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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 06:02:25 AM



Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 06:02:25 AM
This rant brought to you courtesy of discussion in this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=14897).


There is a misconception that's become a pet peeve of mine, and that I want to debunk:  The idea that "playing a role" and "playing a game" are ever separate parts of playing a roleplaying game.  They aren't.  They are two different ways of viewing the same underlying activity.  And now, let's talk about physics.

By the turn of the 20th century, the evidence was spectacularly strong that light was a wave.  Light does all manner of things that you can't explain by treating it as a particle (interference patterns, for a start).  Then somebody conducted an experiment and demonstrated the photoelectric effect (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/mod1.html).  The thing is, you can't explain the photoelectric effect by discussing light as a wave.  But it makes perfect sense if you imagine that light is a particle.

So what does that mean?  To a layman it means "Light is sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle, and you explain some things with one tool and some with another, but never with both."  To a physicist it means "Light is neither a wave nor a particle.  It is something else we don't (yet) have words for.  But it is something that 99.999% of the time exhibits properties that can be adequately understood using either a wave model or a particle model.  Both models are flawed, but for the huge majority of cases either one is good enough, so we're not throwing them away until we have something equally simple that works 100%."

My take on RPGs mimics this closely:  "Roleplaying games are neither roleplaying nor games.  They are something else that we don't (yet) have words for.  But it is something that most of the time can be adequately understood using either a roleplaying model or a game model.  Both models are flawed, but for the huge majority of cases either one is good enough, so we're not throwing them away until we have something equally simple that works 100%."

Hence the title of this rant:  Roleplay/Game Duality.  You're doing something you have no good words for... so you put the best model you can manage to slap together onto it, and then you perceive it through that lens.  But your lens is not privileged.  You are not doing anything that someone using another lens cannot or will not do, if they are pursuing the same agenda.  You are playing an RPG.  Roleplaying and Gaming, separately, are just mental tools to help you get your head around that.

And yes, by "roleplaying" I mean "telling a story" here too.  I'm talking about everything where you contribute your choices and your aesthetic to the SIS.  Call it make-believe, creative fiction, whatever.  For the purpose of this rant, I'm calling it roleplay, because that's the way that I've heard it brought up as a concern most frequently.

"You," a man will say, with a sneer in his voice, "are not roleplaying.  You are simply going through the motions of real roleplaying, in order to abuse the game system.  You are, dare I say it, a... rollplayer!"  Cue scandalized gasps from the onlookers.  Ladies swoon.  Smelling-salts are deployed.  A slap with an empty glove, a call for satisfaction, pistols at dawn.

Feh.  They're both doing exactly the same thing.  They're just looking at it so differently that they can't recognize the similarities.  Let's parse some examples:

Quote
"I could kill this dragon right now, with an arrow of dragon-slaying.  But I can probably catch it later if I try with the sword and fail, and I'll get a +20% XP bonus for tracking it down.  Sword it is!"

Quote
"I could patch up things with Megumi, if I said the right thing right now.  But I can probably fix the romance later, even if I say this wonderfully unfortunate thing right now, and it's a much more dramatic story that way.  Stupid faux-pas it is!"


Those are exactly the same thought processes.  "I can do A for reward X in keeping with my agenda.  Or I can do B for reward X+N.  B it is!"  Saying that one is gaming, and one is roleplaying... well that's true.  Because they're both gaming, and they're both roleplaying.  Let's do some more charged examples:

Quote
"I could kill this dragon right now, with the arrow of dragon-slaying.  But I can also let it go, because I have doubts about whether slaying it is the right thing to do, and that makes for a much more dramatic story.  Pangs of conscience it is!"

Quote
"I could show respect for the King's guard.  But I can also attack them, and get a pile of XP, and maybe a pair of their nice shiny Boots of Swift Response will be in my size.  Sociopathic attack it is!"


There is no difference between any of these examples.  They are all doing exactly the same thing.  Yes, the munchkin who attacks the King's guard for XP is doing the same thing as the real-roleplayer who lets the dragon get away because his conscience commands him.  They're choosing a path among options given them by the rules of their game (including the unwritten ones) to accomplish their agenda.

"But I have perceived this difference!" I hear you cry.  Of course you have!  There isn't a theoretical difference, but there is a huge practical difference in many games.  That difference is maintained and increased by many roleplaying systems.  Each new game system, each new gaming group, bring subtly different mental tools to the table.  If you want to look at the Real Stuff of RPG through the lens of Gaming then your view is informed by what game-mechanics are on hand, and what social dynamics you can manipulate.  If you want to look at the Real Stuff through the lens of Roleplaying then your view is informed by what game-setting and genre are on hand, and what aesthetic sensibilities you can manipulate.

Sometimes the mental tools so thoroughly distort the actual underlying RPG experience that they create two incompatible sets of options.  If you look at an RPG situation through the Roleplaying lens you see options A, B and C.  Options D and E aren't viable within that mental toolset.  Then if you look at the same situation through the Gaming lens you see options C, D and E.  Options A and B aren't viable within that mental toolset.  If you're lucky and good, you can consistently choose Option C, and please both models.  This gives rise to the mistaken impression that "The system doesn't matter, because a good GM can make any system work."  Yeah, and a good potter can throw a vase from clay filled with shards of glass, but that doesn't make it a smart way to work.  More often, when your mental tools are in conflict you'll end up bopping between options A and E, B and D, pleasing every model part of the time and no model all of the time.  

This is what reinforces the RPG equivalent to the physics-layman's view of duality: "Roleplaying games are sometimes games and sometimes roleplaying.  You do some parts of the activity by playing a role, and some parts by playing a game but you never do both at once."  Now let's say you subscribe to this... ahem... misconception.  You will strive to pigeonhole your experience into categories.  So playing rival factions against each other, while cleverly pushing your own diplomatic agenda... that can't be playing a game, because it's so clearly playing a role.  Likewise, rolling the dice and formulating strategy in the climactic battle between your hero and his archnemesis... that can't be playing a role, because it's so clearly playing a game.

Most of all, if you believe that roleplaying and gaming are opposites, you will never accept that game-mechanics can help you roleplay, and roleplaying can help you work the game mechanics.  Happily, many Forge-inspired games take a much more productive tack.  In layman's terms, they present game-mechanics that are meant to facilitate roleplay and roleplaying situations that support a particular type of mechanical tactic.  When you say that to somebody trapped in the "either/or" delusion above, they get a strange look.  "I know all those words," they seem to be thinking, "but I cannot parse a sentence that uses them in that way."

But even that layman's description is flawed.  From the viewpoint of Roleplay/Game Duality, what these systems do is to help bring the two dual viewpoints more closely into harmony.  They make clearer lenses.  When you use a Roleplaying model you will see viable choices A, B and C.  And when you use a Gaming model you will see viable choices A, B and C.  If the Gaming model also provokes you to think about choice D then when you look at choice D through the Roleplaying model you will discover that it is viable there too.  If the Roleplaying model provokes you to think about choice E then choice E will make sense in the Gaming model as well.

Ultimately, these systems let you put the models aside moment by moment.  When you can flip seamlessly from one viewpoint to another, without having to change anything about what you're doing in the game, it makes it clearer and clearer how they're actually just representations of the same thing.  You stop thinking about what you see through the distorting lens of Roleplay-only, or Game-only, and perceive more clearly the actual Real Stuff that's happening.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Jasper on April 05, 2005, 07:03:10 AM
Nice rant, Tony.  The light analogy is especially useful, and I'll definitely be using it on some friends (who I've been having this, ahem, discussion with for many years).

I'm not sure about Forge (or similar) games functioning as a clearer lens though.  That implies that other games are blurrier lenses, because they don't merge the two kinds of thinking (and the choices that come with that)...but we've also concluded that there is no real dichotomy, which would seem to suggest that there aren't really two separate ways of acting -- just ways to justify/conceive that act.  Am I missing some part of the argument?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 07:41:07 AM
I'm not so sure about this.

People do things in roleplaying games that are not handled by mechanics.  People do things in roleplaying games that are penalized by mechanics.

Player: "I draw my sword and attack the palace guard!"

DM: "This isn't 2e anymore, Joe, you won't get any XP for picking fights at random."

Player: "I don't care, he looked at me funny.  I'm fourteenth level, what are they going to do?"

DM: ::sigh:: "Okay, well, you've got surprise... roll initiative..."

The DM thinks, "Why is he doing this?  It's neither in keeping with his agenda... he's a PALADIN for Pete's sake... nor is he getting a reward... what the foul?"

Roleplaying games are an exercise that is, at its heart, nearly completely imaginary.  We use paper to keep records because our memories aren't good enough to do it on our own, and we use dice because we like the unexpected, but there are games that can be played with no physical representation whatsoever that are still roleplaying games.

When I as a gamemaster, say, "Joe takes fifteen points of damage" I fail to understand what the roleplaying aspect of that is.  What is there, besides raw mechanics?

When I as gamemaster say, "The bartender says, 'What'll you have?'  He glares at you balefully with his one eye, as if to dare you to order anything weaker than Dwarven distilled spirits." there's NO mechanical context present.  Where is the 'game' in color?

Now before you start trying to tell me that it IS there... stop.  That's not what I'm asking for, that's not what I'm talking about.

Roleplaying is a thought-based activity, correct?  Memory, imagination, communication... hold onto that for a moment.

Anything that I am not aware of in my conscious mind DOES NOT EXIST in my conscious mind.  You can tell me that I am having a particular thought, if you like, and your thought-model for what is going on in my mind may require that I be having it... but if I'm not having it, I'm not having it, no matter what your model says.

At its core, your rant seems to devolve into semantics, redefining what "game" and "roleplaying" mean in the context of a roleplaying game.  Putting peanut butter on one slice, and jelly on the other, does in fact, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it doesn't make the peanut butter into jelly.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 08:10:40 AM
Jasper:  No, you've got it exactly.  Two different ways of justifying and conceiving of actions.  If the models are so divergent that it is hard to conceive of actions in one that can be justified in another then you get into a state where you can only use either of them by assuring that everyone is in agreement on which is being used.  So, for example:  "We'll roll dice for combat, but just roleplay for conversations."


Fred:  Uh... if you don't want an answer to the question, why did you ask it?  In fact, if you don't want to hear anything back from me, why bother posting at all?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 08:23:37 AM
My post isn't asking a question, it's a response to your rant.

"I disagree, and here's why."

I enjoined you from telling me that I don't, in fact, disagree, not that you shouldn't respond at all.

Edit: One of the problems I have with Capes, is that the roleplaying can be entirely driven out of it.  You could remove all of the power descriptions, narration, etc. and be left with a game that was entirely playable.  It's easy... TOO easy, to get caught up in the mechanics, and lose sight of the fact that stuff needs to be justified and narrated.  If the narration part and the mechanics is all equal, then that shouldn't matter... but it does.  This is what leads me to understand that there IS a real difference, a real dichotomy.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 09:03:35 AM
Okay, you disagree.  That's nice.

I like your point about games with no props and no dice, however, because it brings up an issue that I didn't raise.

Freeform games, where there is no rules system, no mechanics, nothing but people socially interacting, are still roleplaying games.  The Gaming-only model is perfectly serviceable in such cases:  the rules of the game are the social interactions of the people involved.

Honestly, once you view such things as a game, and take some serious time to figure out what the rules are, it becomes almost criminally easy to do anything you want.  People are so easy to beat when they don't realize what game they're playing.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Jasper on April 05, 2005, 09:06:53 AM
Okay, Tony, good to know.  And maybe you won't mind me jumping in here either:

Quote from: Vaxalon
When I as a gamemaster, say, "Joe takes fifteen points of damage" I fail to understand what the roleplaying aspect of that is. What is there, besides raw mechanics?


You seem to be forgetting the lumpley principle. Crunchy mechanics, and method-acting-based ideas of what "feels right" (for instance) are both just part of system.

The rule saying "Joe take 15 damage" gets turned into a part of the system, and then goes on to change the SIS.  Lacking that written rule,  Joe's player could stagger around acting hurt, pretending to be Joe, and it could change the SIS in exactly the same way.  Where's the difference? Surely the fact that one version comes from a written source, and is more mathematically quantified, shouldn't matter.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 09:13:12 AM
Quote from: Tony
Freeform games, where there is no rules system, no mechanics, nothing but people socially interacting, are still roleplaying games. The Gaming-only model is perfectly serviceable in such cases: the rules of the game are the social interactions of the people involved.


I suppose that fits in with the "Games People Play" school of interpersonal relationships.  Sometimes, interactions ARE described in terms of "games"... but I don't think those are games in the same sense of the word.  There are games one is conscious of playing, and ones you are not conscious of.  "Game" in that sense is used as a metaphor.

I don't count freeform roleplaying as a roleplaying game.

When I talk about games that can be played without the use of paper, dice, etc. I'm not talking about freeform roleplaying.  In college we played something called "Fateroller" that was so rules-light that we could play it without referring to paper character sheets, and used a simple diceless resource mechanic to determine contributions.  We played it in little five-minute dribs and drabs whenever we encountered each other in passing.  Come to think of it, it was GMless, too... I should see if I can reconstruct the rules for that.

It seems to me that by your definition, Tony, ANY game is a roleplaying game, and I don't think that's the case.  It may even be that the Lumpley principle implies that all games are roleplaying games, or even that all human interaction is a roleplaying game.  I'm not willing to stretch the definition that far.  There has to be something that separates Capes from Chess from the Boardroom.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 09:17:55 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
"Game" in that sense is used as a metaphor.

Yes.  That's exactly what I'm talking about.  "Game" in the sense you're talking about it (as referring to RPGs) is also used as a metaphor.  That's what I've been saying.  Are we clear now?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 09:32:36 AM
No, the word "game" in the context of roleplaying games is NOT used as a metaphor.  It's used in the same sense as, say, a gambling game, or a "train" game, or a strategy game.  Poker is as much like chess as Capes is like chess.  They all have an essential 'gameness' to them that interpersonal interactions do not, even though interpersonal interactions can be analyzed with a game metaphor.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on April 05, 2005, 09:37:20 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
They all have an essential 'gameness' to them that interpersonal interactions do not, even though interpersonal interactions can be analyzed with a game metaphor.
I think, for this discussion to continue productively, you have to define what you feel is "gameness" in a clear and rigorous manner; it seems obvious to me that you and Tony are talking past each other because of differing conceptins of terms, and simply asserting, "You're wrong," "No, you are!" isn't really going to move the thread forward.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Doug Ruff on April 05, 2005, 09:39:02 AM
So, if I'm reading this right (always a dangerous assumption!) then:

Roleplaying games are about roleplaying (group contributions to a Shared Imagined Space) and gaming (which means that there are rules and strategies involved). If you take either of these elements out, you no longer have a roleplaying game.

Good roleplaying games make sure that each element supports the other (which can mean removing as much as possible of one element, while still retaining functionality as a roleplaying game*)

Now this seems a bit, well... obvious to me. Which means that either this rant isn't aimed at me, or I have willfully misinterpreted you...again. Which one is it this time?

* I think this is where a lot of Fred's disagreement is coming from - it's possible to make a roleplaying game so rules-light, or roleplay-light for that matter, that it's hard to see where borders are. This is usually the point where we start diagreeing about definitions, though.

PS I don't think I'm going to be able to get anything into this thread without crossposting someone, so apologies, I'm just going to jump right in!


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 09:52:05 AM
Doug: Exactly!

In order for it to be a roleplaying GAME, rather than just roleplaying, there have to be FORMAL rules that the players are adhering to.  If there aren't any, then it's freeform roleplaying, and not a game.  Social rules are not formal rules.  The existence of a social contract is not enough to qualify roleplaying as a roleplaying game.  There's a social contract in poker, for example.  "We don't deal from the bottom of the deck.  We don't try to look at each other's hands.  We don't play with marked cards."  If a social contract and interaction were all that was required to make a roleplaying game, then poker would be a roleplaying game, and it clearly isn't.

In order for it to be a ROLEPLAYING game, then there has to be an element of narration, even if it's not the focus of the game, or else it becomes some other kind of game.  Go watch some folks playing the DnD miniatures game.  It uses a combat ruleset that is basically cut-down DND rules; you could easily use them for a roleplaying game just as easily as for the strategy game.  The difference is that there's no aspect of narration to it.

In short:

In order to be a roleplaying game, three things must be true:

1> There must be a formal ruleset.  It does not need to be lengthy, and it doesn't need to be written, but it must be formal and it must be agreed to by the participants.

2> There must be an element of narration that is a recognized PART of the game.  For those of you who ascribe to it, this would be the "shared imagined space".

3> The two elements of the game must mutually interact with each other.  If you're playing DnD miniatures, and as your Aasimar Paladin moves forward, you say, "Telgar the Pure marches forward, sword in hand!" that's not a roleplaying game.  Your declaration is not part of the game, it's ancillary, and as such is just a play-by-play tacked onto the miniatures game; the fact that you moved your miniature forward twelve inches is part of the game; the narration is not.

By the way: This is where I feel Capes is weak.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 09:53:25 AM
Doug:  Roleplaying games are not about roleplaying.  Roleplaying games are not about games.
Quote from: TonyLB
Roleplaying games are neither roleplaying nor games. They are something else that we don't (yet) have words for. But it is something that most of the time can be adequately understood using either a roleplaying model or a game model. Both models are flawed, but for the huge majority of cases either one is good enough, so we're not throwing them away until we have something equally simple that works 100%

You clearly weren't wilfull in your misinterpretation, but yes I think you misinterpreted.  Your phrasing seems to imply that you think that roleplaying and gaming are two great tastes that taste great together.  Is that what you were saying?

What I'm saying is that it's like the 'difference' between the flying target watched by a duck-hunter and the research datum watched by an ornithologist... which is to say no difference at all.  Same duck.  The only difference is where you come at it from mentally.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Doug Ruff on April 05, 2005, 10:17:46 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Your phrasing seems to imply that you think that roleplaying and gaming are two great tastes that taste great together.  Is that what you were saying?


Try 'binary weapon' instead. You know, two harmless chemicals, put them together and BOOM!

As Fred says, I think it is possible for "roleplaying" and "games" to exist separately from "roleplaying games".

But that doesn't mean that a "roleplaying" game is just a game with roleplaying chucked in (or the other way around.)

It is definitely about both of these things, but it's not the same as these things.

So, yeah, it's the same duck alright. But neither the duck-hunter nor the ornithologist fully understand the duck, do they?

With this in mind, is there really any difference between what the three of us are saying?

(Apart from the bit about where Capes is weak in this area. Fred, I think that Capes is strong in exactly this area! the rules tell you exactly what you can and cannot do to drive the story forwards; driving the story forwards in interesting ways also gives you a mechanical reward*)

* The fact that I can still talk in this way after reading Tony's rant is probably a more significant difference in opinion than any of the above!


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 10:28:38 AM
Let's split the topic of Capes off into another thread... explaining it will get involved.  I'll start that thread momentarily in the MOF forum.
Quote from: Doug Ruff
But that doesn't mean that a "roleplaying" game is just a game with roleplaying chucked in (or the other way around.)

No more than poker is just a game with gambling thrown in.  
Quote from: TonyLB
Roleplaying games are not about roleplaying. Roleplaying games are not about games.

Poker IS, however, ABOUT gambling.  Chess, a strategy game, is about strategy. Tag is about exuberance and activity. Chutes and Ladders is about morality.  Truth or Dare is about social oneupmanship.

So why aren't roleplaying games about roleplaying?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Andrew Morris on April 05, 2005, 10:31:10 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
In order for it to be a roleplaying GAME, rather than just roleplaying, there have to be FORMAL rules that the players are adhering to.  If there aren't any, then it's freeform roleplaying, and not a game.


So let me ask a question in order to see if I'm understanding correctly. If you take your standard "freeform," then write on a piece of paper...

The Rules

1. Narration is determined by social interaction.
2. All players agree to be bound by rule 1.

...and then everyone signs it, does this turn the freeform into a roleplaying game?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 10:43:06 AM
Writing something down doesn't make something formal, just as not writing it down doesn't mean it isn't formal.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: gorckat on April 05, 2005, 10:56:27 AM
okay- if a PB&J sandwich isn't such withou PB or J, does it really matter what the PB is, or the J is?

i think i see Fred's argument that roleplaying is a game about roleplaying-whether the roleplay is oriented towards 'munchkin' style kill the dragon in a way that maximizes my reward, or release the dragon because my 'role' believes that is right, or ally w/ the dragon because that would be interesting...it doesn't matter, really, as long as everyone at the table is considering things in a similar fashion (assuming that everyone wants ot have the most fun possible)

i must be missing something, because i see and agree w/ both Tony and Fred here- 'roleplaying game' is something that neither word alone describes, but it is just a 'game'- something done willingly, leisurely, for fun...

what am i missing? is there something deeper that you both are getting at? is it purpose of design? of play?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 11:18:50 AM
I'm denying Tony's assertion that Roleplaying games aren't games, that the word "game" is used metaphorically.  I'm saying that "game" is actual, not metaphorical.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Andrew Morris on April 05, 2005, 11:40:00 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
Writing something down doesn't make something formal

Okay, what is it that makes rules "formal" rules, then?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 05, 2005, 11:45:00 AM
In this case, I mean it in the sense of being a structural framework, something that gives form, something that is essential.  The rule you posit is not formal because it does not provide form.  You can substitute the word "formative" for "formal" in this instance.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 05, 2005, 02:54:22 PM
I think it might be terribly simple, if I propose it this way.

There are simply two games being played at the same time. One is entirely rules based. The other is entirely freeform imagination. And there are interconnections between the two.

Think about the gamist essay and the hardcore gamist.
Quote
The Hard Core occurs when Gamist play transmogrifies into pure metagame: Exploration becomes minimal or absent, such that System and Social Contract contact one another directly, and, essentially, all the mechanics become metagame mechanics.

You can see Ron describing how something is being shut down here. This is where you stop playing one of the games (freeform imagination) and just stick with the other.


Now, if you don't see two games being played at once because "Hey, when my fighter takes 15 damage, he's been hit and is bleeding for that much damage! That's all one thing right there!".

There doesn't seem to be two games playing at once, because social contract making them interact with each other so seemlessly that they seem like the one game.

Nothing forces you to imagine something...the rules certainly don't force you. Your own respect of the rules (possibly) forces you to (or some other personal commitment forces you), which is an imbedded part of the social contract.

An different example might be imagine having a game of chess (replacing the hard rules example above) and a game of monopoly (replacing the freeform imagination example from above) running at the same time, with each person at the table playing in each.

Now, imagine that the chess game has extra rules that say when you lose a piece, you also lose a monopoly house. But the monopoly game doesn't have that rule amongst its rules. So, your playing in both games and you loose a piece in chess. Now you go sit at the monopoly table. The rules there don't say you have to take any house away. Do you take one away or not? There's nothing in this game that says you have to. Nothing at all.

Only the social contract will ensure any interconnection between the two games.

The reverse applies as well. If someone gets out of jail in monopoly and that is supposed to partially reset the chess board (yet the chess game has no rules to match that), the only reason it can happen is social contract. In my previous example, this is where the freeform imagination game demands something of the rule based game, when those rules are busy determining something else entirely (an example might be someone taking the standard listed falling damage, but everyone declaring how he's wrapped in hundreds of pillows and that should change the rules effect).

On a side note, I think many users get rather used to using this latter technique example (for various incoherant game design reasons) and give up on rules because of it.

Two games at once, with social contract ensuring each half/'hemisphere' of the 'brain' effects the other. When they are connected, you can't actually say either one is THE game, just like you couldn't say chess or monopoly was THE game in my other example.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 05, 2005, 04:24:22 PM
Callan:  This sounds an awful lot like "Roleplaying games are sometimes games and sometimes roleplaying. You do some parts of the activity by playing a role, and some parts by playing a game but you never do both at once."  Was that your intent?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 06, 2005, 09:13:23 PM
Hi Tony,

Quoting myself and adding emphasis:
Quote
When they are connected, you can't actually say either one is THE game, just like you couldn't say chess or monopoly was THE game in my other example.


When you can't call it game A and you cant call it game B, then you have a new game; game C.

Mixing rules gaming with freeform imagination gaming produces far more fireworks than mixing chess and monopoly. But it's still the same principle as mixing those two.

As for never doing both at once, I didn't say that, but I think it's a very interesting point of discussion to bring up. It's social contract agreements that blend these two games into one, so your not just doing one game or the other at a time.

Quote from: You
There is a misconception that's become a pet peeve of mine, and that I want to debunk: The idea that "playing a role" and "playing a game" are ever separate parts of playing a roleplaying game.

You talk about a potter latter on. I think that slab of clay and that potters imagination are very seperate until he uses the rules of pottery making, to blend the two into some sort of funky new pot (I'm stretching the analgoy, using the pottery skill here instead of SC).

But until the end user applies that pottery skill/SC, they are indeed just a game and just freeform imagination. What some people will do though is look at a game and deliberately ignore any imagination game element, and say this is just a bunch of rules. Or ignore the rules element and say it's just a bunch of made up stuff. This is playing the idiot and like saying the Ikea furniture someone bought is just a bunch of parts....of course it is, it takes the end user to put them together! A very irritating 'observation'.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 03:39:45 AM
Do you think that players can really remove roleplaying from (say) D&D while playing according to the rules?  Or if they ignore the imaginative elements are they just roleplaying poorly?

I believe the latter.  "I take my sword and kill the orc" is roleplaying.  Uninspired, perhaps, but still roleplaying.  Even "I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage" is roleplaying.  Yet more inspired, but still roleplaying (as well as, of course, gaming).


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 04:16:10 AM
Yes, you can remove the roleplaying from DnD.  It's called the DND miniatures game.  I think I already made this point?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: contracycle on April 07, 2005, 04:22:18 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon

I suppose that fits in with the "Games People Play" school of interpersonal relationships.  Sometimes, interactions ARE described in terms of "games"... but I don't think those are games in the same sense of the word.  There are games one is conscious of playing, and ones you are not conscious of.  "Game" in that sense is used as a metaphor.


The book by Erich Berne, which he followed up with "What Do You Say After You Say Hello".  I'm heavily into this school of thought.  I don't think that game used in this sense really is a metaphor - I think he is identifying specific, predicatble systems of interaction; and thats about as good a capsule definition of 'game' as you are likely to get.

But this definition of game is still rather nebulous, even implicit rather than explicit, and allows for the participants to not be aware that they are playing a game.  This concept of game is only that of predictable exchanges, identifiable strategies and so on.  I find this helpful, becuase it serves as a thinking-outside-the-box check; if the game is at least in part  in the eye of the beholder, then I can reassess the game I think I am playing to see it I am also involved in another, bigger game; or if the the present game can be broken down into solvable sub-games.

As I say, I don't see 'game' as a metaphor so much as a class of information structures.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 04:38:23 AM
You see, I'm of the opinion that a true game requires formal rules, to which all of the players consciously assent.  The "game" theory of human interaction doesn't have formal rules.  To me, it's an "as if" construct.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: contracycle on April 07, 2005, 05:02:31 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
You see, I'm of the opinion that a true game requires formal rules, to which all of the players consciously assent.  The "game" theory of human interaction doesn't have formal rules.  To me, it's an "as if" construct.


I would agree with that in the following sense: a game played by humans as entertainment must have formal rules to which participants consent.

But I think a lot of human interactions that are not for entertainment exhibit predictable interactions and can be modelled as a game.  And I think that is indeed a game in every practical sense.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 05:38:35 AM
Something that can be modeled as a game is not necessarily a game.  

In the words of René Magritte, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Doug Ruff on April 07, 2005, 06:22:19 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
You see, I'm of the opinion that a true game requires formal rules, to which all of the players consciously assent.  The "game" theory of human interaction doesn't have formal rules.  To me, it's an "as if" construct.


I think that a good game (blatantly defined by me here as a game which all participants enjoy) does require that level of buy-in.

However, a lot of the point behind 'transactional analysis' is acknowledging that human interaction exhibits game-like behaviour and that not all of this is going on at the conscious level. There are formal rules, but the players may not always know them or want to play along with them.

In fact, there's a lot to be said for viewing the "games" in TA theory as RPG-style conflicts with stakes and everything.

And roleplaying with a group of friends is a game at the TA level; the stakes usually involve internal self-validation, exchanging units of mutual 'stroking' (respect, attention etc.). It's when this game becomes more important than the roleplaying game that we're ostensibly there to play, that we end up in Geek Social Fallacy territory.

I don't think any of this directly contradicts Fred's point that 'roleplaying game' isn't equal to 'TA game' - but I think that one of the consequences of Lumpley Principle is that you have to accept all these social interactions as part of the system, which means that TA games are necessarily a part of (just a part, mind you) of the system. They just tend to be the bits that don't end up in the rulebook.

Putting this back in the context on Tony's Rant - there is a whole level of strategy going on in any roleplaying game, which is completely above and beyond what we normally consider to be the resolution mechanics for a game.

But (and this is a question for Tony, as it's his Rant) - how is any of this different from saying that 'roleplaying' and 'gaming' are both part of the shared activity known as the 'roleplaying games session' (because it's not a roleplaying game unless you are playing it) and that any analysis which only considers them in separation is doomed to miss the point?

In other words, Tony says 'wave-particle duality'; I say Lumpley Principle. What's the difference?

PS I think I'm starting to Rant a bit myself.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 06:38:06 AM
I would be willing to accept the position, that:

interpersonal games + one or more roleplaying games =A System


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 07:51:11 AM
Doug, I think that the theory of Roleplay/Game Duality and the Lumpley principle are probably two different ways of looking at the same underlying reality.  I suspect that each will have circumstances in which it is the more easily applicable model than the other.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: C. Edwards on April 07, 2005, 09:34:21 AM
If you look at Social Contract + Lumpley Principle + Creative Agenda it seems to me that any question of a Roleplay/Game Duality goes out the window.

I was going to go on about our natural tendency to break complex phenomena up into overy simple and often non-functional pieces. Instead I'm just going to point at the Big Model like some sad fanboy and say "It's all integrated, yet brilliantly categorized, for your viewing pleasure."

-Chris


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 09:42:36 AM
Under that system, wouldn't narrative description, rolling dice, consulting tables, assigning resources, etc. fall under the category of techniques?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: C. Edwards on April 07, 2005, 09:56:07 AM
If you mean under the Big Model, then yeah, the particulars and variations of those things fall under Techniques or Ephemera.

-Chris


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 07, 2005, 10:02:13 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Do you think that players can really remove roleplaying from (say) D&D while playing according to the rules?  Or if they ignore the imaginative elements are they just roleplaying poorly?

I believe the latter.  "I take my sword and kill the orc" is roleplaying.  Uninspired, perhaps, but still roleplaying.  Even "I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage" is roleplaying.  Yet more inspired, but still roleplaying (as well as, of course, gaming).

As I see it, you're just trying to slice the cake up differently so that all role-playing gaming falls into one big, undifferentiated lump.  But surely there's a break here -- i.e. If I'm playing a Tunnels & Trolls solo dungeon, or a Dungeons & Dragons computer game, am I still role-playing?  I suspect you'll say no.  But then you're left with saying that playing out a T&T dungeon mechanically is a totally different activity than playing out a T&T solo dungeon.  If we take three cases:

1) T&T solo dungeon
2) T&T dungeon played mechanically
3) Freeform LARP focused on relationships

Your approach is to say the #2 is really the same activity as #3, and different than #1.  i.e. In #2, they're really role-playing, but doing so poorly.  I think it is doing a disservice to #2.  The only reason they're doing it "poorly" is because you've defined their activity to have a different standard.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 11:07:30 AM
Well, actually, John I don't really know the limits of "What is an RPG?"  So I have no idea how to categorize those three.  They might all be RPGs.  I'm still trying to figure it out.

For those who are pointing me to the Big Model and Lumpley... yeah, you're right.  This isn't saying anything that isn't said there.  It's saying it in a slightly different way.

Why do I bother?  Well it's a rant after all.  I'm just sick of having people who profess to understand the Big Model in its entirety coming up to me and saying nonsensical things like "Well, I play freeform, so of course we don't have a game system, we just have roleplaying."


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Lee Short on April 07, 2005, 11:56:11 AM
I'm with John here.  This is all one big quibble over definitions.  To make any sense of this, we need formal defintions of 'roleplaying' and 'game' (or perhaps devise more formal jargon for these terms as they apply to RPGs).  

The definition of 'game' that Tony is using seems to make every activity ever undertaken in to a game.  Going to the store with your girlfriend and buying milk is game.   Anything at all is a game.  Ditto the definition of 'roleplaying.'  These seem to me  as definitions that are less than functional for our purposes.  But they certainly make it easy to say that 'roleplaying' and 'game' are really just two different words for the same activity.  

OK,that's a caricature.  But I do think that the very loose definitions being used here are responsible for the slipperiness of the conversation, and Tony and Fred are talking past each other.  

What Fred was trying to say in the original thread was that there are often times in RPGs when he stops thinking about the SIS and completely focuses on the game mechanics.  And vice versa.  

I fail to see how this conflicts with the Lumpley Principle.  So I don't see how the Lumpley Principle supports your point at all, Tony.  Care to explain?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 12:10:12 PM
I'm sorry, Lee... what's the question?  I honestly can't parse what you want me to explain.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 12:18:00 PM
Quote from: John Kim
Your approach is to say the #2 is really the same activity as #3, and different than #1.  i.e. In #2, they're really role-playing, but doing so poorly.  I think it is doing a disservice to #2.  The only reason they're doing it "poorly" is because you've defined their activity to have a different standard.

Wait a second, John, I may have belatedly understood some of your post in my own terms.

Are you saying that it is unfair to say that in #2 (playing T&T with mechanics only) they are doing a poor job at the overall activity of playing a roleplaying game?  Because I agree with that.

But seen through a model of RPGs that says that creative input comes first and the rules and mechanics are in support of that, the group is playing poorly (in large part because their system permits them to enjoy the game without more than a minimal creative input).  Do you agree with that?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Lee Short on April 07, 2005, 12:34:51 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
I'm sorry, Lee... what's the question?  I honestly can't parse what you want me to explain.


No problem.  

What Fred was trying to say in the original thread was that there are often times in RPGs when he stops thinking about the SIS and completely focuses on the game mechanics. And vice versa.  

It appears to me that the above claim of Fred's is precisely what you have been objecting to.   You have been claiming that Fred's claim is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what an RPG is and does.  You have invoked the Lumpley Principle in support of your claim.  

I don't see how Fred's claim (as paraphrased by me) and the Lumpley Principle are in conflict.  You seem to think that they are.  I'd like to know why.  And, in explaining why, I'd like you to refrain from using the terms 'roleplaying' or 'game' unless you define them.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 12:55:19 PM
Oh, okay.  I didn't mean to say that (although without a comprehensive review of the thread I hesitate to claim with any certainty that I didn't, in fact, mis-speak and say exactly that at some point).

I agree with Fred about the perception.  There are times when I stop thinking about roleplaying.  There are times when I stop thinking about mechanics.

What I'm saying is that's just perception.  There are no times when you stop using the mechanics, just times that you stop thinking about it.  There are no times when you stop affecting the SIS, just times that you stop thinking about it.

Does that make more sense?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 07, 2005, 04:12:00 PM
Quote from: TonyLB
Do you think that players can really remove roleplaying from (say) D&D while playing according to the rules?  Or if they ignore the imaginative elements are they just roleplaying poorly?

I believe the latter.  "I take my sword and kill the orc" is roleplaying.  Uninspired, perhaps, but still roleplaying.  Even "I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage" is roleplaying.  Yet more inspired, but still roleplaying (as well as, of course, gaming).


Quote from: Vaxalon
Yes, you can remove the roleplaying from DnD. It's called the DND miniatures game. I think I already made this point?


I think the contrast between these two post highlights the mechanical difference involved.

Because there is no removal of roleplaying from the DnD minatures game. Or from "Before I kill you, Mr Bond" card game. Or from the "Lunch money" card game. Or from any other colorful game (all of them, really).

In all of them I'm imagining how I kill those monsters, or how my evil fortress eliminates a spy, or how I pimp slap the other guy.

Rules can't magically remove roleplay from my mind.

However, what they can do is not care a jot about my imagination. When I describe how the spy dies in my fortress in "Before I kill you Mr Bond", I get nothing from it system wise (though myself and my partner both enjoy saying these things anyway...separate to the game: social feedback).

Now let's look at Tony's example.
Quote
"I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage"

Now imagine if the player followed it up with
"With 12 points of damage, blood should be gouting out of him all over himself, and obscuring his vision making it harder for him to see my next attack coming!!"
And the GM might respond "Yeah, I can see that...lets see...AH! The circumstance rules! You get +2 to hit on your next attack!" (side note: Tony, looking at that AC5, is this a 2e example? I'm talking about 3.x myself)

The circumstance rules and many other RPG rules, are asking "What's on your mind? Because we want it to be important, systematically!"

It's these rules, and the social contract agreements that drive them to apply, that blend roleplay with game, which is neither game A or B, but a new game called game C.

Even though you can stop 'thinking' about roleplay, as Tony himself admits, it doesn't mean these rules aren't still drawing on your imagination. If in the above example the guy didn't think about the imagination level, he would have missed out on that +2. The system is continually demanding you roleplay or suffer a penalty/miss out on a reward.

Roleplay games can't have roleplay 'in' them. But they can keep making that demand. They can't have roleplay 'in' them, but in a way they can hold your imagination to ransom. Pay the ransom/suffer a penalty and you can stop thinking about roleplaying. So even if the dude just mumbles "I hit, 12 damage", his imagination/roleplay is being held to ransom by the system. His roleplaying isn't just something he can do if and when he wants, it's a game resource now, and this resource is on the table now because of the system, not tucked away safely in his head. Roleplaying is out there in front of god and everyone, even if the person is being all reluctant about facing that. Roleplaying is out there because either you do it, or suffer.

~~~ speculative:

It might seem odd to look at it this way, but when the absence of your roleplaying is facilitated to have an impact, then your roleplaying by its absence or presence is always having an effect. When your roleplaying or absence there of has an effect whether you like it or not, your always roleplaying. Because even the decision not to roleplay is a roleplaying descision and has an effect.

It doesn't matter if I roleplay and get +2 for twenty rolls because of it, or sit like a rock and don't get that bonus. Either way, I've made a roleplay based decision and it's had an effect. My decision not to roleplay involved me for atleast a moment deciding at a roleplay level, to shut down roleplay in my mind. And that roleplay decision flows through the game by its mechanical effects, just like the decision to roleplay flows through too. There's no difference between the two, so even the decision to not roleplay, is enabled as roleplay by it having an effect.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 07:05:05 PM
Quote from: Noon

Rules can't magically remove roleplay from my mind.


Ah, but roleplaying isn't just in your mind!  The contents of your mind have NO impact on the DnD miniatures game.  If you express it, it's ancillary, if you don't, it might as well not exist as far as the game is concerned.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 07:31:09 PM
And if you make a game-choice due to the narrative color you're projecting onto the pieces in your imagination?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 07:35:16 PM
If you make a game choice based on narrative color, you're PROBABLY going to lose...

And it won't matter to your opponnent, because there's no shared imagined space.

In a miniatures game, the board IS the shared space.  It's a shared ACTUAL space.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 07:45:52 PM
So I'll probably lose.  Let's say I do it anyway.  Am I still playing a game with all roleplaying removed?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 07:48:43 PM
Yep.

Because the other player doesn't care.  He isn't sharing your imaginary space... and that's what makes it roleplaying.

You can ADD roleplaying to the minis game... if you start sharing that imagination... but you can play the whole game without ever sharing anything imaginary.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 07:52:42 PM
The other player doesn't care about the decision I just made, which probably gives him the game?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 07:54:47 PM
He doesn't care why.  He's just looking at what you're doing on the table.  If he's thinking about what you're thinking, he's thinking in purely strategic terms.  "What advantage is he seeking?  Is that a bluff?  Is that a feint?"

But he's not going to share those thoughts with you, surely.  Any ideas he has about what you're thinking, he's going to keep to himself, because he's playing a STRATEGY game, not a roleplaying game.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 08:04:58 PM
I don't get the distinction you're making.  Maybe I shoud give a more specific example.  It'll be rough-and-ready, because I have zero idea how D&D miniatures works.

I've got two paladins, one in red and one in blue.  I decide that the blue one is braver, but the red one is smarter.  They are attacked by a minotaur.  The blue paladin immediately counter-attacks, while the red tries to flank.

Which part of my characters actions fail to make it into the shared imaginary space?  The player across the table from me knows that one of them attacked and one of them flanked, right?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 08:10:53 PM
Both actions happen in the actual space, there on the table, not in the imaginary space.  If there is any representation in your imagination, your opponnent knows nothing of it.  You didn't SAY that the blue one is braver.  You just took the action.  The action only exists in the actual space on the table.  The representation of the actions that appears in your opponnent's mind is not based on your communication with him, but rather of what he sees on the table.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 08:24:27 PM
How is what he sees on the table not communication?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 08:43:40 PM
It's observation.  

As far as he's concerned, you're not expressing an idea, you are making a direct change in the real world.  You may, in fact, be expressing an idea (blue is brave) but he doesn't need to understand that expression to play the game.  

If you were playing chess, you wouldn't need to speak the same language in order to play... in fact, many people play without ever uttering a word.  The only thing that matters is the arrangement of the pieces on the board, both at the moment of play, and historically speaking.

That's why chess games are always recorded, just in terms of where the pieces are, from move to move.  What the players are doing, or saying, or thinking... none of that matters.  It's not part of the game.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 07, 2005, 08:45:00 PM
Well, there are a great many games which have an imaginary reality of sorts.  This is true of most wargames and miniature games, for example.  Star Fleet Battles, say, has a purely imaginary material but nevertheless is greatly concerned over the reality of how ships move, firing arcs, and so forth.  So in that case most moves in the game contribute to a picture of the imaginary reality.  It could even be the case that the player takes actions on the basis of how he imagines the situation or how his starship captain would act.  i.e. Honorably not firing on a crippled enemy ship, for example.  

I'm not sure how this disputes the role-playing vs game concepts, though.  If someone takes an action in SFB based on how his starship captain would act instead of the mechanics -- we're back to a clash (or at least potential clash) between the "game" approach and the "role-playing" approach.  I think a skillful game design can make these two often, or even primarily, congruent.  For example, in the miniatures game, if the player has goals similar to the character's goals and has similar information and intelligence, then we'll see some congruence.  

Still, I think it's useful to distinguish between type of behaviors/agendas.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 09:09:25 PM
The difference between a roleplaying game and a strategy game, ultimately, is the agenda.  Roleplaying games have creative agendas; strategy games do not.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 09:10:02 PM
Fred:  Okay... it's observation on Player B's part.  So I do something, he observes it.  Again, how is this not communication between us?

I understand that you would like to define communication and imagination as only pertaining to things that have no reflection in the game system... but given that I'm talking about how imagination and the game system are one and the same, surely you don't think I'm going to allow you to start your chain of logic from that point.  You don't get to assume your conclusion.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 07, 2005, 09:28:19 PM
Okay, let's take another tack on this...

Do you agree, that in order for there to be a roleplaying game, there needs to be a shared imaginary space?

The provisional glossary defines the shared imaginary space as "The fictional content of play as it is established among participants through role-playing interactions."

A strategy game does not have any intrinsic fictional content.  You can give it some fictional content, but that doesn't do it all by itself, because you're not establishing it among the participants.

If you DO establish fictional content between you and your opponnent, then you have transformed the game, to some extent, into a roleplaying game by doing so.  But since you don't NEED to establish any fictional content in order to play, the game itself (considered separately from any particular instance of play) is not a roleplaying game.

If ALL games are roleplaying games, then the term "roleplaying game" is meaningless, and we should start talking about games.  All games.  Checkers, World of Warcraft, Minesweeper, hockey, "Let's you and him fight", The stock market, and marriage.

Something makes roleplaying games unique, qualitatively different from strategy games, and interpersonal games, and financial games, and sports, and all the other kinds of games there are out there.  Whatever that unique thing is, if you add it to a game, then you get a roleplaying game; when you take it out, it's not a roleplaying game anymore.

To me, a good candidate for what that thing is, is the shared imagined space.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 07, 2005, 09:37:16 PM
How about let's not take another tack on it.  I'm not done with the first tack yet.  We were just getting to the point where we had a common understanding of that example, and could use it to seriously investigate where our opinions differed.

If I move my paladin on the board, and attack your minotaur, how have I not communicated to you the notion that a paladin is attacking a minotaur?

I hate to keep repeating this question.  If you'll just answer it then maybe I'll offer something more interesting.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: JMendes on April 07, 2005, 10:20:22 PM
Hey, :)

Tony, I'm very much on your side with regard to your standard rant, but I really don't see how you don't get Fred's point.

If you move your paladin on the board and attack his minotaur, all you are communicating is the notion that that paladin figure on the board is now in the position to execute the procedure outlined in rule A7.2 (or whatever) and you are going to execute it.

You did not communicate the notion that it is an imagined paladin that is bravely attacking an imagined minotaur. The paladin is not your character and the minotaur is not his character, simply because neither the paladin nor the minotaur are characters at all. They are nothing but figures on a game board.

Now, you may be imagining the brave Sir Anselmo facing down the hideous beast, but really, that's about as productive as having your knight capture an opposing chess player's rook and you imagining the brave Sir Anselmo storming into Dread Roberts' keep.

Unless you share it. And if you share it and it is accepted by the other player, then suddenly, the Lumpley principle pops into action, you get system, and you have a roleplaying game.

And now your rant applies in full. Because you're not playing DnD Miniatures anymore, your playing something larger, something that the word 'game' doesn't fully define anymore.

Suddenly, you and your opponent have discovered the photoelectric effect.

Cheers,

J.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 03:11:30 AM
Quote from: TonyLB

If I move my paladin on the board, and attack your minotaur, how have I not communicated to you the notion that a paladin is attacking a minotaur?


Yes, you have... but you haven't communicated anything fictional.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 04:02:32 AM
Well, actually, the paladin and the minotaur are fictional, as is their fight.

The paladin and the minotaur are understood imaginatively by both players because of the groundwork that they have done in learning the game.  To the extent that both players are seeing the pieces in terms of that imaginative construct, and seeing a capture as a fight, they are using the rules to structure a shared imaginary space.

Aside to JMendes:  Yeah, if you wanted to achieve that in chess you'd have to communicate outside the rules, to notify a person that these imaginary tags ("knight", "castle" and "attack") were being applied.  It's not communicated by the standard rules of chess.  Is it communicated by, say, a Lord of the Rings chess-set?  Maybe, maybe not.  Does that make sense of what I'm saying?

Now people could play a structurally identical game without projecting any of those images onto the pieces.  You could replace the miniatures with colored coins, and rename them something undescriptive, and rewrite all the rules to reflect that.  And then you would have a game where the mechanics probably would not help the players to established shared imaginary space (I say "probably" because the structure itself has certain patterns that people might perceive, even absent other cues, but that's another discussion).

But the original statement, way back on page 2, was:
Quote from: Vaxalon
Yes, you can remove the roleplaying from DnD.  It's called the DND miniatures game.  I think I already made this point?

I just don't think that DND miniatures avoids creating a shared imaginary space.  On the contrary, I suspect it's a very good example of exactly what I'm talking about:  you can look at the activity from the point of view of gaming and strategy, and you can look at the activity from the point of view of roleplaying and exploring the shared imaginary space.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 05:15:37 AM
I guess that gets down to the fundamental disagreement, then...  while there may be imaginative content in the DND miniatures game, I don't believe that sharing it is part of the game, while (if I understand your position correctly) you believe that it is.  This probably has more to do with our definitions of what a "game" is.  You seem to have a much broader definition of "game", one that could arguably include a marriage, a job, crossing the street, et multiple cetera.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 05:17:45 AM
Quote from: TonyLB

I just don't think that DND miniatures avoids creating a shared imaginary space.  On the contrary, I suspect it's a very good example of exactly what I'm talking about:  you can look at the activity from the point of view of gaming and strategy, and you can look at the activity from the point of view of roleplaying and exploring the shared imaginary space.

Does any miniatures game avoid creating an SIS? I mean, OK, I move my little men around, you move your little men around, but we're both imagining, say, the 101st Airborne clearing the Germans out of Vierville in vicious house-to-house fighting, or Imperial Space Marines cutting down the enemies of the Emperor in a deadly hail of bullets.

Indeed, in historical games at least, it's axiomatic that an important goal is that rules-strategy decisions and SIS-perspective-decision-making decisions should be more or less congruent. A common criticism of rules sets is that strategies that don't make sense from an SIS perspective (charging a 101st Airborne BAR squad up Vierville's main street in the open) might work in a game, or vice versa. This leads to vicious infighting because the SIS in question is that eminently debatable entity "the real world."


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 05:46:13 AM
I'd be hard pressed to think of a miniatures game that doesn't create an SIS.  The whole concept of minis is that they represent something.

Now that doesn't mean that it's an RPG.  As I've said, I don't have a hard definition of what an RPG is.  But it does mean that there is exploration of a shared-imaginary-space going on by way of those rules, even if the players never exchange a single word, play from separate rooms, and are carefully shielded from any information that isn't reflected on the board.

I honestly don't see how this has gotten so confusing:  If I go into a WWII game with the question in my head "What would have happened if Eisenhower gave Montgomery the go-ahead for his plan to drive to Berlin with surgical strikes?" and I play the Allies accordingly then the guy on the other side must be dealing with the question "How would the Germans respond if Allied forces drove toward Berlin with surgical strikes?"

That's why I just can't get my head around Fred's position:
Quote from: Vaxalon
[W]hile there may be imaginative content in the DND miniatures game, I don't believe that sharing it is part of the game

We've just gone around and about through dozens of posts on this.  Using the rules is sharing imagined content.  The paladin and the minotaur are imaginary.  The 101st Airborne is not actually present in the gaming room.

So if we posit that using the game-mechanics is part of the game (which I hope that we can agree to) then how can sharing imaginary content not be, when they're the same thing?

I assume you disagree with something about this syllogism:[list=1]
  • Paladins, Minotaurs and attacks are imaginary
  • Manipulating the game-mechanic introduces that imaginary content into the SIS
  • Manipulating the game-mechanic is part of the game
  • Therefore introducing imaginary content into the SIS is part of the game[/list:o]So what is it?  One of the individual points?  The logical structure as a whole?

    If you genuinely want to discuss the question of "Is crossing the street a game?" then split that to another thread.  For this thread, I'd like to see where we can get with the question of imaginative content being expressed through explicit rules-mechanics.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Lee Short on April 08, 2005, 05:49:35 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Well, actually, the paladin and the minotaur are fictional, as is their fight.


The 'paladin' and the 'minotaur' are little pieces of lead, with a very physical existence.  It is these little pieces of lead that are being referred to in the statement 'my paladin attacks your minotaur.'  Or at least in the version of that statement that Fred is talking about.  It is also possible to make that statement in the sense that you are talking about, but that in no way negates the ability to make that statement in the sense that Fred is talking about.  

Quote

The paladin and the minotaur are understood imaginatively by both players because of the groundwork that they have done in learning the game.  To the extent that both players are seeing the pieces in terms of that imaginative construct, and seeing a capture as a fight, they are using the rules to structure a shared imaginary space.


(emphasis added)
 
To the extent that both players are seeing the pieces in terms of that imaginative construct assumes your conclusions.  It is precisely the ability to look at the pieces and not see the imaginative construct that Fred is asserting.  

In fact, I quit playing those sorts of games precisely because I got to the point that I could no longer see the imaginary constructs, even when I wanted to.  

If I am sitting down to play D&D miniatures with you, and you are interpreting my paladin as an imaginary construct with a scruffy beard from forced marching and I am interpreting my paladin as a lump of lead, there is no shared imaginary space.  Now when I say 'my paladin attacks your minotaur', you may choose to look at that as a statement about your private imaginary space, but I have made a statement about lead figurines.

So 'the paladin' is at once a part of your PIS and a physical object for me.  This in no way makes it a part of any shared imaginary space.  Even if there are 3 players and 2 of them share the imaginary space, that does not make the paladin part of the SIS for the third player.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 05:53:28 AM
Wow, maybe I'm misunderstanding these games.

Do the little pieces of lead actually physically attack each other?  Do they get wounded?  If the system has morale checks, do the lead figures physically express fear?

Because if they don't (as I rather suspect they don't, unless minis have come a long way since my day) then you're still working on a shared imaginary space.  Do you disagree?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 05:56:41 AM
I disagree with 1.

The paladin miniature is actual.  You can play the game without ever thinking about it as a representation of an imaginary creature, and believe me many people do.  They're just stats and pewter or plastic, to some people.  If you and I were to play.. yeah... what you describe would probably be true... but that's not an attribute of the game, its an attribute of you and I.

I played Warhammer Fantasy Battles miniatures wargames for years... believe me, some of these people do NOT get it.  There's no imagination there at all.  Is it possible that you can't imagine playing the game, and not participating in the imaginary world that it evokes for you?

I disagree with 2.  

Manipulating the pieces does not introduce any imaginary content, because any imaginary content was there to begin with.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 05:59:17 AM
Leaving aside the whole "what is an RPG" thing (I've never really cared), let's talk about "there is no duality between roleplay and rules."

I think that many objections to this come from synecdoche: take "roleplay" here to mean "satisfying roleplay" or "play that fulfills my Creative Agenda," and you can definitely have a problem, since well-designed rules can inhibit some styles of play or CAs and badly designed ones can be even worse. Players often react to this problem by Drifting or ignoring rules, seldom by altering the content of the SIS (although I think that there are cases where game rules, particularly those of D&D, have made lasting changes to the SIS).

Most gamers come into a game with a very clear idea of what kind of imaginative engagement they want, and in my experience at least they seldom alter this, regardless of what game they're playing. This can create disjunction in the SIS -- for instance, I had an NPC try to hold a PC at gunpoint in a Skull & Bones game. A perfectly reasonable thing to do from a rules standpoint would be to just let the guy shoot you, since the chances that a pistol ball could kill you are incredibly slight for a mid-level PC, and then whup the guy's ass. But the players all balked at this as being an unacceptable contribution to the SIS.

Now, all this means is "inappropriate system for desired fictional content" or, if you like, "System Does Matter." But I suspect it's what most people mean when they talk about a difference between "roleplay" and "rules," although presumably not Vaxalon.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 06:01:19 AM
Quote from: TonyLB

Do the little pieces of lead actually physically attack each other?  Do they get wounded?  If the system has morale checks, do the lead figures physically express fear?

No, but you could argue that the system defines "attack" in a particular way. You might say that this means that we are being asked to envision "moving a piece into an adjacent square, rolling a d20 and adding our attack bonus, comparing it to the target's AC" as two imaginary characters attacking one another, or you might say that "attack" is just being used here to signify the above.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:01:30 AM
What I'm trying to do, is distill down what it is about a roleplaying game that makes it different from other kinds of games, and indeed what makes them different from other kinds of human interaction.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 06:03:47 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon

I disagree with 2.  

Manipulating the pieces does not introduce any imaginary content, because any imaginary content was there to begin with.

I don't think that's quite right -- imaginary content can be a simple statement of action like "the goblins on the hill began to pepper the advancing enemy with arrows." There was already a hill, some goblins, and an advancing enemy in the imaginary content. Saying "these guys will shoot at those guys" introduces a specific new piece of content, viz. that one unit is shooting at another.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 06:06:12 AM
Fred:  Yay!  Now we're making some progress!

You feel that there is no imaginary content, whatsoever, assigned to any rules entity.  And that when that is the case, rules manipulation is not an exercise in imaginative construction.  I'd quibble (as you've seen), but sure, fair enough.

So let's back talk about the far more common case where there clearly is imaginary content assigned to the rules entity.  Your character has a name.  His attributes have imagined counterparts ("18/00 strength... I am strong like Hercules!  Woot!")

In this situation, would you still have quibbles with part #2:  "Manipulating the game-mechanic introduces imaginary content into the SIS"?

If all I do, all session long, is slog through an off-the-rack dungeon, roll dice, and use the game mechanics to wordlessly kill orcs and take their stuff, is that contributing to the SIS or not?

James:  Right with you there.  Nicely said.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 06:07:00 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
What I'm trying to do, is distill down what it is about a roleplaying game that makes it different from other kinds of games, and indeed what makes them different from other kinds of human interaction.

Fine.  Take that to another thread.  It doesn't belong here.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 06:07:29 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
What I'm trying to do, is distill down what it is about a roleplaying game that makes it different from other kinds of games, and indeed what makes them different from other kinds of human interaction.

Well, it could be that miniatures gaming is a bit of a blind alley then -- of all the games from chess and go to pinochle and Settlers and Pac-Man, miniatures wargaming is one of the most similar to RPGs, really.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Lee Short on April 08, 2005, 06:13:30 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Wow, maybe I'm misunderstanding these games.

Do the little pieces of lead actually physically attack each other?  Do they get wounded?  If the system has morale checks, do the lead figures physically express fear?

Because if they don't (as I rather suspect they don't, unless minis have come a long way since my day) then you're still working on a shared imaginary space.  Do you disagree?


Yes, I disagree.  The miniatures rules use words like 'attack' and such to help foster the development of an SIS in the players' minds.  But they cannot force the development of an SIS in the players' minds; some players will still not have an SIS.  But those players are still going to use the word 'attack', because that's the terminology used in the rules.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:15:23 AM
Quote from: TonyLB

If all I do, all session long, is slog through an off-the-rack dungeon, roll dice, and use the game mechanics to wordlessly kill orcs and take their stuff, is that contributing to the SIS or not?


I would say no, it's not... not because there's no SIS, but because there's no contribution on your part.  You are performing, by rote, actions scripted to you by the materials you're using.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:18:33 AM
Quote from: TonyLB
Quote from: Vaxalon
What I'm trying to do, is distill down what it is about a roleplaying game that makes it different from other kinds of games, and indeed what makes them different from other kinds of human interaction.

Fine.  Take that to another thread.  It doesn't belong here.


I disagree.  I think it's entirely germaine to this discussion.  There is something that makes a roleplaying game unique among all types of games.  Whatever that thing is, will, I believe, turn out to be the factor which, when removed from a roleplaying game, causes it to cease to be a roleplaying game, and when added to another kind of game, causes it to become a roleplaying game.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:20:38 AM
Quote from: James Holloway
Quote from: Vaxalon
What I'm trying to do, is distill down what it is about a roleplaying game that makes it different from other kinds of games, and indeed what makes them different from other kinds of human interaction.

Well, it could be that miniatures gaming is a bit of a blind alley then -- of all the games from chess and go to pinochle and Settlers and Pac-Man, miniatures wargaming is one of the most similar to RPGs, really.


That's why I chose it... because it's just on the hairy edge.  You really have to push it to make it NOT be a roleplaying game... which means that it makes a good borderline.  Yes, the point would be easier to make using chess, and I may have to fall back to that position if things continue to go the way they are going, but I think there's a point to be made at this position, as well.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 06:24:36 AM
Lee:  Ah, okay, I get you.  And, given the clarification, I agree.  "Attack" can be shorthand for "Roll these dice, and if the value is X or above, take the piece off of the board and place it in this area over here," and have no connotations of conflict or bloodshed.  Wierd.  I couldn't play the game that way.  I can't even play chess that way.  My knights act out of loyalty to the crown.


Fred:  So I'm performing actions by rote?  So what?  How does that make it not a contribution?  Nobody else did it.  I did!  And the SIS changed because I did it.

I get the impression that, as James said earlier, what you really mean is "Important Contribution."  Is that right?  Or do you genuinely feel that such actions have zero impact on the SIS?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 06:24:46 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon

I disagree.  I think it's entirely germaine to this discussion.  There is something that makes a roleplaying game unique among all types of games.  Whatever that thing is, will, I believe, turn out to be the factor which, when removed from a roleplaying game, causes it to cease to be a roleplaying game, and when added to another kind of game, causes it to become a roleplaying game.

But what does it have to do with the distinction between "roleplay" and "game" within a roleplaying game?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 06:26:49 AM
James, don't engage him on this point.

Fred, you disagree.  That's fine.  Luckily, we don't have to debate it.  My thread.  My call.  Discussions of "What is an RPG?" are not on topic.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:33:19 AM
Quote from: TonyLB

I get the impression that, as James said earlier, what you really mean is "Important Contribution."  Is that right?  


You know, you're probably right... because without that distinction, the definition of what a roleplaying game is falls apart, and any game becomes a roleplaying game.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 06:35:09 AM
Okay, so we've discovered that we're talking about different things.  Cool!  Progress, progress, progress.

Do you get what I'm saying now?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 06:39:34 AM
Oh, I understand what you're saying.  I think I always have... I just don't like the implications.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 08, 2005, 07:40:25 AM
Quote from: James Holloway
Quote from: Vaxalon
I think it's entirely germaine to this discussion.  There is something that makes a roleplaying game unique among all types of games.  Whatever that thing is, will, I believe, turn out to be the factor which, when removed from a roleplaying game, causes it to cease to be a roleplaying game, and when added to another kind of game, causes it to become a roleplaying game.

But what does it have to do with the distinction between "roleplay" and "game" within a roleplaying game?

Isn't that clear?  If we can identify something which is "gaming" but not "role-playing" outside of RPGs -- and if it is something that also happens inside of RPGs -- then that thing can reasonably be described as "gaming" within the RPG that is distinct from "role-playing".  

Tony is trying to deny this by painting a portrait of role-playing which extends to, say, chess.  Thus, he claims "role-playing" and "gaming" are inseparable.  

Now, I don't agree with this -- I have a more narrow view of role-playing, but it is also a different distinction from Vaxalon.  I identify role-playing with deciding by picturing oneself in the place (or role) of a character.  For example, there are some games (like Once Upon A Time) which are storytelling or other games that create a Shared Imagined Space without being RPGs.  Now, I agree with Tony, that a purely mechanical declaration may add to the Shared Imaginary Space.  So a game like Squad Leader will also have a Shared Imaginary Space.  

That said, though, "role-playing game" is such a laden term that I hesitate to dissect it in theoretical discussion.  (i.e. Everyone identifies with "role-playing" and it is generally considered an insult for something to be "not a role-playing game".)


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 08:17:10 AM
Everyone in THIS community, anyways.

Personally, I play lots of games that aren't roleplaying games, and I have a lot of fun with them.  I don't think it's an insult... well, I suppose I would think so, if a game that I had written as a roleplaying game had been described as NOT a roleplaying game.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 08:21:29 AM
Quote from: John Kim
I have a more narrow view of role-playing, but it is also a different distinction from Vaxalon.  I identify role-playing with deciding by picturing oneself in the place (or role) of a character.


Well, the SIS was a possible distinction.  Your counterargument that there are games that clearly have an SIS that aren't roleplaying games is a convincing one, so I will abandon that distinction... it doesn't draw the border where I see it.

Identification with character is probably a better one, as long as one takes a somewhat loose interpretation of what a 'character' is, including various non-person adversaries, such as the sea in "The Old Man and the Sea."


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: James Holloway on April 08, 2005, 08:55:29 AM
Quote from: John Kim

That said, though, "role-playing game" is such a laden term that I hesitate to dissect it in theoretical discussion.  (i.e. Everyone identifies with "role-playing" and it is generally considered an insult for something to be "not a role-playing game".)

I think this is what Tony was driving at when he said that the term "roleplaying game" was a bit of an approximation for an act that was similar to but not the same as either roleplaying or games.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 09:11:35 AM
Is the nub of the issue, that my definition of "game" encompasses RPG's, whereas Tony's definition of "RPG" encompasses games?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 09:13:37 AM
I'm not sure that a site that professes to analyze roleplaying games can go very far without a working definition of what a roleplaying game IS.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 08, 2005, 09:28:48 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
I'm not sure that a site that professes to analyze roleplaying games can go very far without a working definition of what a roleplaying game IS.

I don't agree with that at all.  You can picture a wide space of games which may or may not be role-playing games.  We may disagree on exactly where the border is, but there is a central region which we all agree are role-playing games.  We can then discuss the actual issues and workings of the games in the central region.  

Where we draw the line is just semantics.  

To review a bit, I think I agree with Tony more than is clear in earlier posts.  I agree that a choice expressed as pure mechanics (which could be moving a miniature, selecting from a list of maneuvers, or such) can add to the Shared Imagined Space (SIS) and can be role-playing.  i.e. Where my character goes can be an expression of character, and I can communicate that by moving my miniature.  For example, my character might move to cover the doorway during a retreat -- risking himself to help the others get away.  That may be expressed only as the moving of a miniature and similar actions.  

At the same time, I think there are real distinctions between behaviors which people engage in within RPGs -- and people sometimes try to express these distinctions by separating the terms "role-playing" and "game".  This makes it a single-axis dichotomy, whereas I prefer, say, the Threefold Model.  But I think they're generally trying to express real differences in play style.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 09:33:03 AM
Quote from: John Kim
At the same time, I think there are real distinctions between behaviors which people engage in within RPGs -- and people sometimes try to express these distinctions by separating the terms "role-playing" and "game". This makes it a single-axis dichotomy...


No it doesn't... it's dual axis.

There are things that are games, and there are things that are not games.

THere are things that involve roleplaying, and there are things that do not.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 08, 2005, 09:48:27 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
No it doesn't... it's dual axis.

There are things that are games, and there are things that are not games.

THere are things that involve roleplaying, and there are things that do not.

Oops.  Sorry, you're right.  It still hasn't been very useful in my experience -- possibly because of the identity politics that I mentioned (i.e. people trying to use "not role-playing" or "not a game" to be dismissive of something).


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 09:59:47 AM
Gentlemen, I respectfully suggest that you take this to a separate thread with a new, clearly stated, topic.  If you think it is important commentary on the mission of the Forge as a whole then it really shouldn't be buried under seven pages of discussion of Roleplay/Game Duality, should it?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: John Kim on April 08, 2005, 10:06:04 AM
Sorry, Tony. I'm content to drop it, actually.  I don't consider such line-drawing very important.  Do you have any place you want this thread to go?  Or should we consider it closed?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 08, 2005, 10:12:53 AM
I think I've made my position pretty abundantly clear.  Not everyone agrees with it, but I think we've worked the differences down to the point where we understand that they arise from different first principles in our respective philosophies.

If nobody's got other questions about the Roleplay/Game Duality idea then I am perfectly content that I have been well and thoroughly understood, and that I have in turn gotten a chance to better understand others.  Thank you all for a stimulating conversation!


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 08, 2005, 12:07:29 PM
You're welcome.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: groundhog on April 08, 2005, 03:08:48 PM
Sorry to come in a little late. I just have to say that I don't read Tony's posts as saying that all games are roleplaying. I read them as saying that within the union of things that are both roleplaying and games, the acts of 'roleplaying' and 'playing a game' are inseperable.

With that statement I can definitely agree. I may be completely off in reading it that way, though. When  participating in an RPG, every roleplaying action intertwines with the game aspect of it. When using the game mechanics, it necessarily has an effect on the SIS and the roleplaying. Any game in which both of these things don't interact fall outside what I personally would call an RPG. Any roleplaying activity in which both of these things don't interact would fall outside RPGs as well. That leaves me, personally, with RP activities, game activities, and activities called RPGs in which the RP and the game interact in both directions.

Tony and everyone else in the thread may think that sounds crazy, but it's what seems right to me. I'm open to discussing it in a new thread if anyone else wants to do so.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 08, 2005, 11:32:32 PM
Quote from: Vaxalon
Quote from: Noon

Rules can't magically remove roleplay from my mind.


Ah, but roleplaying isn't just in your mind!  The contents of your mind have NO impact on the DnD miniatures game.  If you express it, it's ancillary, if you don't, it might as well not exist as far as the game is concerned.


Quote from: I
However, what they can do is not care a jot about my imagination. When I describe how the spy dies in my fortress in "Before I kill you Mr Bond", I get nothing from it system wise (though myself and my partner both enjoy saying these things anyway...separate to the game: social feedback).

I wrote this right after the line you quoted, then talked about it. Please read my post through again (it's on page 3) because any answer from me is pointless until that happens.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 09, 2005, 12:34:41 AM
Heya Tony,

Sorry for the late look in, but I'm not understanding your pitch (while once again, agreeing with large amounts of the foundation).

It seems to me like your talking about chemical A and chemical B being put into a beaker and electricity run through them so they bond and become chemical C. Then your saying 'LOOK, they are inseperable!!'

Well, yeah, I totally agree. C cannot be seperated out to A or B now. C has to contain both A and B.

But whats the point of saying that? It seems the main problems with the understanding of that, come from people looking at the D&D minatures game or chess. How are you going to address that by just saying they are inseperable? Instead of showing the process of how they became inseparable and the components needed during that process?

I'm wondering if you don't see them as ever having being being seperate, and thus nothing has been bonded together. I agree that chess or D&D minatures involves 'roleplay' during play. That RP always seems to be there in play. But that is in no way evidence that the roleplay wasn't derived from the bonding of two seperate components/games.

I'll just add one more shitty analogy and say that if you swap 'play' for the forward movement of a car, then the explosions in each cylinder of the car don't just happen. Forward movement only happens when fuel and air are injected and sparked. I think you may be looking at forward movement only and not what happened before movement/play began. Look at the moment before play/movement, and you see the components before they are injected into the same chamber, so to speak. This is the point where you can convince someone that that explosion just can't be fuel or air, and it has to be both and they are inseperable.

Probably.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: TonyLB on April 09, 2005, 03:20:04 AM
Quote from: Noon
I'm wondering if you don't see them as ever having being being seperate, and thus nothing has been bonded together.

Yep.  That's what I'm saying.  And I'm lovin' this question, by the way.  Very insightful.

I think I get what you're talking about: for each action in the game (before it is declared) something is contemplated within the mind of the player.  But that contemplation is different from the action itself, acting as it does upon only the abstracted model of RPG-action that the player has in their mind.  So, yes, that pre-planning can be either pure-game or pure-roleplay, if that's the model by which the player perceives the RPG at the moment.

Is that what you're saying?


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Callan S. on April 09, 2005, 04:55:19 PM
Yeah, dead on (each of us using our own wording, of course)! Yay! :)

That contemplation is the point where the two fuels are already together and are sparked. I might liken the RPG book to the cylinder and fuel/air injection system from my car analogy, while the users contemplation of that material is the spark plug igniting it into an explosion.

I'm thinking that before you contemplate them, there is no play. Contemplation creates the play. Even when your by yourself watching TV and reading the RPG, it's damn hard to look at a roleplay book and not contemplate it...thus only seeing the explosion rather than the two seperate fuels involved.

I think that basically all board games in the past have provoked the imagination by naming game pieces Knights, or having monopoly money, or whatever. I think what is key here about RPG's, is that they go both ways. The mechanical texts provoke the imagination but also the imagination is mechanically facilitated to significantly effect the mechanics of the game.

On a side note: This is sort of possible in D&D minatures. One could say "Fall back!? My Palladin would never fall back from such dogs!" and your imagination is mechanically facilitated to have an effect on play because you don't fall back (it's even gamist to do so, since you've prioritised the idea of honour as a resource not to give up). Since it's possible here, it's possible in many other board games too. But I think it's very, very much like using a wrench to bang in a nail. RPG's are hammers, board games are wrenches. And I've used too many analogies.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Vaxalon on April 09, 2005, 04:57:56 PM
Yeah, we've got a seriously deep layer of analogy buildup.


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 09, 2005, 06:43:16 PM
Hi folks,

Private discussion or new threads.

This one's closed.

Best,
Ron


Title: Tony's Standard Rant #1
Post by: TonyLB on April 10, 2005, 03:50:35 PM
EDIT:  GAH!  I thought I was in private messaging.  Sorry, sorry....