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Author Topic: A short rant about "SIS"  (Read 5932 times)
John Kim
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« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2004, 09:36:22 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs
Ok, but so long as non-roleplaying games can create interactive imaginary spaces of this kind, such imaginary spaces cannt be definitive of roleplaying games, only perhaps certain kinds of roleplaying game.

Also form the point of view of the game player, there may not be any discernable difference between an SIS that is created by a 2-way communication link, and one that is only 1-way but where the game or scenario author successfuly anticipated sufficient possible character actions in the imaginary space.

I think it is useful to distinguish between "imaginative" activities, "interactive" activities, and "social" activities.  

For example, reading a book together means that there is a shared imagined space -- i.e. the two people both imagine a story, and their imagined events have considerable overlap.  Thus it is imaginative.  Furthermore, what they imagine is unique to them: i.e. the process of translating words into an imagined space is an imaginative activity, and the imagined space will have attributes that aren't an objective quality of the work.  However, it is not interactive or creative -- i.e. the personal imaginings of a person do not feed back into what happens.  

A solo computer RPG is interactive, and possibly creative as well.  Let's assume a plain-text http://www.igs.net/~tril/if/">interactive fiction computer game, just to keep apples to apples with the case of the book.  Now, just as in the case of reading a book, the player creates an imagined space from the words.  However, in this case it is interactive, because the player writes her own words which become a part of the story.  The plot of what happens is controlled in part by her.  If we want to emphasize this aspect, we can specify that the game is open-source so the player can also modify/customize/cheat in any part of the game.  However, regardless of the interactivity, the game is not social.  

Other activities are all three of social, interactive, and imaginative.  For example, make-believe play, improvisational theater games, writing a book together, tabletop role-playing, live-action role-playing, and others.  

Personally, I don't see much point in trying to make specialized,  formal jargon out of the term "role-playing".  I would prefer to discuss the concepts, and if we need a jargon term it should be at least capitalized and distinctive (like Shared Imaginary Space, for example).
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2004, 09:41:20 AM »

[Edited to note the cross-post with John.]

Tim, I agree with Ron that there's a substantive difference between humans and computers in terms of being communicants. Nobody would disagree. But I fail to see how that makes the communication any less "two-way". That is, CRPGs are "interactive." Walt will correct me if I'm wrong.

The point is that when people talk about things like the "imagined" contribution on the part of one side, this is missing the point. That is, so what if computers don't have imaginations, they still communicate. The point that Vincent started out with, and which other people are grasping at defining better, is that the "sharing" is communication. That nobody knows anything about anything without communication. Vincent and others then say that pictures on a computer screen aren't sharing. Which is obviously not true, because when I play IRC, I use the exact same medium to communicate. I share via the pictures on the screen.

My point is that people are missing the real criteria, which I discovered long ago, that separates the data communicated by a computer, from the data communicated by a person. The question relates to the "imagination" clause. Which is that the information coming from a computer is "finite" in a very special way that people feel, but don't relate well.

To be precise, the difference is that the "play" of computers does not include the ability to take as an input, any infinite subset. Note that all RPG systems by their natures as systems restrict the characters in some way as to what input they can put into the system. Some are not very restrictive at all (freeform), and some are very, very restrictive (Mountain Witch). But all tabletop games that I've ever seen all have some input that is, itself infinite in possible inputs.

This seems to be a contradictory statement to some people, because they don't know their math. But simply, Half of Infinity is smaller than Infinity. But it's still infinite. No matter how restrictive you make the qualifiers, all TT RPGs have this sort of input. This was my basis of the criticism of some of the "finite" games in this years IGC, that they may have broken this restriction, and become....boardgames (or some subset like wargaming, or dice gaming, etc). A tabletop game without this is no different from any boardgame, which can be defined by having no infinite inputs.

This is key. A computer has none of these infinite inputs. All of the inputs must conform to some finite set to which it can respond.  Hence it's not a tabletop RPG. It's a CRPG.

This is very obvious at times, no? When you're at the lizardman shaman, and you want to ask him what a potion that you have does, but there's no option to ask this question. If the RPG in question allows you to ask whatever question you want, and get a dynamic answer (something other than the old text response, "I don't know about that.") then it's a real TTRPG.

The reason this is key is because the lack of infinite options is the one "breaker" for immersion in CRPGS. It can look perfect, sound perfect, but when you realize that there's nothing beyond those paper-thin mountains but nothing, it fails a very important test in everyone's mind.

Note that, interestingly, if you say that "any" restriction on RPG play at all makes a game not an RPG, then you're left with freeform. In fact, this is precisely the reasoning that freeformers would use to "prove" that TTRPGs are not a form or role-playing, but some complicated boardgaming. I'm warning of a slippery slope here. You don't want to say that CRPGs are not RPGs, because it's a very thin line, philosophically, that puts us between Freeform and CRPGs.

Mike
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ErrathofKosh
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« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2004, 12:56:04 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I really liked the analogy of playing catch. Sure, each participant interacts with the ball and each other through his or her individual cognitive construct of the world. Who knows how similar these constructs are? No one. But in the physical space of the event, the ball really is being thrown and caught.

Subsitute "social space" for "physical space" and I don't see why role-playing can't be understood in precisely these terms.


Quote from: Ron Edwards

H'm, Ralph, my construction is just a little different - to me, the "shared" necessitates actual communication and contribution among the sharers to create that space. I guess that's why I always try to say Shared Imagined Space rather than "imaginary," although I probably forget every so often. By using "imagined," I'm trying to turn it into more of a verb - that people actually have to do it, rather than receive it visually from (say) a screen.



Roleplaying is a "social space," so I would state SIS as "Socially Imagined Space."  This is in contrast to "Physically Realized Space (PRS),"  "Physically Imagined Space(PIS)," or "Socially Realized Space(SRS)."  (note: these acronyms are for the purpose of discussion, to add theory or anything else)

What do I mean?

Well, I think the following examples of each will illustrate my thoughts on this better than an explanation because I am not attempting to provide a complete categoriztion.  Indeed most activities would probably fit into more than one category.

SIS - roleplaying
PRS - traveling
PIS - computer game
SRS - a highschool classroom

Each space is explored and/or negotiated, but some are real and some are imaginary.  Some methods of exploration/negotiation are social, some are physical, a lot are both.  Imaginary can become reality...

So there is a lot of flux between these spaces, so it's diffcult to pin down a particular activity as to which space it's in.

Cheers
Jonathan
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Cheers,
Jonathan
Callan S.
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« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2004, 06:48:48 PM »

Quote from: Noon
As a contrast, can I ask about play by post games?

Say a GM advertises a game and I think 'yeah, that's for me'. So I inform him of my interest.

He goes on to write the first post.

With just that to go on (I never see the guy, after all) I write my own post without anything except the post he contributed.

Now let's not race on to his reading/posting a responce. Let's just focus on what happened here. Is this roleplay so far? Is this SIS so far? Is this System?


Wow, I just keep hearing 'CRPG's can't have an SIS', but I don't hear any answers to my three easy yes/no questions (above), which weren't rhetorical. I'll check again in a moment, to see if any of the many long posts did.

I mean, no ones obliged to answer me, that's not what I mean. It just seems that if people are willing to say 'CRPG's can't have an SIS' etc, but not establish some answers, I for one can't see anything of worth coming out of this thread, even though others will feel that their view on CRPG's and SIS has been confirmed. Much in the same vein of the 'Lumpley principle', though, I'll say 'They're not confirmed by me, mate'.

Edit: Because I always screw up and have to edit.
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2004, 12:43:18 AM »

I'd just like to say Mike's post was, as usual, very insightful. Once again he's nailed a very tricky point very clearly.

Quote from: ErrathofKosh
Roleplaying is a "social space," so I would state SIS as "Socially Imagined Space."  This is in contrast to "Physically Realized Space (PRS),"  "Physically Imagined Space(PIS)," or "Socially Realized Space(SRS)."  (note: these acronyms are for the purpose of discussion, to add theory or anything else)


Roleplaying games are a method of interacting with and exploring imaginary spaces. It's a method that can be used to explore many different kinds of imaginary space.

Trying to restrict it to a particular kind of imaginary space is placing a restriction on the method that is not intrinsic to the method itself, and Occam's Razor neatly disposes of it.

This is why solo roleplaying games are still RPGs. The extra rules of solo play (moving between paragraphs, selecting options) are a consequence of the kind of imaginary space being explored, not of the mode in which the exploration takes place. In a solo RPG it's exploration through the vehicle of a character, which is what makes it roleplaying.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
contracycle
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« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2004, 12:53:30 AM »

Quote from: Noon

With just that to go on (I never see the guy, after all) I write my own post without anything except the post he contributed.

Now let's not race on to his reading/posting a responce. Let's just focus on what happened here. Is this roleplay so far? Is this SIS so far? Is this System?


No, No, and I'm not sure, as I see it.

Frankly, I don't really regard block text as a genuine RPG medium.  I don;t think a nominal commitment to a character makes an RPG; I think the need to actually adopt that characters role, move for them, speak for them, is necessary for it to be RPG.

When I see online RPG that consists of the exchange of text blocks, I don't really think RPG is happening.  What is happening is more like a collaborative writing project.  I suggest you can write about the character, but not as the character.  For my money, this is not really RPG, but more like pseudo-RPG.
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #36 on: August 06, 2004, 01:24:26 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Frankly, I don't really regard block text as a genuine RPG medium.  I don;t think a nominal commitment to a character makes an RPG; I think the need to actually adopt that characters role, move for them, speak for them, is necessary for it to be RPG.


I'm not quite sure i undersand your possition on this. When my character hits an orc I say "My character swings at the Orc" and then roll some dice. At no time have I spoken for or moved for the character. It's all in the third person. Is that not roleplaying?

Quote
When I see online RPG that consists of the exchange of text blocks, I don't really think RPG is happening.  What is happening is more like a collaborative writing project.  I suggest you can write about the character, but not as the character.  For my money, this is not really RPG, but more like pseudo-RPG.


This appears to mean that if I play in a D&D session and always describe my character's actions in the third person I'm not playing a roleplaying game, but the person to my left who always pantomimes the character's actions and speaks in character is. Are we playing different games?

I'm having some Deja Vue here, have we discussed this before?


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
contracycle
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« Reply #37 on: August 06, 2004, 02:19:02 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs

I'm not quite sure i undersand your possition on this. When my character hits an orc I say "My character swings at the Orc" and then roll some dice. At no time have I spoken for or moved for the character. It's all in the third person. Is that not roleplaying?


Sigh... I suspect thats an overly specific example.  You and I both know that RPG does not comprise only this interaction; the player probably did speak for their character prior to the fight.

Specifically the above is a display of pawn stance.  If the whole game were conducted in Pawn Stance, as Outdoor Survival would be, then I would indeed say it is not roleplaying.
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Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #38 on: August 06, 2004, 03:14:48 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Specifically the above is a display of pawn stance.  If the whole game were conducted in Pawn Stance, as Outdoor Survival would be, then I would indeed say it is not roleplaying.


I think this is true...but it's still a role-playing game.

Quote from: Noon

[GM] goes on to write the first post.

With just that to go on (I never see the guy, after all) I write my own post without anything except the post he contributed.

Now let's not race on to his reading/posting a responce. Let's just focus on what happened here. Is this roleplay so far? Is this SIS so far? Is this System?


If you've imagined yourself in the role before typing your response and/or the GM has done the same, then there has been some role-playing.  If at this point, even if there hasn't been any real role-playing yet, there is reasonable expectation of role-playing in the future, it's a role-playing game.

I think SIS has been employed in the example above.  Even if the GM merely wrote about a coastal setting with gulls swooping on the bathers' Doritos and you elaborated on the level of energy of the waves, the imagined space has been synchronized.

At this point, System has been employed only to the extent that your post did not contradict or question the GM's post (or did, for that matter) and things (scenes, characters, events, whatever) were accepted (or not) into your Imagined Space.  Before the GM replies to your input, the offer is pending acceptance.

Does that seem reasonable?

Chris
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simon_hibbs
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« Reply #39 on: August 06, 2004, 03:48:09 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Specifically the above is a display of pawn stance.  If the whole game were conducted in Pawn Stance, as Outdoor Survival would be, then I would indeed say it is not roleplaying.


The whole game doesn't have to be constructed in that way. I could play D&D exclusively in the third person (pawn stance if you like) and others maight play it largely in first person mode, all while sitting round the same table with our characters interacting in the same imaginary space.

Are we playing the same game?


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
contracycle
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« Reply #40 on: August 06, 2004, 05:15:49 AM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs

The whole game doesn't have to be constructed in that way.


Yes, I know - thats exactly why one atomic decisions is not diagnostically useful.  The appearance of some pawn stance in RPG is unremarkable.

And that is also why this looks supiciously like a leading question; its well established tha pawn stance happens, and one atomic decision is not diagnostically useful.  The question seems to address issues so basic it makes my spidey-sense tingle.
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #41 on: August 06, 2004, 05:26:30 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
And that is also why this looks supiciously like a leading question; its well established tha pawn stance happens, and one atomic decision is not diagnostically useful.  The question seems to address issues so basic it makes my spidey-sense tingle.


I'm not talking abut one atomic decision. I'm talking about me making the policy decision to always controll my character in third person, and another player in the 'same game' making the decission to controll his character in first person, consistently throughout the game.

Your possition seems to lead to the conclusion that he would be playing a roleplaying game, and I would not.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #42 on: August 06, 2004, 05:40:21 AM »

Hi,

I think that's a red herring, Simon. What matters is whether the two people are communicating to one another's imagined construct; I don't think it matters one bit whether first-person vs. third is employed, or what Stances are going on.

However, I do agree with you that Gareth (contracycle) is taking an extreme position ... but it's specific to the block-text vs. social-interaction that he's talking about (right Gareth?). The current example and the issue of first-vs.-third isn't going to illustrate that point. Perhaps the whole example ought to be chucked and Gareth, if you could phrase that point from the beginning, that way we won't get bogged down in side-trails.

Best,
Ron
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #43 on: August 06, 2004, 06:17:50 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
However, I do agree with you that Gareth (contracycle) is taking an extreme position ... but it's specific to the block-text vs. social-interaction that he's talking about (right Gareth?).


Ok, but I just don't see any meaningful distinction. This discussion is taking place through blocks of text. Is there no social context to the forge?

I don't understand why communication by text is incapable of being social interaction. We're doing it right now.


Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #44 on: August 06, 2004, 06:59:04 AM »

Hiya,

Gareth, add my request to Simon's. What's funny is that I agree with you on a gut-level, but frankly Simon's question is dead on and makes me all trembly.

Perhaps my outlook is best expressed that by-post or block-text interaction is a poor medium for social interaction, which means that such role-playing would be role-playing, but hampered in its function and potential enjoyment.

Some will disagree with me about this (Mike Holmes appears in puff of smoke), certainly. Although my long-term observations of how frequently play-by-post or IRC play fizzles might correspond to my outlook.

Best,
Ron
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