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Author Topic: intentionally risking the personal  (Read 5653 times)
Paul Czege
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« on: May 14, 2004, 12:27:56 PM »

Hey Chad,

In your http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=11177">thread about your third Dead Inside playtest, you wrote:

They all were slightly more amenable to *intentionally* exploring personal (that is, their own) psychological quirks via a PC than most other gamers I've gamed with.

And from the surrounding language it's clear that you're not talking about an introspective exploration, but actually a public "risking". This in particular is quite interesting to me. When Scott Knipe, Matt Gwinn, Tom, me, and Danielle started gaming together, our first game was Sorcerer. And Danielle played an older female journalist with a strong personality who was fighting for her career against an ambitious younger female journalist. Our second game was The Pool. Danielle played an older male mercenary whose son was accused of desertion. They were both dramatic characters, but not particularly "personal" as you define it. It wasn't until our third game as a group, probably six months or so into gaming together, when Matt Gwinn ran Mage, that she created a character who offered a "risk of personal player psychological exposure."

And I guess I just thought that we'd put in enough time together as a group that we'd earned that trust. But you suggest that your playtest group was "intentionally" risking personal psychological exposure, never having previously gamed together. What do you think it was that facilitated this? Is there something about Dead Inside mechanically that made it possible? Or was it something about your GMing technique? Have you achieved the same kind of play with a group where the men outnumber the women? Or did perhaps one player take a leadership role in modelling the intentional risking that set the tone for the rest of the group?

Paul
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matthijs
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2004, 12:40:13 PM »

I'm so eager to read Chad's reply to this that I can't help trying to guess what it might be :)

I would guess the interpersonal relationships in RL would, in this case, definitely create an atmosphere that was safe and slightly intimate. By this I mean that A) they all knew each other well (some for years), B) all relationship matters were settled (two married couples), so no distractions there, C) no need for rivalry between anyone, because of B...

Two couples talking is a pretty good arena for bringing out personal issues and discussing them, in my experience. So that might be true in a gaming situation as well.

On the other hand, I might be totally wrong here. Chad?
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chadu
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2004, 01:15:35 PM »

Quote from: matthijs
I would guess the interpersonal relationships in RL would, in this case, definitely create an atmosphere that was safe and slightly intimate. (snip)
On the other hand, I might be totally wrong here. Chad?


Nah, I think you got it in one. The fact that we've all been close friends for years is a vitally important aspect here.

Now, that being said:

R (who played Jessica) was very keen on the idea of attempting some psychological risk, which she claimed was spurred by the reading of the game. In that, I'm betting it was more about the setting and premise than about the rules; I'll ask her when I see her tomorrow night.

ER (who played Martin) concurred with her assessment, but for whatever reason, I think he gave slightly more emphasis to the rules. Again, I'll ask tomorrow.

Now, my other group -- of which I've been friends with much longer than the group detailed in the other thread; the all-male group -- isn't so much up for that sort of risk. As I see it, the big factors that might have an effect on this are:
1. Intent of Gaming: The all-male group is very much a "poker night" sort of group; gaming as a fun way to blow off steam and imagine. The mixed-group was specifically a playtest to try out and explore the system and setting.
2.  Deep Stuff Quotient: Away from the gaming table, the all-male group doesn't much discuss Deep Stuff often as it relates to the real world -- sure, we'll talk about conspiracies and religion and spacetime and whatnot, but no intensely personal subjects. On the other hand, the mixed group always talks about Deep Stuff (personal traumas, dark secrets, wildass pontifications, etc.).
3. Gender of players: I don't know. I have the gut feeling that this has an effect, but I'm still trying to formulate why. It probably has something to do with communication modes as they relate to social expectations.

Anyone have any thoughts?

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2004, 01:31:35 PM »

Well, the standard pop psychology tract on the subject, and I'm not saying that I support this (just saying), "Men are From Mars..." says that women communicate to share feelings, and men communicate to solve problems. Which would happen to perfectly match your findings.

I will now run for cover.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2004, 01:33:56 PM »

Quote
3. Gender of players: I don't know. I have the gut feeling that this has an effect, but I'm still trying to formulate why. It probably has something to do with communication modes as they relate to social expectations.


I don't find that unusual really.  I think there are "guy things" that guys discuss when "the guys" get together; and "girl things" that girls discuss when "the girls" get together.  But when you combine the two (functionally) you get something else entirely and conversation that is neither "guy things" nor "girl things".

Not surprising really, after all social groups have been organizing mixers for a long time.

If you don't have it, Sorcerer's Soul has some interesting discussions of the role of gender as it effects the gaming session.
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chadu
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2004, 03:19:12 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
If you don't have it, Sorcerer's Soul has some interesting discussions of the role of gender as it effects the gaming session.


I have it; I'll have to go back and skim through it again.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2004, 03:28:59 PM »

Ah, that would be Sex & Sorcery, actually, which may fairly be said to be 112 pages of nothing except this particular topic.

Best,
Ron
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chadu
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2004, 03:30:29 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Ah, that would be Sex & Sorcery, actually, which may fairly be said to be 112 pages of nothing except this particular topic.


Have that one, too, and recently (last 3 months) read it.

I'll have to go back for details, but I came away vaguely unsatisfied.

CU
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Chad Underkoffler [chadu@yahoo.com]

Atomic Sock Monkey Press

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AnyaTheBlue
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2004, 03:56:18 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Well, the standard pop psychology tract on the subject, and I'm not saying that I support this (just saying), "Men are From Mars..." says that women communicate to share feelings, and men communicate to solve problems. Which would happen to perfectly match your findings.

I will now run for cover.


Well, with bait like that, how can I refuse? =)

In my opinion, there are real differences in communication.  I think they are largely cultural (in the sense that there is a male culture and a female culture, and interactions between them are semi-formalized).  This opinion is based on experience, research, and an anthropological-like (think Jane Goodall) observation of both cultures from positions nominally 'inside' them both.

A semi-related observation:  I was once told that men don't feel and think simultaneously and that women do.  That is, when men are thinking through a problem, and you ask them how they feel, they're kind of at a loss, and have to shut down the whole problem-solving routine to access their emotional subsystem.

Likewise, if they are in the throes of strong or deep emotion, and you ask them to do calculus problems (or whatever), engaging their problem-solving brain shuts down their emotion processing center.

Women, on the other hand, experience both simultaneously, having a kind of heads-up readout of emotional state handy at all times about all things, including the parts and subjects involved with solving a problem.

Is this really accurate and fair?  Dunno.  Seems to match what's happened to me, emotionally and mentally, as I undergo feminizing hormone replacement therapy.

Just more grist for the mill, basically.
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Dana Johnson
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2004, 04:30:00 PM »

Quote from: AnyaTheBlue
A semi-related observation:  I was once told that men don't feel and think simultaneously and that women do.


I don't know about that. McKee refers to something he calls "aethetic emotion" which in a story allows the intellect and emotion to work simultaneously whereas in life they don't always. In fact he goes on to suggest that usually intellect and emotion are at odds with each other.

His example is when you see a dead body on the street. Most people have the emotional reaction "Holy shit, he's dead!!!" and then later reflect on what the other person's death means to yourself and your own mortality. He then adds to it by saying that now armed with this the next time you see a dead bgody, you are more likely to be reflective.

Aesthetic emotion allows both to happen at once, which is one of the powers of storytelling.

I don't know anything about woman being able to do this anyway or what you are experiencing with the therapy. But what you had discussed here is almost exactly like something my readings have stated is one of the sources of power for stories and why we become so involved in them. Since women enjoy stories, books, movies, etc as much as men, I am doubtful of this.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2004, 05:01:32 PM »

Sounds like the difference is broad understanding but potentially shallow vs deep understanding but potentially over specialised. A handy evolutionary tool for the one species to attack problems from two angles. And of course nature makes such a tendancy(not hard wired instinct) of one sex to be present in the other occasionally, so even a group of the same sex can still attack probs from two angles, sometimes.

That said, I doubt there was any risking personal details. If we presume the women have a greater understanding of their feelings, there isn't any risk in terms of revealing too much. They'd understand the implications of any personal information they release and would have a solid understanding of how much it would reveal about them. With such a solid understanding, they are very unlikely to reveal something that they don't consent too. If males aren't as in touch, they can't be as sure that its something they want to consent to release.

So, as a male, you might find a woman would reveal all sorts of information about herself that would seem risky to your male understanding. However, you'll probably find none of it says anything about why she keeps going back to the guy who cheats on her (unless you've got a solid trust bond with her...which is just the same as it being no risk). Or you might think you know a lot about her, from all the stuff she talks about, and never know she has an eating disorder. As it doesn't require much effort on her part, all personal info has gone through a thorough evaluation as to risk as natural thinking pattern.

Crappy PC disclaimer: Everythings tendancy, nothings hardwired and individuals of the opposite sex quite often have the same tendancy.

Second edit: I have to wonder if some of the problems with discussions like these are gender tendancies. Eg, males are perhaps problem solving driven, so when it comes to something with women in it, there's a drive to solve the women element like they are just a problem to be solved/like a knot to untie.

Thing is, though, there is a problem to solve. As a guy it probably requires going against a certain instinct to try hard to solve a problem and instead, try soft.
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