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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 07, 2003, 10:55:55 AM



Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 07, 2003, 10:55:55 AM
Over in Narrativist Games with Actor Stance? (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5106) the following was posted:
Quote from: Michael S. Miller
I ran Trollbabe for my wife, Kat, and a friend of ours, Michele, this week. They both kinda enjoyed it, but pointed out that the rules "enforce a separation between me and my character." I explained that this was a design feature, called Author Stance, and that the game was written intentionally to promote it. My wife's response: "I'm a writer. If I want to write, I'll write. When I role-play I want to be somebody else." Michele agreed.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I also think that the "be my character" thing is actually not the default behavior or preference for people who haven't played other RPGs before. But that's a debate for another time.

Now, we can leave both Kat and Michelle's comments as a statement of preference and leave it at that for them. However I have heard this sentiment echoed all over the place, at least in the RPG sites I frequent, which includes the Forge.

"If I want to write, I'll write. When I want to roleplay I...(fill in blank)"

Most often this blank is filled in by something akin to being someone else. Terms like immersion and others often get tossed around like toilet paper on Halloween.

So, let's discuss this. Are we dealing with synechoche? In some cases, yes. In others mere preference I suspect.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: clehrich on February 07, 2003, 11:15:59 AM
My sense is that various forms of immersion constitute a very strong preference among a great many players, for any number of reasons.  I see it not only in players but GMs: the game is losing focus and clearly floundering?  Clearly what we need to do is get the players to "be in character" more, and this will solve everything.

I think this is why games with a strong meta-perspective are often seen as "experimental": they ask players to do something seemingly radically other than what "normal" roleplaying is, i.e. "being in character."

That said, I'm not sure this is simply synechdoche.  I presume that here we mean taking a part (immersion, in-character perspective, etc.) for the whole (RPG play).  To my mind, interpreting this in-character emphasis as synechdoche implies that the players in question do not recognize the validity of RPG play outside their chosen approach.  I'm sure that's sometimes the case, but often I see it as simply a very strong preference, precisely for the reason your wife mentioned.  I would interpret her remark as saying that RPGs permit her to do something (get into a character, immerse, etc.) that other creative formats do not, or not as much.  Thus the implication is that the great strength of RPGs is immersion, and to de-emphasize this is to miss the point of the hobby.


Title: Yeah!
Post by: Le Joueur on February 07, 2003, 11:24:09 AM
While I would like to recognize the "If I want to write..." comment as mostly coming from people who shy away from Author and Director Stance, everyone should know I'm on record as saying that role-playing games are sometimes best described as "Who Do You Wanna Be...Games (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=15716#15716)."

Fang Langford


Title: While searching for something unrelated
Post by: Thierry Michel on February 07, 2003, 11:28:33 AM
I found this:

" One of the oddities of human discourse, when we stop to think about it, is the discrepancy between the way we talk about ourselves and the way we talk about other people. Discussing other people, we are quite happy to explain their behavior and motivation. [...] But where we ourselves are concerned, we can talk until the cows make their leisurely way home [...] without reaching any firm conclusions. We see other people as known territory, ourselves as the uncharted country. In writing fiction, I think great characters come from exercising both this facility for interpretation, which we bring to bear on others, and this willingness to enter into mystery, which we bring to bear on ourselves. And one of the principal virtues of reading fiction has always been that—more than biography or memoir, more than history—it allows us to pour our own inchoate lives, our own confused and confusing experiences, into those of another, and in so doing to begin to organize that experience, and to have a larger life. Reading good fiction is the opposite of escapism. "

I'm not convinced, but that's an interesting viewpoint.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: clehrich on February 07, 2003, 11:31:15 AM
Can I ask where you got that quote, Thierry?


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Thierry Michel on February 07, 2003, 12:40:16 PM
http://www.pshares.org/issues/article.cfm?prmarticleID=7537

Here. Not sure the rest of the article is relevant, though.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 07, 2003, 12:53:27 PM
Quote from: clehrich
That said, I'm not sure this is simply synechdoche.  I presume that here we mean taking a part (immersion, in-character perspective, etc.) for the whole (RPG play).  To my mind, interpreting this in-character emphasis as synechdoche implies that the players in question do not recognize the validity of RPG play outside their chosen approach.  I'm sure that's sometimes the case, but often I see it as simply a very strong preference,

That's what I said. :)
Quote
I would interpret her remark as saying that RPGs permit her to do something (get into a character, immerse, etc.) that other creative formats do not, or not as much.  Thus the implication is that the great strength of RPGs is immersion, and to de-emphasize this is to miss the point of the hobby.

I shall point to an old Old OLD thread for my personal take on this:immersive authorship...(not sure either) (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=315)


Title: Re: Be sombody.
Post by: greyorm on February 07, 2003, 02:26:53 PM
It occurs to me that the issue in the quote is more about the terms presented than actual preferences. Michael's wife heard "Author" and being a writer, decided she knew what "Author" meant in RPG lingo...and I'll note that Author stance isn't the same thing as being a writer.

Moving away from the example and into the broad category of similar response, I think, ultimately, this is a GNS issue, because we're talking about a preference for immersive play. Synecdoche, whether occuring or not, is a red herring in regards to the question, because it is still about preference.

Beyond that, when a person says to you "I roleplay to..." you quite often find out what they say they're role-playing to do isn't really what they're role-playing to do: it's just established that "this is what role-playing is for, so if I'm role-playing I must be doing that and liking it."


Title: Re: Be sombody.
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 07, 2003, 02:46:50 PM
Quote from: greyorm
Beyond that, when a person says to you "I roleplay to..." you quite often find out what they say they're role-playing to do isn't really what they're role-playing to do: it's just established that "this is what role-playing is for, so if I'm role-playing I must be doing that and liking it."

OK, now this is bloody interesting. Moreso that the previous portion of the thread. So if I'm reading this correctly, you're saying that many people have some kind of misconception of what they are "supposed to" do in a RPG. If asked, they say one thing but observation shows they actually do another.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Michael S. Miller on February 08, 2003, 05:08:52 AM
Well, this isn't as applicable to the general point of the thread as it ought to be, BUT since it is my wife that's being dissected in example here, I have to pipe up in clarification. My original post may make it seem that this experience with Trollbabe was the first time this has happened. Not so. I've run InSpectres, Donjon, Universalis, and Paladin for Kat. Each time, with no reference to theory, her response has been along the lines of "I liked the game, except for Feature X" where Feature X is whichever mechanic requires Author/Director Stance. (Well, except for Universalis, which she thoroughly hated, because we never got down to the Actor Stance level at all during the session she played in.)

She did like Sorcerer, but the Author Stance there is more confined to Pre-Play (writing the Kicker) and is unobstrusively managed by the GM during Actual Play, not forced in the player's face. What she has specifically complained about is feeling "put on the spot" in narrate-the-outcome systems like InSpectres, Donjon and Trollbabe. And, I know this is a brand new kettle of fish, but both she and Michele have speculated that women have a greater tendency to feel "put on the spot" than men do in such situations.

Just wanted to clear up any misperceptions about my wife's specific case that the original post may have left. I wasn't trying to make any general point here.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: ADGBoss on February 08, 2003, 06:45:43 AM
I had a similar responce from my Fiancee, Marsha, about being put on the spot. Her previous RPing experiences were with very heavy handed GMS's and then me who was not quite so bad and getting better. When she Dave (ADG Conscience) and I were discussing the whole idea of Author stance etc, she seem bewildered. "Well the GM has to tell you whats going on." was her responce. I believe it was a case of inertia from "traditonal" rpg models and nervousness about coming up with something.

As for what people saying one thing and doing another, I think perhaps we over analyze the heriarchy of RPG satisfaction

1. IS everyone Enjoying the Experience? That is not to say having fun, I believe they are two different things.  You can have fun smashing orcs but was the game enjoyable? On the other hand maybe you did not do much but you sat enraptured as two or three characters has some great input. Of ocurse if every session its the same two or three, that will not be enjoyable.

2. Is everyone satisfied with his or her Character? You can enjoy a game and realise your character is not appropriate or not working I think.  The oppurtunity tot change the charcter or get a new one is important.

3. Is everyone satisfied with the Style of Play? This would be Traditional vs Storyteller vs GNS models etc...  Quit frankly if I am invited to play and its basic Traditional Corporate Model RPG, if the group cliks and we enjoy the game, I will not sit there and pine for Narrativism. On the other hand I am not going to force anyone to narrate a success if he or she feel suncomfortabel doing so.  Comfort level is important and we should not get the idea that Players who have trouble getting past Traditional models are... well less.  

Most people do not really consider their actions in a grander scheme. "I am just playing  a game" Is the traditional responce, not realising that spending 10 to 20 hours a week thinking on it and or playing nmakes it more then a game.  This person may be worth offering other options to. The bi-monthly RPG'er on the other hand, is probably not going to be satisfied with Narrativism to any degree unless he or she was brought INTO gaming that way.


Sean
ADGBoss


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: ADGBoss on February 08, 2003, 06:49:10 AM
I should clarify that I think #1 is where most people stop. Also I think I really meant we over analyze The Game and Role Players and think if they do not reach #3, that is full satisfaction with System AND that system is Narrativist, then how can they be having a good time?

Just thoughts

Sean
ADGBoss


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 08, 2003, 07:47:42 AM
Hey, guys, we're kind of wandering a bit off topic, I think.

Michael: The purpose was not to discuss your wife and friend or their playing preference. I tried to leave them behind when I started this thread and focus on a more general group of people who often have a similar reaction.

It also sounds to me like Stance and Mode are getting mixed up here. You will find all three Stances in use in all three GNS Modes. Author Stance <> Narrativism. Think of Stance more like POV narration, like Third Person Omniscient, but it's not quite like that, but this is more useful in another thread.

I'd like to focus the topic a bit:
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I also think that the "be my character" thing is actually not the default behavior or preference for people who haven't played other RPGs before.

This is interesting because Ron is suggesting that this "being somebody" behavior is shown more by experienced roleplayers than people who've never player an RPG before.
Quote from: ADGBoss
The bi-monthly RPG'er on the other hand, is probably not going to be satisfied with Narrativism to any degree unless he or she was brought INTO gaming that way.

This seems to reflect this, although Sean is talking about mode here.

But where I really wanted to see the thread go was :
Quote from: greyorm
Beyond that, when a person says to you "I roleplay to..." you quite often find out what they say they're role-playing to do isn't really what they're role-playing to do: it's just established that "this is what role-playing is for, so if I'm role-playing I must be doing that and liking it."

Which I find facinating since what Raven is suggestion here is that many people believe roleplaying is X and that they must be doing X when they roleplay and enjoying rolepleying because of X when in reality they enjoy and actually do Y when roleplaying.ANyone have further comment on this?


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: ADGBoss on February 08, 2003, 08:24:34 AM
Yes clearly, I think people do not know what it is about RPG play that really do enjoy. I think that most stop at #1 on the heriarchy example I showed. "Well you know I enjoy it :) I am not sure why." Only if #2 and #3 are serious negatives does it really effect #1.  Most people are just happy to play and play anything.

In essence people do not know what they are missing.  Most may not be aware the RPG play CAN be more satisfying if they expect more out of themselves and their games.

Sean
ADGBoss


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: greyorm on February 09, 2003, 07:03:34 PM
Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
OK, now this is bloody interesting. Moreso that the previous portion of the thread. So if I'm reading this correctly, you're saying that many people have some kind of misconception of what they are "supposed to" do in a RPG. If asked, they say one thing but observation shows they actually do another.

Yep.

But also that...even given Michael's clarifications...it seems to me that people can't enjoy a role-playing game that is different from mainstream straight Actor-stance play specifically because they are looking to play a role-playing game.

(You see where I'm going?) And for them, a role-playing game requires straight Actor-stance.

Take the case of Kat and Universalis: she hated it because they never got into Actor mode. But Universalis isn't about playing roles, it's about developing a story or situation. It's like a big, frickin' cooperative story-writing session wrapped up in a game whose rules delineate who gets to say what happens, where and why and who controls what (and how to take control if you want it)...actually, I take that back, that is precisely what it is.

My gut feeling is that she would have enjoyed the game far more had it been approached as a game, rather than as a role-playing game.

A similar situation is: try inviting your players over for a role-playing game and then whip out the Monopoly board.

ie: "I don't like it because it didn't meet my subconscious expectations," is what I'm actually hearing when I hear, "When I role-play, I want to..."

Obviously, they know what they like, or so it seems -- they like 'being somebody else' -- but I'm not sure they really know why they like it, beyond the expectation that "this is role-playing, I like role-playing so I must like X."

But the part you're interested in is the part about people believing the expectation, but not enforcing it.

This is the heart of dysfunctional play, IMO, and right where GNS comes in. Take a standard example, the role-player who is dissatisfied with play because the GM keeps overriding the rules when he uses them to his advantage. Now, I'm not talking about some munchkin power-gamer with no hint of immersion or connection-to-the-character at all.

"I am role-playing," says the player, even if you present him with Gamist terminology and desires, or an overtly Gamist game like Orx (http://www.daegmorgan.net/rpgs/orcs-bw.htm), "When I role-play I want to be somebody else, if I want to strategize I'll play chess." But that's precisely what he does, anyways.

Another example is groups who struggle to gain their Holy Grail of play -- frex, that moment of Narrativism they once stumbled across -- by using mechanics from traditional play and traditional styles are falling into this hole. They're thinking, "This is what role-playing is about, so we do it this way. But that cool moment of play I experienced/want to experience isn't happening (again)! Time to tweak the rules, again."

But what never gets tweaked are the standard assumptions of traditional play.

I think this attitude is actually very standard, and comes from the expectation of what role-playing "should be" or "is," even among those who have been exposed somewhat to the terminology.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on February 09, 2003, 08:04:29 PM
Quote from: greyorm
Another example is groups who struggle to gain their Holy Grail of play -- frex, that moment of Narrativism they once stumbled across -- by using mechanics from traditional play and traditional styles are falling into this hole. They're thinking, "This is what role-playing is about, so we do it this way. But that cool moment of play I experienced/want to experience isn't happening (again)! Time to tweak the rules, again."

This bit is bloody profound, especially the tweaking the rules bit. This would explain why so many roleplayers are also armchair game designers and why they designs basically boil down to doin D&D (or some other game system) 'better.' Compare the standard homebrewed D&D knock-off with, say, Donjon which turns up the volume on the dungeon crawl style of play.

Bloody profound. Profound and bloody.


Title: Be sombody.
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 10, 2003, 02:40:22 PM
Heh, Raven, when we were putting Universalis together, this was a concern of mine. Note that Ralph's secondary label is "the Game of Unlimited Stories" not "the Unlimited Role-Playing Game of Stories". We still refer to it as an RPG occasionally, but that is definitely, in some senses, inaccurate. As such we try to indicate to people what it cannot do as well, and one of those things is "immersion" or whatever.

Strangely, some oddballs like myself can actually immerse in the actor stance way ina game like Universalis. But I can understand how some would not. As Mike's wife says, the thrill that Universalis is designed to give is much more like writing than escapism. That said, I think that it's not precisely like writing (amongst other things it's collaborative), and as such it's unique from writing and could appeal to even the most overloaded writer. Still, I can also understand where it might not appeal.

Or, rather, RPGs do provide a unique opportunity to feel deepy involved in exploring. As such, I think that there is a basic appeal for some people to allow that part of RPGs to come forth. Fortunately for them, there are a plethora of games that feed this need. As to whether the one is more "innate" than the other, I think that they are probably evenly split. Consider that the Gamists are also "Authors", not "Actors" for purpose of this discussion.


As I've said before to Paul Czege, some of us are Michaelangello's and others of us are Columbus's. This dichotomy of urge goes far beyond RPGs.

Mike