in RPGing?" and "how do we keep newbies interested and playing?" questions.
Might be best as a new thread. And, again, that's been hammered as hard as the gender issue (with, I think some actual success). So please everyone, do your reading before we go into that area.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 07, 2004, 10:48:09 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Vis a vis -- I think it's your serve, mang.
Well, I was hoping that it might develop into something more than a dialogue on those points we were discussing.


Hope springs eternal.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
It's possibly the simple combination of people, but while that point can be separated out if necessary, I think it's important to note that the majority of the people were female (just as if I'd note that they are all professional, all white, and all over 30), but the importance of the aspect of player's sex is the point at hand.
Single or married? Were the earlier groups not all professional, white, and over 30? Are these differences?[ /quote]

See that's the kicker: they weren't differences. Both groups were composed of:
* People who were already friends (for several years).

* People who worked professional jobs (3 defense contractors, 1 document specialist, 2 editors, 1 programmer, and 1 graphic designer).

* White People.

* 30+ years old people.

* Some married, some single people. Counting me -- in all-male: 2 married (to non-group members), 2 single; in female-majority: 4 married (2 pairs of spouses), 1 single.

* Some level of previous gaming experience. In all male: 4 long-time gamers; in majority-female: 3 long-time gamers, 1 "gamer-friendly" occasional-but-don't-much-like-it, and 1 complete newbie.

So the two biggest variables seemed to me to be player sex and level of previous gaming. Now, looking back, I'm wondering if the fact that the female-majority group contained 2 sets of pair-bonds makes a difference.

This is probably different than the classic "GM's SO" situation -- the pair-bond wouldn't be a unique experience within the group. It may also associate with the concept of having pre-existing relationships before you sit down at the gaming table; and in that case, we're talking about  possibly stronger relationships in the form of pair-bonds.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I think that there was almost certainly an effect of the grouping of females. But I also think that whatever that effect was, was still unique to that group. (...)  the group dynamic in every group is so individual that it's hard to make generalizations.


True, and you may be right. However, I'm trying to do this in the classic old Frankie Bacon way: set up a hypothesis and try to knock it down. Unfortunately, I don't think we can even hope to start pitching balls at the hypothesis until I'm better able to qualify exactly how the experience felt differently.

Then there's the whole problem of emotional reactions not being empirical...

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
The second point I'm trying to analyze is methods of game design to enhance and support that sort of play and/or buy-in from those sort of people (which can lead to that sort of play).
That I totally support. At the very least you're supporting your group, and any groups that are "like your group." Which may be a substantial group, who knows?

So what effect do you want to start with?

 

Okay, let me try to take a crack at what I'm trying to achieve, based on info upthread.

* Play was deeply roleplayed with about 85% 1st Person POV ("I do this...") to about  15% 3rd Person POV ("My character/CHARACTER NAME does this...").

* Extensive social interaction with nearly every NPC mentioned, as if they were a genuinely interesting person.  If the PCs spoke to the nameless janitor NPC, they really explored in their discussion with him, even if there was no direct benefit to doing so. This seemed to happen when the PCs were confident, relaxed, and or happy. Interestingly, if the PCs were angry, stressed, or unhappy, all NPCs were suddenly seen as uninteresting obstacles, unworthy of attention -- and here's the really interesting part -- even if there was a benefit to doing so.

So, if PCs were pissed off about not meeting the rock star, instead of following the customary exploration of an NPC waiter character, they'd treat him like crap, even if he was wearing a tour-only t-shirt from the rock's star's show. ("Aw, he got it on eBay.") Only when the obvious clue-flag was raised ("hey, he looks like the rockstar, too"), did they back off of their anger and dismissal and return to their previous mode of interaction.

Another one involved being loudly, needlessly, and obnoxiously rude to a valet parking attendant for reasons unrelated to the valet, BEFORE the valet brought their car. Treated like dirt for no reason, the valet took his time bringing the car back, causing a delay in departure, whic caused further problems down the road for the PCs.

Preferably, I'd like to enhance the former rather than the latter style (for some sorts of games).

* Players/PCs also seemed to take the time to characterize/experience moments with objects or actions, either by explaining on their own or asking me for info ("I sit in the big comfy purple couch..." vs. "What is the couch like? Is it fuzzy?").  

* While pace slowed during intensive conversation with meter maids, it moved swiftly in conflict situations. The group supported each other during the conflict, where they had left each other  alon more outside of it.

That's about all I got right now.

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Callan S. on May 09, 2004, 05:33:18 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
And why not use the convincing stuff? I mean, we have psychological studies, marketing research, and all manner of real sources of data from which to work.


I'm loosing touch with the scale were working at here. We were presented with something that was akin to the level of squad tactics, to use a military analogy. Obviously this doesn't extrapolate particularly well as to what strategy to use at an army scale.

As I noted before, the video game industry is targeting the female demographic. With the luxury of data like they have but instead with an RPG focus, certainly speculation speculation at the strategic level is enabled. But we were presented with the tactical level and although any hypothesis produced is going to be partially a product of the specific circumstances, I work with what I get and within the scale I got it from. What scale are you working at?


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 10, 2004, 09:35:38 AM
My point, Callan, is that the small scale doesn't do any good in describing anything large scale. If we want to address the issues of gender in gaming on that scale, then we have to think large scale, and this small scale stuff doesn't do any good.

Now, if Chad wants to discuss just his group's dynamics, then I think the small scale is, of course, appropriate. We can probably say things about games that will be good for that group.

Then, if you want to extrapolate and say that things that are good for Chad's group are good for gender issues in gaming in general, you're free to do so- I just think this is where the leap in logic takes place that doesn't make sense. Just because Chad's group is mostly female, that doesn't mean that applealing to that group will appeal to females in general.

Moreover, I think the solution is simpler that all that. I don't think you can predict the likes of any demographic in RPGs enough to make games that will appeal to them. Instead the general Indie Credo seems to apply better - build a good game and players will come and play it. Both male and female alike.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Callan S. on May 10, 2004, 05:29:15 PM
Well, Mike, (just hadda copy that sentence layout! >:) ) that's my point as well. It's just that I respond to it in an equally valid, but different way. Basically hypothesize what works for this particular group. Then that can be tested with other groups to see if that can attract members of this demographic (ie, chicks).

Clearly, it'll go wrong in that it wont fit other group perfectly. But the idea is to create some technique so you start with something to help get these players rather than nothing. With the limmited data given obviously you can't make a perfect tool for the job. But you can atleast start to get something close (that will have to addapt for other groups, but atleast you don't start from scratch). A imperfect yet robust responce. The other way you can do it is go from the big picture, which you are.


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 10, 2004, 06:54:42 PM
Quote from: Noon
Well, Mike, (just hadda copy that sentence layout! >:) ) that's my point as well. It's just that I respond to it in an equally valid, but different way. Basically hypothesize what works for this particular group. Then that can be tested with other groups to see if that can attract members of this demographic (ie, chicks).
Quote


And newbies! Don't forget the newbies!

But yes -- that's one of the angles I wished to approach this concept from.
Are the bullet points upthread sufficient to create a method/approach for GMing and play (and other elements I'm surely missing)?

Or do they need more work? If so, in what way?

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 11, 2004, 06:56:15 AM
Quote from: chadu
* Play was deeply roleplayed with about 85% 1st Person POV ("I do this...") to about  15% 3rd Person POV ("My character/CHARACTER NAME does this...").
This could be enforced. For example, in Puppetland, there is a requirement to speak in the past tense as if telling a story. The question is whether enforcing this will appeal to anyone, or if just letting each group figure this out on their own is best. That is, your group did this without enforcement, so enforcement seems unneccessary.

Now, what mechanics might reinforce this? The temptation is to say transparent, because that means less getting out of character. You've said that you don't want to go freeform because of the benefits of mechanics in establishing a shared imagined space. All well and good, but you're going to have to find just what it is that needs to be reinforced this way, and what can be left to the imaginations of the people playing. Basically, anything that's doesn't have a crucial need to be mechanically enumerated should be eliminated.

When I say that, I mean thinking radically and eliminating things like special rules for combat (have you read my rant?). To get down to brass tacks, what is your game about, primarily?

Quote
So, if PCs were pissed off about not meeting the rock star, instead of following the customary exploration of an NPC waiter character, they'd treat him like crap, even if he was wearing a tour-only t-shirt from the rock's star's show. ("Aw, he got it on eBay.") Only when the obvious clue-flag was raised ("hey, he looks like the rockstar, too"), did they back off of their anger and dismissal and return to their previous mode of interaction.
Interesting example. Have you considered the idea that the "negative" reactions to the NPCs were actually enjoyed play? It could well be that "raising flags" is the problem, and makes the players act in ways that they really don't prefer to.

Quote
Another one involved being loudly, needlessly, and obnoxiously rude to a valet parking attendant for reasons unrelated to the valet, BEFORE the valet brought their car. Treated like dirt for no reason, the valet took his time bringing the car back, causing a delay in departure, whic caused further problems down the road for the PCs.

Preferably, I'd like to enhance the former rather than the latter style (for some sorts of games).
Why? I'm sorta confused. You want to promote a style of play where the players always play their characters as sweetness and light towards all NPCs? To what end?

In the valet example, how was it determined that the delay with the valet was problematic? Did this make the game worse, or better? Is the game about characterization, or about accomplishing the mission?

Quote
* Players/PCs also seemed to take the time to characterize/experience moments with objects or actions, either by explaining on their own or asking me for info ("I sit in the big comfy purple couch..." vs. "What is the couch like? Is it fuzzy?").  
Once again, do you want to "allow" this, or encourage it?

A lot of this seems to be play going "right." So all I can say is that what you have for a system must be working. What we'd need to know is when the players weren't satisfied.

Quote
* While pace slowed during intensive conversation with meter maids, it moved swiftly in conflict situations. The group supported each other during the conflict, where they had left each other  alon more outside of it.
If this is something that you want to support, again it seems like light is what you want.

So, here's the problem. What you're giving us is behaviors without and details on social reinforcment. You could say all of the above, and then say, "but they said they had a terrible time." Or you could end with, "and they said it was the greatest session that they ever had." So the question is, do you think that they liked the play that occured? If so, then the question is whether or not you felt that the system encouraged this, or discouraged these behaviors. Once we know what they want, and what you have that supports it, or not, then we can work towards improvements.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 11, 2004, 08:26:47 AM
Hello,

I'd like to make a request.

Chad, can you post in Actual Play about the following?

1. How many people played, and what age range and sexes we're talking about.

2. What happened - not a blow-by-blow, he-did-this and then-I-did-that kind of way, but more in terms of what the characters really decided to do, and how real-person interactions led to those fictional events.

3. Themes that can be said to have emerged from the session. Dead Inside, in my opinion, is a remarkably moral and powerful game - it might be seen as "Sorcerer inside out," in that a character's Humanity is now gone, and you have to think about whether and how he or she gets it back. It's pretty clear to me that, played with heart, it will generate themes (statements, judgments, recommendations about problematic human situations). So I'd like to know more about how that actually occured during play.

4. Any specific gender-based issues or interactions that you are reflecting on. Keeping it specific to the group will immediately negate all this stuff about "society" and "culture" and "well, not all women" and that sort of thing (which frankly gets right up my nose), and will also perhaps be more useful to you as a discussion.

Make no mistake: I think Dead Inside deserves a lot of attention, a lot of play, and a lot of reflection. I also think this thread has been an appalling way for it to debut seriously at the Forge, and I'd like to see something a little more basic to actual play.

That's not a moderator comment, though. Chad, it's up to you whether this thread continues. Just say "close," and it's done.

Best,
Ron


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 11, 2004, 09:06:14 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
* Play was deeply roleplayed with about 85% 1st Person POV ("I do this...") to about  15% 3rd Person POV ("My character/CHARACTER NAME does this...").

(snip)
Now, what mechanics might reinforce this? The temptation is to say transparent, because that means less getting out of character. You've said that you don't want to go freeform because of the benefits of mechanics in establishing a shared imagined space. All well and good, but you're going to have to find just what it is that needs to be reinforced this way, and what can be left to the imaginations of the people playing. Basically, anything that's doesn't have a crucial need to be mechanically enumerated should be eliminated.[/i]

Right. This is the roughly the sort of play (between 50% and 85% 1st POV; between 15% and 50% 3rd POV) I'd like to encourage; I think it's a nice mix of what makes an RPG an RPG.

And the PDQ System that DI runs on has eliminated -- or rather condensed or abstracted -- just about everything to the same level of detail. Anything a character is, possesses, or can do well is a Quality (specifically a Strength) and every character has a negative Quality (a Weakness). All are figured on the same scale.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
When I say that, I mean thinking radically and eliminating things like special rules for combat (have you read my rant?). To get down to brass tacks, what is your game about, primarily?


I haven't read your rant. Do you have a direct link, or a specific thread title?

There are no special rules for combat -- all conflicts take place the same way. (Well, there is a minor alteration for Soultaking conflicts, and separate subsystems for Virtue/Vice Checks and Soul Cultivation/Decay, but since those connect directly to the premise of the game in different ways -- "you've lost your soul; what will you do to get it back?" -- I think that's kosher.)

To step back a sec, all situations in DI are either simple, complicated, or conflict. Simple situations are resolved by comparison of Quality to Difficulty rank. Complicated situations (those with iffy resolution) are resolved by Quality+dice roll vs. Difficulty target number. Conflict situations (those with an active, opposed force) are resolved by Quality vs. Quality rolls.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote
So, if PCs were pissed off about not meeting the rock star, instead of following the customary exploration of an NPC waiter character, they'd treat him like crap, even if he was wearing a tour-only t-shirt from the rock's star's show. ("Aw, he got it on eBay.") Only when the obvious clue-flag was raised ("hey, he looks like the rockstar, too"), did they back off of their anger and dismissal and return to their previous mode of interaction.


Interesting example. Have you considered the idea that the "negative" reactions to the NPCs were actually enjoyed play? It could well be that "raising flags" is the problem, and makes the players act in ways that they really don't prefer to.


A good point, but not relevant in this situation, I think.  My impression is not that the negative reactions were posed in-character, but a side-effect of the players missing the "adventure subgoal" of meeting the rockstar NPC. I'll ponder further.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote
Another one involved being loudly, needlessly, and obnoxiously rude to a valet parking attendant for reasons unrelated to the valet, BEFORE the valet brought their car. Treated like dirt for no reason, the valet took his time bringing the car back, causing a delay in departure, whic caused further problems down the road for the PCs.

Preferably, I'd like to enhance the former rather than the latter style (for some sorts of games).


Why? I'm sorta confused. You want to promote a style of play where the players always play their characters as sweetness and light towards all NPCs? To what end?

In the valet example, how was it determined that the delay with the valet was problematic? Did this make the game worse, or better? Is the game about characterization, or about accomplishing the mission?


Well, this is tied up with the core conceit of the game, somewhat. Treating innocent people like crap is bad. I do want to promote a "nicer" attitude, I suppose.

I think the issue here is that it really seemed to me that the characters were acting out the players' out-of-game frustrations on NPCs rather than sticking with the in-character attitude they were previously displaying.

This might not be a solvable problem, just a function of group frustration. I guess I'm asking if that a character is defined -- and has mostly been played in that manner -- as "soft-spoken" and the player is performing that character as a "rude loudmouth" -- not because of an in-game choice by the character but as an effect of out-of-game issues of the player, was I right/wrong/incorrect to apply an in-game effect of that performance?

Let's simplify: If a PC "gentil knighte" is before the king on bended knee to ask a boon, and immediately before asking said boon, the player spills his coke on his dice and gets upset, and (after cleaning up) then says something like "Bee-yatch, gimme the majic sword," and the GM verifies that yes, indeed, that's the tone and nature of the request, what does one do?

Basically, the player's head got knocked out of the game, and even after time taken to get back into the scene, they're playing against previously illustrated characterization (for no in-game reason) then what?

To answer your final question in the above quote, I feel that RPGing is a balancing act between characterization and mission achievement. If you employ only the former, you're acting; if you employ only the latter, you're playing a board game. IMAO, of course.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So all I can say is that what you have for a system must be working. What we'd need to know is when the players weren't satisfied.
(snip)
So, here's the problem. What you're giving us is behaviors without and details on social reinforcment. You could say all of the above, and then say, "but they said they had a terrible time." Or you could end with, "and they said it was the greatest session that they ever had." So the question is, do you think that they liked the play that occured?


Everyone at the table said that it was the best game experience they've ever had, and want to play more, once our schedule sync up.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
If so, then the question is whether or not you felt that the system encouraged this, or discouraged these behaviors. Once we know what they want, and what you have that supports it, or not, then we can work towards improvements.

 
I do feel that the system encouraged these responses and activities, but I'm not sure how. I think it's giving them the experience they want -- no, that's not quite right. They came in looking for a new experience, with no real preconceived notions (but some with previous game experience), and received one that they enjoyed tremendously, in ways they hadn't expected. That's true on my part, too: the game, as I said, flowed in a very different mode from what I'm used to, or even the same system, same scenario, with a different group.

The system seems to support both my more usual style of play alongside this more "looping" style of play, so now I'm not sure the system directly had an effect.

However, the more I think about it, the more I come to the hypothesis that it was the presence of newbies and semi-newbies at the table that had this effect on play. With no preconceived notions of how a game "usually" worked, they wandered all over the map, exploring everything, without any concern for the ticking countdown of the plot-clock. When confronted with a situation, they reacted from character rather than system or game-concerns. And that was just as effective a response as the group that did the more traditional gaming-influenced sort of approach.

So, I think this is where System/Game Mechanics comes back in. Since it's a simple system, it doesn't hinder or constrain the chances of success for a character's actions. It does its job, then scoots out of the way, which I think works here. (And would for any character-focused game or genre.)

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 11, 2004, 09:12:16 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'd like to make a request. Chad, can you post in Actual Play about the following? (snip) I also think this thread has been an appalling way for it to debut seriously at the Forge, and I'd like to see something a little more basic to actual play.


Fair enough, Ron. Give me a couple days to review some Actual Play threads to get the feel, review your points, and write something up to post.

Quote
That's not a moderator comment, though. Chad, it's up to you whether this thread continues. Just say "close," and it's done.

Well, I think in my last post (written as you posted), I came to a conclusion. If Mike has something he desperately wants to talk about in re: that post, I'm cool with him continuing here or waiting for the Actual Play thread. Otherwise, let's stick a fork in this one, it's done. :)

CU


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 11, 2004, 09:33:45 AM
I'll only say that from what I can see, you have a good design for your goals.

Note that I think the "newbie" phenomenon is now becoming clear to me. What you've discovered is a principle around here that's really very simple. "Experienced" RPG players come to play with a lot of preconceptions that have been ingrained into them from previous play. No surprise. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you want to ty to combat this effect. The common wisdom on this is that it's not worth it, for the most part. All you can do as a designer is do your best to put into a game your vision for how it should work. You really have no idea how any reader is going to interpret and mangle your work. So you can't worry about that.

Now, it seems that the system that you have, when applied to "black slate" players, does precisely what you want it to do. So it's the "experienced" players who are gumming up the works. Now, one might say that these are the core audience, and they should be catered to. But if we're really looking to integrate women - they mostly being non-roleplayers (which is true of men as well), then isn't it better to keep the game as is, and not alter it to appeal to the current gamer crowd?

So it's up to you. We have a bias around here against making games that pander to typical "gamer" expectations. If you like I can go into more specific problems. But it seems to me that you're really on our wavelength in this regard, and should just stick with what you have.

Mike


Title: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis
Post by: chadu on May 11, 2004, 09:42:50 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
But it seems to me that you're really on our wavelength in this regard, and should just stick with what you have.


I think I'm agreed, here.

Good convo, after the rocky start.

Close. (email or PMs fine for followups)