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Inactive Forums => Forge Birthday Forum => Topic started by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 12:47:28 AM



Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 12:47:28 AM
Now here's another thing which makes me wonder: should I even post this, even in the Birthday Forum? It seems that the Forge promotes such doubt like no other forum I know. There's just so much stuff that doesn't belong here by definition already, and so much more that seems not to belong here by habit.

So, I read an Actual Play thread and just think "wow", but I don't just post "wow", at least not any more. I'll only post "wow" if I have something substantial to contribute, too. As in the other channels, the question is ever present: Am I contributing? Discourse and stuff, you know. It has humbled me a great deal. When I first came to the Forge, I tried to post to the Theorie channel, but had to learn soon I could not contribute at the level of the discussion. Or was it I couldn't contribute to the direction everyone seemed to assume the discussion should take? Tough call.

Now, I have read a lot since then. A lot of old threads, too. Every once in a while, I have stumbled over questions that were left unanswered, and I thought about revisiting them. But I didn't feel I should. Why? Well, because look at the Theorie threads, they all start off with one of them fucking huge scientific-style essays. And even if I could write one of those, the first reply by Ron Edwards would surely knock me out of the saddle.

Sorry Ron, nothing personal. I have read complicated legal and technical stuff written by lawyers and engineers from a variety of nations in English language without problems, but every so often, I just don't get you. Are there by chance any native speakers who have encountered this same problem? Or is it a language problem after all?

Now I read through this birthday forum, learning a little about the people with the high postcount, and think, hey, I am older than most of these guys and have a university degree, a good one at that. What am I afraid of? What's more, I feel that the majority of Newbies at the Forge are even much more humbled than I am. I mean, even Eero Tuovinen posted last year that he didn't feel like belonging to the Forge!

Don't get me wrong, I never felt unwelcome here, and people always treated me respectfully and tried to help me if I faced a problem. Ralph Mazza's advice on my game design was invaluable. But it feels like: "I come before thee and pledge my case." And if I myself post some advice in Actual Play, or some comments in Indie Game Design, it feels like: "Just a few suggestions that the Big Ones may or may not judge worthy when they show up."

This need not be a bad thing. I'm just curious: can anybody else relate to it?


Title: Re: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 02:17:35 AM
Quote from: Frank T
Sorry Ron, nothing personal. I have read complicated legal and technical stuff written by lawyers and engineers from a variety of nations in English language without problems, but every so often, I just don't get you. Are there by chance any native speakers who have encountered this same problem? Or is it a language problem after all?


You're not alone, Frank.  A lot of this stuff goes right over my head, too.  I just let it go, and concentrate on the stuff I do understand.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Doug Ruff on April 05, 2005, 02:20:56 AM
Hi Frank,

I sort of get where you are coming from, having joined at roughly the same time as you. You can tell from my postcount that I'm a bit less shy at posting here than you are, but I still stay away from some discussions.

(For what it's worth, if you've posted more than 50 since you've joined, that virtually makes you a regular here nowadays!)

Your post (and the latest set of statistics from Ralph) have prompted me to think a bit more about why that is, and I've come up with the following... theory?

I think it's possible to split the majority of topics here into a few broad categories:

(1) Q&A: the thread starter posts a question and asks for help. This also covers "what do you think about my game?" which is why it's usually considered good practice to ask more specific questions than "what do you think about my game?"
(2) Educational: the thread starter has an insight that they want to share with the rest of the Forge. IMO, these are the threads which are most likely to start a friendly argument...sorry, discussion.
(3) Creative "riffing" over some project or idea. The thread starter doesn't have a specific question, but is looking for inspiration.
(4) Networking, especially in relation to conventions or publishing.
(5) Site discussion.

(I don't think that Actual Play is a whole category to itself, because most Actual Play thread are one or more of the first 3 types.)

Now, I love the "riffing" threads and I'll happily get involved in the "Q&A" threads if it's a question I think I can answer.

However, there is a whole level of discourse going on that is way above my head, partly because there is a whole "Forge Theory" thing that's going on from way before I joined, and also because I'm busy enough dealing with the other threads that I don't feel the need right now to get deep into the theory side. That means that I'm unlikely to get involved with any of the "Educational posts" or any "Q&A" posts that involve specific Theory knowledge. "networking" isn't to relevant for me right now, but you never know for the future.

So, there's a lot going on at the Forge that I don't yet feel qualified to take part in, although this is largely through my own choice and isn't meant as a criticism of the more erudite posters here. It certainly doesn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the site, and I still feel like I am making a contribution in return. I post more here than anywhere else, because oof that feeling and because the signal-to-noise ratio here is very high indeed.

So, that's how I feel about this place, does that bear any resemblance to, or help explain, how you're feeling?


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Selene Tan on April 05, 2005, 02:22:51 AM
I've been mostly-lurking for a while, but I don't post much because I rarely feel as if I have anything useful to contribute. I keep reading because there's a lot of insightful stuff, but I don't get insights on the same level.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on April 05, 2005, 04:58:42 AM
Hi Frank- I consider myself one of the Core Forge Dudes... but look at my post count. Without the previous B-Day forum(s), it'd be only half of what it is now. :-)

Seriously, I'm in it for Actual Play, Publishing, Connections, Indie Design and the individual forums.  Even though I got my degree in a high-level philosophy program, I find a lot of the GNS or other theory stuff... well, not so much beyond me, but not something I'm willing to put the time into to learn, because the ROI on it doesn't do much for me. If I were more interested in it, I'd put more time into it.

Not that it's beneath me or anything, not like that at all... just that it's not very gripping for me, so I don't participate. So I wait for it to materialize in the next generation of RPGs (or the Actual Play forum).

-Andy


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: daMoose_Neo on April 05, 2005, 05:18:43 AM
I personally think the "mystique" factor a lot of people speak about is, on some level, a good thing. The upside is it makes you do exactly what you are doing - asking "Am I contributing?" Before putting cursor to reply button. The downside is that sense of alienation that comes from not making off the cuff replies.
I quite prefer the Forge here because 90% of the time I know what I'm getting into- there are no discussions on flame wars, there are few derailed threads and those that are are usually taken in another cool direction. I haven't been here much longer than Frank and Doug, and I most certainly don't have a handle on the glossery, theory, and the essays, but I funtion just as well~
The Forge is a great resource. I don't feel an urgent need to contribute to the higherarchy/foundation of the philosophy here- I'll chime in, but otherwise I just use the blocks I can grab and proceed to build my own little device to share with everyone, which is a fine approach and a good start for a number of people I think.
Jump in to the deep end of theory and debate when you have something you desperately want to contribute, not because you're forcing yourself to. Be quite happier for it I imagine.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on April 05, 2005, 05:44:05 AM
Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
Hi Frank- I consider myself one of the Core Forge Dudes... but look at my post count. Without the previous B-Day forum(s), it'd be only half of what it is now. :-)


Hey, Andy, how do you get to be a CFD? I've been whining for a VIP card, but Ron claims that you have to publish a game in English and participate in the Forge booth in Gencon to qualify...

Seriously, though, I dig the whole community thing. I feel much more forgey nowadays than I did a year ago. If I had to give a single reason, I'd name the IGC tournament last year - nothing better for communal feeling than participating in a concrete project. Actually, I can totally imagine spending years without identification in this kind of peer group if there is no activity, just communication.

Paradoxically, while I'm more comfortable with the Forge, I'm posting less nowadays. Or at least it feels like it. Reasons are easy - many of my interests run tangential to what's actually discussed, and I'm not naturally a very chatty person - while I could comment on theory, design and actual play, I mostly don't, preferring to concentrate on my own projects (which mostly center exclusively on Finland, to boot). I read a lot, but usually only post for concrete effect or when a particular inspiration strikes. And I don't go for long discussions - I call the issue as I see it, and don't stick around to mull over it repeatedly. I certainly don't myself start threads. Perhaps the need to post has lessened when I've started to feel that I exist in the Forge - there's no need to look for verification or build an identity, which motivations might be subconsiciously affecting new posters.

The point: I don't think that it's so much about the Forge, but about general communal sociology and the particular build-up of each participant. If the Forge crashes and gets moved to my server, my personal ego towards Forge will certainly get bigger. If I get into a time-consuming project, my posting will slag off. Who knows, I might take the time at some point to actually take some of my design work into the Forge, or to write an essay about formalistic methodology in game design, or something like that. That will also affect my relationship with the Forge.

Small things control people's attitudes. This is especially true for newbies, who have only a tenuous and singular personal contact with the Forge. For such a person, even getting cited by a regular is a big thing, and not getting answers on a new thread will seem to resonate on the whole forum. But when experiences pile up, each single experience will lessen in importance, and a feel of personal attachment to the community in the whole will develop.

Overall, it's not something to worry over. Things happen just like they do in RL.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Troy_Costisick on April 05, 2005, 06:04:14 AM
Heya,

We are all students of the craft we love.  Ron has developed a very good system of catagorization and a decent vocabulary to use.  I'm still very much in the early stages of learning it all, but I feel much better equipped as a designer and player from what parts I do understand.  Don't worry, just keep plugging away :)

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: pete_darby on April 05, 2005, 07:35:41 AM
I don't know... I feel I 80% grokked it on first pass, and Ron et al pretty much straightened out where I hadn't in short order.

What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"

Or something. But I guess my experiences make me pretty hostile to folks who get intimidated by the prospect of "working to get it". For me, the investment was pretty small, the return high and immediate. But I've been repeatedly told I'm smart but lazy, and if I don't grok something on first pass, I won't work on it at all. So this is mr pot saying to all you kettels out there...


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 05, 2005, 07:40:17 AM
Quote from: daMoose_Neo

The Forge is a great resource. I don't feel an urgent need to contribute to the higherarchy/foundation of the philosophy here- I'll chime in, but otherwise I just use the blocks I can grab and proceed to build my own little device to share with everyone, which is a fine approach and a good start for a number of people I think.


A
fucking
men

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: xenopulse on April 05, 2005, 07:54:58 AM
Frank,

I am a native German speaker, and I don't think it necessarily hinges on that. Your english seems close to flawless, and besides, the vocabulary used here is a whole new field in itself.

I don't get it all. But I've learned a shitload of stuff anyway. What usually gets me is the difference between the old articles and what 1,000 threads in the meantime have revised but is nowhere posted in updated articles. I don't want to work my way through all that.

Pete,

Quote from: pete_darby
What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"


Some people are great scholars but not so good at explaining things. Other people have more of a talent in teaching. I often get things more easily the way Vincent explains them. That might be because I somehow think more along his wave length. And whenever someone develops a high-level theory and gets really into it, they tend to have a hard time getting back to basic levels to explain it to people who need to take it step by step.

For example, I would have a hard time teaching people Hegel's phenomenology. I know and understand it, but in order to get into that mindset, I need to immerse myself into it, and then I talk in his specific vocabulary, and that's where I lose people.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Valamir on April 05, 2005, 08:21:50 AM
Quote
What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"


Some of that's politics.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: lumpley on April 05, 2005, 08:39:03 AM
Politics! Unreal.

I get where some people might need to hear something a couple different times or a couple different ways before they understand it. I need that too, of course.

But politics keeping people from seeing how what I'm saying is what Ron's said - that I'm baffled by.

-Vincent


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 05, 2005, 08:47:22 AM
Some of it's also a drastic difference in writing style.

For me, it's writing style that has turned into politics and that's why I don't post in threads like that.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Valamir on April 05, 2005, 09:35:39 AM
Quote from: lumpley
Politics! Unreal.

I get where some people might need to hear something a couple different times or a couple different ways before they understand it. I need that too, of course.

But politics keeping people from seeing how what I'm saying is what Ron's said - that I'm baffled by.

-Vincent


Well, I think for some its just easier to agree with someone who is Not-Ron and to agree with something that doesn't have the initials GNS in it.  Even if what you say is 100% in line with GNS and 100% a rephrasing of what Ron's already said...for some those letters are like a red flag to a bull.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 05, 2005, 09:46:26 AM
The thing with GNS is that, in these modern times, seeing someone use any of those three terms is almost always identical to seeing someone misuse those three terms.

It' easier to just talk about games and people and play and forget about categories and numinous motivations.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Luke on April 05, 2005, 09:50:53 AM
Quote from: Valamir
for some those letters are like a red flag to a bull.


::snorts and charges Ralph::


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Anonymous on April 05, 2005, 10:30:15 AM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
It' easier to just talk about games and people and play and forget about categories and numinous motivations.

Hear, hear.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Jason Morningstar on April 05, 2005, 10:30:17 AM
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen

Small things control people's attitudes. This is especially true for newbies, who have only a tenuous and singular personal contact with the Forge. For such a person, even getting cited by a regular is a big thing, and not getting answers on a new thread will seem to resonate on the whole forum. But when experiences pile up, each single experience will lessen in importance, and a feel of personal attachment to the community in the whole will develop.


Frank, what Eero said.  It totally feel your pain.  I've tried to get involved in a smaller forum (Lumpley Games) and that's helped.  My posts in the larger design forum were roundly ignored, or at least my questions went unanswered, and I wondered what I did wrong.  It's a little intimidating, and the temptation to lurk or leave is strong.  

--Jason


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Emily Care on April 05, 2005, 10:36:13 AM
friggin,frackin--that guest post was me. Forgot I wasn't logged in.

Quote
My posts in the larger design forum were roundly ignored, or at least my questions went unanswered, and I wondered what I did wrong.

Always the way.  I've adopted the opinion that if folks don't bother to disagree with you then they're giving tacit approval.  Keeps things in perspective.  The funny thing is that contentious stuff ends up getting much more attention because of that. The lumpley principidles became canon (at least in part) because it was so vociferously opposed/questioned.

And I"m sure your questions weren't the only ones unanswered--so many questions only so much time.  The folks who answer so many q's go sainted in my book. Smaller forums are much better for 1 on 1 attention.

best,
Em


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 10:54:12 AM
Yeah you know, this Forge habit of not posting just to state agreement or comprehension can be really disturbing. I still have to resist the urge to do it myself, too.

What with the being a Newbie and not belonging, I believe it's more to it than not understanding Forgespeak and Forge theory. I've dug into that, and we discuss it a lot in German as well. I really think I got a grip now on a lot of the stuff discussed here. This recent developement hasn't changed my feelings toward the Forge, though.

I can't really put a finger on it, but I think there is much wisdom in what Eero wrote.


Title: In here I can encode my secret message to all of creation...
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 05, 2005, 10:56:58 AM
Frank --

For what it's worth, I consider you a part of "what goes on here," especially recently, and think your game is one of the better developments out of the design forum in quite some time.

Aww... group hug.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 11:00:31 AM
Thanks Ben, not that I was fishing for this sort of compliment, of course... ;-) But I really appreciate it.

- Frank


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 05, 2005, 11:15:34 AM
Questions go unanswered just because of volume. Period. Nobody can cover all of the topics out there. So some of them will just slip between the cracks. If it really bugs you, take the time to post to me personally, and I'll come look at your thread. Or ask somebody else. Be social, and make us feel guilty that your thread isn't being looked at.

Because we're nice people. Really. Anyone who feels intimidated by me or Ron or anyone here just has some artificial view of us as something other that what we are - just folks who like to play RPGs. Get over it, and get to know us.

Yah, I'm gruff and cantankerous at times. That's just part of my charm, tho, once you get to know me.

On the other issue, one of whether or not you know the theory, well nobody is requiring anyone to know the theory unless they want to talk about the theory. Ron says all the time, "Talk about something else!" and all he gets in response is "We aren't allowed to, because we don't know the theory!" If anyone tells you that you aren't qualified to post here because you don't know the theory, send them to me, and I'll fix them.

I promise this every year, but nobody takes me up on it. Honestly, the "core" folks around here are dedicated to this being an open site for discussion, and if you complain to us that you're being hassled by somebody weilding their knowledge of theory to make you feel unapreciated, we'll kick their ass.

As for writing style, does someone feel marginalized by the fact that they don't want to participate in discussions because of the writing styles of the most active posters? Do you think that we're actively trying to exclude some people because of how we write? I write how I write, because that's how I write, and I'm not good at writing any other way. I suppose we could all start posting in Spanish, too, so that we don't make it hard for those who can only read that language? Could it actually be that our sin is laziness, and not politics at all? Who do we have it out for? The notion is preposterous.

Again, for the people that know those of us that are thought of as the "Core", I think it's pretty obvious that allegations of politics and such are just not true. Do we have a bias, on the other hand? Yep, all of us are humans last I checked. At least we make our biases known up front so people can filter our opinions through them, and defend others rights to their biases at the same time.

Does that make us fair or perfect. Nope, human again. But I don't think that there's a "Fix" to this problem. The question comes up every year, and nobody has proposed anything yet that didn't end up being "let's make a glossary!" But, hey, if you've got the solution, let's hear it.

If I seem a tad perturbed, it's because I'd like to think that I, amongst others, do a lot to help people out here. I'm not looking for accolades (occasionally when I do this rant, I get people writing to say thanks and such - please don't, I'm not digging for praise here). It just bugs me when I hear yet another chorus of "Oh, the Forge Elite think they're such hot shit!" We don't deserve anything like that.

And don't send me any "Oh, it's not you, Mike" posts, either. If you have a culprit, report them. If you can't think of who the problem is, then maybe there really isn't one.

You may now proceed with the traditional claims regarding ostriches and holes in the ground.

Mike


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 11:31:21 AM
Mike,

I can only speak for myself, but I'm not complaining about anything. I was just stating an observation and asking if someone (of the other Newbies around) can relate to it. By no means was I demanding that you or anyone "fix" something.

- Frank


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 05, 2005, 11:35:52 AM
Hello,

In case anyone's interested, Forge policy permits posts of agreement without further content.

I am often fascinated by what people perceive as the rules of the site, as opposed to the actual rules.

Best,
Ron


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: lumpley on April 05, 2005, 11:36:23 AM
Frank, y'know, even still, sometimes I hit "submit" and I go - oh crap, this is the post that finally reveals me to be the moron I am. (They're gonna boot me out of the core for sure.)

And then sometimes I go - oh crap, nobody's replying. It must be worse than I thought. (Wait, am I even in the core to begin with? Uh oh.)

Mike, I know you'll kick ass for me, but I don't think kicking ass can fix it! Individual, personal insecurity underlies every social problem here.

The way I figure it, we have to trade off reassuring one another with getting work done. If getting work done means that we lose people we could've kept, if only we'd reassured them a little bit more - well, shit happens. We do what we can do.

-Vincent


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 05, 2005, 11:48:04 AM
Frank, not that I was aiming at you or anyone in particular, but sorry if I jumped the gun.

I just thought I'd get it out of the way early this year. :-)

Mike


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 05, 2005, 11:54:21 AM
'ey Mikey! It's not you. Nor is it Ron, or Clinton.

I mean, not really. It's nothing or no one concrete. The Forge just has a certain.. presense, feel to it. I've been here long enough to consider myself a veteran, if not a core member. Hell, I've been recognized by name by various people at the Forge booth, which probably makes me more core than note.

And I still feel that same feeling. Everything Frank, Eero, Jason, and the thread of delurkers has said finds resonance in me. I fret over posting Actual Play, or delay into not doing it at all, because I want it to be right, the right mix of play-by-play with meaningful observations and questions. I want it to be like the sort of posts I read there that just make me go.. "Wow." I'm not sure I can do "Wow." and so I hesitate and procrastinate.

I wait, and refine, and think and rethink my stuff before I post it into Indie Game Design. I want it to be complete. I hate it when the first post points out a glaring hole. I want people to point out holes, but I don't want them to be things I should have seen. Worse yet, I don't want it to be one of the posts that asks specific questions, then drops off the page without a reply. Yes, as Emily points out the best, the default way to view things should be to assume that if no one disagrees or finds fault, that it's tacit agreement or approval. It really feels like disinterest though.

It's not anything any of the core members have done or said. As you point out, Mike, everyone does their best to be approachable, to be helpful and interested, and it shows. The intimidation factor is in spite of, not because your efforts.

So you're right. there's not really a "fix" for it. It's hard to fix something when you can't really figure out what's causing it. But you cannot, in any fairness, deny that it, whatever it may be, exists.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 05, 2005, 12:07:46 PM
I have the solution right here in this post.

Rename this thread: Big Me, Small Forge.

This place is only what we make of it, and in order for it to be good, you have to believe that you can be better than (a) smackdown-meat, (b) wannabe poser, (c) fucking pseudointellectual scum, or (d) troll.

Is any of those things you? No? I didn't think so. Even if you have posted in these fashions at other places, it's still not who are you. All of these things are dishonest.

Can you bring who you are to this website? If so, then guaranteed, who you are is bigger than the website could ever be.

Recognize that and recognize as well that no single post is you either. Post accordingly. The site will be enriched and will expand to match you, and that's the only way it will ever be good.

Best,
Ron


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 05, 2005, 12:23:55 PM
A couple problems in your solution there, Ron.

First, foremost perhaps, is the intellectual/Emotional disconnect. People frequently understand things with their mind, but can't make themselves really believe it. There are whole fields of psychological study based on this simple idea.

Secondly, and probably more important: The Forge isn't the website. The website is just a repository of past discussion, a location in which the Forge sometimes comes together.

The Forge is the community, the people, the ideas, the customs.

I'm a closet egotist, but I won't try to claim that *I* am bigger than that.

For the rest, you speak truly, as you've spoken truly before, and doubtless will again. I think the closest thing to a solution we can find here is to realize that the problem isn't in the Forge; The problem is within us. We can overcome the reticence and post, contribute to and enrich the Forge, or we can lurk, read and possibly only enrich ourselves. Either way, the only solution is to acknowledge that in this case, that trite old breaking up phrase is true.

"It's not you; It's me."


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 05, 2005, 12:33:57 PM
Guys, seriously.

The Forge is a place where we discuss RPGs.  That's all.  If you want to talk about RPGs, this is where you come.

The theories, the other stuff, is extraneous.  It is what has been talked about in the past.

This is just a place where people get together to talk about games.  It took me a long time to realize that.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 12:51:30 PM
You know, I totally agree that this is something we (the newbies, the lurkers, the none-native-speakers) must do ourselves. Reassurance is welcome and very helpful indeed. Getting positive personal feedback from the "establishment", even if it's only a half-sentence. But mainly, it is us who must overcome our self-doubt. That is actually what was in the back of my head when I started this thread. A call to arms, if you will.

I'm not the guy to read a post over a dozen times and let it lie two days before I post it. If I have something on my mind, I gotta get rid of it, by the risk of posting something stupid sometimes. But in any other forum, there's so much bullshit around that nobody even notices. At the Forge, there is very little bullshit, so you get the feeling people are much more aware of your stupidity.

Now, this hasn't stopped me from posting, and there are many others like me. We shall be okay. I just wanted to sympathize. Plus, it helps to learn a little about the persons behind the Big Names, who are not that different from us after all. In German we have a saying:

"We're all just cooking with water."

- Frank


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Paul Czege on April 05, 2005, 01:13:52 PM
Hey Pete,

What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"

Here's an ontogeny.
    There's you and your friends. You play a roleplaying game together and you don't have fun. Ron says, "Incompatible creative agenda, you guys can't have fun together." So:

    RON
FUN[/list:u]
Then in comes Vincent. He plays freeform? Damn. Ron wrote "System Does Matter." So:

    VINCENT
RON[/list:u]
And have you read Kill Puppies for Satan? I laughed my ass off. Damn, that Vincent knows how to have fun. And OtherKind? Vincent definitely understands wonderment. (Ron's games are all about sex and death.)

    VINCENT
= FUN[/list:u][/list:u]Paul


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 05, 2005, 01:48:24 PM
I've got to say that I think Paul just nailed it, at least for my part. While Vincent and Ron are saying the same thing, there's a VAST difference in how they are saying it.

Ron bases his stuff on fancy words and deep theories. Gives the impression of an almost inhuman understanding of the thing, for better and for worse. Because while he might know what's going on, how can you ever hope to have a serious discussion with such a guy, and how can you ever hope to comprehend such complex concepts (nope, I don't think the theories are inhuman, but boy do they seem inhuman when you plump into the forge and see those essays).

Vincent, well, Vincent makes it all seem so terribly human, so terribly simple.


And on a sidenote, I'm still working on putting together an Essay to help people jump at least some of the gaps that I've walked right into.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Ben Lehman on April 05, 2005, 01:51:30 PM
Paul, dude, I laughed out loud at that.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 05, 2005, 01:54:23 PM
What Ben said.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 01:59:56 PM
Quote
I'm still working on putting together an Essay to help people jump at least some of the gaps that I've walked right into


Ralph's "The Model as seen by Valamir", to me, is just that. You would have clearly heard the *click* had you sat beside me while I read it. I can't wait until he does "GNS as seen by Valamir".

- Frank


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: ironick on April 05, 2005, 02:55:56 PM
Frank, I totally get that.  Totally.

If I remember right, I joined, posted once or twice, then got intimidated and waited about a year before my next post.  This place still scares the crap out of me on a daily basis, but I've been forcing myself to post, even when I feel like my questions are dumb, or I really don't have much to contribute to the discourse, because I know there are plenty of newbies like me who are shaking at their keyboards too.  I do it mostly to train myself to get over my intimidation, but I hope other newbies see my paltry number of posts and take heart that they, too, can post something dumb and not get flamed because of it.

I've also come to the realization that there are certain forums I am comfortable posting in, and some that I won't touch with someone else's 10-foot pole.  For example, I feel okay posting in Actual Play and sometimes in Game Design, but that's usually in response to someone else's topic.  I just posted my first topic in RPG Theory, to some decent response.  That one terrified me because I thought it was a dumb question that I should be able to figure out myself, but I couldn't find a discussion about it elsewhere, and I hope some lurkers like me got some understanding about it as well.

Anyway, I think it's pretty widespread and I think the only real way to overcome it is to make yourself post and contribute.  The more you put in, the more you'll get out.  I still haven't put much in, but I'm trying.

Nick


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Lance D. Allen on April 05, 2005, 05:36:34 PM
Quote from: Simon Kamber
Ron bases his stuff on fancy words and deep theories. Gives the impression of an almost inhuman understanding of the thing, for better and for worse.


Fancy words and deep theories..

You mean like "my GM Herbie" right?

I dunno, I'd have to disagree with you here, at least in part. I never considered the essays to be intimidating, particularly. I'll admit I took my turn at trying to defy them and disprove them before realizing that they're just theories and observations. The only thing I've found intimidating is trying to take these fairly simple concepts and trying to apply them both in game design, play, and discussion.

Trying to design a game with a specific agenda in mind is kind of rough. If anyone recalls ReCoil, I was convinced for much of my time working on it that it was narrativist (ie. encouraged narrativist play). I've since realized that GNS isn't particularly important, not nearly so important as just having a good idea of what sort of play I want to encourage, specifically, and creating rules that encourage that.

You don't apply GNS to play. You just play. If you want to analyze your play after the fact, and see where you might have some creative differences among your play group, it's good for that. But you don't try to play more "narratively" or "simulationist" or whatever. You just play to have fun, and try to meet the specific needs of your play group, not generalized theoetical needs.

And finally, in discussion... Discussion of theory is considered by many to be the least important thing we do here. A good many people think that an inordinate amount of time and effort is wasted on discussion of theory. This may be so. If discussion of theory is your bag though, you're just going to have to realize that cute phrases like TITBB, The Lumpley Principle, and GNS are going to be interpreted differently, perhaps wrongly, perhaps not, by different people. You're going to have to acknowledge that, and work through it when it happens.

...geez.. Well, it's good I've never claimed NOT to be pedantic, now isn't it?


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 05, 2005, 09:40:01 PM
Yeah, the argument that the model is pretty easy is heard in quite a lot of places. For one thing, I disagree. That model has lead to three essays at around 60 pages each. It's not a simple model that you can just pick up and use.

Another thing is that Ron, in my experience, tends to make it worse by talking as if what he is saying makes perfect sense, all the while saying it in a way that most people who haven't been here for a long time just don't understand. In that way, though I'm sure it's not the intent, Ron's post can easily get a beginner to feel like he's too dumb to understand the concept.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 05, 2005, 11:33:38 PM
Right, that was exactly what happened to me. I feel a little uncomfortable stating this because it sounds like putting the blame on Ron, which I understand people have actually done in the past. That's not my intention. The very first useful response I got to one of my Forge posts was by Ron, and I find a lot of insight in what he writes. I also find a lot of confusion, though. Man, you just sometimes have a talent of expressing things in a way that can be misleading to those who don't already guess what you're aiming at.

I was pretty sure it wasn't a language problem from the start, but I at least had to consider the possibility. Seems it isn't, after all. So what happened? I got mislead. I thought, what is this crap, it doesn't make sense?! I objected and was rebuked. I thought that made me look pretty stupid, which made me angry. Ron wrote me a PM. I got over it. So it wasn't the end of the world. See?


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: pete_darby on April 06, 2005, 01:25:54 AM
Sheesh, I was just sitting next to this can, I felt hungry, never saw the word "worms" on it...

Just to get something straight, it's something that frustrates me with most other theories, proposals, whatever, and when I get what someone has said when it's slightly rephrased by someone else, I feel like an ass for not getting it the first time.

When I first came across Ron's essays, I found them to be pretty self explanatory, but there was a helluva lot of arguing about what people thought they were saying, rather than what they said. And that got to me, and still does. And when folks tried to say "Oh, but that's not what it says," we were somehow cultists of Ron (grrr).

I don't know. Maybe some of it was hostility to theory, some of it was hostility to other people's theory. We've got the claim that any theory that takes 60+ pages to explain can't be simple (actually, the greater part of those pages is illustration or expansion of a quite simple model), which is odd coming from drama & literary theory where any theory that could be adequately introduced and illustrated at that length would be thought of as laughably simple and thin.

Now, bricolage... thar's yer fancy words and deep theories.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 06, 2005, 03:53:32 AM
Quote from: pete_darby
I don't know. Maybe some of it was hostility to theory, some of it was hostility to other people's theory. We've got the claim that any theory that takes 60+ pages to explain can't be simple (actually, the greater part of those pages is illustration or expansion of a quite simple model), which is odd coming from drama & literary theory where any theory that could be adequately introduced and illustrated at that length would be thought of as laughably simple and thin.

Hmm, let's try that one again. I'm not trying to say the model, in basis, is complex. I'm saying that with all the stuff that's been loaded on top of it (i.e. the essays and the miles and miles of posts), it's become something that at least SEEMS very heavy for new people coming to the boards. The pages might be only illustration or expansion, but they're still there to add to the already quite confusing model as a whole.

And it's not 60+ pages, it's roughly 60 pages per essay. That's quite a lot of text, and truth be told I think it would be better if I hadn't read those until I got the gist of the big model and knew where to fit it in.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: lumpley on April 06, 2005, 05:24:25 AM
Quote from: Paul
    VINCENT
= FUN[/list:u]

So here's kind of a funny story. A while ago, somebody on RPGnet posted this:
Quote from: Somebody on RPGnet
I met Lumpley at a con once. He was Dr Funk, and I tell you, his loathing of gamers is something to behold.

It turned out that no, he never met me at a con; in fact, he didn't know I was a real person. He figured that the lilly pilly was named after somebody's character or something. So I introduced myself and he felt awkward and everything was fine.

Except this: my first thought on reading it? "Fuck. He must have caught me at an honest moment."

-Vincent


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Matt Wilson on April 06, 2005, 05:32:41 AM
Quote
his loathing of gamers is something to behold.


Finally, someone who understands the true meaning of kpfs.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 06, 2005, 05:35:47 AM
The theory is very hard, expecially put into the context that RPGs are entertainment, and not supposed to take "work" therefore to understand. Yes, it's not simple stuff, when you consider the tons of analysis of it that's been done.

But I'm not sure that I get your point? You want it to be simpler? Can't be done. Just like quantum physics can't be made any easier to understand, because the principles underlying it are very complex. GNS isn't even near that level of complexity, but the same principle is true.

Yes, if you do want to post about theory, and don't want to have us tell you, "Go read X, again" then you're going to have to be up to speed on the theory. Would you expect to crash a seminar on quantum physics and be able to chat about it coherently without taking the preliminary courses first? No? Then why would you expect to be able to absorb all of the stuff that it's taken all of us hundreds of hours (maybe more) to learn?

I think some people get the opinion that Ron just posted the theory one day, and simply made it complicated as a barrier to entry in talking about it so that we could have our own little elitist club. Well, those who think that must not have been there through the literally thousands of posts on the subject from all sorts of people that molded the theory over time. It took every one of us who post on this even longer than it takes the people entering into the discussion now to understand the theory.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, the gaming theory is at least as complicated overall as any 100 level course in school, and perhaps more complicated than that. Expect to have to do as much studying as that to "get it." That said, this is far less complicated than all the effort that we put into learning it, having to extrapolate it from GDS and other previous theories without any essays or a glossary of terms to illuminate it. We have, in fact, made it much easier to understand than it ever has been previously.

Not only has it been hard for us to learn, too, but it's hard, very hard, to keep up with the theory. One has to be comitted to following the discussion closely to stay on top of it. I have to admit that in the last year, I've fallen behind myself a bit. To get back into the big discussions more coherenly, I'd have to read up myself on a few things. So it's not just newbs who feel the pressure to study.

If you're not interested in taking the "course," fine. It's not particularly important to understand it in depth or even at all (in many ways it's a completely dead subject). Post about something else. Nobody is requiring anyone to have that course under your belt to post at The Forge about anything except about the theory itself. Use Plain English to explain what you want to discuss, unless you know what a particular jargon term means. Everybody gets tons done here every day by just doing that.

And, again, if somebody tries to throw you in the deep end to stop your discussion, send them to us so we can kick their asses. Tell them to say it in Plain English if you don't get what they're saying.

Mike


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: pete_darby on April 06, 2005, 05:37:17 AM
Hmm, I can agree that Ron has a reputation for being hard to grasp, or easy to misinterpret, but I've never had that trouble (well, no more so than with anyone else, apart from some of my co-workers).

So I can see that Ron, personally, has an intimidating reputation, and the model does too, but since the general reaction when people grok the model is "Wait, is that all? Why didn't you say so!", I can only join in the standard response, which is "aaargh! I did say so!"

Vincent, don't you go starting to pretend you're a real person now. You see, our Lumpley is actually the first successful experiment to build a GNS compatible game designer from first principles... now, back in your box, I say! Back!


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Valamir on April 06, 2005, 06:31:35 AM
Hey, Ron's a college professor.  A professor's job is to convey information.  A good professor doesn't just spoon feed you what you need to pass the test.  A good professor gives you just enough to pique your interest and then coaches you through learning the rest on your own.  Nothing is learned so well as that which one works to attain.

The Forge is just like a college class.  You can use it to build a foundation for life long learning.  Or you can just take what you need from it at the time and move on.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: James Holloway on April 06, 2005, 08:06:20 AM
Quote from: pete_darby
Hmm, I can agree that Ron has a reputation for being hard to grasp, or easy to misinterpret, but I've never had that trouble (well, no more so than with anyone else, apart from some of my co-workers).

No, me neither, but I find it interesting that I do better with theory when I'm back at school -- I do think that people expect articles about gaming to be very easy to comprehend, possibly because most articles discussing "how to roleplay" or "how to design games" have been, up to this point, impassioned, colloquial writing like Chris Kubasik's "Interactive Toolkit" or else wah-wah rubbish like the "how to run this game" section of most rulebooks (although there are notable exceptions).

I'm always a little astounded by the suggestion that GNS at its core is "too hard" or that there's "too much of it." There are, what, six essays core if you count the provisional glossary? You could put those in a book called "an introduction to Creative Agenda Theory" (although I can see why you might not want to) and it would still be a medium-sized paperback. You can read through the GNS essays once a day for a week, give it another week or two to digest, come back and read 'em again to see how they make sense in light of the first reading, and Bob's your uncle. You probably know as much about the theory as you'll ever need to. Is that really such hard work?

This is particularly odd coming from gamers, people who have tended in the past to be willing to take on huge amounts of information in the form of rules, setting detail, plot canon and so on and so forth.

I think that the Forge and CA theory have acquired this reputation for being impossibly complex and difficult, and that this tends to produce angry, aggrieved reactions from posters encountering the inevitable early frustration that comes with trying to learn anything new. But I can't escape the conclusion that the theory is as hard as you make it -- I'm not up on the finer points, but I think I have a pretty good grasp of the basics, and I'm not exactly a forge elite-whatever.

Chris Lehrich has talked about related phenomena far more eloquently and more angrily than I in his lj, relating to his students, and come to tougher conclusions.

I don't know what the Forge can do except maybe have a clearer "if you want to get a grip on the basics of CA theory, here's where to start" link, but I don't think it's that unclear already.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 06, 2005, 08:37:41 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
But I'm not sure that I get your point? You want it to be simpler? Can't be done. Just like quantum physics can't be made any easier to understand, because the principles underlying it are very complex. GNS isn't even near that level of complexity, but the same principle is true.

Hmm, getting into some misunderstandings here. Rephrase:

No, I do not think it is too hard. No, I do not think it's more complex, or even as complex, as other academic disciplines. While both ways of saying things amounts to the same actual thing being said, the academic way of saying it is more precise and complex, for better and for worse. And for those who've just arrived at this place, it takes a while to get used to the way things work. I don't know about everyone else, but I've never seen a roleplaying side that took this long to get to understand.

So yes, it is complex, and it is daunting. That doesn't mean it has to be changed, it's just a matter of fact.

So, I think we basically agree. I'm just trying to see it from the point of the view of the daunted newcomer. Particularly because I'm, at the moment, trying to write something that'll help just those newcomers have an easier time 'getting' The Forge.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 06, 2005, 09:22:52 AM
A sticky directing them toward the glossary and "The Model as seen by Valamir" could serve the purpose. Honestly, without those two texts, I'd still be hopelessly lost. The latter is brilliant for getting a first grasp, while the former is invaluable for looking up terms and guiding you to "standard" threads you should read.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Bankuei on April 06, 2005, 09:32:53 AM
Eh,

I think a couple of things go on with the theory communication issue.  First, it's not a religion, so its not like anyone who gets it is trying to run out and "convert" people.   So there's not a lot of incentive to wrap the theory in pretty words and colors.  

When it comes to Ron's writing, its very functional, it's not loaded with double speak and ad copy like a good deal of games and game text out there.  When I started reading the Turku manifestos out on the net, they came off with a bunch of emotional gusto.  I think general readers are left at a loss because they're not reassured, hyped up and coddled throughout the theory.

There's no, "This will CHANGE the way you play FORVER!!!!" type stuff being flung about.

Aside from that, then you add the mysterious veil that falls upon gamers in regards to what's happening at the table and with each other.  If you can't be cognizant of that- then the theory isn't going to make any sense to you, just like a painting to a person with their eyes close.  "But how does blue feel like?  What does it smell like?"  "Um, it's a color, its a visual thing, you gotta use your eyes..."  "Can you translate it into a taste for me?" Etc.

For the most part, gamers have been taught to focus on the imagined elements, so the highest understanding of what's happening is based on character archtypes and character actions- not player actions, which is why most of it goes over people's heads.

It's not quantum physics, its as simple as paying attention to what people are doing, instead of what they are telling you they are doing.  Parents and school and many other authority based figures train that out of us real quick("Do as I say, not as I do", "Why? Because."  "This is for your own good." Etc.)


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 06, 2005, 10:08:20 AM
Quote from: Simon Kamber
Particularly because I'm, at the moment, trying to write something that'll help just those newcomers have an easier time 'getting' The Forge.
Excellent. Have you seem Ralph's (Valamir's) article as mentioned? Have you seen the recent article by MJ Young on PTGPTB? These are both good overviews, IMO.

Mike


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 06, 2005, 04:12:36 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Excellent. Have you seem Ralph's (Valamir's) article as mentioned? Have you seen the recent article by MJ Young on PTGPTB? These are both good overviews, IMO.

Mike

I've skimmed Valimir's article quickly (haven't got too much time on my hands right now, so i might have missed something). It looks like a pretty good overview of the model. It's not, however, what I'm trying to do. I'm talking more generally about the forge, and the way we work here. Because, as I mentioned before, the community here is somewhat different from what most people are used to.

As for MJ Youngs article, nope, I haven't seen it. Do you have a link?


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Frank T on April 06, 2005, 11:00:20 PM
Come to talk about it: An abreviation list would be nice. Especially for all the games being played, playtested and discussed. Between YGAD, TSoY, CoS, PtA, DitV, MLwM, SitF, BW, TRoS and so forth, a newbie can easily lose his footing. Alternatively, one could just take the time to write the game's full title at least once at the beginning of a thread.

Maybe I should just post this request to the Actual Play Sticky.


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Mike Holmes on April 07, 2005, 06:35:04 AM
Quote from: Simon Kamber
As for MJ Youngs article, nope, I haven't seen it. Do you have a link?
Here's the link to the thread here that links to the article (you might want to comment): http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=14870

That said, it's somewhat like Ralphs in just being introductory to the theory, and not what you've indicated you're attempting - which if I get you is an introduction to the social climate of The Forge? Expected conventions and such? That's an interesting idea.

Would the idea be to have it in the essays area? Or did you have some other idea for distribution?

Mike


Title: Big Forge, Small Me
Post by: Simon Kamber on April 07, 2005, 10:45:06 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Would the idea be to have it in the essays area? Or did you have some other idea for distribution?

Well, I was thinking of writing it as an essay. But currently, it's still in the "inspiration" phase. I'm figuring out what I actually want to say before I start writing.