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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Victor Gijsbers on April 02, 2005, 12:58:09 PM



Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 02, 2005, 12:58:09 PM
In the Provisional Glossary, Shared Imagined Space is defined as:

Quote
The fictional content of play as it is established among participants through role-playing interactions.

This is open to different interpretations, as it is not immediately clear what kind of thing the 'content of play' is. However, the very name 'Shared Imagined Space', as well as the definition of the Lumpley Principle:

Quote
"System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play."

seem to imply that we are talking about a space of events, the fictional contents of which are described by those statements made by the players which are accepted (not successfully challenged) by the group. The Shared Imagined Space, then, is a possible world, and play is the process of adding elements to this possible world.

Against this, suppose that play does not so much consist of adding elements to a Shared Imagined Space, but of adding statements to a Shared Text. The activity of roleplaying then becomes like the collaborative production of a text; whenever I say something, it is a proposal of adding this line to the Shared Text.

This is not merely a different way of saying the same thing, for the following reason: there is no one-on-one correspondence between texts and possible worlds. Two subcases of this claim which appear to me to be important to roleplaying are the following: 1) a text can be the description of more than one possible world; 2) a text can be the description of no possible world. In addition, 3) the adding of statements to a text is not the same process as that of adding elements to a possible world. In the rest of this post, I will explicate what these concretely mean for roleplaying. (I believe that the second and third of these are actually interesting for playing and designing RPGs; I have more trouble envisaging this for the first case.)


1. One text, different worlds: ambiguities

Probably the least interesting, if the most common, form of a difference between adding to the text and adding to the world arises in the case of ambiguous statements. Now I am very willing to claim that every statement is ambiguous and that this point generalises to every statement made in every RPG ever played - but that would serve no purpose in the present context. So let us look at statements that have two, clearly very different, meanings. Allow me to take a stupid example:

"There is a fish in a tank."

This could mean that there is a fish in some sort of aquarium, or that there is a fish in a big steel military vehicle. Especially in a weird, absurdist game with animals acting like humans, players might not all interpret the statement in the same way. So it is entirely possible that the statement goes unchallenged; and that half of the players add a huge fish bowl to their Imagined Space, while the others add a military vehicle driven by a fish. The statement is accepted, through the system, but no element is added to the SIS.

Does this mean that something has gone wrong in the roleplaying? No. Suppose that the ambiguity never becomes important in the rest of the game, so the difference in interpretation is never discovered. Then the game will simply move on, entirely functional, and the system has done exactly what it had to do. What was that? Decide whether or not a given line is added to the Shared Text.

Alternatively, suppose that the difference in intepretation is discovered after a while. Then it can be disambiguated. How? By adding a new line to the text, that bars one of the possible interpretations, reinforcing the other. We do not return to a failed act of adding an element to the SIS in order to make it successful. Instead, we decide which line gets added to the Shared Text ("the fish drives at maximum speech" or "the glass of the tank shatters when it is hit by a stone"). The first line still acts as a restriction to what happens next, because it has been successfully added to the text. If it were a failed attempt to add an element to the SIS, it could not restrict what happened next, because it failed; that fact that it does restrict what happens next shows that it has been successfully added to something - and that something can only be the Shared Text.

2. One text, no world: inconsistent fiction, unreliable storytellers

In twentieth century fiction, it is not hard to find stories that are inconsistent. They contradict themselves, and do not resolve that contradiction. No possible world corresponds to such a story, since no proposition can be both true and false in the same possible world. The reader of such fiction may wonder which story is the 'true' one, but this would be a misguided question - there is no true story. The text does not show us a possible world.

The same can happen in roleplaying. (Roleplaying is, as far as I can see, as yet curiously untouched by the more daring experiments in modern art.) I have played a game (http://indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=13287) in which this happened. I quote my actual play report:

Quote
Indeed, one of the scenes was even told four times, at least three of which were completely contradictory: the character - who had worked on the ship and truly hated the captain - tried to kill the captain with a knife, and succeeded, the blood splashing over his hands. Cut. Red sand covers the hands of the character, lying in a desert, and he remembers how he tried to kill the captain, who was much faster than him and had easily overwhelmed him. Cut. The character dreamed once again about killing the captain, but he spoke in his sleep, was heard by fellow sailors, dragged onto the deck, faced a mad captain, and hauled off into a boat to be left in the desert.

It was never established which of the versions was the real version: dream, hallucination and reality simply became an inextricable web wherein it was impossible to judge whether any individual scene had taken place or not.

The possibility of contradictory texts being accepted as satisfying roleplaying experiences shows that roleplaying is not the process of creating a possible world, but of creating a text. Whether or not that text is the description of a possible world is left open.

The same happens when the roleplaying uses unreliable or potentially unreliable narrators. In such a case, we are not establishing what happens in the SIS, for everything remains open to question. It always remains to be seen whether the (explicit or implied, fictional or actual) speaker of the text spoke the truth. Although in this case we can have an implied possible world ('that what really happened'), no statement added to the text can be said to establish anything about the possible world. What we are doing is adding lines to the Shared
Text.

3. Adding to the text, changing the world

Yesterday, I played a game of Universalis, in which a little girl got stuck in a haunted house (on a fair). Then, suddenly, a monster laid a hand on her shoulder and screeched that it wanted to drink her blood, after which she fought the monster and tried to escape.

Next scene: set in the past. A drunken farmer enters the haunted house, sees a little girl, puts his hand on her shoulder and schreeches that he wants to drink her blood.

What has happened? There was an element in the SIS, on which everyone agreed: there is a monster attacking the little girl. Now, the new lines of the text suggest that no such thing happened - indeed, it appears as if the little girl only mistook the farmer for a monster. (Things are complicated by the fact that this was not explicitely stated.) It is certain that adding these new lines to the text does not have the simple effect of adding new elements to the SIS. It also takes some old items out, or at least radically transforms them. Does this mean that adding these lines to the text entails that the authority of the previous narrators (those who told the first scene) to add elements to the SIS has been called into question? Or does it mean that their authority is instead respected - this authority being the authority to add lines to the text (which are now given a different interpretation, but respected as part of the text)?

I suggest that the second reading is much more natural. Indeed, if we - the players - had taken the first reading, we should have seen the whole first scene as a very eleborate challenge to the coins spent in the first scene. (Which in addition would have been against the rules of Universalis.) We did not play it as such. No one ever thought of playing it as such. It would have been bizarre to insist on that. Does this not prove that the dynamics of such a game of Universalis can be better understood as the creation of a Shared Text than as the creation of a Shared Imagined Space?

(This whole example could be interpreted as an instance of an unreliable narrator - the little girl being the implicit narrator of the first scene. It could be argued that all of my three points are fundamentally the same point. But let's not focus on such questions.)


My suggestion, then, is that one can make better sense of actual roleplaying experiences by substituting the notion of Shared Text for that of Shared Imagined Space, and reformulating the Lumpley Principle accordingly. In addition, it would stimulate the creation of more 'avant garde' roleplaying games using the complex techniques of contemporary fiction.

And my question is: what do you think of these suggestions?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Callan S. on April 02, 2005, 02:11:34 PM
Hi Victor,

Just a quick question: Are you suggesting something like the text is the only shared property amongst a group? And any imaginary scene conjured by it in a readers/listeners mind is only a derivitive of the property which is shared (the text), rather than this imaginary stuff actually being a shared property itself?

Sounds reasonable so far.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Vaxalon on April 02, 2005, 02:38:09 PM
Yes, this sounds perfectly reasonable...

Except that (in a face to face game) the text is usually virtual at best.  People don't write down what they say, except when it's really really important, like a riddle or a mission.

Each person, in addition to having an unshared imaginary image of what's happening, have an unshared memory of what has been said, and can be mistaken about it.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 12:16:10 AM
Hi Callan,

Quote from: Noon
Just a quick question: Are you suggesting something like the text is the only shared property amongst a group? And any imaginary scene conjured by it in a readers/listeners mind is only a derivitive of the property which is shared (the text), rather than this imaginary stuff actually being a shared property itself?

Well, partly. I am not suggesting that the text is the only shared property amongt the group. There are surely many instances of play in which there is a Shared Imagined Space; and there are many actions in roleplaying that add an element to this Shared Imagined Space. So what I am saying is not that there is no SIS, nor even the rather uninteresting thesis that we cannot know what our fellow players are imagining. However, I am suggesting that:

  • Roleplaying always involves the creation of a Shared Text, but only sometimes involves the creation of a Shared Imagined Space.
  • Recognising this allows us to make better sense of roleplaying experiences involving inconsistent texts, unreliable narrators, ectetera; and will help us in designing games that use these elements.
  • There are successful acts of roleplaying that amount to adding a line to the Shared Text, but cannot be interpreted as adding an object or event to the Shared Imagined Space.
  • System cannot be anything but the means by which the group decides to add lines to the text; and recognising this allows us to make better sense of roleplaying experiences involving recontextualisation, such as my Universalis example above.
  • Hence, we might want to talk about the Shared Text instead of the Shared Imagined Space, both because it allows us to make better sense of roleplaying and because it allows us to think clearer about game design.
  • [/list:u]


    Vaxalon, I must apalogise for not making clear enough what I mean by 'text'. Following the use of this term in much of the Humanities and continental philosophy, I mean by 'text' any body of signs, whether written down, spoken, or even abstract. So in the case of the usual face-to-face RPG (but not in that of an IRC or forum-based RPG), this text would be a spoken text.

    (The next paragraph is not really central to my argument, and may be skipped by those happy to think of the text as a spoken text.)

    Strictly speaking, that is not true either. Perhaps I should have called the Shared Text the Shared Imagined Text, because it
is a text that is imagined by the people and not written down, recorded, or perfectly remembered from spoken instances. This can not only be seen from the fact that people may have an imperfect memory of what has been said, but even better by the following example. Suppose John plays a character Frank, and says: "I decapitate the orc." If his statement is accepted, the line that is added to the text is not "I decapitate the orc", but "Frank decapitates the orc". So there is some grammatical transformation taking placeto transfrom the spoken statement into the line that gets added to the Shared Imagined Text. The SIT, then, is an abstract text that has its real basis in the minds of the players. (So I am not proposing a behaviourist RPG-theory.)


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: lumpley on April 03, 2005, 03:33:08 AM
Victor, I think you're right.

I'd even suggest that the most profitable reading of Ron's glossary and essays treats "SIS" as precisely the text.

Certainly the loody poody is concerned with what's communicated, not what's imagined.

(And every time I say that someone comes back with "communication starts and ends with imagination." Yeah, I know, you're right, please read corresponding nuance into my "not concerned with.")

-Vincent


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 04:00:02 AM
Hi Vincent,

Quote from: lumpley
Certainly the loody poody is concerned with what's communicated, not what's imagined.

The word 'communication' is so ambiguous that I am bit careful in concluding that we are saying the same thing. My claim is that the Lumpley principle is concerned with which sentences get added to the Shared Imagined Text, not with which objects and events get added to the Shared Imagined Space. Both cases are cases of communication; that which is communicated might even be the very same thing. The question is rather: what are we constructing, a text or a possible world?

At least one article in your blog made me believe that you would defend the latter idea, namely that the act of roleplaying is the act of adding elements to a possible world. If you'll allow me to quote your post Established but Unknown (http://www.lumpley.com/archive/147.html) in order to make sure that we are saying the same thing:

Quote
All the players can control the unknown-but-past, like in Univeralis, or just a few or one can, like in Dogs - it depends on what you want out of this game. But only the group's informed agreement can possibly control the unknown-but-future.

What this passage seems to suggest is that there is a qualitative difference between adding elements to the possible world's future and adding elements to the possible world's past. Such a difference may exist if roleplaying is the act of adding elements to this possible world; but I find it hard to see how it could exist if roleplaying is the act of adding elements to the text. There is, after all, nothing special about statements concerning earlier states of affairs coming after statements concerning later states of affairs in any given text.

When we talk about the SIS, the 'unknown-but-future' is the unknown future state of the possble world. But when we talk about the SIT, the 'unknown-but-future' is the unknown future state of the text; that is, all the lines that will get added to the text in the course of the game. This means that there is no 'unknown-but-past', because the past is simply the text that has already been agreed upon (and is thus known). (Wild suggestion: the existence of a definite 'past' text, a text which can no longer be changed, is the difference between roleplaying and collaborative story writing. Let's not discuss this suggestion here.)

My suggestion would be that qualitative differences in the experience of roleplaying (except those that result from particular systems) can only have to do with the past/future-distinction on the level of the text, not with the past/future-distinction on the level of the possible world. This is a straightforward application of the broader theory I outlined above. If you agree with my posts, then, and I am reading your blog correctly, would you say that what you wrote in your blog is mistaken? Or has my discussion laid bare a difference between us?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Alan on April 03, 2005, 06:07:01 AM
Hi all,

Forgive me if I'm being pedantic, but I'm confused by semantics here.   The word "text" to me refers to printed words on paper.  I've looked this up in the dictionary and it agrees.  Since there is usually no text produced from the events of a roleplaying game, I don't know what text you're referring to.  

Is this thread using the word text in some special way?  Is it possible that there's a better word to use?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Vaxalon on April 03, 2005, 07:01:45 AM
Quote from: Victor Gijsbers

Vaxalon, I must apalogise for not making clear enough what I mean by 'text'. Following the use of this term in much of the Humanities and continental philosophy, I mean by 'text' any body of signs, whether written down, spoken, or even abstract. So in the case of the usual face-to-face RPG (but not in that of an IRC or forum-based RPG), this text would be a spoken text.


This really doesn't alter what I'm saying; the text exists only in the moment in which it is spoken; after that, all the roleplayers have is their memories of the text.  Those memories are just as imperfect and unshared as their imaginations are.  If you define the "shared text" as the subset of the individual texts which all of the participants have in common, it could be said to exist on a semiotic level, but it's not something that the participants experience or interact with.  It's more of an ideal that they work towards.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 08:13:55 AM
Quote from: Alan
Is this thread using the word text in some special way?  Is it possible that there's a better word to use?

I tried to answer this question in my second post; is it still unclear? Perhaps you can find a better word, but my use of the word 'text' is that of many 20th century writings in continental philosophy, structuralist and post-structuralist literary theory.

Quote from: Vaxalon
This really doesn't alter what I'm saying; the text exists only in the moment in which it is spoken; after that, all the roleplayers have is their memories of the text. Those memories are just as imperfect and unshared as their imaginations are. If you define the "shared text" as the subset of the individual texts which all of the participants have in common, it could be said to exist on a semiotic level, but it's not something that the participants experience or interact with. It's more of an ideal that they work towards.

The Shared Imagined Text is an ideal, non-empirical concept just as much as the Shared Imagined Space is. It is, if you wish, that part of the constructed text which is memorised by the players or written down for later reference. This means that it is not a perfect record of that which has been said. In all of this, there is no significant difference between the SIT and the SIS.

I hope I have made clear that the reasons for choosing to use the SIT instead of the SIS are not that it is more 'empirically accessible' or 'perfect' or 'shared' than the SIS. If not, please tell me.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 03, 2005, 08:21:17 AM
Hello,

Victor, your use of the term "text" is synonymous with my "shared imagined space." Or to put it better, I chose to describe the characteristic spoken/communicated text of role-playing as "shared imagined space."

So it seems to me that what you're doing is simply clarifying your own understanding of my term by realizing that I was talking about text (as we are using it here) the whole time.

I hope people realize that such a text would be affected by, and thus include, all communications among the people involved, not just the ones which describe imaginary things. That's what the "shared" is doing in there.

Also, as a side note, I hope people can now see why I consider separating "in-game" vs. "out-of-game" typed-text in IRC play to be damaging to the enjoyment of play. I vastly prefer mixing it all together as in Code of Unaris chat-play.

Best,
Ron


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 08:57:53 AM
Hi Ron,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
So it seems to me that what you're doing is simply clarifying your own understanding of my term by realizing that I was talking about text (as we are using it here) the whole time.

Everything I say and write should be understood as an attempt to clarify my own understanding - and hopefully that of others as well. Nevertheless, I am a bit surprised to hear you say that my SIT is a synonym of your SIS, given that the "Provisional Glossary" contains such expressions as:

Quote
sufficient to introduce fictional characters, places, or events into the Shared Imagined Space.

Obviously, one cannot add characters, places or events to a text - one can only add sentences to it. Perhaps this is merely a somewhat sloppy but more easily comprehensible way to say what I have been getting at in the previous posts, but given the different readings supported by the "Provisional Glossary", spending a topic to clarify the distinction between a possible world and a text does not seem like wasted time.

Quote
I hope people realize that such a text would be affected by, and thus include, all communications among the people involved, not just the ones which describe imaginary things. That's what the "shared" is doing in there.

Here we radically part ways. Indeed, what you are stating here is in stark contradiction with the lumpley principle. "All communication among the people involved", that means that there can be no selection as to what statements are accepted into the SIT/SIS, as every statement that is made is communication and hence in it immediately. This seems to me a radically different use of the term SIS/SIT than is usual on this forum. Would you agree with that? If you mean SIS to include all communication, I feel that 'SIS' becomes synonymous to 'roleplaying session/campaign'.

I meant the term SIT to specifically describe a text that is constituted in play through a process of offering and selecting statements, where the selection is governed by the system, conform the lumpley principle.


Title: poetics & pomo rpg
Post by: am on April 03, 2005, 09:36:42 AM
Victor,
I am very interested in reading your article (book?) regarding the Poetics of Roleplaying. I am currently working two papers for my thesis regarding rps and performance theory. I haven't started the writing process yet, just the research process. Could I get a copy of that work whenever you finish?
Your postmodern role-playing game also perked my interests. How exactly would that work? Which postmodern theorists are you drawing from for this? The idea sounds amazing.
~ Annamaria


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 09:59:20 AM
(I have answered Annamaria through private messaging.)


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Sean on April 03, 2005, 10:22:05 AM
Hi Victor,

I thought along these lines a while back. I decided the reformulation was unnecessary for reasons I'll get to in a second, but given that you're onto these issues at all I tend to think that you're in the same 'neighborhood of understanding' as Ron and Vincent with respect to this part of roleplaying theory. The exact phraseology still seems to me to be up for grabs, if it matters.

I don't like 'text' because of the connotation of physical text that's bugging Alan. Also, I think this word is so hideously ambiguous, as it is used even by experts in postmodern theory and the Derridean wing of philosophy, that it's unhelpful as an analytic term - certainly less (or no more) helpful than 'communication'. YMMV.

But OK. If the point is that roleplaying rules generally and for the most part directly constrain what gets let into the spoken/vocalized/public arena and not what you've got in your head, I think most of us probably agree about that. The problem - as Vincent's irritated aside seems to me to indicate - is in the idea that this exists independently from what's going on in individual people's heads.

You get yourself into the metaphysical soup on this one. If you don't like the Heideggerian literalism that's possible to read into 'shared imagined space', you might go to 'text' and pat yourself on the back for being a better materialist than was Heidegger. But then you think about it more and say "well, but they don't really have the same text in their heads either, so..." and then you're off to the races with "Shared Imagined Text" and simulacra of simulacra and more metaphysical nonsense. I find it easier to just punt on the twentieth century and talk about words and thoughts and physical actions and imagination but I think we're all talking about the same stuff here so it's only a question of how well the vocabulary helps us do it.

What we imagine for ourselves matters crucially; rules don't constrain that, but what's socially communicated in the public space of the game does. (In theory, yeah, sure, whatever, you could come up with arbitrary mental pictures and stories to match what's said in play, but, well, grow up. That's not how human communication works even if it's logically possible that it could work that way. Proust and model theory are just as wrong as Heidegger.) And so if rules constrain the latter there's still a second-order constraint, so the rules wind up exerting a kind of constraint on what we imagine for ourselves as well after all.

It's true that there are a lot of things in rp where it really doesn't matter how you're thinking of it vs. how the guy next to you is thinking about it, and that's cool and OK. And so if you want to say there's no SIS because of that possibility I don't think anyone who understands what's going on here will disagree with you. On the other hand if you say 'well, but there is a text here', you're off to the races again, because then what's the text? ("Hmm...well, we don't really all have the same text..."...epicycles, or relations between relations in scholastic philosophy. You can go on with this regress forever.)

What we're looking at is a social activity which includes individually imagined stuff and acts of communication ('text', it's the roughly the same in ambiguity IMO) and physical actions and a framework of rules which helps constrain, guide, encourage, and orchestrate all these different parts of what goes on in an RPG.

The 'shared' in the 'shared imagined space' is the principles of coordination and mutual editing for our individual imagined spaces. These principles are usually second-order because most rpg rules and props don't say 'imagine this', they say 'imagine something that would fit with this'. (But consider the difference with showing your group a picture vs. stating what just happened here.) But 'something that would fit with this', while it's not totally constraining - and hence there's no guarantee that all the stuff individuals imagine will be isomorphic even when they are all isomorphic to the public statements in the game (you could say 'the SIS underdetermines the IISs') - is also not totally unconstrained in the way that analytic philosophers besotted with model theory and continental philosophers drunk on Derrida would have you believe. Back in the real world, most of the time, most of what most of us are imagining is pretty close, and you can tell by the way we check each other and keep tacking back to the same points in what we say publically.

So anyway. It's experientially different , to be working with a group of people in a way that involves your own imagination, then to just lie on the couch daydreaming and imagining stuff for yourself. It's also different getting into dialogue with others and negotiating out the elements of imaginative exploration than it is say telling a story or filling up a binder with stuff about your rpg world at home.

If you want to call this difference the difference between a shared and an individual imagined space, I don't see why that would bug us, unless we wanted to do metaphysics.

On the other hand, if you wanted to avoid the term 'shared imagined space' because of the metaphysical connotations, that would be cool too. Then you could talk about principles of coordinating what people say and the way they establish constraints ('things said') for everyone's individual imagining. But then if you talk about this as 'rules' or 'text' or 'public constraint' you get the opposite metaphysical confusion, the idea that playing doesn't really involve individual imagination at all - behaviorism. But then if you don't like behaviorism you say 'well, we've got to bring the individual back in, individual interpretations of the shared social stuff matter, so it's not just a text, it's a shared imagined text'. Layers upon layers. You can repeat these moves forever.

Best,

Sean

P.S. I think the idea of multiple contradictory interpretations of the same event in an RPG is cool, and maybe deserves the sobriquet 'postmodern', but it does not indicate that there is no possible world under discussion. At most one such account can be true of any imagined space, that's all. If you refuse to decide which, that's fine too. But all you've done here is broaden yourself to a class of indicated possible worlds at most one of which can hold.

In other words the contradictory stories case is just the same thing as the ambiguity case, except that there are some ambiguity cases where they could both be true, and in the contradictory stories case they can't all be true - unless you invent more story to explain how. But anyway, that's my take on that.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 03, 2005, 11:17:23 AM
Hello,

I'll step out of this conversation. I think the distinctions being drawn are largely meaningless. However, if others are getting somewhere with it, then please continue.

Best,
Ron


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 03, 2005, 11:24:32 AM
Hi Sean, thanks for your interesting post. I'm not sure if I understand correctly what you are saying, so please correct me if I'm mistaken.

It seems to me that you are assuming that I have two main motivations:

1. I am concerned about the fact that system only restricts the public interactions, not the private contents of the players' minds.
2. I am concerned about the metaphysical or epistemological status of a shared image, and believe a shared text to be less problematic.

In reality, I do not much care about either; and in fact I do not believe that the SIT has any advantages over the SIS on either count. Now I may be overlooking the fact that the things I have identified as my concerns are, at bottom, really these two worries; if anyone pointed that out to me, I would drop all my theses.

Let us assume for a moment that there is both a Shared Imagined Text (here defined as the shared remembered list of accepted statements) and a Shared Imagined Space (here defined as the [class of] possible world all players believe the game world to consist in). We are not interested in metaphysics, we are interested in what is going on in the process of roleplaying. Then, what I would be claiming is that:

1. Sometimes, we add statements to the SIT without any change taking place in the SIS. This can be a meaningful and important element of roleplaying, and is in fact constrained by the system.
2. Sometimes, we add statements to the SIT and (through that) elements to the SIS, but whereas we accept that the SIT now has this element, the addition to the SIS is 'bracketed'. It can still be changed in the future, without invalidating our present agreement. [This is the case of the unreliable narrator.]
3. Sometimes, we are working with a lot of SIS's, even though there is always only a single SIT. For different SITs would be different games. [This is the case of inconsistent of explicitely ambiguous texts.]
4. Sometimes, our actions change the SIS in radical ways, destroying many elements and changing lots of others. Meanwhile, however, we are still simply adding lines to the SIT. So although anything about the SIS can be changed at any point of play (you can always add the lines"Here Frank stopped talking. The shaman looked him deep in the eyes, and remained silent for a long time. 'So that is how the story was told to you?', he ventured at last. 'The truth was very different. Let me tell you the real story.'" to any SIT), the SIT is solid, and continually added to.

I believe that these four points make the SIT more 'fundamental' than the SIS; not from a metaphysical or epistemological point of view, but simply as an underlying notion to understand the actual process of roleplaying. Would you agree with me that this is a valid concern, quite different from the two motivations I identified above? If so, have I correctly understood your post to be about those two motivations, or have I misunderstood it and does it address the real motivations which I have just explicated?


PS.
I'm not married to the terminology we are using here. If anyone has better word than 'text', by all means tell me. I could even be happy with the term Shared Imagined Space for what I am calling the SIT, but currently I need to define the SIS as I did above in order to keep the distinction I wish to draw clear.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Sean on April 03, 2005, 11:58:31 AM
Hi Victor,

The summary of your post seems solid to me, though I have two caveats.

1) The 'Shared Imagined Text': doesn't it break down into individual imagined texts? That is, not everyone hears everything, remembers everything the same way, interprets what was said the same way, etc. I would probably be willing to grant that there's more cohesion at the level of the shared text than at the level of the shared imagined space, as you're breaking those two things down,

If so, then making it 'more fundamental' seems a little misleading. Which leads me to

2) I'm not sure ultimately that the distinction between the 'text' and the 'imagined stuff' is a legitimate one, which is why I tried to go all Wittgensteinian on your ass in my last post. That is, 'lines' in the 'SIT' are, among other things, expressions of material of the participants' respective IIS', aimed at bringing others' IIS' more in line with theirs, and imposing/sharing their vision on the group construct, which we're here calling the SIT, but for which we can imagine a single abstract 'author' whose 'imagined space' the SIT expresses much as individual lines of it can be expressions of individual participants' IIS.

So you might say that on my view there's an inflected whole which includes several IISs and an SIT in which they get expressed and which makes a feedback loop into the individual IISs. If you want to say that in a certain sense the IITs and the SIS are 'reflections' of these two 'more fundamental' things, I might wind up agreeing with you after all. But since I think that as it's most often used 'SIS' doesn't mean what I just called 'SIS', the imagined space of some individual author-construct on the text produced by the whole group, but rather means this whole negotiated feedback system, I think there's an ambiguity here which is not necessarily helpful for dialogue at the Forge; especially because the point of the term is normally to call people's attention to this dynamic as the underlying stuff of role-playing, and not to anatomize it.

On the other hand I think its anatomy is interesting. So on the one hand I think you 'get' what Ron, Vincent, etc. are talking about, at least insofar as I do. On the other hand, if you want to start breaking it down in more psychological and/or philosophical detail, that could be an interesting project too. But I wouldn't say, if you wound up doing the latter, that you'd be rejecting the idea of the SIS as it's actually used by some prominent Forgites, but trying to pick it apart in more detail, as Vincent has done using rather plainer language than we're aspiring to (and this is IMO to Vincent's credit) in his excellent lecture and a lot of the material on 'anyway'.

So I don't disagree with your 1-4 but I think they're only part of the picture and I'd want to talk about all that stuff as a finer analysis of the existing concept of SIS rather than as a replacement concept.

Another note: are you familiar with Kendall Walton's Mimesis as Make-Believe? I think that for a 'possible worlds' analysis of RPGs which connects it to art more generally, this is a good place to start, with interesting points of contact with your view.

Best,

Sean

P.S. I wouldn't want anyone to infer from my previous post that I regard metaphysics as boring or a waste of time, since I don't. But I do think that many times when metaphysical issues (which are under discussion here: we're asking 'what is the real nature of the SIS' IMO) come up in theoretical discussions they wind up being unhelpful or misleading, though not always. This discussion may actually turn out to be an exception.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 03, 2005, 12:07:07 PM
It's helping me.

I've decided this is one of those discussions which won't benefit from my input, but contrary to my last post, has great value.

Thought I ought to say that and give credit to Victor.

Best,
Ron


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Jonathan Walton on April 03, 2005, 05:54:36 PM
Hey Folks,

Coming to this discussion late, since I'm not reading the Forge regularly anymore.

Seems to me that a piece of what you're getting at, Victor, is a distinction between the communicated content of play (what gets negotiated between players) and the context of play (which informs players how they should interpret the content).  My chief interest in roleplaying theory is to come at these issues from the perspective of cross-cultural contact and aesthetics.

In roleplaying, both the content and the context are negotiated, and then you have individual imaginings, which are personal and non-negotiable (though they're obviously influenced by the outside, so maybe it would be beneficial to view them as negotiated too?).

What's been called "Shared Imaginary Space," I tend to think of, nowadays, as the historical context of the production and reception of play, something that is unique to each individual (based on their roleplaying and life experiences in the past) but continuously made more similar through interplayer contact before and during the game.  This is the "space" in which roleplaying events (or, the "text" of roleplaying) take place: the context in which they are to be understood, a negotiated context created and developed by the specific mix of players involved and the coming together of their individual experiences and expectations.  This is not really a "shared" context, but individual contexts that are temporarily "similarized" (what's a better word for this?), since interpretations are ultimately individual.

It's also important to note that the context that surrounds a given work undergoes adjustments while the process of production and reception goes on, due to the experience gained from creating or appreciating the work in question.

Note: this view of SIS as context is pretty dramatically different from Ron, who's said (correct me if I'm wrong, Ron) that he views SIS as synonymous with what he calls Exploration.  However, I tend to think that the "space" in SIS is meant not to represent content but a place in which content can exist, and to me this suggests context as the culpret.

These be my ponderings of late.

Edit: P.S.  I tend to think that the jargon term "Shared Imaginitive Space" has pretty much worn out its usefulness, simply because people use it to mean so many different things.  It's obviously getting at some important ideas, though, so it may be time to reapproach this whole concept and try to get a firmer grasp on what's going on.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: JMendes on April 03, 2005, 07:12:27 PM
Hey, Victor, :)

I'm grasping yuor distinction and it gells well with some problems I've come across in the past, when trying to explain this particular piece of theory. Cool stuff.

Quote from: Victor Gijsbers
If anyone has better word than 'text', by all means tell me.
A number of alternatives occur to me: S. I. Log (or Playlog) and adding entries to it; S. I. Script (or Playscript or Transcript), and adding (real world) actions to it. Both of these have their own terminological flaws, though, so take with a grain of salt.

My favorite is to simply call it 'Gijsbers Space'.

Shared Gijbers Space - the virtual collection of all the player actions which have been accepted by the group as creating credible meaning towards constructing Individual or Shared Imagined Spaces.

Individual Gijbers Space - each player's perception of the underlying Gijbers Space, and the actual collection of actions each player uses to contruct his own Individual Imagined Space.

The Lumpley principle might then be rephrased thus: System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group accepts individual actions as Entries in the Shared Gijsbers Space.

I'd also add another principle: Entries added to the Shared Gijbers Space are automatically translated into the IGS by each player, according to his perceptiveness and level of engagement at the time the entry was added.

Those last two may have been stretching it a bit. :) Also, the above definitions may need tweaking by you, but hopefully, they demonstrate that my understading of your concept is accurate. Please correct me otherwise.

Cheers,

J.

PS - "The best way to have something named after you is to create it and then not name it." - Donald Shell, author of the shell sorting algorithm (apocryphal). ;)


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Callan S. on April 03, 2005, 08:15:20 PM
Heya Ron,

I know you've left, but here's something for others to think about.

I think it's really missleading terminology to use those words that way. If a particular roleplay session consisted of everyone working on a block of clay, and you pointed to that block of clay and said "That's the shared imaginative space!" it'd really confuse me. If you said "That's the physical object/text that then goes on to inspire the imagination of each participant" then your getting me somewhere.

I think Victor is trying to seperate the actual real world object ('text') from what it inspires in terms of imagination, and to focus on that in terms of design. Keeping the real world text and imaginative space intertwined as a term is like intertwining player and PC into just the term 'PC'. Use 'PC' when you really want to just talk about player motivations, for example, and readers eyes will bleed. Likewise, if I want to talk about what actual, real world object/text was made (even if it was just a real world vibration in the air/voice) but I keep refering to SIS, readers are going to think I want to talk about what was imagined. Who cares what was imagined, when looking at the real world object that was made.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 04, 2005, 01:57:44 PM
Just a quick post to let you know that I'm really excited about many of the suggestions above; answering them will take more time for thought and composition than I can give it tonight, though. (I don't want to rush it.) Sean: I wasn't familiar with the Mimesis as Make-Believe book, but I borrowed it from the library today and already read the first chapter. Interesting stuff, and it may have given me a stunning revelation about the use of 'props'. (Also needs some more thought.) Any chapters you'd say are particularly relevant for the present discussion?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Sean on April 05, 2005, 02:47:43 AM
Hi Victor,

First of all, I want to apologize for the negative attitude in my two previous posts. I think this stuff is really interesting too, now that I'm clear on where the conversation is going.

As far as MaMB goes, see if you can find a chapter based on the article "Fearing Fictions", which was in J. Phil in the late seventies. (If the chapter's like the article it should start with Charles in a movie theater being 'afraid' of an oozing green slime.) That article contains IMO the kernel of the book; although it presents itself as an explanation of why we feel things for fictional entities (which don't exist, etc.) the interesting stuff in that article is the way he develops the idea of fictional worlds as make-believe games. This fits together with your view of the SIS as SIT because Walton's interpretation of 'fictional worlds' more or less generates them by adding/subtracting propositions and rules for generating make-beleive propositions to the beliefs we already have about the real world.

When I teach "Fearing Fictions" I teach it alongside Gadamer's "Poetry and Mimesis", R.K. Elliott's "Aesthetic Theory and the Experience of Art", and sometimes Borges's "Narrative Art and Magic".  The phenomenon that all these articles touch on, which I call 'artistic identification' and which leads to what we call 'immersion' around here in RPGs, is one I consider centrally important to art. Walton's view provides at least the beginnings of an explanatory framework, though it needs a lot of filling out in terms of psychology and metaphysics both, and with respect to visual art and music I'm crusty and old-fashioned enough to think that mimesis is only part of the story, that there are 'purely formal' aspects to beauty in these arts that 'affect our senses' etc. Lot to discuss.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 06, 2005, 07:12:17 AM
One thing that has become much clearer now is that Shared Imagined Space means different things for different people, but is used by at least some prominent people here as a term encompassing both what I called SIS and what I called SIT. So I would like to adopt Sean's suggestion that we are discussing the anatomy of the SIS, while keeping in mind that SIS may have been used (perhaps also in the Provisional Glossary) with something different in mind.

Second, JMendes' definitions of what he calls Shared and Individual Gijsbers Space are exactly what I was trying to get at with the notion of SIT. (It is certainly not my place to comment on the name he has given it! We'll see.) So I would propose to use those definitions in the remainder of this discussion, except for the fact that they contain clauses refering to the SIS and IIS. Let us delve somewhat deeper into that.

I regard the question of how the SGS connects to the 'imagined world' (what I used to call SIS / IIS) as fundamental at this point. Drawing on Mimesis as Make-Believe, I suggest that the SGS can be viewed as a prop to be used in a game of make-believe. When reading a book, the text is the prop that we use in a game of make-believe: the sentences in the book make us imagine some fictious world, about which we can make statements. If we were writing a story by getting a group of people together, all of whom write one sentence and then pass on the paper to the next guy, the evolving text ('shared text') would be the prop to be used in this game of make-believe. (Here, then, there is a curious but not really mysterious co-evolution of the fictious world and the prop used in imagining it.)

Analogously, we can say that the SGS - not a text of sentences, but a space of actions which may include saying sentences, moving miniatures, dressing up and showing pictures - is the prop that is to be used in a game of make-believe. Then, the game of make-believe (which in pen&paper RPGs takes place mostly in our heads) in turn inspires us to add new actions to the SGS (in order to make them props the others have to use in their game of make-believe too). This is the feedback loop which Sean identified.

The nature of the game of make-believe is still mysterious. I argued, pointing to inconsistent fiction and unreliable narrators, that we cannot simply identify that which the text or SGS generates as a possible world. (My first posts were written under the impression that the SIS has to be such a possible world.) We may perhaps call it a fictious world, following MaMB, and leave its exact nature for later investigation. The reason to call it a world is the dedication of the players to see it as some sort of whole (even if it cannot be a consistent whole); if they saw parts of the SGS as being props for different and unconnected games of make-believe, we would say that they had started playing another roleplaying game.

(At the moment, I have no idea whether it is useful to speak about shared and individual fictious worlds.)


Now, my previous arguments come down to the fact that system is the means by which it gets decided which actions are added to the SGS, as per the Lumpley Principle; that roleplaying is the continuous offering of actions as possible additions to the SGS, and the rejection or acceptation of these actions; and that the changes which these actions can make in the 'possible world' can be additions of elements to this world, but can also be wildly different things, including radical transformations. I think this is still true when we replace the notion of 'possible world' with that of 'fictious world'.

Are you people still with me at this point?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: JMendes on April 06, 2005, 10:20:42 PM
Hey, :)

In a word, yes.

Cheers,

J.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: contracycle on April 07, 2005, 03:45:24 AM
I'm not so happy.

The SIS has a number of valuable properties, IMO, that seem to me undermined by distinguishing between a "text" and a "space".  In the first instance, if the text is taken to be the physical cues and props and statements in the real world with which we construct an imaginary space, then the "text" seems to me indistinguishable from the physical act of play.

Secondly I'm not sure its, umm, ontologically valid.  I don't think the text, taken as actions and statements, can be meaningfully dinstinguished from the "image" it creates - i.e. the SIS.  Because the process of inferrence and projection into the SIS is so automatic that as soon as the act occurs the SIS changes - the observing human always and necessarily draws chains of cuasality and relationship out of every change, an the SIS is in some part made of those expectations and non-explicit projections.

Third, I have already argued that there are multiple Imahginary Spaces, but only one shared space.  The metaphor I favour is that of a shared document on a network - access rights are used to control who can change it, who can view it etc.  So for me, the SIS is necessarily only those common elements found in all the individual IS's; coordination of the IS's is a necessary prerequisite for the existance of a SIS.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 07, 2005, 04:12:36 AM
Hi contracycle, (I'm sorry, I think I knew you first name but forgot it,)

Are you using SIS here purely as an image that is shared by the participants? That is how I orginally interpreted the term in the first post of this thread, as a 'space of events', a 'possible world'. However, it seems that many people, including Vincent and Ron, are using the term in a much broader way. That is why in my previous post I stopped calling the shared image of the fictional world the 'SIS'. Maybe you could expound a bit on the meaning you would like to attach to this term?

The "text", or "SGS" (I think we are still in need of a good descriptive name), is distinguishable from the physical act of play, because it is the (ordered) collection of those acts of play that are admitted by the playing group as meaningful contributions to the 'prop' that guides the shared imagining. The physical act of play consists of actions that are:
1. proposed additions to the "text"/"SGS", which get added
2. proposed additions to the "text"/"SGS", which are rejected
3. actions that are part of the process of adding and rejecting
4. external actions (such as passing the orange juice or announcing a break)
Only the actions in 1 are in the "text"/"SGS".

Quote
Secondly I'm not sure its, umm, ontologically valid. I don't think the text, taken as actions and statements, can be meaningfully dinstinguished from the "image" it creates - i.e. the SIS. Because the process of inferrence and projection into the SIS is so automatic that as soon as the act occurs the SIS changes - the observing human always and necessarily draws chains of causality and relationship out of every change, an the SIS is in some part made of those expectations and non-explicit projections.

I completely agree with you as concerns the latter half of your statement. The "text"/"SGS" and the "SIS"/"fictional world" are closely wedded to each other, psychologically. We cannot read a fictional text without conjuring, unintentionally, unreflectively, an image. But I disagree with the claim that this implies that a fictional text and the image it conjures forth in us cannot be distinguished. Even disregarding the fact that these two things are of ontologically different categories, the processes taking place in each in the act of writing are very different. (Or rather, can be very different.) Roleplaying is always the adding of elements, in an ordered fashion, to the "text"/"SGS", but the adding of these elements does not have to correspond to adding elements to the "SIS"/"fictional world". I have tried to argue this above, speaking about massive recontextualisations, about unreliable narrators, and about inconsistent "texts"/"SGS"s. So the distinction between the "text"/"SGS" and the "SIS"/"fictional world" seems at least analytically valid, because the processes that take place in them are often of radically different and can be analysed apart from each other.

I am not sure I understand your third objection, and how it applies to what has been written above. Could you explain it a bit further?


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: JMendes on April 07, 2005, 09:20:32 PM
Hey, :)

Gareth, I'm happy with Victor's response to your first two points, and the first one in particular, about the distinction between the SGS and the physical act of play.

To address your third point, I'll quote myself and expand:
Quote from: I
Individual Gijbers Space - each player's perception of the underlying Gijbers Space, and the actual collection of actions each player uses to contruct his own Individual Imagined Space.
<...>
Entries added to the Shared Gijbers Space are automatically translated into the IGS by each player, according to his perceptiveness and level of engagement at the time the entry was added.
I agree with you  that coordination of the IISs is a necessary prerequisite for the existance of a SIS. We also seem to agree that the SIS is a conceptual entity. It exists only as the set intersect of the IISs.

I hold that the SGS is also a conceptual entity, but one which exists ony as the set union of the IGSs.

What I'm talking about here is the underlying process through which that coordination comes about, i.e., how those access rights and control mechanisms you mention are implemented.

So, the way I see it, the role-playing process might be modeled thus:

Act of Play -> SGS -> IGS -> IIS -> SIS -> feedback to Act of Play

In other words, your metaphor is still valid, I'm just taking it one step further.

Disclaimer: This is getting a into cognitive science and the like, and being an electrical engineer, that is so not the area for me to be butting into. Take the above with a grain of salt.

Cheers,

J.


Title: On the feedback cycle
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 08, 2005, 02:36:51 AM
Let me attempt to sketch a more detailed anatomy of playing a roleplaying game, focusing on two things: the feedback loop Sean identified, and the question on what steps in the process are influenced by the 'background' (game rules; genre expectations; and so forth). The attentive reader will see that I will not use the shared fictional world ("SIS"?), nor the IGS in my anatomy. This is not because I think they do not 'exist', or because I think they are uninteresting (if you wish to talk about the stories developed in RPGs, the shared fictional world will be your friend), but because I do not think they can figure in an enlightening way in this specific model.

There are three main 'spaces' in the feedback loop.

1. The proposed actions are all actions taken in the gaming situation that are interpreted by the gaming group as proposed for addition into the SGS. This excludes actions which constitute the process of selection, as well as actions that are clearly external to the game.

2. That which has been called by JMendes, for current lack of a non-ambiguous descriptive name, the Shared Gijsbers Space. This is the set of all actions that have been accepted by the gaming group as meaningful for the construction of the fictional world. I suggest, following Sean and the literature he pointed to, to see the SGS as a prop in a social game of make-believe. The contents of the SGS tell the players what they are to imagine.

3. The Individual Fictional World, or Individual Imagined Space, is the game world as imagined by the individual player. It contains, ideally, everything the players has been told to imagine by the SGS, as well as many minor personal additions and presuppositions, expectations, value judgements, and so forth.

Then, there are three dynamic processes connecting these three spaces.

1. The Process of Selection is the social process by which the proposed actions are either accepted and added to the SGS, or rejected and discarded.

2. The Process of Imagination is the individual imaginative process that transforms the contents of the SGS into the Individual Fictional World.

3. The Process of Creativity is the individual creative process that, starting from the contents of the Individual Fictional World, adds new actions to the space of proposed actions. The aim of this procedure is to have them added to the SGS, and thus influence the social game of make-believe that is roleplaying.

We can also recognise two further elements that influence these three processes. (I'm not too happy with the names I've given them. Furthermore, I recognise that they are very diverse, and that subdividing them will in fact be very fruitful. This is meant as a very preliminary exploration.)

1. The Individual Background, which contains the creative urges, judgements and preferences of the individual player.

2. The Shared Background, which contains the rules of the game, the setting information, the genre expectations, knowledge of the real world, social expectations, and - I wish to stress this - the Structures of Credibility.

The Individual Background influences the Process of Selection in a very clear way: the player wishes to have those actions added to the SGS that are in line with his/her personal preferences. Its influence on the Process of Imagination is more subtle, consisting mainly in the addition of value judgements and metaphorical interpretations to the fictional world. And it is often the main engine behind the Process of Creativity, by means of creatively exploring the possible ways the Individual Fictional World could be changed, and judging which of these ways are cool enough to be proposed.

The Shared Background also influences all the processes. The Process of Selection is arguably the most obvious, since it is here that the rules of the game come into play most often; furthermore, plausibility constraints, genre constraints, and the structures of credibility play a large part in the acception or rejection of proposed action. However, the Shared Background also features in the Process of Imagination (adding context and often value judgements), and in the Process of Creativity (which is heavily contrained by genre expectations, game rules, and the structures of credibility - you do not propose actions you know you cannot credibly make, and may not even think of them).

Now I'm going to say something that came as a revelation to me, but is probably old news to most Forgites. The game text, that which the game designer writes, influences all these processes significantly. It is of course obvious in the case of the Process of Selection: the vast majority of rules are rules for selecting certain statements. (Who gets to say what? How can we let the dice decide what actions will be added to the SGS? What background material can always be drawn upon? And so forth.) But even if we concentrate only on these structures of credibility that are defined in a game text, the influence on all the other processes is vast.

Suppose that the verbal statement "Judd the barbarian screams in rage and attacks the 100 orcs!" has just been added to the SGS. What are we to imagine? Certainly, that Judd the barbarian does these things - the rules having done their work, what we have to imagine is no longer influenced by them. Right? Wrong. Say that the rules are D&D, and say that all players can easily predict what actions the rules will allow to be added to the SGS next. Not "Judd is victorious!", but "Judd get 134 damage and dies messily". We know what is going to happen, because of the complex structures of credibility that D&D creates. (If any said that Judd were victorious, his statement would not be accepted.) Therefore, we know that Judd's action is foolish. A value judgement has been generated by the game text.

The influence of the game text on the Process of Creativity is probably even clearer. The very player-GM distinction has a huge phenomenological influence on the creative processes of the players; they tend to imagine only possible courses of action for their own characters, for instance. Or think of My Life with Master, where the fact that you can only choose between three kinds of scene has a major influence on the direction in which we apply our creativity.


This is where things start getting interesting. What is the relative influence of different game texts on different processes? What are the ways in which we can influence these processes? Can one design games that influence only one or two of them? if so, can this be done for all combinations? (Could you make a successful RPG that only influences the Process of Imagination, leaving all else to Social Contract and stuff?) And so on, and so forth.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this model.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Sean on April 08, 2005, 05:21:37 AM
Hi Victor,

I think this is really good.

I've been thinking for a while that there's probably a publishable article in a serious philosophy-friendly aesthetics journal on this kind of thing. Specifically, I think RPGs are important for Walton's aesthetic theory for the following reason: he's got children's make-believe on one side, highly participatory and creative, and then fine art on the other side, where he does a convincing job showing how some of the main mechanisms of make-believe come into play, but it's for the most part only participatory in a very attenuated sense. I believe role-playing games are an important 'borderline' case that adds plausibility to Walton's theory. This is a 'win' both for Walton's view (who's probably the second most prominent living American philosopher of art, after Arthur Danto) and for RPGs being taken seriously as a significant art form.

Your picture is similar to what I've been working with though better explicitly fleshed out. Also, the insight that the non-rules game-text contributes fundamentally to the game's SB and 'therefore' the 'SIS' is actually really important. After reading "System Does Matter" I, and I suspect a lot of other people, came for a time to regard non-rules RPG text as so much hot air. (Ron never made this mistake of course, which is clear from the GNS articles.) There is an emphasis on "show me how the rules facilitate it" around here (what Eero calls "formalistic game design") but your anatomy shows clearly why non-rules make a central contribution as well.

Keep up the good work! Let me know if there's anything I can do to help along the way.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on April 09, 2005, 05:20:34 AM
Hi Sean,

Your enthusiasm reinforces mine - I want to thank you for that. I agree with you that there are interesting connections between Walton's ideas and the kind of RPG theory we are discussing here; connections which can throw more light on both, and when well though out and written down could surely feature in a scholarly journal. Are you working in an academic environment?

There are many ways I wish to go with the material thus far discussed in this thread, but I'm going to a philosophy of science conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, for the next 10 days. So you won't hear from me until at least the 18th, but hopefully I'll be back with many fresh ideas after that.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: JMendes on April 09, 2005, 12:56:16 PM
Hey, :)

Victor, yeah, excellent job. The three-space-three-process model is a very basic model, pervasive to a wide number of human processes.

Cheers,

J.


Title: Shared Imagined Space, Shared Text
Post by: Silmenume on April 09, 2005, 07:12:42 PM
Hey Victor!

I have read this thread and have had some difficulties following it, but that is my fault not anyone else’s!

I don’t know if this helps at all or not, but I think there is some similarities between the ideas in this thread and some of the ideas that were tossed around here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=149896#149896).

Regarding the names of the three spaces I am struck by the possibility that 2 and 3 might be more descriptively called Fact Space and Affective Space respectively.  The “Fact Space” is the “objective” space that all the players must agree on as per the Lumpley Principle.  I propose Affect space to describe the “everything” that goes on in the players’ heads with respect to/in reaction to the Fact Space/SGS.

The only other suggestion I have to offer, and all these are offered with the understanding that they may not be what you are looking for, is to call the Process of Imagination the Process of Transformation instead.  This is only suggested to help create a greater distinction between the ideas and phrases of Imagination and Creativity.

I am very interested in your thesis overall and I hope my suggestions may in some way help you in the pursuit of your ideas!