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Author Topic: Dead Inside Playtest, Gender Ratios, Mild Analysis  (Read 13549 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2004, 08:27:52 AM »

Quote from: chadu
To be honest, nothing anyone says here is going to say anything empirical about gamers as a group. We don't have the tools or the information -- they closest we as a hobby have ever got is the WOtC survey from a few years ago.

I see this -- what we're doing here -- as a point of departure for discussion, not a statement ex cathedra. "Here is my current opinion and thinking; let's talk about it. . ."
Agreed. My point is that this "point of departure" looks very familiar to me.

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I recently read Sorcerer & Sex about six weeks ago. I found it interesting, but not the last word on the subject.
Again, agreed. What I'm saying is that this seems to be generally the best way to approach the subject, from outside disciplines working into RPGs. From empirical evidence to how that affects RPGs.

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Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  
That's usually considered axiomatic around here. The social level must work well first in order for anything good to happen. That said, the only thing to be said here is to use the same skills that you have with women (and with men) that you use everyday, presumably. We aren't trying to teach people how to be social here, are we?

Once you get past that level, then there's the question of whether things like design or techniques can affect female enjoyment. But I think, again, the sumum bonum applies to both genders equally, and that is to design games well. Because if it's true that women seem "impatient" I think it has to do with the fact that they're less conformist than men (how's that for a pop psychology generalization) and therefore not willing to put up with bad designs for the same amount of social appeal that men are. But that doesn't tell us anything specifically about women other than your design should be doubly as good if you ever expect women to play them. Since we're all trying to design as well as possible, however, I'm not sure how the advice helps.

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F. Like I've said, this has all been worked out before.


Respectfully, I disagree. I don't think the issue has been worked out (in the sense of solved or understood completely). But that's my opinion.
Again, we actually agree. I wasn't saying that it had been worked out to some solutions or truths. Just that it's been attempted enough that I think that this approach isn't likely to produce any more truths than the other attempts - if, indeed, there is anything to uncover (which I doubt).

That is, I don't think that women are functionally so different than men that you can do anything in design that appeals to them more than any other design.

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How do you know I haven't looked at previous information?
I don't know that, and didn't assume that you hadn't. I wasn't refering to you.

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Frthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed.
That I'd buy. At that point start looking at all the threads about newbies and "accessibility."

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All right. You're skeptical-colored. Now your pants don't match your shirt.
Story of my life.

Mike
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chadu
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2004, 08:58:20 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Oh, I totally agree with this. About the only alteration I'd make is that folks should examine the level of respect they treat everyone around the table with. I mean, it does no good to treat a new player like crap, just becuase you treat everybody like crap, right?

Personally, I think that's one of the biggest aspects that drives away newbies (after rules complexity) -- intrapersonal sniping and lack of respect.  


That's usually considered axiomatic around here. The social level must work well first in order for anything good to happen. That said, the only thing to be said here is to use the same skills that you have with women (and with men) that you use everyday, presumably. We aren't trying to teach people how to be social here, are we?


Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.

Discuss. :)

Point of Departure: I designed the conflict rules in Dead Inside to replicate what I felt were the aspects of "give and take" and "wearing down" when characters are in opposition, be it in a debate, in a duel, or in a race.

This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)

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Once you get past that level, then there's the question of whether things like design or techniques can affect female enjoyment. But I think, again, the sumum bonum applies to both genders equally, and that is to design games well. (...) Since we're all trying to design as well as possible, however, I'm not sure how the advice helps.


Agreed.

In the interests of moving this conversation to a less-anecdotal and more-theoretical basis, let me isolate some aspects of my earlier posts.

A. There is a group of players that seem to share characteristics, composed of some males, many females, and many newbies. Let us call them Group A, in the interests of mimizing -- but not erasing -- possible gender-based issues.

B. Some aspects of game design that seem to appeal to Group A:

B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.

B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.

B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).

B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.

C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.

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That is, I don't think that women are functionally so different than men that you can do anything in design that appeals to them more than any other design.


Possibly. While I agree that people are people, there is an aspect of how to pitch or spin information to target groups that could be valuable.

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Furthermore, I am coming to the conclusion that there seems to be a stronger relation between what I'm seeing as "women gamer style" and what I'm seeing as "newbie gamer style" than I had otherwise supposed.

That I'd buy. At that point start looking at all the threads about newbies and "accessibility."

 
As I've only started to reconfigure my analysis -- (izzard) in my mind (/izzard) -- to more firmly chunk together "Group A," I'll have to go a 'searching.

Thanks!

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2004, 09:58:07 AM »

Quote from: chadu
Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.
Gads, sounds so...remedial. Do you mean that we need to teach people here at The Forge how to be more social in threads to that effect, or something like that (I'm seeing net classes or something, which is, of course, ironic). Or that the games should teach these things?

See, I'm not sure what that would look like. I'm seeing a section in the book that would sound like Miss Manners: When your guests arrive, compliment them on something, and make sure that they have a place to sit near somebody with whom they can talk. Then ask if they'd like refreshments.

Call me a cynic, but if people have gotten to be adults without knowing how to be appropriately social, I'm not interested in them playing my game. And I sincerely doubt that including stuff like this in my game is going to actually sell more copies.

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This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)
Trying to follow this: are you saying that the duplex mode is more socially enriching? If so, then we're threatening to have to go back to the thread on immersionism (ack).

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B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.
OK, this needs clarification. It seems to me that all things created in-game in a RPG can be interacted with. Are you indicating mechanical or metagame interaction is indicated?

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B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.
This seems to be something that everyone enjoys. That is, there's always a rate of data exchange that forms a feedback loop. If that rate isn't producing enough enjoyable results per unit time, or per unit effort, then the whole is seen as undesirable. I'd propose that any groups that you've observed that seem to like "slow" play, were actually cherishing some feedback element that you don't (or this group does not). Meaning that it's not the rate, which should always be optimized, but also the nature of the feedback itself that's important.

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B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).
Again, I'm not sure what your terms mean here. How are in-game objects like NPCs mentioned above, not "content?"

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B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.
I think you'll have to explain better what you mean by "Doesn't Matter" here. Are you saying that the optimum system for your group would be one that did nothing but meters pacing? Have you seen the Pace system (or Universalis  for that matter)? Have you considered freeform? These are all systems, and saying that they would be better is saying that System Does Matter.

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C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.
You'll have to expand on this, too. That is, the social dynamic is constantly a factor in what happens in all play. Is there some particular effect that you're describing?

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Possibly. While I agree that people are people, there is an aspect of how to pitch or spin information to target groups that could be valuable.
Marketing? Well, sure. Do we have any marketers here? What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

There might be some extension to how this might be applied in play, but I would be really skeptical that this could be applied anywhere outside of "Group A."

Mike
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xiombarg
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2004, 10:25:56 AM »

Quote from: chadu
So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.

There's a third option you're not considering: You can think of the system because it actively enhances your fun.

And I don't mean assuming you're a "crunchy bits" person that enjoys system for its own sake. I'm talking about system bits that come to the fore of the game, but enhance what the game is about.

You seem to assume a system is either transparent or awkward, when it's possible for system to enhance play without being transparent. Your assumptions are very "system lite," in that you assume a sytem must either get in the way and or out of the way, that it's a "necessary evil", when in fact the system can rev up the game, like a car can transport human beings faster than they can go on foot.
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chadu
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2004, 11:34:56 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Let me be provocative in response: Maybe we, as game designers, should teach people how to be social.


Gads, sounds so...remedial. Do you mean that we need to teach people here at The Forge how to be more social in threads to that effect, or something like that (I'm seeing net classes or something, which is, of course, ironic). Or that the games should teach these things?


The latter.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
See, I'm not sure what that would look like.


Have you had a chance to see DI? :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm seeing a section in the book that would sound like Miss Manners: When your guests arrive, compliment them on something, and make sure that they have a place to sit near somebody with whom they can talk. Then ask if they'd like refreshments.


To an extent, yes -- but in two ways: out-of-game and in-game.

For example, I address what I suppose would be considered as the "social contract" here (what I'm calling out-of-game") in passim throughout my game. So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.

In terms of in-game social education, rulesets can be constructed to reward or punish types, styles, and manner of play, always with the proviso, of course, that such things can be ignored. However, if the mechanic in question is central to the game or close to central -- I'm thinking here of Pendragon's virtues system as well as the majority of the rules of MLwM and DI's overall take on soul-cultivation/soul-decay -- it becomes harder to ignore the education tool as a subset. (Indeed, in those cases where the mechanic is distasteful, I'd say that typically the entire game then gets ignored.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Call me a cynic, but if people have gotten to be adults without knowing how to be appropriately social, I'm not interested in them playing my game.


Somewhat agreed with what I see as your intent behind the statement, but disagreed in that I'm interested in playing with people who might not be adult or appropriately social (children, teenagers, adults who have a foible, etc.).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And I sincerely doubt that including stuff like this in my game is going to actually sell more copies.


Not directly, no. Indirectly, I believe it will. As RPGing is a mostly orally-transmitted, social sort of hobby, I think that supporting and encouraging social adeptness will have benefits down the road, as newbies are welcomed and permitted to retain interest in the hobby by more socially-ept gamers.

Yes, I am a megalomaniac, bent on world domination.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
This back-and-forth nature is communication, and was intended to be a duplex system (transmit and receive simultaneously) rather than a half-duplex system (tramsit or receive, one at a time). Now, it's also a point of debate whether the system achieves full duplex, given the linear nature of time. :)


Trying to follow this: are you saying that the duplex mode is more socially enriching? If so, then we're threatening to have to go back to the thread on immersionism (ack).


I wouldn't use the word "enriching," as it seems laden with an unintended value judgement. Perhaps "socially-efficient" or "more like natural, out-of-game social interaction." I'll ponder how to express this better.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B1. Relating to all aspects of the game (NPCs, items, setting, and even rules) as characters or something that can be characterized and directly interacted with as such in-game.


OK, this needs clarification. It seems to me that all things created in-game in a RPG can be interacted with. Are you indicating mechanical or metagame interaction is indicated?


Not mechanical. I'm not sure about metagame. What I'm talking about is "performance" or "portrayal" of the PC by the player. For example, the PC doesn't use Jumping skill to cross the 5' gap, the PC summons his/her energies and athletic prowess to jump over the smoking chasm that the fleeing wizard placed behind his horse to deter pursuers. Or, instead of the +1 sword, it's Halfblack, the blade carried by an ancestor of the PC.

Mechanically, the jumping the chasm and the magic sword are the same thing. In performance, they are characterized -- they have a context in-game, a presence, a feel. They are portrayed at the character level, and evoke more interest (IMAO).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B2. A fast pace -- quick start, quick chargen, quick resolution -- for System -- is more than advisable, it is mandatory.

This seems to be something that everyone enjoys. That is, there's always a rate of data exchange that forms a feedback loop. If that rate isn't producing enough enjoyable results per unit time, or per unit effort, then the whole is seen as undesirable.


Agreed, 100%.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'd propose that any groups that you've observed that seem to like "slow" play, were actually cherishing some feedback element that you don't (or this group does not). Meaning that it's not the rate, which should always be optimized, but also the nature of the feedback itself that's important.


Agreed. I accept this addenda.

Now, here's a sticky bit: why are some feedback natures unappealling to Group A, when a large proportion of gamers apparently enjoy them? Is this simply individual taste, group taste, or something inherent in a gamer? (And we're back to Square 1.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B3. Building on B1 and B2, Content -- plot, setting, characterizations, scenery -- is King. However, if B1 and B2 are ignored or dysfunctional, Content alone cannot retain interest in the game (as a game, at least).


Again, I'm not sure what your terms mean here. How are in-game objects like NPCs mentioned above, not "content?"


Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
B4. Other than in its pacing aspect, System does not matter unless it substantially enhances or limits play of the game.


I think you'll have to explain better what you mean by "Doesn't Matter" here. Are you saying that the optimum system for your group would be one that did nothing but meters pacing? (snip)


No. What I'm saying is that the choice of System for a game is irrelevant, unless it specifically supports or undermines the desired style of play. That is, one could play a bog-standard Fantasy Heartbreaker game using absolutely any set of game mechanics -- rolling dice, adding up dice totals, adding up dice successes vs. a target, flipping playing cards, casting yarrow stalks, looking up random words in the dictionary, going completely freeform, whatever.

Unless the chosen set of mechanics makes the game substantially more enjoyable for the players and supports their interest (or becomes substantially dull, boring, or frustrating for the players) it doesn't matter which one you use.

To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Have you seen the Pace system (or Universalis  for that matter)?
 

Haven't seen Pace or Universalis. Would you consider trading me a copy of Universalis for one of DI?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
C. The social dynamic of the gaming group has an effect on play; this effect is especially noticeable to Group A.


You'll have to expand on this, too. That is, the social dynamic is constantly a factor in what happens in all play. Is there some particular effect that you're describing?


Simply that newcomers to a group notice the way group interactions obviously effect play when they enter the group; this may include interactions and dynamics that extant group memebers do not perceive. (No doubt there are inobvious effects as well, that the extant group would notice before newcomers to that group.) That was about the extent of my thought here.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

There might be some extension to how this might be applied in play, but I would be really skeptical that this could be applied anywhere outside of "Group A."


Well, look on the bright side: your pants and shirt now match, Skeptickal Guy.

Kidding aside, the best thing I can say is that I'm not as skeptical.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

 Available Now: Truth & Justice
chadu
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2004, 11:38:49 AM »

Quote from: xiombarg
Quote from: chadu
So, you either don't think of the System really at all, it enhances your fun greatly, or it actively interferes with your fun.


There's a third option you're not considering: You can think of the system because it actively enhances your fun.


Um, actually, that's what I meant when I said "enhances your fun greatly" in the quoted bit. Three options: 1. don't think, 2. enhances greatly, 3. actively interferes.

I suspect you read my serial comma as an apposative.

Quote from: xiombarg
And I don't mean assuming you're a "crunchy bits" person that enjoys system for its own sake. I'm talking about system bits that come to the fore of the game, but enhance what the game is about.


Exactly.

Quote from: xiombarg
You seem to assume a system is either transparent or awkward, when it's possible for system to enhance play without being transparent. (snip)


Um, no, as above.

Just to be clear.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

 Available Now: Truth & Justice
chadu
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« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2004, 11:40:29 AM »

Quote from: chadu
I suspect you read my serial comma as an apposative.


Crap. This looks like it's my bad -- I used "either" to refer to three choices.

St00pid fingers.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

 Available Now: Truth & Justice
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2004, 12:51:01 PM »

Quote from: chadu
Quote from: Mike Holmes
See, I'm not sure what that would look like.


Have you had a chance to see DI? :)
While I like to pride myself on keeping up to date with new publications, that doesn't mean that I can afford to buy every game that comes on the market. :-)

But I'll take it on faith - what does your game do that teaches good social behavior.

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For example, I address what I suppose would be considered as the "social contract" here (what I'm calling out-of-game") in passim throughout my game. So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.
I'm probably not the world's most sociable person. But I'd like to think that I have what it takes to be social enough to be a decent participant in a RPG. So wouldn't I find material like this at the very least ancillary, and at worst insulting? And, again, if a person hasn't learned to be social by now, are they really going to become so from your game?

To be clear, I think that the vast majority of us are actually at the level where we can do just fine. I don't think that there's a lot to be "fixed" here. I thimk that the designer's imperative is to assume normal humans, and build the game to be good from there.

Mostly when we talk about the social aspect of games here, it follows the theory from "The Big 5" series of posts, in which we generally say that the usual problem isn't that people are antisocial, or don't know how to be social in RPG situations - it's that people assume that enjoyment of the game substitutes for a good social situation. Meaning that people play with others that they wouldn't otherwise associate with under the assumption that play will make everything OK. The assumption is that the social level doesn't need to exist, that all play can be constantly like one giant convention game.

So the "advice" that we give people is just to play with people who you can get along with. And nothing further seems at all neccessary. We then focus on making the games good to play.

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In terms of in-game social education, rulesets can be constructed to reward or punish types, styles, and manner of play, always with the proviso, of course, that such things can be ignored. However, if the mechanic in question is central to the game or close to central -- I'm thinking here of Pendragon's virtues system as well as the majority of the rules of MLwM and DI's overall take on soul-cultivation/soul-decay -- it becomes harder to ignore the education tool as a subset. (Indeed, in those cases where the mechanic is distasteful, I'd say that typically the entire game then gets ignored.)
I'm of the opinion that "rules that can be ignored" usually are. That is, to have an effect on play, rules need to be linked to events such that they occur in a mechanical manner. Can you give me an example of such a tool?

Penragon's mechanic doesn't tell anybody about how to act on the player level. That is, mechanics that affect character action don't mean diddly-squid to the players. To whit, I was once playing a game of Pendragon with Ralph, and he and the GM got into a heated debate about what the result of the use of the virtue system had produced. Totally OOC.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Somewhat agreed with what I see as your intent behind the statement, but disagreed in that I'm interested in playing with people who might not be adult or appropriately social (children, teenagers, adults who have a foible, etc.).
Nope, if I can't form an appropriate social context with these folks, I don't want to play with them. And I don't want to make anybody else think it's a good idea either.

That said, I have a great social context with my child. So I'd have no problem playing a game with him. I think you're now straying into the realm of the "maturity myth." Which regards "immature" gamers. There are no such things. Oh, you think you've met them, but what you've met were people with whom either you didn't bother first setting up a proper social context, or with whose play you had an issue because of GNS incoherency.

Yes, some people take longer to establish a good social context with, but if you don't, I think that no system in the world will help. If the person is truely incapable of getting to that point, then, again, no system can help you.

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Not directly, no. Indirectly, I believe it will. As RPGing is a mostly orally-transmitted, social sort of hobby, I think that supporting and encouraging social adeptness will have benefits down the road, as newbies are welcomed and permitted to retain interest in the hobby by more socially-ept gamers.
This is the main method of transmission that we here tend to rely upon. That is we think of word of mouth of good play as the primary method of selling games. The point is that I sincerely don't believe that it will make play any better. I mean, if you take a paragraph and say, "play with people that you like," then I think you've done about all you practically can do.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I wouldn't use the word "enriching," as it seems laden with an unintended value judgement. Perhaps "socially-efficient" or "more like natural, out-of-game social interaction." I'll ponder how to express this better.
Someone did some communication model anayses of RPGs a while back. Can anybody rememeber the threads? I know that John Kim has done something that's connected. Can anybody help out with links?

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Mechanically, the jumping the chasm and the magic sword are the same thing. In performance, they are characterized -- they have a context in-game, a presence, a feel. They are portrayed at the character level, and evoke more interest (IMAO).
Ah, you mean existing as more than just metagame - more than a number on the paper. OK, I get that. Enforcement of this sort of thing hasn't been precisely easy in designs in the past. Often it occurs as an effect of some gestalt that the game provides.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Now, here's a sticky bit: why are some feedback natures unappealling to Group A, when a large proportion of gamers apparently enjoy them? Is this simply individual taste, group taste, or something inherent in a gamer? (And we're back to Square 1.)
Yes, I think that's it, these things are too individual to count on trying to see trends here.

For example, people often throw out in these discussions, "women like to see romance, and other forms of interpersonal interactions in play" which is inevitably followed up by somebody posting about the girl in their game that makes the men look sensitive by comparison with how "hack 'n slash" her play is. Even more problematic is the suggestion that women don't like math in their play - that's garanteed to get some female member here hot enough to post a rebuttal - as well they should, IMO. I can't think of one assertion like this that's ever been made to stick to any group of players.

Why not just do the easy thing and say that if people like romance, then they'll enjoy romance in their games? What does the gender matter?

If you're wondering why more women don't play, see the posts about cheesecake, etc. There's more than enough reasons that RPGs are offensive to some women without having to look for the feedback of play being the problem.

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Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).
Again, confirming that you don't like to see metagame (or group A doesn't). That is the appearance of numbers and stuff is seen by your people as "getting in the way" of getting to the heart of the matter.

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Unless the chosen set of mechanics makes the game substantially more enjoyable for the players and supports their interest (or becomes substantially dull, boring, or frustrating for the players) it doesn't matter which one you use.
Well I guess it all depends on what you mean by "substantially." All systems have some effect on all play (or they're not being used). System always does matter.

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To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.
You're using System to mean just the mechanics. That's not  the usual use here at The Forge. According to the Lumpley Principal, System is that set of rules by which we determine what happens in the Shared Imaginative Space. Meaning that all that stuff that you call "content" is all created by system.

For example, in one game, it's OK for players to create NPCs. In another it's not. This is System. What you're refering to, we'd call just the mechanisms of the game. This seems to be our communication problem here. If you use our definition of System, do you see why System Does Matter?

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Haven't seen Pace or Universalis. Would you consider trading me a copy of Universalis for one of DI?
Heh, if I had a spare, maybe. But I'm just a designer, not the owner, so I don't have any extra copies. Pace, however, is still free, from what I remember. Moreover, what about freeform? Mechanic-less play?

Quote
Simply that newcomers to a group notice the way group interactions obviously effect play when they enter the group; this may include interactions and dynamics that extant group memebers do not perceive. (No doubt there are inobvious effects as well, that the extant group would notice before newcomers to that group.) That was about the extent of my thought here.
Agreed, but, again, this is universal. How could a player come to any group and not be informed about how to play by the players already playing? What about this is unique to Group A? Or was this just a generic observation?

Mike
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« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2004, 01:38:50 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Have you had a chance to see DI? :)


While I like to pride myself on keeping up to date with new publications, that doesn't mean that I can afford to buy every game that comes on the market. :-)

But I'll take it on faith - what does your game do that teaches good social behavior.


Well, as an out-of-game example, there's a boxed text talking about in-game disruptions created by out-of-game interactions (the "Being Lameass" textbox). It pretty directly speaks to putting down the dice and working out what ever the issue is out-of-games.

As an in-game example, the mechanics for soul cultivation and decay aren't strictly limited to the game world -- they're things people could take with them away from the gaming table. The soul cultivation/decay system can serve as a "practice area" for social interaction, if the game is played in a manner conducive to that.

Quote from: chadu
So, yes, somewhat explicit advice on personal politeness on the social level.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm probably not the world's most sociable person. But I'd like to think that I have what it takes to be social enough to be a decent participant in a RPG. So wouldn't I find material like this at the very least ancillary, and at worst insulting?


Anything's possible. It's my hope that these pieces were written well-enough to not be insulting to those who already have them internalized. Whether I was successful in this is up to other commentators to decide.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And, again, if a person hasn't learned to be social by now, are they really going to become so from your game?


I think my formal stance here is: "Couldn't hurt." :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I don't think that there's a lot to be "fixed" here. I think that the designer's imperative is to assume normal humans, and build the game to be good from there.


Which I tried to do.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Mostly when we talk about the social aspect of games here, it follows the theory from "The Big 5" series of posts, in which we generally say that the usual problem isn't that people are antisocial, or don't know how to be social in RPG situations - it's that people assume that enjoyment of the game substitutes for a good social situation. Meaning that people play with others that they wouldn't otherwise associate with under the assumption that play will make everything OK. The assumption is that the social level doesn't need to exist, that all play can be constantly like one giant convention game.


I'd agree with that.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So the "advice" that we give people is just to play with people who you can get along with. And nothing further seems at all neccessary. We then focus on making the games good to play.


Again, agreement.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm of the opinion that "rules that can be ignored" usually are. That is, to have an effect on play, rules need to be linked to events such that they occur in a mechanical manner. Can you give me an example of such a tool?


Please see: My Game: Dead Inside

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Penragon's mechanic doesn't tell anybody about how to act on the player level. That is, mechanics that affect character action don't mean diddly-squid to the players. To whit, I was once playing a game of Pendragon with Ralph, and he and the GM got into a heated debate about what the result of the use of the virtue system had produced. Totally OOC.


DI spins it such that when the result is dictated by the mechanics, the player's role is to answer why the result ended up that way. This can act as a tool for understanding, if used sincerely, I think.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
. The point is that I sincerely don't believe that it will make play any better. I mean, if you take a paragraph and say, "play with people that you like," then I think you've done about all you practically can do.


What about people that you like in general, but not in specific cases?

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Why not just do the easy thing and say that if people like romance, then they'll enjoy romance in their games? What does the gender matter?


In general, no argument. In the context of this thread, gender matters in that it was one of the distinct variables between two playtest groups.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu
Oh, they are. About the only thing I'm not seeing in Content is rules (System).

Again, confirming that you don't like to see metagame (or group A doesn't). That is the appearance of numbers and stuff is seen by your people as "getting in the way" of getting to the heart of the matter.


I'd say that that is true for Group A. Somewhat true for me -- I like metagame, up to a limit.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: chadu']To use an AD&D idiom: System is invisible, unless it attacks, in which case it becomes visible. Now if the attack succeeds (System supports), that's cool; if the attack fails (System undermines), that's uncool.[/quote]

You're using System to mean just the mechanics. That's not  the usual use here at The Forge. According to the Lumpley Principal, System is that set of rules by which we determine what happens in the Shared Imaginative Space. Meaning that all that stuff that you call "content" is all created by system. (snip example) This seems to be our communication problem here. If you use our definition of System, do you see why System Does Matter?[/quote]

Ah, I see. Yes.

[quote="Mike Holmes
Moreover, what about freeform? Mechanic-less play?
I think I cut and lumped it into my earlier discussion in that it Rules ("System") doesn't matter, whatever it is, unless it boosts the experience or gets in the way. And I do think that the ruleless nature of a freeform game can get in the way, typified by:

COWBOY:"I shot you!"
ROBBER: "No, you didn't!"

. . . while the Indian Cop walks away, shaking his head. . .

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How could a player come to any group and not be informed about how to play by the players already playing? What about this is unique to Group A? Or was this just a generic observation?

 
Mostly a generic observation, but note: I'd not talking about "how to play" (rules explanations), I'm talking about "how it is played" (Jimmy gets loud, Janey won't touch her dice until she's ready to throw, Jao always undercuts Jaq's plans with pointless rules discourses, etc.).

Good convo.

CU
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« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2004, 03:26:35 PM »

Hey Mike,

Marketing? Well, sure. Do we have any marketers here? What's the common marketing wisdom on appealing to women?

The http://www.entrepreneur.com/mag/article/0,1539,312648,00.html">cover story of the February 2004 issue of Entrepreneur was on this topic.

And isn't Matt Wilson in marketing?

Paul
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« Reply #25 on: May 06, 2004, 04:42:28 PM »

Mike mentioned something by me.  I think he may be thinking about http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/liz-paper-2003/">Group Narration: Power, Information, and Play in Role Playing Games -- an essay by Liz Henry which appeared on my website. She addresses the relation of gender to communication:
Quote from: Liz Henry
Ede and Lunsford point out that most of the collaborations they studied depend on a rigidly structured hierarchy, which results in high efficiency in producing a final textual result. According to Ede and Lunsford, in collaboration that is focused on productivity and efficiency, "the realities of multiple voices and shifiting authority are seen as difficulties to be overcome or resolved." They associate this hierarchical structure in part with male gender, calling it "a masculine mode of discourse."

Ede and Lunsford assert the existence of an alternate method of collaborative writing which exemplifies Bakhtin's concept of the dialogic; in dialogic mode, the group is loosely structured, authority and goals are fluid, and the process or experience of writing and collaboration is valued over the result, end goal, or textual product. Ede and Lunsford think of this mode as predominantly feminine (133).

Many gamers describe this split in game playing philosophies as gendered. Knights of the Dinner Table's one female character, Sara, consistently emphasizes character, storytelling, and non-violence in her play. Hong Ooi, in a humorous article "Real Men Don't Play GURPS", contrasts the Real Man with his opposite, the feminine or feminized "Quiche Eater":
Quote
The easiest way to tell a Real Man from the rest of the roleplaying crowd is by the game he plays. Real Men play Dungeons and Dragons. Quiche Eaters play GURPS and Storyteller. Mark Rein*Hagen, the designer of Storyteller, was once asked, "How do you pronounce the dot in your name?" He replied, "It's unpronounceable, and symbolises how meaningless are the labels that we attach to ourselves." One can tell immediately from this comment that Mark Rein*Hagen is a Quiche Eater. Real Men don't need the abstract concepts introduced by Quiche-Eating games - like characterisation, immersiveness or realism - to get their jobs done.

Some women gamers also seem to associate gender with playing style:
Quote
Women that I've known online have been much less competitive. It's not about beating up someone else, it's about the story. The process by which a goal is reached, not the goal itself. I think we have more fun with the telling than with beating an enemy's head in. (Elizabeth B.)

These statements conflate violence and goal-oriented stories, and reify a group of binary divisions assigned to male and female genders (Fig. 4). I believe this binary model is part of the problem of sexism and internalized sexism in gaming. Further work should be done by RPG theorists to deconstruct model.


It's important to note that these are about "masculine" and "feminine" modes of behavior, which may be culturally-fostered associations with women that do not correspond to genetic predisposition.

P.S.  An etiquette note here: both Chad's and Mike's recent posts have had something like 14+ quotes in them.  Just a reminder that the Forge http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1604">etiquette policy is against line-by-line replies.  It usually helps communication if you summarize.
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« Reply #26 on: May 06, 2004, 05:35:36 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
P.S.  An etiquette note here: both Chad's and Mike's recent posts have had something like 14+ quotes in them.  Just a reminder that the Forge http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=1604">etiquette policy is against line-by-line replies.  It usually helps communication if you summarize.


Oh, crap. Sorry!

Thanks John -- both for the above reminder and the text you quoted.

CU
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« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2004, 06:24:30 PM »

I'll choose assinine, actually. My choice is to work from just this thread (for certain reasons), glad I was asked. Though I checked out four of the listed threads to see if I should change. No.

They all get so freakin' wrapped up in not stepping on poor womens toes, they don't achieve any goal. Every time someone gets close to a goal, they get wrapped up in women not enjoying this or that, and then stab at this or that. That's not the way to reach a goal, it is a method you can use to make heatbreakers...'Its D&D done right! We we through it stabbing at the bits we hate with no real design goal and here it is, hot and steaming'.

Its flibberty jibbet micro tactical changes and not a strategy with a goal. Back and forth someone identifies something women don't like, so they attack that system component. Then they attack something else which, once removes, makes that previous component come back into dominance again. Then Jane comes in and says that's not her at all and everyone hops to this, even though weve all seen Jim come in before and say something isn't for him and weve all ignored him. God, this is a woman, she must understand everything about women...not that we'd grant this power to any guy who comes in (one man doesn't understand all other men, but one women understands all other women...yah, right)

An inherant component of why this is fucks up is because, yes, women ARE individuals.

THAT is EXACTLY we should to lump them into one big ball of behaviour. Because how the hell else do you attack getting a share of this demographic? How else have we been attacking the male demographic? No, its not because the posters who do it are (most usually) male and thus can somehow lump male behaviour into categories and that's not sexist. Bull shit you can talk for me and my behaviour! The reason your allowed to is because you need to make some generalities about your target audience, in order to try and reach a design goal (or sales goal). You HAVE to work in generalities, it'd be fantastic if we didn't, but lacking super computer minds we don't.

So we lump the target demographic into generalities of behaviour. Males tend to dominate the RP demographic, so were lumping them into these generalties.

But god no, we can't lump women into them! Poor things! Actually, screw all that 'white knight' sexist crap. We can treat them the same. And we can apologise to both genders equally, when we use these generalties so we can try and reach some sort of goal. Ah, screw the apologies, lets just do it.

God, I sound like the demented moral of a south park episode! And damn have I used up some space in what is just a call to focus! Beh, I knew I was gunna RPG.net on the forge one day.
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« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2004, 08:22:15 PM »

Quote
I'll choose assinine, actually. My choice is to work from just this thread (for certain reasons), glad I was asked. Though I checked out four of the listed threads to see if I should change. No.

Actually, I believe Mike was referring to me. Yes Mike, I have read a few of the links you gave before this thread existed, and I just read a few more.

That said, I applaud your candid post Noon. Basically you just summed up how I feel on the whole thing. Well done and thanks!

Everyone's an individual, but everyone is also, first and foremost, a human, and there's nothing individual about that. Also, before anyone became who they are today, they were either male or female. This simple fact coloured everything that led them to becoming who they are today. So we have two facts: One, we can best make generalisation about humans as a whole, but unfortunately these generalisations will be the least universally individually applicable. Second, we can make generalisations about males or females as a whole, and these generalisations will have more predictive power than those about humans as a whole, because we are cutting down our sample size.

The smaller the group you are trying to observe, the more predictive power you have in your generalisations. This is why the most powerful predictions are those made about an individual based on generalisations about that individual gained from observations of that individual. But of course, this is incredibly impractical.

Claims to the effect of "but I'm not like that, so you are wrong" or "but I'm an individual, so all generalisations are futile" are completely and totally pointless, and entirely contrary to the way the mind works. I would be just as justified in saying "but I am like that, so therefore everyone is". And yet more consideration is given to the claims of individualism for no other reason than it appeals to the desire of people to be unique and special, and in many cases, a "mystery".


One last thing... I keep hearing "anecdotes are useless because ". Come on! If I collected 1 million anecdotes, I'd have me a VERY powerful and respectable study. Anecdotes are research on a small scale. A thread such as this, designed to collect and collate anecdotes around a similar theme (such as "in your exerience, have women gamers played differently to male gamers, and if so, how?"), is essentially a survey, and no-one balks at surveys being described as data now do they? My anecdotes are very powerful in describing observations of the subjects of them, yours are too. Why can't the anecdotes of 100 people be considered powerful descriptors of some people in general?

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« Reply #29 on: May 06, 2004, 10:29:59 PM »

Quote from: Ravien
  Second, we can make generalisations about males or females as a whole, and these generalisations will have more predictive power than those about humans as a whole, because we are cutting down our sample size.  
 
Quote from: Ravien
  One last thing... I keep hearing "anecdotes are useless because ". Come on! If I collected 1 million anecdotes, I'd have me a VERY powerful and respectable study. Anecdotes are research on a small scale.  A thread such as this, designed to collect and collate anecdotes around a similar theme (such as "in your exerience, have women gamers played differently to male gamers, and if so, how?"), is essentially a survey, and no-one balks at surveys being described as data now do they?  

Well, if you collected 1 million objective data points and analyzed them in a scientific and unbiased fashion, then you would have a powerful and respectable study.  On the other hand, if you just sifted through a whole bunch of anecdotes (which all answer different questions with different parameters and context) and wrote up your general impressions, you'd have some Cosmo magazine articles.  

Seriously, while generalizations can be true -- that doesn't mean that any particular person's generalizations are true.  A surprising amount of "common sense" and "accepted wisdom" turns out to be false when compared with accurately analyzed data.  Of particular concern is that preconceptions and emotions can strongly affect how one remembers events.  You tend to remember most strongly events which are emotionally moving, for example.  What makes something respected research is the careful attempt to remove bias and objectively analyze, not just the number of people contacted.
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