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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: John Kim on December 05, 2003, 04:34:54 PM



Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 05, 2003, 04:34:54 PM
Quote from: xiombarg
 One essay is particularly notable: "But I Vas Chust Follwink Mein Character Concept!" by Greg Stolze.

In it, Greg posits the "Gamer Nuremburg Defense", characterized by the cry: "Not my fault, I was just following my character concept."

Yup, straight-up "My Guy" Syndrome (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6580).  

OK, as I mentioned in this thread, in my experience I more often felt annoyed by an opposite, "anti-my-guy" syndrome.  I haven't read the Stolze essay, but the title certainly takes a tone that somehow real evil is perpetrated if a character does something wrong.  

An example:
Six years ago, I played in the Ripper campaign, GMed by Chris Lehrich and Alex Dent-Young, and using variant Call of Cthulhu plus tarot as Whimsy cards.  My first PC was Inspector Benjamin Grimmond, a Victorian police officer who worked in the East End.  He was a bigot, bully, and a brute -- who felt that a large part of his job was keeping the lower classes in order.  As the campaign progressed, most of the PCs started going insane.  Grimmond started to become paranoid about the magical conspiracies, while another PC (Professor Hayward) became delusional about his own magical powers.  At one point this came to a head.  Hayward started trying to invoke magical powers in front of Grimmond, and Grimmond beat him senseless when he refused to stop.  

This absolutely appalled a fellow player -- not just at the character, but that I as a player was doing something wrong by this.  The funny thing was, that Hayward's player was fine with it.  The player who was appalled had a different PC who didn't witness the beating.  Later in that same session, Hayward again followed his delusions of magical power to his death at the hands of something other than Grimmond.  Still, I retired Grimmond as a PC after that and came up with a new one.  It eventually worked out fine, but I was definitely not pleased at that session.  

-----

Here's what I see as insidious about the Nuremberg accusation.  It is based on making certain PC actions into real crimes.  This means that each player has to be careful that his character doesn't do the wrong thing.  In my experience, the result of conceding to these accusations is a bunch of PCs who are well-behaved and who act nicely together as a group.  The game turns out to be about them working together to solve some external mystery or defeat some external threat.  

While that's a valid way to play, I prefer the opposite.  To me, the game is most interesting when you make strong choices for the characters, and you set them loose upon the world and upon each other.  Rather than reigning in PCs for the sake of the story, you should let the PCs loose to find out what the story is.  Players should feel free to make strong, daring choices for their PCs.  And in turn they shouldn't take it personally if someone else's PC does something that they as a player don't like.

Now, obviously there are limits.  Some character concepts are unreasonable.  I generally handle this by some combination group discussion of charaacter concept, and GM review of the character (which should include any secret info).  The other big issue is PC death.  Many if not most players enjoy some sort of safeguard against PC death.  This is a general principle, and should apply equally to NPC and PC-caused death.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Valamir on December 05, 2003, 04:57:26 PM
I actually agree with you John.  But I think I'd take it a step further...in a way you likely agree with yourself but didn't explicitly express.

I think its ok for a player to portray a character behaving immorally...racist, rapist, serial killer...whatever....but it should be done with the full awareness that it is the player decideing to portray that character.  What this means to me is this.

1) in other threads we've discussed the concept of lines and veils.  Players should be aware of where other players lines are and if they choose to push past them (and I'm not saying that its wrong in all cases to push other players past their comfort zone...though it certainly can be) it should be acknowledged that I the player am violating your taboo area and not try to hide behind the character.  One may feel justified going there despite the other player's discomfort (or one may immediately back off as soon as its made known) but in any case its the player doing it...NOT the character.

2)  there are certain areas that I think are interesting and thematically powerful to explore.  I think the some of the best characters are those that are 99% purely respectable, and 1% "oh my got how repulsive" and exploring exactly which acts of immorality are such as to completely bring the character's reputation low despite how "wonderful" they are in every other area, and which acts are forgiveable (or we're willing to look the other way on) because of their other virtues.

But it should be done with concious intention by the player in a context where exploring such an issue is appropriate both to the subject matter of the game itself and to the social fabric of the group.  

"frivolous" actions of taboo topics I think should be strongly avoided and any excuse of "my character would" is entirely unappropriate.  By frivolous I mean the guy who after his unit clears the village declares he's raping the women.  If the point is to really examine the issue of how men are willing to inflict inhumane acts on people of other demonized groups that they'd be appalled at even thinking about committing against their own group...then that's a powerful topic to explore.  If its a throwaway line given with a giggle that has no meaning other than the shock value of saying it with the quick "its just my character"...then that holds about as much weight with me as the ubiquitous "no offense" tacked on the end of a statement clearly meant to be offensive.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 05, 2003, 06:05:57 PM
I daresay that the opposite is also worth avoiding. Becoming frivilously offended by whatever doesn't work for you for whatever reason is also no good. Or, at least, you don't have to loudly express it every time something happens you don't like and thus put the other players into defensive mode and claim "my guy."

I see it is more a bit of give and take. Learn where the other player's lines are and don't cross them and don't get upset when someone crosses yours. If everyone did the first, there should be less need for the second.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 05, 2003, 06:29:43 PM
Quote from: Valamir
  "frivolous" actions of taboo topics I think should be strongly avoided and any excuse of "my character would" is entirely unappropriate.  By frivolous I mean the guy who after his unit clears the village declares he's raping the women.  If the point is to really examine the issue of how men are willing to inflict inhumane acts on people of other demonized groups that they'd be appalled at even thinking about committing against their own group...then that's a powerful topic to explore.  If its a throwaway line given with a giggle that has no meaning other than the shock value of saying it with the quick "its just my character"...  

Well, here I disagree.  Your statement implies that the topic of the story is previously agreed upon.  i.e. A rape has no meaning other than shock value if it isn't pre-decided as the "point" of the game. That is completely alien to my usual approach to play.  I don't know what the point of my game is until after I play it.  If a heinous crime occurs, then it likely will become the point of the game.  The player doesn't have a choice for her PC to commit rape and make it have no meaning.  By occurring, it inherently has meaning.  

I might seem to be quibbling, but this is a big part of my bad experiences.  The GM or other players will use the lever of "that's not what the point of this game is" -- in order to bring my character in line with what the story should be.  In my preferred style of play, what the characters do by definition is the point of play.

That said, I'd agree that rape is a pretty touchy topic for a lot of people.  I would prefer to deal with it by agreeing on it at character creation (i.e. don't make PCs prone to become rapists) and by GM control (i.e. avoid circumstances which would display it as part of the game).  For example, I made a conscious decision on this at the start of my Vinland game to not have it appear.  It would be a part of the background, but not mentioned in-play.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on December 05, 2003, 06:43:29 PM
Hi John,

For the record, I think your play in the example you gave was fine.  Great actually.

And further, I thought "My Guy" syndrome involved the use of entrenched decisions for the PC based on power struggles among the group members in an RPG, usually between a player and the GM.  Thus, when the player feels that he's really got no option to influence anyting in the game (see: Railroading, for example), he grips his character tight and says, "Well, my guy does this, and there's nothing you can do about it."

I just reveiwed the thread you linked and, yes.  That's pretty much the defintion of "My Guy" syndrome.

It didn't seem like there were any issues with you and the GM, nor power issues with you and the player who complained.  This seems a matter of taste -- which matters -- but might be something else.

In short, perhaps to your surprise, you'll find yourself pretty much agreed with on this one from most parties posting.  (Unless you want to pull it into an arguement somehow.)

Christopher

[Oops.  Cross posted.  Looks like the arguement started already.]


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on December 05, 2003, 06:50:14 PM
Oh, and in the hope of perhaps defusing the arguement (who knows, what the hell....)

I think you've misread Ralph's point.  There's nothing there to imply it was a topic "previously agreed upon."  You might be inferring some sort of agreed upon damned Premise, but Ralph didn't write that.

He wrote, as a counter example to a player having the PC doing sometihing just for shock value "If its a throwaway line given with a giggle..." which, when I read it, implied that the importance of the action was being defined in the moment -- not beforehand.

That doesn't mean a few overly sensative types might not misread it, but Ralph was taking stock of the player's action.  Ralph's example, to my reading at least, suggested it was how it was handled, not if a matter if it was permissible beforehand.

Again, this doesn't seem a matter of My Guy syndrome, per se.  If the players doing it just cause he can, to jerk control of the game back to him, then yes.  It doesn't sound like you're involved in anything like that at all.

Christopher


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: M. J. Young on December 05, 2003, 07:12:57 PM
John, I think you may be preachin' to the choir here.

The distinction has been made between those who use "my guy" as a means of taking power that is being denied them in play as against those who are trying to play true to a character; the latter is something we all agree is valid, while the former is evidence of dysfunction. (Identifying which is happening can be difficult at times, but that doesn't invalidate the distinction.)

In Multiverser, players put a lot of thought into what their characters would do, because the characters more directly represent themselves--as an I Game, on one level it asks what you would do if this had happened to you. One of our players, a nice guy pretty much liked by everyone, big and strong but generally soft spoken, had begun to emerge as something of a crusader for justice in places where it was lacking. He went through several worlds in which he was part of a small group of righteous outlaws facing the power of the establishment (I remember Blake's 7 and Robin Hood specifically). Then he landed in a modern world, and he just snapped. He killed a guy because he didn't like the answer he got to a question, and then got in a car and led the police on a wild cross-country chase, several times escaping by wit and luck, until finally they caught him and gunned him down. It stunned everyone, I think; but the way he did it seemed so very plausible, the guy who had just had enough of being the underdog striking out against everyone and everything, until he just got tired and let them catch him.

I think that the dysfunctional "my guy" syndrome creeps up mostly in games in which the referee exercises tight control over what the characters do and where they go; we never had too much of that in my groups, so any time anyone turned their attention to what "my guy" would do it was generally realistic and interesting, and not at all disruptive, even if it was completely unexpected by the rest of us.

--M. J. Young


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: RaconteurX on December 05, 2003, 08:06:45 PM
I agree with John in that the faithful portrayal of a character's personality, even that which leads to morally dubious acts or behaviors on the part of the character, can ultimately be much more rewarding in terms of overall narrative impact than an intentional inconsistency which reinforces black-and-white notions of "heroism". It can be appropriate in some situations, but those frequently have more to do with the expectations built into the setting (like the Star Wars universe) than meta-game concepts of morality.

I also agree with Ralph in that keeping the limits of fellow players in mind when portraying a character is always sound policy. If those limits simply must be pushed, polite sensitivity should be the order of the day. A "fade to black" permits the action to occur off-screen, and leaves the details to the imagination. Even the implication of immoral activity can be too much for some, but that becomes more an issue of Social Contract negotiation than a matter of sensitivity to certain things due to personal experience.

Players whose characters commit atrocities solely for their own personal amusement are rare, in my experience, and luckily the vast majority appear to respond favorably to censure in the form of consequences affecting the character which are consistent within the setting (in Glorantha, for example, a serial rapist will literally transform into a broo over time. In a game based on Lovecraftian horror, a cannibal will similarly metamorphosize into a ghoul eventually). Often these sorts of players enjoy struggling to achieve some manner of redemption for their characters.


EDIT: Cleaned up some clumsy phrasing


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 05, 2003, 10:51:43 PM
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
  I think you've misread Ralph's point.  There's nothing there to imply it was a topic "previously agreed upon."  You might be inferring some sort of agreed upon damned Premise, but Ralph didn't write that.  

He wrote, as a counter example to a player having the PC doing sometihing just for shock value "If its a throwaway line given with a giggle..." which, when I read it, implied that the importance of the action was being defined in the moment -- not beforehand.  

Well, OK, I may have misread.  But I think it's a fine line.  How does a heinous act become defined as non-important?  Giggling?  I don't think that's reasonable.  Humor, particularly black humor about genuine suffering, can be very meaningful.  (I'm tempted to cite "Kill Puppies for Satan" even though I've only read excerpts, since it seems to be centrally about doing things for shock value.)  

I don't really see the issue over meaning.  In my experience, problems with crossing the line are about too much meaning -- not about being meaningless or unimportant.  Another example:  In one campaign that I GMed, a PC married a man she knew little about for the sake of her family.  He was attracted to her and essentially bought her hand in marriage.  After the wedding, there were some bits where he acted jealous of another PC whom she had had an affair with.  After the game, the PC's player told me (the GM) that it was uncomfortable dealing with the jealousy since that touched too close to real-life issues she had had.  

This is an example of line-crossing.  What was going on was extremely relevant and meaningful, which is exactly why it came to the point of being a problem.  If it wasn't meaningful, the player wouldn't have had a problem.  As it was, I adjusted my role-playing so that the husband was still somewhat obsessed, but confidant enough that he wasn't jealous.  This kept his character largely unchanged.  

Anyhow, maybe this is just opposite ways of saying things that are actually similar.  But I would say the problem of shock or crossing lines is too much meaning.  This can be good or bad or both.  I think there are a lot of works of art that are shocking and also very good.  But yes, you have to be careful that all the players are on board.  In starting this thread I was reacting to the seemingly one-sided view of comparing "my guy" with Nazis.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: greyorm on December 06, 2003, 09:38:59 AM
John,

It occurs to me, after a thorough re-read of the thread defining "My Guy" syndrome that you aren't even talking about My Guy syndrome, let alone a polar opposite of such. You're talking about Abused Player Syndrome -- of which the behaviors detailed by My Guy Syndrome is one reaction to.

Additionally, you seem to be labelling "My Guy" as a term implied to mean any and all play of character for character's sake (Immersive Actor Stance), when it does not apply to the whole gamut, only a dysfunctional portion thereof.

The issue you're complaining about above -- limiting player behavior by using game concept -- is GM Control of concept, and that all depends on the game being run. Ron pointed out this discussion GM control of player character concept across G/N/S (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=32) in the other thread, but I've referenced it again because it's quite relevant to what you're defining with "Anti-My Guy."

Finally, that seems a strange term, more a reaction to the perceived limitations of labelling My Guy play as dysfunctional, rather than discussing this actual problem on its own terms. At least, that is how it is coming across to me.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 06, 2003, 11:31:30 AM
Quote from: greyorm
  Additionally, you seem to be labelling "My Guy" as a term implied to mean any and all play of character for character's sake (Immersive Actor Stance), when it does not apply to the whole gamut, only a dysfunctional portion thereof.  

Well, I was looking at a particular case of behavior... where one participant complains about another player's PC behavior, and that player replies with "well, that's what my character would do".  Now, the complaining player probably views this as dysfunctional.  He thinks that the transgressing player is following character beyond the bounds of reasonable limits -- like beating another PC senseless.  However, the trangressing player thinks that the complainer is at fault for wanting to overly limit the game.  

As I label it, the complainer perceives the transgressor as exemplifying "my guy" syndrome.  Conversely, the transgressor perceives the complainer as exemplifying "anti-my-guy" syndrome.  I guess my point is that I don't think that either of them are necessarily objectively dysfunctional.  But they are a difference of style, and I fall closer to preferring "my guy" syndrome.  

Quote from: greyorm
  The issue you're complaining about above -- limiting player behavior by using game concept -- is GM Control of concept, and that all depends on the game being run. Ron pointed out this discussion GM control of player character concept across G/N/S (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=32) in the other thread, but I've referenced it again because it's quite relevant to what you're defining with "Anti-My Guy."  

Finally, that seems a strange term, more a reaction to the perceived limitations of labelling My Guy play as dysfunctional, rather than discussing this actual problem on its own terms. At least, that is how it is coming across to me.

Well, that GM control thread is mostly talking about character creation -- which I don't think is relevant to what I was talking about.  The case I have in mind is that everyone has agreed to a set of characters without complaint, and play goes on a bit -- but then someone's PC does something major, and another player (or perhaps the GM) complains that it is following the character too far.  

There are preferences pulling in opposite ways here, whatever you want to call them.  My labels of "my guy" and "anti my guy" weren't intended as permanent, official terminology.  I think both labels suck, really.


Title: Addendum: Greg Stafford is Not "Anti-My Guy"
Post by: epweissengruber on December 09, 2003, 09:56:23 AM
A pretty funny essay by Stafford was cited in a lead in to criticizing those who take a "my guy" approach, which in turn lead to a counter-post criticizing those who insist on total identification of player and character and who are also are repulsed by any distancing of player from character.

Quote
OK, as I mentioned in this thread, in my experience I more often felt annoyed by an opposite, "anti-my-guy" syndrome. I haven't read the Stolze essay, but the title certainly takes a tone that somehow real evil is perpetrated if a character does something wrong.


I had a chance to participate in a HeroQuest game with Stafford.  It was peppered with questions like "what does your guy do?" and "who is your guy related to?"  The players were in a similar mode -- "My guy worships Niskis, so he's good at fast talking ladies" and "I dunno, my guy wouldn't do that, he's a pretty conservative old thane."  Despite this mode of speaking, we ended up playing a pretty tricky scenario that had a pretty fine narrative resoltion wherein a character discovered that he was not being cursed, but rather his true magical nature was making itself apparent and that he had to deal with the attendant social complications.

Stafford has a pretty canny understanding of how stories work and how challenging gaming and good story creation are not at odds with each other.  But getting finicky about never saying "my guy" ain't the way of going about it.


Title: Re: Addendum: Greg Stafford is Not "Anti-My Guy"
Post by: xiombarg on December 09, 2003, 10:12:49 AM
Quote from: epweissengruber
Stafford has a pretty canny understanding of how stories work and how challenging gaming and good story creation are not at odds with each other.  But getting finicky about never saying "my guy" ain't the way of going about it.

Um, is anyone seriously proposing this?

"My guy" syndrome, as I understand it, amounts to acting in a way that is deterimental to others enjoying the game -- and, in the most extreme cases, the enjoyment of the acting player as well -- and justifying it with the battle cry: "But that's what my character would do!"

No one is claiming that immersion is bad. But "My Guy" syndrome is justifying social dysfunction with character motivation, and being unwilling to admit that you control the character and that the character can change over time.

Now, I think the situation John refers to is dysfunctional on all sides. Issues like if it's okay for PCs to murder each other should have been discussed before play. It's not a matter of one side being wrong or right -- a "my guy" situation doesn't mean the person crying out to immersion is wrong, it means that there is a bump in the social contract that needs to be smoothed out.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 09, 2003, 10:25:14 AM
Hello,

Ep, I suggest that your anecdote supports the point being made about the My Guy syndrome, rather than refuting it. I see Stafford encouraging Narrativist play, specifically by pumping Author Stance at key points, through the Explorative medium. Pretty straightforward, and not at all related to the dysfunctional syndrome which has gained the "My Guy" label strictly as a point of reference.

Best,
Ron


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 09, 2003, 02:36:46 PM
I'm going to get shot for this. How isn't this simple incoherence?

"My Guy" is, by definition, problematic because the player is doing things specifically to annoy other players (thanks Kirt). When immersion is the form of play selected, and it's being used correctly, there's no reason why it should be problematic, neccessarily. So John is citing one of two things here. Either the player in question is being dishonest realizing that immersion is OK, and just wants their way (Social Contract issue). Or the player is being annoyed by the players not playing in the CA that they want, namely something with a bit more Author stance or something like that.

How is the problem not solved by having the player agree to the play priority that includes immersion?

John, I, Ralph, Stolze, et al, I believe are not railing against immersive play (which seems to be your point in coming after this following on the other conversation). We're against players who use the idea that characters are sacrosanct to play badly.

Now, what consitutes bad play, and what's just player prerogative? Well, that is a fine line, I suppose. But you can't say that no player ever used My Guy stance. And we'd never say that players don't make the mistakes that you cite. So there's no difference of opinion here.

Mike


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: pete_darby on December 10, 2003, 02:06:54 AM
I get the feeling we're whirling around each other again, folks.

In this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7919), I think I came up with a pretty good set of phrases that "My guy woud / my guy wouldn't" is a cover for, some of them pretty much always dysfunctional, other functional within certain agenda, or depndent upon the prevailing SC.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 10, 2003, 12:13:41 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
  "My Guy" is, by definition, problematic because the player is doing things specifically to annoy other players (thanks Kirt). When immersion is the form of play selected, and it's being used correctly, there's no reason why it should be problematic, neccessarily.  

Hmm.  Let me take my original example again -- where Grimmond (my PC) beat up Hayward (Jim's PC).  Now, my play in that case did annoy another player (Mark).  On the other hand, I did not do it with the specific intent to annoy that player -- or at least not with conscious intent.  Does the fact that I didn't consciously try to annoy Mark make it non-problematic?  I wouldn't think so.  My impression was that "My Guy" play is considered problematic because it annoys other players, regardless of the conscious intent.  

However, here's the issue.  He is annoyed by my play.  The group never explicitly formed a contract with regard to this case.  As I see it, this could be validly interpretted as "My Guy" syndrome -- which suggests that I was wrong for annoying him.  On the other hand, this could also be interpretted as "Anti-My-Guy" syndrome -- i.e. he was wrong for being annoyed at my valid immersive play.  

By suggesting "Anti-My-Guy" as a syndrome, I hope to highlight the fact that neither of these are objectively right or wrong.  Neither of us was inherently wrong, but we did have differing preferences.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  John, I, Ralph, Stolze, et al, I believe are not railing against immersive play (which seems to be your point in coming after this following on the other conversation). We're against players who use the idea that characters are sacrosanct to play badly.  

Now, what consitutes bad play, and what's just player prerogative? Well, that is a fine line, I suppose. But you can't say that no player ever used My Guy stance. And we'd never say that players don't make the mistakes that you cite. So there's no difference of opinion here.  

My point is that I don't think there is any objective line for what is "bad play" and what is "player perogative".  I am opposed to trying to classify play into objectively "bad" or "good", which clouds the issue IMO.  There is no one right way to play.  The exact same play might be considered bad to some and good to others.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: xiombarg on December 10, 2003, 12:33:07 PM
Quote from: John Kim
My point is that I don't think there is any objective line for what is "bad play" and what is "player perogative".  I am opposed to trying to classify play into objectively "bad" or "good", which clouds the issue IMO.  There is no one right way to play.  The exact same play might be considered bad to some and good to others.

Then what is the point of examining actual play at all?

Certainly I should think the criterion for if a pleasurable activity isn't working is when the participants aren't enjoying themselves, or at least not enjoying themselves as much as they could be. This is generally the criterion for "bad" sex, for example.

I mean, you seem to think that Jim calling you out was bad. If one can't objectively determine if social behavior is bad or good, how can you claim what Jim did was bad? And actual play is just a form of social behavior in this context -- everyone is trying to play, and enjoy, the game.

Did this incident actually happen to you? I think you are blowing one incident out of proportion and attaching it to something it isn't. The problem with the situation you cite is the fact that the two of you -- intentionally or not -- had a disconnect in terms of how play should go.

To me, "My Guy" syndrome is about selfishness -- where the player considers his own fun to be paramount over that of everyone else. Is that what you're asserting? That your own fun should eclipse Jim's fun? I assume not, but...

There is no "one right way to play". But there are situations where different styles of play conflict, which is bad for everyone involved.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on December 10, 2003, 01:24:48 PM
Hmm.  The point of My Guy (it seems to me) is that citing the fictional construct (the character) in and of itself as justification for something is never a good idea.  The point of Anti-My Guy would be (again, it seems to me) that saying "this is what *I*, the real world person, WANT the character to do" is not a case of trying to place blame on a fictional thing that can't actually BE blamed - it's a legitimate gameplay desire.

"My Guy would . . . " bad, "What I want My Guy to do is . . . " good.  Sometimes, what people really mean by the former is actually the latter, but sometimes, they use the former as a way to avoid responsibilty/conflict/etc.  Which "sometimes" is more impoartant and/or common will vary based on individual experience and play styles, but both can be true without invalidating each other.

The difficulties that can show up when what you want doesn't match up with what others want can't be avoided, and can in fact be really fertile ground for interesting play when managed appropriately.  But they are interpersonal issues ABOUT the fictional world - the fictional entities themselves don't enter into it.

As far as I can tell, John's example with his character Grimmond is firmly a case of conflict between what people want/expect, and not entirely within the purview of My Guy at all.  The insights from classic My Guy (or even his Anti-My Guy) might have helped him a bit in discussing things (before/during/after) with Mark, but there's nothing in his description that makes me think he tried to avoid the conflict by pointing at Grimmond and saying "hey, it ain't me - it's him!"  Mark didn't expect a brutal intra-PC fight to be part of the game, John thought it would be OK if that's where the character concept(s) and play events pointed to.  My Guy is at the periphery - possibly usefully so, but not fundamentally the issue.

At least, that's how I see it,

Gordon


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 10, 2003, 01:31:50 PM
We agree, John, that no CA level preference is superior. But what we're saying is that there's a problem on the Social Contract level when "My Guy" syndrome appears, by our definition. That the player in question is breaking the social contract implicit to all play about everyone having a good time. You wouldn't argue that if I punched you that this would be just my preference, would you? On the social level I'm sure that there are all sorts of things we can agree are "bad behavior".

And you make my point. Since it's not a Social Contract issue as you point out, its an incoherence issue. That is nobody is wrong, as you point out, the problem in this case is that the CA wasn't agreed on in the first place. Thank you for providing the first concrete example of a GNS issue from your play.

Now, do some people misdiagnose a CA issue for a Social Contract issue? Yep, probably happens all the time. I stipulated to that above. So, yes, if somebody is complaining that somebody is doing something wrong on the social level when it's actually a CA problem, that's wrong, and should be fixed. Hence GNS.

Mike

P.S. on the whole "intent" thing again, that's not important. If a player is exhibiting a consistent behavior that's causing problems on the Social level, then they're obviously not paying attention to the social needs of the people playing. Which is, again, a violation of the social contract. Doesn't matter whether or not they intended to ignore the other player's needs or not, they have. Legally, that's guilt by negligence.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 10, 2003, 03:02:43 PM
Quote from: xiombarg
  I mean, you seem to think that Jim calling you out was bad. If one can't objectively determine if social behavior is bad or good, how can you claim what Jim did was bad? And actual play is just a form of social behavior in this context -- everyone is trying to play, and enjoy, the game.

Did this incident actually happen to you?  

Well, yes, it did.  But no, Jim did not call me out.  Jim, as far as I can tell, enjoyed the session fine despite the fact that his PC was beaten up by Grimmond and later was killed by a troll.  It was another player, Mark, who objected even though his PC wasn't there.  To add some perspective, Grimmond was retired as a PC following that session in part because of the split between him and Mr. Edwards (Mark's PC), and I took on a new PC, Miss Hawksquill.  

As I said, I don't think that either Mark or I were objectively in the wrong.  It is a difference of preferences.  The solution would be that we need to compromise or need to split ways.  It worked out OK in the end.  However, at the time I was angry, in that I felt that I was made to compromise by switching to a new PC without corresponding give on Mark's part.  

It seems to me that in previous threads, people talked about "My Guy" syndrome without any acknowledgement of the opposing "Anti My Guy".  This implies that in the difference, the acting player is in the wrong and the complaining player is in the right.  This thread was intended to correct that  -- to point out that these are two preferences in conflict, not just one-sided bad behavior.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: xiombarg on December 10, 2003, 04:05:43 PM
Quote from: John Kim
It seems to me that in previous threads, people talked about "My Guy" syndrome without any acknowledgement of the opposing "Anti My Guy".  This implies that in the difference, the acting player is in the wrong and the complaining player is in the right.  This thread was intended to correct that  -- to point out that these are two preferences in conflict, not just one-sided bad behavior.

The reason that most people haven't talked about "Anti My Guy" is, frankly, in most people's experiences, the "Anti My Guy" view is quite well represented. The sheer number of RPG texts that advocate immersion as the One True Goal of roleplaying without qualification and without admitting there are other styles of play are staggering. Take a look at any early White Wolf game or the 1st edition AD&D DMG, or the sheer amount of rants that people aim, even to this day, against "metagaming", likethis one (http://www.livejournal.com/community/roleplayers/583253.html). The number of times I've seen people yelled at for taking Author stance far outnumbers the times I've seen people accused of My Guy Syndrome.

And a lot of the time the problem IS with the person engaging in "My Guy", at least to some extent. Unlike the example you cite, in more games than I care to count I've seen people deliberately act to ruin other people's fun in order to enhance their own fun, and get away with it because they were "just acting in character". People who talk about My Guy syndrome aren't trying to oppress people interested in immersion and "more flexible" play, they're trying to wake up groups that have been hypnotized into believing that you're not allowed to critique someone's play so long as it's "in character", i.e. so long as there is no "metagaming", everything is cool -- which is often not the case. Such groups are often very adverse to discussing the Social Contract at all.

Let me give you a counter-example. In a pick-up game I was recently in, all of the PCs were located in New York City except one. One of the players decided that his character lived in LA, and refused to change his character concept to accomodate the other PCs or the GM. "I already decided he lives in LA and that's it." This is classic dysfunction, and what most people think of as "My Guy" -- "His Guy" wouldn't live in LA, so he wasn't going to change anything to match.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Christopher Kubasik on December 10, 2003, 04:28:13 PM
Hi John,

While I appreciate your concern that things are sometimes more complicated than people would like, I think you're missing the core issue here.

My Guy Syndrome is not about a player playing a character as he sees fit.  It's about a player using his character as justifaction to be a thorn in the side of other players or the whole group.  The PC, in a circumstance like this, is only the tool.

In the same vein, the person who usually hosts the game might declare is place no longer available because he's getting pissed off with how the game is going; the guy who owns the rule books might state no one else is allowed to flip through what used to be available resources for fear of "wear and tear" -- again, as a way of saying, "No.  I want to get in your face now."

For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense. No one here would suggest you shouldn't play the guy the way you want.

The term only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.  

The fact that almost everyone responding to your example of play  said, essentially, "You're behavior seemed resonable to me," only lends credence the idea that there is reasoanble playing of character and unreasonable playing of character -- and that it's really not that impossible to tell the difference.  (I know that this notion will bother people who want to be able to disprove statements by using hypothetical examples drawn from circumstances having no bearing on actual real play, but them's the breaks.)

I offer that Anti-My-Guy as a manifesto (using "My Guy" as defined by everyone here at the Forge), could only be defined as Every Guy for Himself, Fuck the Others If They're Going to Fuck ME -- not the positon I think you mean to be taking.

Again: My Guy, is the "cover" taken for the real issue of some sort of anger/frustration at stake; it could be revealed through several other covers.  No one is arguing that there might not be issues between players about PC behavior at the table -- but such issues are not by defintion My Guy issues -- and certainly no one thinks it was in the case you cited.

Christopher


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: eyebeams on December 13, 2003, 03:09:27 AM
In my experience, both My Guy and Not My Guy come from problems with taking ownership of the storyline. Sometimes the GM doesn't allow real cooperation by insisting that she's the filter for all information that should apply to the session.

Everyone in the group needs to have a compatible vision for where a scene is going. There's nothing wrong with stepping out of character and chatting about it, or even with the GM making a directorial decision.

Really, why should anyone get to play their characters as they see fit, whether they're being deliberately obnoxious or not? There are online games for that. Unless the game is primarily a tactical exercises (including social tactics), the goal is to create an enjoyable narrative for everyone -- and not everyone likes the PCs throttling each other at inappropriate moments in the story.

When I GM, I have a couple of guidelines:

1) Absolute transparency. I get to know what the character's unspoken/secret intentions are, ask why X would do in Y situation and get a truthful answer, without omissions, every time. In my games your character does not have a right to privacy.

Many games where this stuff happens are games without a transparency clause. The character comes out of left field and frankly, the GM doesn't know enough about the character. Sometimes, the player doesn;t want anyone to know, because the rational of being in character is bogus.

2) You will renegotiate your actions at my insistence. Going to kill a character because it fits your character's personality? No -- no your aren't. This doesn't mean I utterly control character actions. It means I say: "That'd be bad for the game; what else would you like to do?" Usually, there's a way to resolve it. Get agreement from all partipants, do it and move the game along.

Cause you shouldn't me My Guy or Not My Guy in a tabletop game. You should be Our Guy. He;s there to entertain all of us.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: greyorm on December 13, 2003, 09:38:08 AM
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense...The term [My Guy] only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.

I agree with Chris in all this, as this is exactly what I was trying to get at earlier (with obviously limited success).

My Guy is a control issue, as Malcolm states: its about getting what you want by-any-means-necessary, and those means in most games are the character, because that's the only tool and control the player is allowed.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 13, 2003, 11:45:30 AM
Quote from: greyorm
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense...The term [My Guy] only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.

I agree with Chris in all this, as this is exactly what I was trying to get at earlier (with obviously limited success).

My Guy is a control issue, as Malcolm states: its about getting what you want by-any-means-necessary, and those means in most games are the character, because that's the only tool and control the player is allowed.

Hmm.  You seem to be saying that "My Guy" syndrome is a matter of intent.  i.e. If someone are genuinely following their character, then it is OK to be destructive (like Grimmond).  However, if they are intentionally using character as an excuse for destructive behavior, then it is bad.  I tend to agree with Mike Holmes, though, that intent isn't (or shouldn't be) the issue.  Someone can easily be very destructive without consciously intending to.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What we're saying is that there's a problem on the Social Contract level when "My Guy" syndrome appears, by our definition. That the player in question is breaking the social contract implicit to all play about everyone having a good time. You wouldn't argue that if I punched you that this would be just my preference, would you?  On the social level I'm sure that there are all sorts of things we can agree are "bad behavior".

I agree that this is a Social Contract issue, and that intent is not the central issue.  The general situation is this:  one player X says that her PC does something, and another player Y says that he doesn't like what that PC did -- that it hurts his enjoyment.  Let's say we ignore intent.  Who is right?  You may say that we look to the Social Contract, but in most cases the Social Contract is implicit -- i.e. it is what all players agree to rather than a formal document.  If players disagree, then there is no inherent authority to say who is right.  

So "My Guy" syndrome is having your PC act in a way which adversely affects the enjoyment of another player.  It is, as another poster put it, selfish because it makes the game less fun for player Y.  That makes it a violation of Social Contract.  Grimmond (my PC) acted in a way which made the game less enjoyable for Mark (another player).  That makes me player X in my example.  

But there has to be a counter-balancing notion, so that the complainer Y is not always right.  It can be equally selfish to complain about other people's PCs to get what you want.   This is "Anti-My-Guy" syndrome.  It is a form of passive-aggressiveness.  By being ultra-finicky about what you want in a game, you can control it because the others are bound to make you happy.  It is equally a violation of Social Contract, because it is putting your enjoyment ahead of the other players.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: greyorm on December 13, 2003, 01:22:47 PM
John,

I'm afraid you're putting words in my mouth (or in my text, as it were). Intent has absolutely nothing to do with "getting what you want by-any-means-necessary." The player does not, in any way, have to be conscious of this for it to occur, so forget what it "seems" I am saying.

Nor do I agree that "My Guy" syndrome has anything to do with the effect upon the enjoyment of other players -- it is purely a control issue. Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.

So the issue you keep bringing up, "My character did this, and that bothered this other player" is not, not, not a My Guy issue. That event, to me, is purely an issue of Lines and Veils -- that situation is all about the Social Contract of the group in play, what's believed allowed and what isn't, with people's comfort levels and their expectations about play events.

So, that's why what you're discussing is not Anti-My Guy -- because the contrasted instance isn't My Guy.

Also, keep in mind we can't discuss My Guy in terms of discrete occurences, because they occur in a context, so those phrases about what a person's character can and will pop up during a completely functional game session!


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 13, 2003, 05:23:41 PM
Quote from: greyorm
  Intent has absolutely nothing to do with "getting what you want by-any-means-necessary." The player does not, in any way, have to be conscious of this for it to occur, so forget what it "seems" I am saying.

Nor do I agree that "My Guy" syndrome has anything to do with the effect upon the enjoyment of other players -- it is purely a control issue. Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.  

I don't get this.  As you put it, the syndrome occurs when "my guy" is said in order to maintain control.  Is that not intent?  If we ignore intent, then isn't this exactly what happened in my example?  I had my PC Grimmond beat Jim's PC Hayward unconscious.  Hayward was no match physically for Grimmond, so by taking that action I inherently derailed the power of Jim's player.  

But really this happens all the time, to greater or lesser degrees.  Inherently, by taking character action I am seizing control in the game.  By seizing that control, that means (by definition) I am taking control away from others in the game.  There's nothing inherently dysfunctional about that.  For example, as far as I can tell, Jim had no problem with control being taken away from him for a time.  

This puts it right back in Social Contract territory.  Seizing control isn't wrong, unless another player objects to it.  If they do, then we have my basic quandry of acting player X vs complaining player Y.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on December 13, 2003, 06:48:07 PM
Had a bit of a realization about My Guy tonite. Let's see if it helps any.

I was in a Mekton game. I was a late arrival in a years-long game, with most of the other players since graduated and moved on. Well, due to bad planning and worse execution, the players and one NPC, a large lizard-like alien, were at the mercy of the bad guys. They took the NPC away and the players managed to escape. Later we confronted the main bad guy (who was actually a flunky to the BIG big bad guy, but I digress) he was wearing the NPC's skin like a cloak. He killed and skinned the NPC. This made me sick to my stomach. This would have been a situation of "my Guy" with the GM being the one saying "My Guy." You guys don't really know but in person I rarely speak up about things.

I am now certain that My Guy is purely a symptom of a social issue at the table. Not necessarily someone gaining power by any means necessary. The GM in my example was the GM. No player has more power in most games.

I am thinking of John's example. Was the other player upset because John's character beat someone to death, or because his character beat a PC to death?

Was I sickened by the idea of a sentient being being killed and skined and made into clothing or was I sickened because that was mostly my fault for not making very good moves earlier.

I believe that it is both in my case, and possibly the other case.

It seems to me to either be social considerations interfering with the  in-game events in way not really meant or one player causing events to please themselves without much though or poor judgement to the other players' possible reactions.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: greyorm on December 13, 2003, 09:59:13 PM
John, I quote the most relevant part of my previous post: Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.

But this has to be IN CONTEXT. Your examples of someone using their in-game power as a character to overpower someone else's character is so not My Guy syndrome I'm not sure where to begin.

It occurs to me you're looking at all the little pieces as pieces, rather than a whole -- hence why I said IN CONTEXT. There has to be dysfunction going on for My Guy syndrome to be occuring, there has to be destrutive behavior.

As to the intent issue...I'm not sure how to put it...it appears you are talking about conscious intent. I'm not. The player who behaves "in order to gain control" is usually not even thinking "I'm doing this in order to gain control." It's a reaction rather than a choice, a behavior rather than a thought or a conscious strategy. That's why intent has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, that is why I'm saying your situation specifically is all about Lines & Veils, not My Guy. There's no dysfunctional attempt for control going on in your example -- just good, ol' fashioned breach of unspoken expectations. And that's why I feel Jack's post is all about the same thing -- it isn't "My Guy" GM, either.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 14, 2003, 06:40:34 PM
Quote from: greyorm
  It occurs to me you're looking at all the little pieces as pieces, rather than a whole -- hence why I said IN CONTEXT. There has to be dysfunction going on for My Guy syndrome to be occuring, there has to be destrutive behavior.
...
Regardless, that is why I'm saying your situation specifically is all about Lines & Veils, not My Guy. There's no dysfunctional attempt for control going on in your example -- just good, ol' fashioned breach of unspoken expectations. And that's why I feel Jack's post is all about the same thing -- it isn't "My Guy" GM, either.  

OK, but how do you define "destructive behavior" except that other players don't like it?  

There were certainly a lot of control issues going on in the game.  I would say that was definitely one of the more railroaded adventures in the Ripper campaign.  In retrospect, one could reasonably interpret that Jim and I were attempting to seize control away from railroading GM behavior by our insane PCs.  Now, the slide to insanity had been established for a long time -- but the particular choices involved fit pretty well with a struggle over control.  

The PCs had gone out to a Scottish village near Hayward's home, and we knew there were dangerous magical goings-on out on the moors.  One night we were staying at a manor house, I think of the family of Hayward's fiancee.  We were wakened in the night to see that his fiancee was sleepwalking some distance out onto the moors.  The others immediately ran out after her; Grimmond got a shotgun and fired bird-shot out at her.  (NOTE: Bird-shot isn't dangerous to humans at range, but it will sting.  Grimmond intended to wake her up by this.)    

After she doesn't respond, Grimmond headed out and eventually caught up with the others.  The group lost sight of the manor, and soon it became clear we had wandered onto some faerie path.  He and Hayward lag behind, I forgot why.  Hayward began babbling insanely of the magical powers at work and trying to invoke them, which immediately set off Grimmond's rather justified paranoia.  He threatened Hayward, then beat him senseless when Hayward refused to cooperate.  He dragged his unconcious body along and tied him up, searching for the others.  

I should go on to say about how Hayward died, as well.  Grimmond eventually let Hayward loose as long as he behaved.  Much later, though,  Grimmond and Hayward were by the edge of a forest when we heard the trampling of something huge and monstrous approaching.  Grimmond attempted to seek cover, but Hayward went with the delusion of his magical powers.  He sat down and began a ritual as the thing approached.  Essentially, the GM gave many warnings that the thing approaching was flattening trees as it came and the ritual wasn't working, but Jim had Hayward stand firm in his delusion.  Hayward was then squashed to jelly as the troll-things came.  

Now, one can easily read this as control issues.  Mark and Liz were the pro-GM-story players, while myself and Jim were against.  The insanity and clash of my and Jim's PCs can be read as an attempt to derail the GM's story by putting spotlight on internal conflict.  That wasn't how I thought of it at the time, but I'd buy it as subconscious acting out.  I don't know what Jim was thinking, really.  He clearly went farther than me in that he deliberately killed off his PC over this.  

Following the session, it was clear that Edwards (Mark's PC) would not have anything to do with Grimmond any more.  I made an argument with the GM that Grimmond could still work as a PC as long as Edwards needed him for protection (which he did prior to that session).  But the GM voted it down and I went with a new PC instead -- who was working with Jim's new PC.  

So framing it about control works, but I still think my point stands.  Jim and I were exhibiting "My Guy" -- attempt to seize control through character action.  Mark, Liz, and the GM Chris were exhibiting "Anti My Guy".


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: M. J. Young on December 14, 2003, 08:05:15 PM
Quote from: John Kim
The general situation is this:  one player X says that her PC does something, and another player Y says that he doesn't like what that PC did -- that it hurts his enjoyment.  Let's say we ignore intent.  Who is right?  You may say that we look to the Social Contract, but in most cases the Social Contract is implicit -- i.e. it is what all players agree to rather than a formal document.  If players disagree, then there is no inherent authority to say who is right.  

So "My Guy" syndrome is having your PC act in a way which adversely affects the enjoyment of another player.  It is, as another poster put it, selfish because it makes the game less fun for player Y.  That makes it a violation of Social Contract.  Grimmond (my PC) acted in a way which made the game less enjoyable for Mark (another player).  That makes me player X in my example.

O.K., I think that the problem is more one of degree here, maybe. My Guy syndrome isn't about the moment when you have your character do something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, I thought that's what my character would do, so I went with it." It's about when your character does something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, that's what my guy would do, and there's nothing you can do about it because he isn't your guy, he's my guy, so there."

Now, if by anti-my-guy we mean "everyone in the group is obliged to consider everyone else's feelings and limits during play, and not cross known lines if they can be avoided even if that's where it looks like they're character would go", then we have a relatively simple social contract issue--do we know what the lines are, and are we willing to stay within them? But if we mean "you can't do anything I don't like because I get veto power over everything that happens in the game" then yes, that's dysfunctional.

Am I on the right page here?

--M. J. Young


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 14, 2003, 09:45:17 PM
Quote from: M. J. Young
  O.K., I think that the problem is more one of degree here, maybe. My Guy syndrome isn't about the moment when you have your character do something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, I thought that's what my character would do, so I went with it." It's about when your character does something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, that's what my guy would do, and there's nothing you can do about it because he isn't your guy, he's my guy, so there."  

I'd agree with this.  I'm sure there are much much worse cases out there, but on the other hand this one wasn't totally trivial.  Mark, Chris, and I were all pretty steamed.  I was forced to change PCs after this session; and Jim's PC Hayward died.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
  Now, if by anti-my-guy we mean "everyone in the group is obliged to consider everyone else's feelings and limits during play, and not cross known lines if they can be avoided even if that's where it looks like they're character would go", then we have a relatively simple social contract issue--do we know what the lines are, and are we willing to stay within them? But if we mean "you can't do anything I don't like because I get veto power over everything that happens in the game" then yes, that's dysfunctional.  

Well, I think I agree in principle -- but I disagree that the first part is at all simple.  There is enormous complexity to the lines (which are really shades rather than lines), and it can be tricky how to respect them.  Fundamentally, this principle rewards being picky and sensitive with control over the game.  It doesn't have to be an aggressive "I'm calling you out".  It just means being sensitive to other people's play.    

Personally, I see two extremes.  At one extreme (My Guy), everyone just does what they enjoy and doesn't pay attention to the feelings of others.  At the other extreme (Anti-My-Guy), everyone focusses on pleasing others and never selfishly does things just because they enjoy them.  Both are dysfunctional, but both also have a sort of logic to them.  My Guy works by evolutionary sorting.  If I play just to enjoy myself, there's no inherent reason that should be offensive to others.  In fact, people of similar taste will likely enjoy it as well.  If our tastes differ, then we should migrate to be in different games.  Anti-My-Guy works by enjoying the spectacle of other people's play which is tailored to please you.  

I think that most problems occur in the wide range in between the extremes.  Everyone has different range they prefer.  It seems to me that those tending towards "My Guy" will be those who get enjoyment primarily out of playing their character.  In turn, those tending towards "Anti My Guy" will be those who get enjoyment primarily watching the group as a whole.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 15, 2003, 07:49:07 AM
Hello,

John, I still don't see anything in your behavior that resembles what Paul originally described as the My-Guy Syndrome. I do see some possible power/control issues, just as you describe (i.e. what you say makes sense to me), but nothing like the My-Guy breakdown. That's usually characterized by the group breaking apart in a seriously negative way.

I really do think that you're latching onto a term, making it apply to something it doesn't, not liking the implications (as you see it as a criticism of a perfectly fine way to play), and then attacking the term.

Is it at all possible to ask you to take a break from the point-by-point exchange of positions, which tends to cement people into those positions, and just review that idea for a while?

Best,
Ron


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: contracycle on December 17, 2003, 12:41:12 AM
Just wanted to remark that I too think My Guy is bandied about a little too loosely.  A while ago, I raised a question about a certain player behaviour and all I got was "oh thats My Guy syndrome" - which I don't think it was.  It strikes me as a form of throwing your hands in the air and saying "what can you do?"  It means we have no vocabulary to address any but the most extreme case, and the moderate cases seesm to be lumped with the extreme.  Simply put, I don't much like the term as it stands.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 17, 2003, 11:09:41 AM
Quote from: contracycle
Just wanted to remark that I too think My Guy is bandied about a little too loosely.  A while ago, I raised a question about a certain player behaviour and all I got was "oh thats My Guy syndrome" - which I don't think it was.  It strikes me as a form of throwing your hands in the air and saying "what can you do?"  It means we have no vocabulary to address any but the most extreme case, and the moderate cases seesm to be lumped with the extreme.  Simply put, I don't much like the term as it stands.

This pretty much agrees with my observations of the term.  My approach in this thread has just been to formalize the usage you describe.  i.e. "My Guy" syndrome covers a broad range of behaviors.  I generalized it to be a player choosing PC behavior which is objected to by other participants, where the ostensible reason is "That is what my guy would do".  

Now, I think others want a more narrow definition -- that "My Guy" syndrome only applies to dysfunctional behavior (perhaps of a particular type) on the part of the player.  But I think that isn't a practical distinction.  The players who object will naturally claim that the behavior is "dysfunctional", while the player doing it will naturally claim that it isn't.  I think it is better to have the label be more neutral, and then after agreeing on the label people can discuss about causes and fixes.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 17, 2003, 01:30:29 PM
To quickly recap, I think that, sure, My Guy get's bandied about too much, and like any simple answer will tend to get overappllied. But that doesn't mean it's not useful. Sometimes you can tell that a player is being an ass, and, when they are, it's My Guy syndrome. When they're not, it's probably a GNS issue. The fact that you redifined it for purposes of the thread as something larger, John, in order to attack it, doesn't mean that it never had an important meaning. It did, namely when it was defined as Paul defined it when he created the term. Sure, if people have warped it since then that's a bad thing. But that just means that people should be referred back to the original, working definition.

Now, I would say this. In "diagnosing" My Guy, I think that the best tactic is to assume from the start that it's a GNS issue and proceed as though it were one (unless it's glaringly obvious or something). Because if you do, then at the point at which you are being reasonable, and the other player becomes unreasonable, then at that point can you move on to calling it My Guy syndrome with some accuracy. Until then you could be misdiagnosing a simple misunderstanding.

Would that suffice to quell your fears of "Anti-My Guy Syndrome"? If we advocated a more careful diagnosis? And stuck to My Guy as the last resort diagnosis only when it becomes completely apparent? Because I do agree with you that this would be, by far, the best mode of operation here. What one can't do, obviously, is to assume that such a problem is My Guy from the start without any analysis. That's obviously a bogus approach. And what your player did in the example, I think.

Mike


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 17, 2003, 05:41:34 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
  To quickly recap, I think that, sure, My Guy get's bandied about too much, and like any simple answer will tend to get overappllied. But that doesn't mean it's not useful. Sometimes you can tell that a player is being an ass, and, when they are, it's My Guy syndrome. When they're not, it's probably a GNS issue. The fact that you redifined it for purposes of the thread as something larger, John, in order to attack it, doesn't mean that it never had an important meaning.  

The thing is, I don't think "Being An Ass" is a useful criteria.  In clashes like I described, both sides will tend to see the other as being an ass.  This makes diagnosing "My Guy" into just fancy name-calling.  You're trying to claim that it's only about times when the offending player is really an ass -- not just when someone thinks he's an ass.  I dislike this approach to the situation.  Even if the player is unequivocably being an ass, I don't think that officially labelling him an ass is helpful.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  Would that suffice to quell your fears of "Anti-My Guy Syndrome"? If we advocated a more careful diagnosis? And stuck to My Guy as the last resort diagnosis only when it becomes completely apparent? Because I do agree with you that this would be, by far, the best mode of operation here. What one can't do, obviously, is to assume that such a problem is My Guy from the start without any analysis. That's obviously a bogus approach. And what your player did in the example, I think.

Anti-My-Guy syndrome as I've described it does exist as a real entity, regardless of the approach.  If I go with the approach you describe, then Anti-My-Guy syndrome is simply defined as "Calling 'My Guy' syndrome when that isn't really the case".  You can claim that the recommended approach is to be careful -- but in practical terms, mistakes will happen.  

However, I don't think that trying to analyze in terms of objective right or wrong (i.e. functional / dysfunctional) is a good approach in the first place.  I prefer to approach it as a subjective difference of opinion.  i.e. Player(s) X and Player(s) Y disagree.  One side thinks that a character action is appropriate, and one does not.  For example, I don't think that Mark (the objecting player in my example) was being bogus.  He was speaking out how he felt.  What I disliked was how his objection was ultimately handled.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 18, 2003, 03:14:44 PM
John, the only place that you and I differ on this is in how hard these things are to determine. I think that if one is educated on the subject, that it's pretty easy to remain objective about it, and avoid overdiagnosis: Anti-My Guy Syndrome. I don't know how you can see me as saying that it doesn't exist, when at every turn I keep saying that I agree with you that it does exist. If, by Syndrome, you mean that these misdiagnoses happen with a pattern, I'm sure you're right. I never said otherwise. And part of the reason is undoubtedly because of people talking about My Guy Syndrome irresponsibly. Part is an agenda to get away from Immersive play. Loads of reasons. Yep, I'm with you all the way.

But I still see the solution to the issue as one of making people aware of it. Because the phenomenon described by the original definition of My Guy happens. Shocked by previous play that makes the player feel that he can't trust the GM or other players, a player will cordon off his own space and play his character as he likes despite it being annoying to the other players. Remember that the player practicing My Guy is a victim of abuse, not somebody who's proactively using his interrperetation of his character to make for a good game. As such, the symptoms are obvious. And we can help these people as long as we acknowledge what's going on - a social level problem, not a GNS problem.

Psychiatrists in previous decades used to overdiagnose "Borderline Personality Syndrome". Many times as a way of marginalizing women and minorities. Did that mean that they should just have ignored that there was a problem for the people who did have it? Should they have dropped the categorization of the illness overall? No, they did the right thing and have tried since to educate doctors to spot the real thing. Your solution seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Mike


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: John Kim on December 18, 2003, 08:06:30 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Psychiatrists in previous decades used to overdiagnose "Borderline Personality Syndrome". Many times as a way of marginalizing women and minorities. Did that mean that they should just have ignored that there was a problem for the people who did have it? Should they have dropped the categorization of the illness overall? No, they did the right thing and have tried since to educate doctors to spot the real thing. Your solution seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

No, my solution keeps the objective diagnosis -- and simply throws away prejudiced bias.  I would offer homosexuality as an alternate example.  Now, homosexuality objectively exists as a pattern of behavior.  No one questions that.  Thus, we can diagnose it.  However, it's classification as a mental illness is questionable.  Whether it is accepted or not is a social issue.  

I propose that we diagnose My Guy Syndrome as objective behavior, just like a psychological syndrome.  No psychologist would accept "being an ass" as an objective definition.  An objective definition describes what happens -- it doesn't predefine whether that behavior is right or wrong.  

Then separate from the definition, we can argue about where the dividing line between valid and invalid play is.


Title: Anti-my-guy Syndrome
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 19, 2003, 06:55:19 AM
Hi there,

That's my exit-point, I think.

Neither "objective vs. subjective" nor "valid vs. invalid play" make a whole lot of sense to me, and I'm not even sure why they're being brought in as criteria or topics.

Carry on.

Best,
Ron