The Forge Archives

Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 08:42:22 AM



Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 08:42:22 AM
"What does role playing gaming accomplish?"

No, I'm not looking for an answer. I'm pointing out an aspect of role playing gaming that influences the public perception of the activity. In recent threads like this one (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4336) we've been talking about how gamers (and their conduct, attitude, self-image, etc.) influence this perception. But I believe the deck is stacked against a positive public image of gaming, because of the nature of the activity itself.

In the Gay/Gamer thread, (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4300) Manu pointed to games as being "decried in our society obsessed by work over leisure." There's a partial truth there, but our society accepts many obviously unproductive leisure activities, most notably TV watching, more readily than role-playing gaming.

The problem with role playing gaming is the combination of lack of an apparent or readily understandable purpose or reward with a lot of apparent effort put into the activity. That is quite simply a recipe for threatening.

Being aware of this might be helpful. Some of the things that tabletop role playing gamers emphasize in describing their play are probably counterproductive when it comes to reassuring outsiders that their hobby is healthy and safe. For instance:

- Emphasizing that there are no winners and losers. That seems to be one of the first things players want to point out. But people understand putting a lot of effort into playing games in general (including gambling), because they understand competition and wanting to win. No winners, no losers, no such comprehension.

- Emphasizing the intellectual demands of playing, whether it's the arcana of the system or the imaginative creativity involved. Attempting to dispel the concern that it's a passive time-wasting activity just makes it appear more threatening, if the rewards of playing are not understood.

- Describing everything in out-of-character terms. To avoid sounding like they were unable to tell fantasy from reality, I've seen players qualify every statement about their play: "The character I was playing found out, in the game, about a million game-dollar reward for capturing another character who was a wanted criminal, in the game of course..." The visceral rewards of play might be conveyed more clearly, if a shade less accurately, by saying "I wanted to capture a wanted criminal and get the million-dollar reward."

How many of us can explain why we play, in one sentence and in a way that a non-player can understand and empathize with? (And without dodging the question; pointing out that it's a social activity doesn't help if it doesn't explain why you choose this particular social activity.) I can't, right now, but I'm going to work on it. When players can't clearly explain why they play, others are all too willing to fill in their own invented reasons: to escape a reality they're not well-adjusted to; to satisfy antisocial urges through fantasy; to consort with demons.

So I guess I am looking for answers to the initial question after all. Not necessarily the most true answers, but ones that are at least partly true and are, above all, easy to understand.

- Walt


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: simon_hibbs on November 29, 2002, 09:01:41 AM
Quote from: wfreitag
So I guess I am looking for answers to the initial question after all. Not necessarily the most true answers, but ones that are at least partly true and are, above all, easy to understand.


I've always liked reading stories, just about everyone does. I don't think I'll ever be a serious writer, I just don't have the time or the discipline. Roleplaying games let me create my own stories and characters and explore them with my friend, without having to actualy write a novell, or even a short story. Best of all it's a collaborative process, where I'm constantly surprised by the creativity and imagination of my friends.

It's easier than writing novels or screenplays, and you're never quite sure what's going to happen.


Simon Hibbs


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Jason Lee on November 29, 2002, 09:01:52 AM
As far as I'm concerned the purpose of roleplaying is entertainment.  Sure it can be a creative outlet, a security blanket, a cathartic therapy, a rebellion against your parents, or any number of other things a person might invest in it.  I don't think it's there to accomplish anything extra the individual doesn't tack onto it (I know I started playing to have fun).

This may be kind of a cop out answer, but people roleplay for a lot of reasons.  Going into to much detail past "it's fun" is going to be attaching your individual notions of what fun is onto your would-be recruit.  I think you'll really have to tailor your sales pitch of rolepaying to the individual (so you'd better be good at reading minds), or stop at "Because it's fun, and everybody's doing it!" and let them figure out what's good about it for them.

Just my 20.3 pesos.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on November 29, 2002, 09:15:27 AM
I play because its my hobby and I enjoy it. If i'm not enjoying it, I quit playing.

But here's another question related to this, what makes other hobbies worth doing? Is there anything about watching any sort of sports on TV or IRL that's superior to playing RPGs? What about watching the news? Or religious programs? Or any other hobby? I'm thinking the reason to do other hobbies might also apply to RPGs, since it is a hobby like any other (unless it's a career ;).

So for me, playing RPGs accomplishes in creating enjoyment, and I would dare guess that this is true of most if not all gamers.
And I think exactly why it creates enjoyment varies too much from person to person to nail down to anything specific. For some the reason may be deeply personal, others it could just be what they were supposed to enjoy given certain social elements.
One specific thing about RPGs that I find enjoyable is the imagining. I'm a daydreamer all the way, and RPGs for me provide a focus and damn good excuse to daydream ;)


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: jrients on November 29, 2002, 09:18:21 AM
Quote from: wfreitag
"What does role playing gaming accomplish?"


Here's one attempt at an answer.

Roleplaying reconnects us with our ancient need to sit in a circle and tell stories.  More and more, our culture surrenders our storytelling to an elite who deliver stories to us via TV/movies.  For most of humanity's history storytelling was an active endeavor, today it has become passive.

Please understand that I am not saying anything here vis-a-vis Storytelling as envisioned by White Wolf et al., or Narrativism/Nemism/whatever.  For my purposes here, the game table story that ends "and then he fumbled AGAIN, killing the other henchman!" is just as valid as the epic retelling of a narrativistic chronicle.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 10:00:11 AM
Good tries so far. But none of these will help convince a parent of a teenager that the real reason for his going off with his friends to play D&D for ten hours a week isn't summoning demons.

Simon and jrients, your answers are the closest. Creative expression is a respected and understandable motivator of effort. Unfortunately, unlike, say, gardening, cooking, painting, or writing poetry, the creative product of role playing gaming is intangible from the outside.

Cruciel, I'm not talking about explaining for the purposes of recruiting. I'm talking about explaining for the purpose of justifying the effort expended, to a parent or a school principal or a skeptical public. In an ideal world such justification shouldn't be required; the fact that I find something enjoyable (and that it does no harm) should be sufficient reason for others to accept my doing it. But we live in a judgmental society. We can either accept others' judgment by default, or try to influence that judgment (which is what I mean by justifying).

Thoth, there's nothing about watching sports on TV or watching the news that's superior to RPGs. But there are big differences: doing those things requires almost no effort, and there are rewards for doing so that are obvious to most people. (And some that aren't. Testosterone levels increase in sports fans when their home team wins.) Non-effort put into non-productive but obviously rewarding activites isn't threatening. Effort put into apparently non-productive activities whose rewards aren't obvious is threatening.

Other hobbies require more effort, but most of them also have obvious goals and rewards. They might not be the real core reason why the person does it, but they're enough to satisfy the onlookers. People who have no desire to collect stamps "understand" the appeal of collecting stamps because they can increase in value (even though that's probably not the main motivator for most collectors). People who have no desire to do counted cross-stitch "understand" counted cross stitch because they assume that the craftsperson finds the cushions or other knickknacks produced to be of value (even though that's probably not the main motivator for most counted-cross-stitchers).

The real reason bird watchers watch birds might be individual and/or impossible to articulate, but the bird watching organizations trumpet the benefits to ecological studies, the healthy fresh-air outdoorsiness, and the competitive aspect of trying to lengthen one's lifetime birds-spotted list. And if I were engaging in a hobby that required me to travel around the world and lurk in coastal areas with high-powered binoculars, I'd emphasize the reasons that were easiest to explain too. Otherwise, all that travel and observation and effort might appear suspicious or even threatening.

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 29, 2002, 11:11:59 AM
Are you suggesting, Walt, that there is no good answer? Or do you have one, and are just not sharing yet? People are giveing their honest answers. Ar you suggesting we be dishonest?

Tell people you make a lot of money playing RPGs. That always makes an activity come off as a winner. :-)

Mike


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Ziriel on November 29, 2002, 11:36:34 AM
I feel I need to respond on this...and although my response might sound like a flame I am not intending it that way.  

I think there may be more than one question being asked here.  The original question, as I understood it, was: "What does role playing gaming accomplish?"   I read that as, what does it do for you? what do you get out of it?, etc.

Somewhere in here the question seems to have changed to something else entirely:  
Quote
Good tries so far. But none of these will help convince a parent of a teenager that the real reason for his going off with his friends to play D&D for ten hours a week isn't summoning demons.

This question seems to be more of, how do you justify or sell roleplaying?

Just my take.  I'd love to see what people's responses are to either question.

-Ziriel


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: jrients on November 29, 2002, 12:06:05 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
Good tries so far. But none of these will help convince a parent of a teenager that the real reason for his going off with his friends to play D&D for ten hours a week isn't summoning demons.


Sometimes I think we worry about the parents and the 700 Club a little too much.  On the macro scale, maybe I want some folks nervous.  I occasionally regret that we have lost the rebellious, dangerous edge we had in the BADD old days.  Its like rock-n-roll, dig?  The harder the squares decried it, the cooler it became.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on November 29, 2002, 12:48:55 PM
Why play roleplaying games? You might as well ask why read a book or why watch a movie? We do these things to experience things, places and people we might never get a chance to. However, the difference is that it is your story you are experiencing in a roleplaying game. You are not passively sitting back watching it happen. You are an active participant in the events. So better questions might be why climb a mountain of why visit a foreign country or why sail across an ocean?



Quote from: Mike Holmes
Tell people you make a lot of money playing RPGs. That always makes an activity come off as a winner. :-)

That would be funny if it weren't true. Look at comic books. They would still be kiddie fodder if some guy hadn't saved Action Comics #1 and it sold for several hundred dollars or however much it went for. I think I addressed this in another thread about how showing to the world at large that there is money-making potnetial in RPGs, they will pay attention. Perhaps not too much attention, but some, which is more than none. And it will be positive attention. Instead of "oh that will rot your brain" or "oh isn't that that satanic game?" it will be "oh that will be worth something someday."


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Le Joueur on November 29, 2002, 12:49:48 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
How many of us can explain why we play, in one sentence and in a way that a non-player can understand and empathize with?

"Remember the last 'really cool' movie you saw?  Wouldn't it be neat to be that main character?  Gaming's like Final Fantasy IX, only better; you can do anything you want."

Nope, three sentences, can't do it.  I'd argue that nobody can describe anything to the 'unexposed' in only one sentence.

Fang Langford


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 12:55:01 PM
I'm not convinced there's no good answer, but I don't have one. And even if I did, I don't see any way to get players or game publishers to use it.

The honest answers aren't very helpful. Especially "I do it because it's fun" or "because it's my hobby." The question "Why...?" is a hostile one and a defensive non-answer is understandable, but counterproductive.

I'm thinking more along the lines of easily understood partial truths. "It's exciting, it's like being in a movie, I can't wait to find out what happens next." Sounds superficial, even juvenile, but at least most people can understand the appeal of being caught up in an exciting story. It's invoking an easy-to-understand attraction to front for a harder-to-understand one, like a guy pretending he's fascianted by the Victoria's Secret catalog because he likes ogling the near-naked models, when he's really fantasizing about wearing the lingerie himself.

I'd have no moral qualms about being dishonest, if I thought it would work:

MOM: What did you do at Mark's house all afternoon?

LITTLE TIMMY: I played a game called Dungeons and Dragons.

MOM: Oh really? Who won?

LITTLE TIMMY (option 1): Well, no one really wins in D&D. It's more like we're all cooperating to act out a story by playing the roles of characters in a fantasy world. But I do get experience points for killing monsters and stuff. When we play again next week I'll probably get enough to go up another level. That's cool because my character gets stronger and tougher. During the week I'll be using this book to plan out what new skills I should choose.

LITTLE TIMMY (option 2): Ralph did. But I'm going to practice all week with this book and next week I'll kick his butt.

It's pretty clear to me which of Timmy's options would be more likely to lead to next week's game actually happening. But that boat sailed for RPGs decades ago. The hypothetical Moms who don't already know (or think they know) all about role playing games are few and far between.

One more thing. There may be some possibility, and some possible benefit, for an RPG industry image-building effort along the lines of those "Oil Executives United Against Fatal Bus Plunges" type PR organizations. Back in the 80s a group of physicians took a bold public stance against nuclear war by pointing out the terrible medical consequences it would have. Despite the fact that they had no particular geopolitical insight, and the fact that one hardly needs an MD to figure out that being near exploding nuclear devices can be harmful to one's health, they garnered a lot of press and the organizers won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Now, I'm always willing to take a bold stand on a controversial issue, so I'll state right now in public that I think Illiteracy Is Bad. So perhaps role-playing gamers and publishers should organize to do something to reduce it. I doubt it's a viable idea. (I said I didn't have any good answers.) But might such things be worth thinking about? If pride is an issue, helping others is a great way to build it.

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Paul Czege on November 29, 2002, 01:17:24 PM
Hey Walt,

Good tries so far. But none of these will help convince a parent of a teenager that the real reason for his going off with his friends to play D&D for ten hours a week isn't summoning demons....Creative expression is a respected and understandable motivator of effort. Unfortunately, unlike, say, gardening, cooking, painting, or writing poetry, the creative product of role playing gaming is intangible from the outside.

I guess I can't keep myself from arguing against the premises that inform your inquiry:

1) That people don't recognize that socializing for the purpose of being entertained is an acceptable way of spending time. Anyone who's ever played euchre, Rummikub, Boggle, Yahtzee, or a zillion other games certainly doesn't have a problem with formalized entertainment activities that facilitate interesting socialization.

2) That the only perceived value of a given creative activity is linked to the output product. A few years ago I realized just how much, in terms of tangible skills, I've learned from my role-playing experiences...skills that have translated to my job: expertise at strategizing as a group and working as a team, compromising, controlling the direction of a conversation, creating enthusiasm in others, etc. None of those things are the purpose of play, or the creative product of play. They are the rewards of the process.

Paul


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on November 29, 2002, 01:19:49 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
I'm not convinced there's no good answer, but I don't have one. And even if I did, I don't see any way to get players or game publishers to use it.

The honest answers aren't very helpful. Especially "I do it because it's fun" or "because it's my hobby." The question "Why...?" is a hostile one and a defensive non-answer is understandable, but counterproductive.


Except they're neither non-answers, nor counter-productive. They're honest, pure, true answers. And just about the only real answer to "Why...?" IMO.

What they are not, is excuses. They are not attempts to validate and justify. Nor are they attempts to sell gaming to someone else, which I also view is your goal. Now if that is the case the question should instead be "How do you effectively sell  a game..." for purpose of bringing in new people or explaining (or excusing) to non-gamers.

Quote from: wfreitag
I'd have no moral qualms about being dishonest, if I thought it would work:


One more thing. There may be some possibility, and some possible benefit, for an RPG industry image-building effort along the lines of those "Oil Executives United Against Fatal Bus Plunges" type PR organizations. Back in the 80s a group of physicians took a bold public stance against nuclear war by pointing out the terrible medical consequences it would have. Despite the fact that they had no particular geopolitical insight, and the fact that one hardly needs an MD to figure out that being near exploding nuclear devices can be harmful to one's health, they garnered a lot of press and the organizers won the Nobel Peace Prize.


Here's a PR idea:
Role-Players for Cute and Fuzzy Kittens.

Have posters of various RPG book covers, and gamers, along side cute and fuzzy kittens. Eventually people will associate RPGs with cute and fuzzy kittens, and cute and fuzzy kittens with RPGs. Cute and fuzzy kittens can't be wrong or satanic. It's a winner! ;)


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 01:47:17 PM
I cross-posted with a buncha people so a few more comments.

Ziriel, you're correct. The issue is public perception and justifying role playing. The question "what does role-playing gaming accomplish?" is imagined as being asked by a non role player. My apologies if I didn't make that clear from the start.

People's real personal goals and rewards from role playing are not my concern.

Jrients, it's not the the 700 club I'm worrying about, though I can see that it might appear that way from the examples I used. It's public perception in general. For every one who thinks role players are learning witchcraft, there are probably a thousand who have a vaguely negative opinion of RPGs because they don't really see how they can be, in and of themselves, appealing to participants to an extent that justifies the effort.

Jack, good point about the money issue. And thanks for mentioning climbing mountains. I was looking for other examples of hobbies that had a similar combination of high required effort and deep but difficult-to-perceive (from outside) appeal for the participants. It would be interesting to examine how mountain climbing is regarded by the public -- I think there's a lot of negative perception there too (look at how the media reacted to the Everest disaster of 96 with venomous scorn for the 'wasteful' loss of life) except when it's a first ascent that can be easily justified on the basis of a presumed competition to be first.

Fang, point taken about the one-sentence requirement. But a quibble: perhaps nothing can be truly and accurately described, but many things can be justified. Consider how many different unappealing-sounding activities one could garner the approval (or at least the understanding) of others for putting enormous effort into, using just these few all-purpose justificiations:

- I'm doing it to win a bet.
- It's a great way to meet guys/girls.
- It might sound kinky, but it's what gets me off.
- It's a living.
- I just go along because my wife/kids love it.
- I woke up one morning and realized it was what God meant for me to do.

Too bad most don't work so well for RPGs.

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 29, 2002, 02:38:16 PM
Hi Paul,

Well, I don't agree with either of those premises so I don't see how they could be informing my inquiry.

Those zillion other games require (relative to RPGs) very little effort to play, and they have the easy to understand intrinsic appeal of straightforward competition. The image problem I've described occurs when people see a large amount of effort expended (whether individually, or by a social group) in an activity that they don't perceive the appeal of.

The perceived value of a creative activity can be anything, but it has to be perceived to be seen by others as of value. Some things, like a painting, are a lot easier to perceive than other things, like the gained ability to better control the direction of a conversation. That perception can be strongly influenced by, for example, whether or not you tell people about the value the activity has had for you.

Hi thoth,

Again, my point is about public perception. I realize that many don't care in the slightest about public perception of their activities. But enough appear to feel otherwise to have sustained several recent threads about the public image of gamers.

If someone asks you why you role-play, and you don't care about how the person asking the question feels or will feel about you, then it doesn't matter what you answer. You can tell them to fuck off, or say "because," or say "because I feel like it," or babble in tongues, or ignore them entirely. But if you do care about their perception of you, then "because it's fun" is not a helpful answer. It provides no more information or insight than "because I feel like it." It's honest because it's vacuous. "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" "Because it's there." In other words, "You couldn't understand, so fuck off."

No one is ever required to justify anything. You can abide by others' default judgment if you're willing to accept that judgment or if you don't care about it. Refusing on principle to justify what you do is fine, but don't then complain about not having the public image you wish to have.

There are many recent threads about how to effectively sell a game (or gaming in general) to new people. That's not my concern here.

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: JMendes on November 29, 2002, 02:53:56 PM
Hey, all, :)

I wanted to jump into this thread, and this seemed like as good a place as any.

Quote from: Paul Czege
[...] people [...] recognize that socializing for the purpose of being entertained is an acceptable way of spending time. Anyone who's ever played euchre, Rummikub, Boggle, Yahtzee, or a zillion other games certainly doesn't have a problem with formalized entertainment activities that facilitate interesting socialization.


The problem is not so much the acceptability of being entertained but the high amount of effort that goes into it. What would our opinion of those games be if in order to play them we had to carve out the pieces anew in play dough each time? Moreover, suppose the game always tied. Would you still play under those two conditions?

Quote
[...] the only perceived value of a given creative activity is [not] linked to the output product. A few years ago I realized just how much, in terms of tangible skills, I've learned from my role-playing experiences...skills that have translated to my job: expertise at strategizing as a group and working as a team, compromising, controlling the direction of a conversation, creating enthusiasm in others, etc. None of those things are the purpose of play, or the creative product of play. They are the rewards of the process.


This one sounds better but has anyone here ever told anyone that this is the reason they play RPGs? Sure, I've listed these as benefits but never as reasons. If they were listed as reasons, they might even loose the credibility they have as benefits. Can you imagine the aforementioned little Timmy telling his mom he plays D&D in order to learn to strategize better?

Anyway, Walt, to add my answer, what I do to justify RPGs is to say, 'oh, it's like those books where you choose your own adventure, only better, because you are not limited to the two or three options the book designer thought of'.

Cheers,

J.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Ziriel on November 29, 2002, 03:23:31 PM
I myself do my best to avoid having to justify roleplaying to others.   Justifying something, at least to me, sounds far to defensive.  And really, why bother getting defensive if you are not doing anything wrong.  I realize that this iz hardly the point of the discussion at hand, but I felt that it was worth mentioning.  My intention iz not to quibble about verbage so I apologize if it sounds that way.

I prefer to explain the process of roleplaying to people when they don't know what it iz or have false preconceptions about it.  Examples of play and discription of past stories may even intrigue them.  True, this takes much more than a sentence.  In fact it may take quite awhile, but I find it worthwhile.  We are masters of telling stories after all, are we not?  :)

I agree with the comment on discribing it like a choose your own adventure book.  It's a good place to start.  Most people can identify with the analogy and have good feelings when they recall their experiences with such books and similar things.

One other random thought...   If we are feeling the need to justify roleplaying to someone rather than simply brushing them off, as previously mentioned, does it really matter how concise we are?  If you care enough about what the person thinks in order to justify it, why not take a little time?

Am I making any amount of sense at all, or have I missed what you are driving at entirely, Walt?

- Ziriel


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on November 29, 2002, 03:25:48 PM
Here's an idea...sorry if this isn't closely related..but maybe it is.

Has anyone considered writing up a small, simplistic non-gamers RPG? Then make it freely available for anyone to download and print out. Then ask people to print out a bunch of copies to distribute around their town, putting them in grocery stores, etc.

With the whole point being to try to introduce new people to RPGs, and state exactly what RPGs are and are not.

Basically something of a pamphlet PR campaign to at least try to educate people, and maybe expand the player base :)


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on November 29, 2002, 03:54:37 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
Jack, good point about the money issue. And thanks for mentioning climbing mountains. I was looking for other examples of hobbies that had a similar combination of high required effort and deep but difficult-to-perceive (from outside) appeal for the participants. It would be interesting to examine how mountain climbing is regarded by the public -- I think there's a lot of negative perception there too (look at how the media reacted to the Everest disaster of 96 with venomous scorn for the 'wasteful' loss of life) except when it's a first ascent that can be easily justified on the basis of a presumed competition to be first.

Hey, Walt

I don't think there's that much negative view of mountain climbing, not quite the way you seem to perceive. They may not quite understand it nor especially want it for themself, but they do get it in terms of getting back to nature, overcoming a large obsticle, etc. I suppose mountain climbing has had to fall back on "because it's there" as a reason for centuries, but it has been centuries which may be why it's gained a certain amount of acceptance.

I think your reading things wrong. I doubt that there any competition involved in people's perception of mountain climbing. Not anymore, anyway. Unless it's some kind of contest like that Bugs Bunny cartoon, most mountain climbing they hear about is people doing it,...well, becaus it's there. Like these millionaire buying tickets to be space tourists.

I didn't read any of the media about that Everest disaster you'd mentioned but, and this is in spite of what I know about the media, I'm sure they meant wasteful in the sense that it was a shame for them to die when they still had their whole life ahead of them kind of crap, possibly something about how ill-porepared they were if that was the case, not so much that mountain climbing is a wasteful thing to do with your time, like doing drugs, for instance.


Title: According to the Biographer
Post by: Le Joueur on November 29, 2002, 04:15:13 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
"Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" "Because it's there." In other words, "You couldn't understand, so fuck off."

Just for full disclosure, according to the biographer, he said, "Because it was there," after a long day of interviews and being ambushed by reporters who each wanted their own unique answer (you know how reporters are).  Really if I had to come up with forty or fifty different 'reasons why I game,' I'd get to "Because it was there" sooner or later.

What was unsatisfactory with the answer I gave (if you'll take three sentences)?  I mean, I just don't get the problem.  Your responses are all over the map; you pick apart every answer (except mine) on different grounds.  It seems like a moving argument (too specific, too vague, too defensive...).

Are we talking about a case of 'disgruntledness?'  Is there some other problem that here, so that nothing we could provide will be a satisfactory answer?

Are we even looking for an answer any more?  Or is it for the hypothetical 'they' who are defined as 'never being satisfied?'

Fang Langford


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Price Check on November 29, 2002, 05:43:51 PM
Stranger: "Why do you play RPGs?"

Gamer: "Because its a challenge."

Stranger: *probably suprised* "How so?"

Gamer: (Description of gaming to interested listener)

Reasons i would give,
"You have to think tactically about a massive number of details"
"It is difficult to play a role based on constantly changing stimulus"
"There is alot of investigation, mysteries, and problem solving involved"

Having fun is one thing, it is fun to be tickled but you dont do that for 4-6 hours straight. I think the challenge is why I game. I think something being challenging is an understandable reason to be involved in it. Some people devote their lives to various challenging persuits.


Title: Why play RPG's
Post by: RobMuadib on November 29, 2002, 06:16:35 PM
Walt

I think Fang's "What Would You Do?" avatar answer to why play RPG's is
a great answer in general, all of the other aspects are personal, largely
intangible and not particularly obvious, thus of little use for justifying the
activity to a culture/society. That is, they are good answers to
individuals,but not to the culture in general. I like Fang's answer in
particular because it relates it to an already understood, accepted, and
well recieved entertainment in the form of movies or books, etc. Another
reason I like it is because it speaks to the single most defining aspect of
RPG's, acting in the role of a character in an imagined milieu.

One thing that occured to me when thinking about this answer was my
starting to play Magic again. One thing I noticed that has helped Magic
appeal to people is the fact that wizards supports a professional player
league. Specifically, Magic is competitive, and if you are really good, you
can win money doing it. It supports itself to a be like Finkel/Kai argument.
It also has a active community always discussing these competitive
aspects and the decks and strategies used by the professional players. So
challenge is a great aspect for Magic. Now, the fantasy wizard, cool
pictures of monsters is actually only color to it, of secondary importance.

Which makes me think of RPG in contrast, challenge is not particularly
emphasized in all RPG's, nor is storytelling, however, playing a role and
taking part in an imaginative milieu is, thus is probably the best "answer"
aspect to stress.

Oh, to be cynical, we just need to spend money on a national
advertising campaign showing gamer dudes having lots of great looking
chicks hanging out around them, interested in them because of what they
are doing. It doesn't matter that it doesn't happen in real life, I mean hey
it works for most everything.

Just think, you could have a cool "promotional" video commercial of
gamer dudes, who are strangely good/cool looking, hanging out playing
with great looking chicks sitting around admiring them, with "Lose
Yourself" by Eminem playing, having them rolling and talking, and flashing
to cool animated scenes of cool fighting and flashy special effects images,
and like having cuts to the women admiring the guys for their oh so cool
imaginative investment. And boom, gaming is cool:) Too bad we don't
have the cash to promote our hobby/industry like say Sony does the PS2


So, I guess I'll throw the ball back to your court and ask you to expand
on your point with your idea.

Oh, as to literacy, I guess that has already been coopted by lots of
groups, most notably a certain young religion founded by a SF writer,
which happens to be much more invested in selling it's particular books to
people and getting people to join their cause. So much so, I won't even
mention them by name, and should anyone happen to be a member of
this religion, please don't be offended or report me to the religion's
organizational hierarchy, as it is just something I saw on some Biography
channel show, so like sue them. :)

HTH

(Signature witheld on the advice of legal counsel:) )


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: M. J. Young on November 29, 2002, 11:43:07 PM
Quote from: Walt a.k.a wfreitag
How many of us can explain why we play, in one sentence and in a way that a non-player can understand and empathize with? (And without dodging the question; pointing out that it's a social activity doesn't help if it doesn't explain why you choose this particular social activity.)

In Total Recall, there's this really clever sci-fi idea about having memories of a great vacation planted in your mind. After all, there are many wonderfully fun things you can do, some of them adventurous, some relaxing, but in the end all you have is the memories. Before you go on vacation, you're hoping that you will have a certain kind of experience--but it's not guaranteed. This process will give you real memories of an experience that never happened, just as vivid as if it had.

Watching a movie is like that, sometimes. You can get the feeling of being there, capture the images and sounds, and so have memories of things that never happened. Sometimes you can get those same vivid memories from reading a book, if it's well written and you're truly absorbed in it.


When I explain what I like about role playing games, I usually come to this.  (In fact, I hit exactly this point in Game Ideas Unlimited: Vivid last year.) I have memories of some of my game adventures which are just as vivid in my mind as real moments in my life. I've visited alien landscapes and met the people; fought against monsters and lived to tell the tale. The places I've been and the things I've done even Rockefeller couldn't have managed. And I remember them.

There is here this balance. Like the book or movie, I am completely safe while I do this. The blizzard won't freeze me, a wrong step on the mountain won't see me plunge to the rocks below, the dragon won't devour me. But like reality, it is the adventure I choose, the memories I create, things which happened to me. Some people dream of flying; I remember doing it.

That's not the only reason. I enjoy role playing games because they seem to have many things happening on many levels, from character development and interaction to tactical reasoning to moral dilemma, often on the same night of play, sometimes in the same moments. It is challenging to be involved in such a situation. It's like being James Bond or King Arthur or Gandalf, but doing so safely in your own living room.

Quote from: Walt later
MOM: What did you do at Mark's house all afternoon?

LITTLE TIMMY: I played a game called Dungeons and Dragons.

MOM: Oh really? Who won?


LITTLE TIMMY (option 3): We did.

I don't see that as incorrect or even misleading.

But yeah Role Players Against Illiteracy is a good idea. It not only sounds good, we can find good arguments why we want people to be able to read.

And I have to agree with Paul that I've learned a lot from role playing, and developed quite a few skills.  Before I ever heard of role playing games (back in college and immediately thereafter) I started several novels, each of which petered out to nothing. Now, after all I've learned from games, I've got one about to go to press (I'm told it's packaged, and will probably reach the printer on Monday). So I learned something.

And maybe if someday one of my books winds up a blockbuster picture (yeah, I know, wishful thinking) I'll say in some interview, "I'd really like to thank Gary Gygax, since so much of what I learned came from playing Dungeons & Dragons, one of the best practical tools for enhancing creativity I've found."

I've received letters (usually thanking me for my defense of gaming, Confessions of a Dungeons & Dragons Addict) from people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and mild autism who pushed themselves to overcome those problems not because they wanted to graduate in the top of their class, but because they enjoyed playing these games and wanted to learn them and play them more--with the result that they did improve academically, sometimes indeed graduating in the top of their class. Paul Cardwell (CARPGa chairman) is strongly touting the values of role playing games in education, and has managed to convince a number of school districts in the U.S. to try them.

I still wonder whether any of the Hollywood golden boys of the seventies and eighties were role players; after all, in E.T. the kids were playing D&D, so obviously Speilberg, at least, had some understanding of the game. I guess if they did learn from those games, they aren't telling anyone.

Quote from: Amos Barrows a.k.a. Thoth
Has anyone considered writing up a small, simplistic non-gamers RPG? Then make it freely available for anyone to download and print out. Then ask people to print out a bunch of copies to distribute around their town, putting them in grocery stores, etc.

Yes. We've got such a game in the draft stages; we're trying to present a complete and functional role playing game system for use by non-gamers, in about the same length rules as a Monopoly game. It will be made available for download, will use cards as resolution mechanics, and will be packaged for sale in some form with rules and standard cards (and an interesting card game we've got that's good but not really marketable as such) for an easy price. Everything will be done to get this into people's hands. But I think it's been done before; I remember reading bits of an old history of role playing (something written in the 80's) which contained a very simple game anyone could learn and play in a few minutes. I guess it's just not easy to distribute a free game to people who don't know they would be interested.

--M. J. Young
 Who can't say "someone take out the dog" in one sentence.


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: damion on November 30, 2002, 10:28:25 AM
What exactly are we trying to accomplish here?
1)expand the player base?
I'm not sure this is all that possible. I think there are certian personality traits that gaming appeals to, and these arn't that common in the population at large.

2)Make gaming a more 'acceptable hobby'?
He we could just change the name to CRPG's (Collectable Role Playing Game).  People will accept ANYTHING if it's collectable, hey, it worked for Magic.  There is only a minor grain of truth in it, but anyway. Honestly, this is probably the simplest answer, but it won't really help gain players.

3)I think alot of good suggestions have been given for dealing with individuals, but I'm not sure what one could to prepare a reason for 'mass consumption'.  Can anyone else thing of a hobby that has the same situation as gaming?

How about something like 'Gaming is like historical recreationists, but requires a lot less time and money and your not limited by history.'


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Jason Lee on November 30, 2002, 10:57:55 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
But I think it's been done before; I remember reading bits of an old history of role playing (something written in the 80's) which contained a very simple game anyone could learn and play in a few minutes. I guess it's just not easy to distribute a free game to people who don't know they would be interested.


There were a number of board-style games (Dragon Strike & Dungeon are the only ones I've ever played).  These board games are exactly the same sort of thing.  I do believe some were even designed by TSR with the intention of drawing in more table top gamers...but that's at the very fringes of my memory and I can't possible know was TSR was thinking anyway.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 30, 2002, 11:40:52 AM
Damion, my interest is in #2. Expanding the player base is also an interesting topic, but that's being quite adquately discussed elsewhere. (Not that the issues can be entirely separated, but I've been trying to focus on public perception of the hobby all along.)

I was concerned because discussion in other threads seemed to be leading to a convenient but incomplete assessment of the public image of gaming, which is that that sole problem is gamers dressing up in Sailor Moon outfits, having poor personal hygiene, poor social skills, etc. leading to poor public perception of role playing gamers. I want to point out that at least some, and I believe quite a bit, of the poor public perception of role playing gamers is because they play role playing games.

And that, in turn, is largely because players, publishers, vendors, and game texts don't do a good enough job of explaining to non role players why playing role playing games is rewarding. And unlike many other hobbies, the rewards of role playing gaming are not readily apparent from outside.

Putting a lot of effort into something that has little or no reward is obsessive behavior. When the rewards of role playing are not perceived, role playing gamers appear to be obsessed with role playing. That gives them and the games a negative image.

This is my own theory. It's speculative, but I believe, plausible.

And I guess there's no way to state it without sounding like I'm really hinting that I share that attitude myself, that I'm merely projecting some disgruntlement with role playing games of my own onto the "general public." That's certainly not my intention. And I doubt that role playing games and players having an overall negative image in American society at large is a figment of my imagination.

So, to spell it out, the question at hand is, how can players, publishers, vendors, and game texts do a better job of explaining to non role players the rewards of role playing -- not to necessarily try to convince them to play, but to justify role playing as a worthwhile activity for those who do it? Keeping in mind that successfully explaining something requires more than dispensing accurate information; it also requires the listener to understand and believe the explanation.

Many have already provided some good possible answers to the question. (Others have suggested approaches that I don't think would be effective, and those are the ones I picked apart.) No one solution is going to address so general a problem, so brainstorming a variety of ideas makes sense for now.

- Walt


Title: This Whole Discussion Amounts to Misdirection
Post by: Le Joueur on November 30, 2002, 12:55:05 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
And that, in turn, is largely because players, publishers, vendors, and game texts don't do a good enough job of explaining to non role players why playing role playing games is rewarding....

Putting a lot of effort into something that has little or no reward is obsessive behavior. When the rewards of role playing are not perceived, role playing gamers appear to be obsessed with role playing. That gives them and the games a negative image.

This is my own theory. It's speculative, but I believe, plausible.

So, to spell it out, the question at hand is, how can players, publishers, vendors, and game texts do a better job of explaining to non role players the rewards of role playing -- not to necessarily try to convince them to play, but to justify role playing as a worthwhile activity for those who do it? Keeping in mind that successfully explaining something requires more than dispensing accurate information; it also requires the listener to understand and believe the explanation.

[Bold and colors are mine.]

I believe you've already asked, answered, and violated your own request.  Last first, the emboldened section is exactly what you cautioned against, "a defensive non-answer."  I don't think 'justifying' or rationalizing will solve your problem.

May I simplify?  I'm beginning to think this is your specific problem; "Putting a lot of effort into something that has little or no reward."  But you misdirect the best possible solution by calling for some explanation or 'justification.'

What's that solution?  Make games that don't call for "a lot of effort."  Simple.  Unless you can show me some reason that all role-playing games must require "a lot of effort," I'd say that having games meeting the reddened requirements to hold up as a response to the mythic 'public who needs an explanation' should work better than any frilly 'justification' on a game that requires "a lot of effort."

Fang Langford


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on November 30, 2002, 02:20:24 PM
Hi Fang,

Quote
May I simplify? I'm beginning to think this is your specific problem; "Putting a lot of effort into something that has little or no reward."


No no no no no no no. My problem is "The perception by non-participants that role players are putting a lot of effort into something that they (the non-participants) regard as having little or no reward."

That might be what you meant, but I'm going to insist on saying it explicitly every time, because otherwise this will turn into a "Hey, Walt says he hates role playing games!" discussion.

As for your main point, I agree that games requiring less effort are one solution. One I for one am committed to pursuing. And I didn't mean to rule out consideration of that solution.

But considering that the vast majority of role playing games sold and played have been, and presently still are, traditional effort-ful styles, and that many many players like these styles and would have no desire to change them just to affect the public image of gaming, the possibility of better justifying conventional role playing games remains a major part of the equation.

I thought I was clear that by "justify" I simply mean "convince non-participants that the benefits of play are worth the effort players put into it." (This does not answer or contradict my question, it merely restates it.)

That doing so might not be possible is an issue we must consider (but a very pessimistic outlook, IMhO).

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on November 30, 2002, 02:45:15 PM
Quote from: wfreitag
No no no no no no no. My problem is "The perception by non-participants that role players are putting a lot of effort into something that they (the non-participants) regard as having little or no reward."


Well, at the risk of sounding rude...
who really gives a damn?
It seems to me that someone who has a negative opinion towards games and view it as having little or no reward, aren't likely to open their eyes one day and say "OOOOOH. I see! Can I join!?". Not that that has never happened and/or will never happen.
Now, I honestly believe that most people do not have a set preconception of RPGs, and do not regard it as having little or no reward. I would bet they don't understand RPGs completely, they understand them in that they are similar to reading books, but do not understand it is active imagination and story-making as opposed to passive imagination and pre-made-story. It's still imagination, just different flavours of cake.

But what i'm seeing is that none of the above means squat, because that's not really the concern. The concern that I see is purely of image. It has nothing to do with the reward of RPGs or the understanding of those rewards, and everything to do with the fact that it's not 'satanic' or nonsensical silliness like that, and the concern that some people may be confused about that.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Paul Czege on November 30, 2002, 05:26:07 PM
Walt,

My problem is "The perception by non-participants that role players are putting a lot of effort into something that they (the non-participants) regard as having little or no reward."

You are never going to get the conservative Right to approve of the NEA, unless you change the NEA. You're never going to get me to enjoy watching a televised Thanksgiving Day parade unless you change the nature of the parade. But there are folks who do support the NEA. And there are folks who like watching televised Thanksgiving Day Parades. Why focus so much frustration on those who can't perceive the value of traditional roleplaying games? Honestly, it looks quite obsessive from where I'm sitting. The message of Ron's "mainstreaming" thread, I think, isn't that we should be somehow evangelizing traditional roleplaying, because to be honest, AD&D style dungeon crawling is pervy and obsessive. The message is that were we thinking rightly about the definition of "mainstream," we wouldn't be provoked to such anxiety by folks who aren't interested in the pervy. The world is full of folks who see the value of formalized entertainment activities that facilitate interesting socialization, and folks who have no problem perceiving the process of creative activity has value separate from the end product. Your frustration arises from an interest in evangelizing the pervy, and a compulsive fixation on those who don't appreciate it, not from some lack of reasonable people out there who appreciate the mainstream.

Paul

Yes, watching a televised Thanksgiving Day Parade is pervy.


Title: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: M. J. Young on November 30, 2002, 06:18:39 PM
Quote from: damion
What exactly are we trying to accomplish here?
1)expand the player base?
I'm not sure this is all that possible. I think there are certian personality traits that gaming appeals to, and these arn't that common in the population at large.


I'm sorry, but that kind of thinking is counterproductive.

It seems to me that in the 80's, the overwhelming majority of role players were guys. I know that every girl who played at my table was either the significant other or the sister of some guy who did, save for one game in which a couple of people wanted to see what the game was like on rather the spur of the moment. People thought that role playing games just didn't appeal to girls.

Then Vampire: the Masquerade came out, and it struck a chord with a significant number among the fairer sex. Although there were many guys drawn into the game, there were more girls among first-time role players in those games than there were first-time role player guys (most guys who played V:tM were already gamers). It wasn't that role playing only appealed to guys; it was that the games that were already published (and that meant more than just D&D) primarily appealed to guys, and a different idea was needed to attract girls to the hobby.

The same thing happened in video games. Even dating back to Pong and Tank, the industry appealed mostly to males. Nintendo and Sega were built on boy dollars. But a few enterprising intelligent game designers began to ask whether girls weren't playing because they didn't like video games or because they didn't like the kinds of video games that were being produced. They created new "entry" video games that would appeal to girls and bring them into the hobby, and now young girls are often as interested in game systems as their brothers.

If we think that the problem is that "this kind of game" doesn't appeal to most people, we'll never ask how to create games that will appeal to more.

But the idea of working to give gaming a better image seems a good one, whether or not we're talking about expanding the player base. I just don't think we should decide either task is impossible.

--M. J. Young


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 30, 2002, 06:36:36 PM
First, I see what it is that Walt wants. He wants a propaganda phrase to use when neccessary to convince someone of the validity of the activity in short order. That doesn't seem to be to dificult to understand, or even to work on. I'm kinda astounded that people are so vehemently against even talking about it good-naturedly.

That said, I don't see this as a crucial thing (and I'm betting that Walt isn't nearly as "obsessed" with it as some seem to think). It's just something that would be nice to have.

And I was just kidding about the money thing. Now we've got all sorts of jokers talking about advertising. No, we don't have money for that. Nor is that what Walt wanted. He's just looking for a slogan.

Slogan's can be your best friend. Ask Stalin. ;-)

I think the challenge response as proposed by one of the posters is it, actually. I've likened RPGs to Improv theater before. Or even Comedy Sportz (Who's Line...).

"Think of it like improv theater that provides a lot of creative reward through the structures of the game."

How's that?

Mike


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: MK Snyder on December 01, 2002, 12:24:15 AM
Gaming is a cross between Poker Night and Book Club.

So, just say, "It's what we do when we get together instead of play poker.  We're (fantasy, science fiction, western, horror, mystery) fans and we take parts in a story...."

"It's like a Book Club group, except we don't just discuss a book we read. We're (fantasy, science fiction, western, horror, mystery) fans and we take parts in a story..."

"It's like a writing group."

"It's like chess club."

Darn, I'm drawing a blank, can't think of the phrase that's used for drills and dry runs for Special Forces, Police, EMT's etc. Mock fire drills and training exercises. Those are role playing too.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: MK Snyder on December 01, 2002, 01:01:23 AM
Quote from: wfreitag

Those zillion other games require (relative to RPGs) very little effort to play, and they have the easy to understand intrinsic appeal of straightforward competition. The image problem I've described occurs when people see a large amount of effort expended (whether individually, or by a social group) in an activity that they don't perceive the appeal of.

The perceived value of a creative activity can be anything, but it has to be perceived to be seen by others as of value. Some things, like a painting, are a lot easier to perceive than other things, like the gained ability to better control the direction of a conversation. That perception can be strongly influenced by, for example, whether or not you tell people about the value the activity has had for you.



Nonsense. Tell it to Bridge players. Chess players. Poker players. These games all require a lot of effort to play.

As for a productive hobby, railroad miniatures enthusiasts, low-rider mechanics, autograph hounds, amateur photographers; all spend incredible amounts of money for product that has little investment value.

Then there are all the fans of Martha Stewart making Easter trees and such. Now there's some scary money and time being wasted there, let me tell you...

I'm spoiled. I live in Seattle, the Nerd Capital of the Planet, apparently; home to Wizards of the Coast, Nintendo, and Microsoft. Playing RPG's is a perfectly acceptable hobby here; it is even safe to recruit children in the public schools.

There are no intrinsic features to the gaming process that makes it suitable only for a sensitive, intelligent, male elite of slide-rule collectors.

It's just that it's been a carefully, one could say religiously, guarded arcane knowledge that has only been in existence for one generation. Kind of like fishing and computer use, it takes time for the Outsiders to break in and get access to the Mysteries. It has a lot of emotional import to the practioners to keep it special and not sullied by riff-raff like Gurls and Jocks.


Title: Taking it easy
Post by: joe_llama on December 01, 2002, 05:52:50 AM
I think the right attitude about this subject is taking it easy. Remember that role playing games are first and foremost 'games'. When you run into someone and need to explain, just say it's a game. Think about all the excuses you would have to use if you tried to explain someone why you play Chess or Poker.

Btw, you also have Chess and Poker fans who have their own niche and they do seem weird to outsiders. So you can be either a normal person who has a hobby and a fan-club without fearing persecution (and taking it easy) or be some self-torturing frustrated individual who looks for the ultimate 'excuse' to legitimize his hobby as mainstream.

As for the industry, the solution is the same. Think about how game designers market their products without using 'banned' keywords. 'RPG' already carries bad 'vibes'. No need to go on crusades to save the definition. Call it a 'creative' game or 'game of imagination' bla bla bla. Marketing isn't so difficult once you drop your ideals :)

With respect,

Joe Llama


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on December 01, 2002, 09:49:20 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
First, I see what it is that Walt wants. He wants a propaganda phrase to use when neccessary to convince someone of the validity of the activity in short order. That doesn't seem to be to dificult to understand, or even to work on. I'm kinda astounded that people are so vehemently against even talking about it good-naturedly.

Elitism?
Are gamers like myself elitists taking a stance of "if you don't already know you can't be taught"? Or maybe just objecting to it all being boiled down to a catch phrase and a jingle? But wouldn't a little easy to understand propaganda phrase be patronizing to non-gamers by almost assuming they're stupid and incapable of truly grasping the point and rewards of RPGs?

[Edited for topic split]


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: damion on December 01, 2002, 12:16:56 PM
Looking at things objectivly, gaming is no more unusual than say,

1)Doing historical reenactments.-Both are a time consuming version of childhood 'make believe'.
 
2)Stamp collecting-yeah some or valuable, but most collectors I know get something because  'they don't have one yet'.  People understand this.

3)Fantasy Football(or pick your sport of choice).

I think somewhere gaming gained a 'bad image' which, as I think Ron mentioned is the problem. It's not that people can't accept gaming for some reason intrinsic to it, it's that it gained a bad image and can't seem to get rid of it. I think this is because it still attracts the type of people who gave it a bad image, thus even if they arn't a majority anymore, any of them being in view reinforces the stereotype.

If you can remove the bad image, or show that it's a minority, people will accept gaming.

M.J:I do believe gaming only appeals to a small part of the population. That's not a problem, most other hobbies do to, but people don't have bad perceptions of them, because only 1%(Or whatever) enjoy it. People can't understand how others can enjoy gaming and I think the image of unwashed fat middle-age guys in sailor suits prevents them from considering it rationally.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: contracycle on December 02, 2002, 02:04:28 AM
Not a slogan... an argument.  

I always pushed the "its active, much more so than TV" line.  Also that it encouraged creativity amd creative investment.  That its long term nature was virtuous as it encouraged stick-with-it-ness.  But we do need a better, mopre comhrehensive articulation of the benefits we see to make a realistic sally at persuading any significant proportion of the public.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: contracycle on December 02, 2002, 02:12:17 AM
Quote from: thoth

Elitism?
Are gamers like myself elitists taking a stance of "if you don't already know you can't be taught"?


Yes.

Quote

But wouldn't a little easy to understand propaganda phrase be patronizing to non-gamers by almost assuming they're stupid and incapable of truly grasping the point and rewards of RPGs?


No; all we do is leave the field to alternative progaganda's which are more coherent and better articulated.  Propaganda is not inherently dishonest... it is material intended to propagate a particular message, considered to be of value by the propagator.  The desire to seek an easily accessible, capsule expression which, for propaganda purposes, must be both speedy and unambiguous, does not imply that we think people are idiots, quite the reverse.


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 02, 2002, 09:55:18 AM
Thanks Gareth for stating that so well.

But I still think it's a slogan we're looking for. An argument implies that we've presented a prima facia case (the slogan) and the other side has taken brundage with it. I think what Walt, at least is asking for is the simplest answer to the question, "What's all the effort get you?" which he sees as the problem.

That said, once into the argument, I go down exactly the same road you describe.

I'm starting to winder if that's not a bad idea, though. To challenge the sacred position of TV in most people's lives might be dangerous (I am a big fan of TV). Make sure that if you do go with this road that you don't put any value judgements on TV. So I'd say:

"I do if for he same reasons people watch TV and movies. But I get a greater reward, personally, as it's more interactive, and I like that sort of thing."

To imply that TV is "passive" may be to alienate your average TV watcher. They may see you as saying that your form of entertainment is better than theirs. Make sure that the argument is seen not as an attempt to get the other side to see the superiority of the form of entertainment. You're just trying to get them to accept that it's a reasonable activity.

We're not out to make converts here. If it sounds interesting to someone, they'll ask on their own.

Mike


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on December 02, 2002, 01:47:05 PM
Hmm..the whole point of this does (or did) seem to me to be about 'converting' people. Not necessarily by changing negative-outsiders to positive(redundant?)-insiders, but by changing the (perceived?) many negative-outsider ('its bad') to atleast nuetral-outsiders ('it's a hobby') or even better, positive-outsiders ('it's a good hobby but not my cup of tea, so have fun').

Here's something else; what about anime? Doesn't it also have an image problem? A specific example of which might be those big guys in Sailor Moon outfits. But it would appear that anime is gaining acceptance and getting more and more general public exposure (Disney is doing some translation and distribution for example). And the tie in to RPGs is that there appears to be a reasonable cross-over between anime and RPG people. So, would RPGs benefit from the increasing acceptance of anime? Does that limit any possible need for pro-RPG propaganda? Is anime or can anime be a gateway hobby to RPGs?

And where do RPGs like the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG stand? It provides a direct line from the wonderous TV to RPGs. Does having a direct link with a pop TV show help to change the image of RPGs as a whole? Or does it change nothing because only those who already play RPGs would be aware of the Buffy RPG?

Hmm..what are the chances that the 'secret' to changing the image of RPGs isn't to put out propaganda that says RPGs are an OK hobby, but instead to piggyback on the already well established and OK hobby of watching TV? Instead of comparing and contrasting RPGs to TV, sell RPGs as a logical extension of TV. It would not be true as a whole, but would be true in specific instances. But would that be patronizing, with an implication that some can't 'get' RPGs without a lead in through TV?

And what about Xn RPGs?...


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 02, 2002, 02:42:12 PM
Well, Yuh-gi-oh seems to be doing well with it's TV support, as, of course, did Pokemon. :-)

But you're missing a point that's been made several times in the thread, Thoth. One probable reason that people think that RPGs are weird is that they are relatively labor intensive. TV is not, nor are any of the things that we've pointed out in our two posts here. That's apparently the key difference.

Interestingly, I talked to some kids talking about Yuh-go-oh this weekend, and asked them what the appeal was. The response was "ease of play" as in the typical quote, "Easy to learn, difficult to master." Further, it turns out they were already D&D players.

Basically this is all inbred marketing. If it weren't, perhaps the D&D cartoon would have been more successful? And the movie?

In fact, the more they seem to try to make D&D mainstream, the more it's seen as trying to be normal. And thus, not.

Mike


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Walt Freitag on December 02, 2002, 03:17:49 PM
I'm looking for simple answers, but not necessarily just one all-purpose answer.

After all, the local prevailing theory of role playing system design is partly based on the idea that different players play for different types of rewards. That means that any given "slogan" should be much more applicable to some players than to others.

----------

TV is a tricky comparison. Most Americans accept TV watching as a normal part of life (including the basis for some valuable ultra-lightweight morning-after workplace or school conversation), but there's an ambivalence. Most admit in surveys that they watch "too much."

Also, since the consumption of TV is normally so passive, going beyond merely watching a show actually stands out more. You can just watch all the Star Trek you want without being regarded as a Trekkie.

So comparing RPGs to TV is a decidedly mixed bag. But comparing specific types of play to specific popular or critically-praised shows might work. "Yeah, it's a mobster game where sometimes characters get shot. But it's really about relationships. Like in The Sopranos."

----------

In a year or two, this one might work:

"It's like playing The Sims Online, but with more [pick one: action/plotline/story/challenges] and less flirting."

[In fact, it just hit me: The Sims Online could noticeably change the public image of role playing games. Possibly, a lot.]

-----------

Thanks to everyone for doing so well so far with this topic. Which may be even more sensitive, in subtle ways, than some of the "obvious hot-button issue" topics going on in concurrent threads.

- Walt


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: thoth on December 03, 2002, 08:53:58 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Well, Yuh-gi-oh seems to be doing well with it's TV support, as, of course, did Pokemon. :-)

But you're missing a point that's been made several times in the thread, Thoth. One probable reason that people think that RPGs are weird is that they are relatively labor intensive. TV is not, nor are any of the things that we've pointed out in our two posts here. That's apparently the key difference.


I'm starting to think that there is no comparison between TV and RPGs. I'm thinking there's no real comparison between active-participant (physically or intellectually) and spectator hobbies. It seems like it might be comparing apples and oranges, they're both fruit but too different to effectively compare.

That's not to say they can't be linked in a non-comparative way though, like spectator sports and fantasy sports. And i'm thinking that might be the key to promoting RPGs in a non-silly way. Introduce them as an extension to ones favorite TV show, not as a replacement.

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Interestingly, I talked to some kids talking about Yuh-go-oh this weekend, and asked them what the appeal was. The response was "ease of play" as in the typical quote, "Easy to learn, difficult to master." Further, it turns out they were already D&D players.

Basically this is all inbred marketing. If it weren't, perhaps the D&D cartoon would have been more successful? And the movie?


Granted, there is a lot of cross-over, as I said, but what about people who are just getting into those anime shows? And what about the movies, especially those being released by Disney?

This might be going over old ground for some, but i've never been here:
What about the CCGs? They were good and seemed to be an extension to the Pokemon TV show (for example). Was there an actual Pokemon RPG that was being sold an extension to the CCG, and advertised as, or nearly as, readily as the CCG? I'm aware of Pokethulhu, but I don't think that counts ;)

Quote from: Mike Holmes

In fact, the more they seem to try to make D&D mainstream, the more it's seen as trying to be normal. And thus, not.


Hmm...here's another thought. How helpful could not being mainstream and selling that fact be?
"Not yo daddies game!" ;)
Although..that might hook in some fringe people who would further make RPGs look bad. Heh.


Strange, I think i've become somewhat in favor of promoting RPGs. Though I still wouldn't want to some little cheesy slogan. Leave the cheeseball stuff to the beer commercials I say. Although, "RPGs: Intelligent Nightlife" sound better to me.
Mmm...Beer and RPGs...a logical extension?


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: quozl on December 03, 2002, 09:57:22 AM
So you want a slogan?  How's this?

"Be more than you can be."


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Emily Care on December 03, 2002, 01:43:15 PM
We want you, we want you, we want you for a new recruit...

Going back a bit:
Quote from: MK Snyder
Quote from: wfreitag

Those zillion other games require (relative to RPGs) very little effort to play, and they have the easy to understand intrinsic appeal of straightforward competition.


Nonsense. Tell it to Bridge players. Chess players. Poker players. These games all require a lot of effort to play.

You make a good point, M.K.  Non-rpg'ers are certainly capable of playing complex games. However, Bridge, Poker and other complicated card games have the advantage that they all utilize the same deck of cards everyone is already familiar with.  Young card gamers begin with "Go Fish", and move into more complex games as they are interested.  Maybe an rpg "Go Fish" would be useful.  Or actually, maybe the fact that all children practice the Go Fish of role-playing is part of the problem; it's hard to take "make-believe" seriously.  (Mr. Rogers, we'll get you!) Maybe a bridge of some sort, giving folks an "in" to the terminology and concepts of rpg would be helpful.

Walt's point about the straightforward competitive goals of card and board games is worth looking at too. Most games with broad appeal (card and board games) have a clearly defined end goal, unlike most role-playing.  Not that we should pitch gamist designs to the masses, but it's another obstacle.

Just my 2 cents. Good ideas and discussion you've got here.  

--Emily Care


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Paul Czege on December 13, 2002, 09:58:19 AM
The November, 2002 issue of Business 2.0 has a topically relevant article entitled "How to Think With Your Gut," which suggests that the ability to think nonrationally is fundamental to effective decisionmaking in stressful situations, and that it can be learned.

One compelling anecdote from the article:

...[Paul] Van Riper [a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general] brought a group of Marines to the New York Mercantile Exchange in 1995, because the jostling, confusing pits reminded him of war rooms during combat. First the Marines tried their hand at trading on simulators, and to no one's surprise, the professionals on the floor wiped them out. A month or so later, the traders went to the Corps's base in Quantico, Va., where they played war games against the Marines on a mock battlefield. The traders trounced them again -- and this time everyone was surprised.

When the Marines analyzed the humbling results, they concluded that the traders were simply better gut thinkers. Thoroughly practiced at quickly evaluating risks, they were far more willing to act decisively on the kind of imperfect and contradictory information that is all you ever get in war. The lesson wasn't lost on the Marines, who concluded that the old rational analysis model was useless in some situations. Today the Corps's official doctrine reads, "The intuitive approach is more appropriate for the vast majority of ... decisions made in the fluid, rapidly changing conditions of war when time and uncertainty are critical factors, and creativity is a desirable trait."


An excerpt from a sidebar to the article entitled "Getting in Touch With Your Gut," that suggests ways that intuitive, effective nonrational thinking can be developed:

Fictionalize a problem as a business school case or as happening to someone else. That can free up your imagination. Dave Snowden, director of IBM's (IBM) Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity in Wales, has been working with antiterrorism experts and finds that they think more creatively if he poses problems set in a different time -- the Civil War, for example. Another kind of storytelling is what cognitive psychologist Gary Klein calls a "pre-mortem": Imagine that your project has failed and gather the team to assess what went wrong.

Sound familiar?

Paul


Title: What does role playing gaming accomplish?
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 13, 2002, 10:39:27 AM
So, "RPGs help develop intuitive analysis skills"?

Or, "it's like the simulations that buisness trainers advocate?"

Hmmm..

Mike