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Author Topic: Risk in Sim play.  (Read 34615 times)
Marco
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« Reply #45 on: August 12, 2004, 09:04:04 AM »

Quote from: Walt Freitag

The preference for character happiness and the concomittant risk of character unhappiness is not specific to Simulationism. It can exist within, and potentially compete with, any Creative Agenda. I belive it might be valid to define the "hard core" of any agenda as play in which the "emotional concern for character happines" dial is way down. In hard-core Gamism, for instance, sacrificing a character in order to gain the resouces to create a better character can be seen as a valid and bold strategy. (In general, though, there are congruences in hard-core Gamism that make character happiness a priority even in the absence of any emotional sympathy with the character, with issues #1 and #2 above predominating.)  In hard-core Narrativism, as in hard-core literature in general, addressing the Premise is paramount and any concern for character happiness is likely to be seen as hackneyed or juvenlie. There are apparently styles of Simulationsim in which concern for character happiness is dialed way down too, such as "virtuality" and "purist-for-system Sim" in which the important thing is finding out "what if" in a clinically detached way, and high-concept Sim in which the genre/concept makes character happiness an impossibility or a moot point. But these cases are "hardcore" in a particular way. Regarding them as representative of all Sim leads to a rather distorted picture.

- Walt


I agree with a lot of what you wrote--almost everything (which I think is clear in that you quoted me). The idea of Virtuality as a science-experiment is, I think, an analogy that only goes so far--or at least only goes so far in certain respects.

I don't think Virtuality concerns mean that the player isn't identifying with his or her character. It's true that I've played characters I saw as self-destructive and they were resonant with certain issues within me--and I expected them to be unhappy--and would experience some identification of that during the game and through the portrayal of the character ...

But I was still very much guided by what-if style thinking (which, I think, for a player comes down to something like Actor Stance and expectations of how the SiS will react to my choices).

Likewise, I see what Vincent described as Narrativist play from Actor Stance as achieving the same result wherein a close identification with the character need not be scrapped for the play to be "hard core."

-Marco
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Tony Irwin
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« Reply #46 on: August 13, 2004, 05:00:28 AM »

Thanks for responding Walt,

Quote from: Walt Freitag
The risk in Simulationist play is that the outcome won't be as you expect or hope it will be.

A vacuous statement, perhaps. After all, the risk in all modes of role-playing is that the outcome won't be as you expect or hope it will be. In fact, all risk in all endeavors is that the outcome won't be as you expect or hope it will be. That's just the definition, more or less, of "risk" itself.


I'm looking for risks that are specific to Sim play. I need to "Sim up" your language or else it applies to all agendas, and in fact all human activity. Would you accept:

The risk in Simulationsist play is that the SIS (instead of "outcome") won't resemble your dream (your "dream" being your hopes and expectations for play in terms of character/setting/situation/system/colour).

Quote from: Walt
The preference for character happiness and the concomittant risk of character unhappiness is not specific to Simulationism. It can exist within, and potentially compete with, any Creative Agenda. I belive it might be valid to define the "hard core" of any agenda as play in which the "emotional concern for character happines" dial is way down.


Do you have any examples of player risk that don't exist in all three agendas? I can see how the risk that comes with exploring character will be present in every agenda while exploring character. Can you identify any risk that is particular to Sim, and not present in all exploration?

Thanks,

Tony
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Tony Irwin
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« Reply #47 on: August 13, 2004, 05:11:55 AM »

Quote from: ErrathofKosh
Ahhh...

That's what I've been trying to say and not doing very well.  I make this statement:

The risk in Sim is predicated upon the extent to which your contributions to the SIS influence the Dream.



Sorry Jonathon, I'm not following. I understood "Dream" to mean what it is that a player desires to see* in play (in terms of the 5 elements). Just as a Nar player desires to see Story Now! in play, and a Gam player wants to see Step On Up in play.

They'll all use what credibility they have to make the SIS look like what they desire to see.

You seem to be addressing things differently - instead of the player contributing to the SIS to change it, making it more look like their dream, are you suggesting that the process of play is about the SIS influencing and changing the player's dream?

Cheers,

Tony

*see/explore/appreciate/celebrate/enjoy
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ErrathofKosh
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Lest Darkness Fall.


« Reply #48 on: August 13, 2004, 08:17:28 AM »

As I see it, all activity comes down to a statement by one player about what should be inserted into the SIS and it's approval or rejection by the other players.  Thus, the only "real" risk in any CA is that your statement is rejected.  Now, what you've anted up in emotions, esteem, resources, and character depends upon the circumstances and your CA, but these are the "chips" in your bet, not the "cards."  By putting a lot of emotion or resources on the table, you're signalling to your group that this is an important gamble for you.  They may raise, fold or come in along side you to add their own "chips."  Because the bet is always the same, the only means of classifying differences in risk is to determine what's at stake.  I think that's question you originally asked.  Looking at it from the perspective CA, one must assume that the stakes are about what's important to each.




So, is about the player influencing the SIS or is about the SIS affecting the player?  Both.  The player gambles that he can influence the SIS in a certain way and he antes up certain resources to make that bet. But, win or lose, the SIS is now going to affect the player.
For Sim I said the stakes were, "the extent to which your contributions to the SIS influence the Dream." To clarify, on the level of S CA, what you've wagered is your contributions to the SIS. (As well as your attachments to said contributions.)  These contributions are not about your social credibility.  The contributions are about in-game credibility, your character and his ability to explore or influence situation/setting.  This can have both immediate and future effects...  To contrast, the stakes are different in N and G.  In N, players don't really worry about risking their characters and their ability to affect the situation/setting "physically."  They risk their ability to (now and in the future) address the Premise in the manner they find appropriate.  In G, Challenge is similar to Premise.  (Usually in G, the "manner appropriate" is victory...)




Here are some examples: (these assume the players care about the stated game effects...)

The player announces his character's intention to forge the formerly mentioned magic sword.  In the game he is playing, the sword will raise his character's reputation and allow the player to use interesting "special effects" in battle.  However, the sword does the same damage as any other well made sword.  If the player's statement is accepted into the SIS, he receives all the mentioned benefits, if it is not, he loses the ability to use that contribution from that point onward. (If he tries again, he is making another contribution, not the same one...)  In addition, he may have lost in-game time, resources, and reputation.  And the player may feel a little upset...  That's Sim risk.

The player announces his character's intent about the sword.  Now, the game allows the character to use the sword to raise his combat bonuses and even his intimidation bonus.  It will be of great use in the upcoming showdown with a horde of orcs.  If successful, the player now has additional tool to face the upcoming challenge.  If the forging is a failure, not only has the player lost that tool, he's probably lost time, resources, etc. that could have been used to his advantage.  The player may feel frustrated...  That's Gam risk.

Once, again the sword...  In this game, the sword will give the character the ability to fight and destroy a powerful despotic sorceror who is threatening innocent lives.  However, the sorceror is the character's ex-best friend, to whom the character has sworn a blood oath.  If there is no other way to destory the sorceror, the success or failure of forging the sword affects the player's ability to address the particular premise of, "should I kill my blood brother because he's evil?"  However, should he succeed at making the sword (a likely thing in a N game), making it may have tainted him because it required binding a demon.  Now the player's ability to address the Premise has been altered, perhaps in unexpected way.  That's Nar risk.

(I hope this last example is not too much of a stretch for N, using the same situation may not have been the best idea, but I wanted the contrasts to be clear.)

Hope that clears up the issue a little more...

Cheers
Jonathan
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Cheers,
Jonathan
Tony Irwin
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« Reply #49 on: August 13, 2004, 11:28:20 AM »

Quote from: Jonathon
So, is about the player influencing the SIS or is about the SIS affecting the player?  Both.  The player gambles that he can influence the SIS in a certain way and he antes up certain resources to make that bet. But, win or lose, the SIS is now going to affect the player.


"the SIS is now going to affect the player" Perhaps as in excite the player? Dissapoint the player? Are those the kinds of things you mean by "affect"?

Quote
For Sim I said the stakes were, "the extent to which your contributions to the SIS influence the Dream."


Help me understand - what do you mean when you say "Dream"?

Tony
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ErrathofKosh
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Posts: 190

Lest Darkness Fall.


« Reply #50 on: August 13, 2004, 12:36:25 PM »

Quote from: Tony Irwin
Quote from: Jonathon
So, is about the player influencing the SIS or is about the SIS affecting the player?  Both.  The player gambles that he can influence the SIS in a certain way and he antes up certain resources to make that bet. But, win or lose, the SIS is now going to affect the player.


"the SIS is now going to affect the player" Perhaps as in excite the player? Dissapoint the player? Are those the kinds of things you mean by "affect"?

Quote
For Sim I said the stakes were, "the extent to which your contributions to the SIS influence the Dream."


Help me understand - what do you mean when you say "Dream"?

Tony


Yes, those are ways the player is affected.  But, he is also affected if his character is limited in some fashion, for instance.  These are all a part of the stakes.  I risk my emotional state, my character's health, etc.  If I win I can gain happiness, experience for my character, etc.  If I lose I can suffer depression, my character may die, and so on.

As far as the Dream is concerned...
Sim is often called "the Right to Dream."  The glossary defines this as:

Quote
Right to Dream, the
Commitment to the imagined events of play, specifically their in-game causes and pre-established thematic elements. <snip>


Disregarding the current discussions of Sim that disagree with this defintion, I see two elements that must be part of the "Dream."  These fall under the category of "imagined events of play."  One is in-game "caused events," while the other is "pre-established thematic elements" that affect events.

What do these two things mean?  

Well, obviously every game has to have a beginning.  Any events prior to the initial scene are pre-established, hopefully they focus on the theme, and as they aren't roleplayed they are not actual events, but elements.  Thus, pre-established thematic elements.  Note that in the Dream, a theme or themes is established prior to play.  These cannot be changed very easily in Sim play, though adding additional, related themes is very possible.  Also note, that unlike in Nar play, these themes don't have to be a "judgmental statement about how to act, behave, or believe," though they can be.

The elements of the theme are usually part of the setting or color, but they don't have to be.  (They may be part of situation, character, or even system....)

The second of these two elements is "caused events."  The causes could be thematic elements, prior events, or character elements, but in Sim play they cannot be ignored.  In fact, when deciding what gets put into the SIS, Sim play looks at all the causes, tries to determine all possible effects, rates the proabability of each effect, and (usually) randomly determines which effect occurs.  As long as a particular effect was probable, the Sim player is satisfied that it could occur.  

So, your probably still wondering what I mean by "the Dream..."

The Dream is what the players have determined they are trying to simulate.  (I like emulate better, it's less rigid, but it has it's own set of problems...)  They agree upon all pre-determined elements that generate the theme of their emulation and they determine what the possible effects of any given cause are.  Moreso than in any other CA, this is a collective effort.  Disagreements about what the theme of emulation is cause conflict.  In N and G, players can explore their own premises and challenges.  In Sim, this is much more difficult to do...

So, the Dream is the subject of simulation/emulation.  If I say to my group, "Let's play private eyes, who all have supernatural powers, and investigate paranormal mysteries," I have come up with a theme.  It has no human issues as a focus, and it has been predetermined.  If we all agree to play this, and then one of the players decides his character will be an 16th century peasant, we're all going to look at him and say "dude, what's up?"  If he responds,  "My character has been brought from the past by aliens," then we might allow it.  But, he has clearly added to the theme, not changed it.

One final analogy....
I'm playing bass in a rock group and we decide to play a song I've just written.  The song is in a particular key, it has a particular time signature, and it has particular words.  If my guitar player, in the middle of the song, comes up with a groovy hook, we all grin and nod.  He has just submitted something into our shared musical space that JIVED WITH THE THEME.  However, if he suddenly changes keys, without the rest of us knowing what he is attempting, then we have discordance.  In fact, if it's a new song (and all games are "new songs" because you don't play the same one over and over), even if we know the key change is coming we may not hit it.  It depends on our skill and knowledge of each other.
So, that's what I mean by Dream....

Cheers
Jonathan
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Cheers,
Jonathan
Tony Irwin
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« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2004, 12:06:56 PM »

Ok, I got it,  thanks for taking the time to explain it all for me. Now for the big question that I'm stuck on Jonathon:

Quote from: Jonathon
Those are ways the player is affected. But, he is also affected if his character is limited in some fashion, for instance. These are all a part of the stakes. I risk my emotional state, my character's health, etc. If I win I can gain happiness, experience for my character, etc. If I lose I can suffer depression, my character may die, and so on.


Does the Sim player have any stakes available that are not also available to N and G players?

The N has big stakes tied up in theme, the G has big stakes tied up in affirming esteem, but both N and G are also tied up in the same stakes that we've listed for Sim.

Does Sim actually have its own stakes, or is it just the same stakes that are common to all exploration?

Cheers,

Tony
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #52 on: August 15, 2004, 09:12:28 PM »

My recent computer problems have left me a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of backlogged posts; thus I may have missed quite a bit in this thread. However, I'll venture to address the most recent question.

I think there's a risk to the simulationist that he will push his curiosity beyond the ability of the elements to provide answers--walking off the edge of the map, as it were, although it can be in any of several directions, such as delving too deeply into game world physics, or trying to meet everyone in New York City, or studying the peripheral religions of an alien culture. There's a similar risk that in pushing discovery too far you might "break" the scenario--after all, the world is ultimately cardboard fronts with no buildings behind them, even if they're pretty thick fronts; eventually you'll discover that it isn't real, and it doesn't hold together, and then the dream starts to fray, perhaps to crumble.

I suppose sometimes he might discover something he didn't want to know. Perhaps he'll discover something he didn't want his character to know--discovering the Deep Ones in Call of Cthulu, or in something modeled on The Last Action Hero learning that you're really just a fictional character in a movie.

I think there probably are other things that a sim player can have at stake that are particular to sim; it's difficult to identify these, though, as arguably there is a great deal of overlap.

--M. J. Young
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Tony Irwin
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« Reply #53 on: August 16, 2004, 12:57:42 AM »

Thanks for responding M.J.! Great post.

To summarise what you've said in my own words (and throw in some terms from Ron's "Right to Dream" essay) - is Sim risk that the player's exploration will be too intense and sincere for X to cope with?

Does that capture what you're saying M.J.?

So what is X? You've offered "the map", game world-physics, real life time constraints, the scenario itself, the sensation of reality, I suppose even the GM's capabilities... do you have an umbrella X that is put at risk by the demands of exploration squared?

Tony
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ErrathofKosh
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Posts: 190

Lest Darkness Fall.


« Reply #54 on: August 16, 2004, 07:45:56 AM »

"X" is anything that that can be explored.  In my own view, I hold that the modes of exploration are themselves explored in S play.  Thus, what MJ is saying (if I reading him right...) is that the setting may not contain enough information for where you want to go, or that the system doesn't allow you to invent new technologies, etc.

On the other hand, I would like to point out that, in general, S players are more emotionally attached to the "life" of their character than N or G players.  A true N or G player will sacrifice their character's life if it makes sense to further their CA.  The end of a character in S player is the end of the "experiment," and usually it's not a very satisfying end.  Conceivably their could be a game where character death is the point, but I would see that as a small niche in S game style.  So, even though N and G CA's often risk the "life" of the character, I don't see that as a primary risk for their players.

Cheers
Jonathan
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Cheers,
Jonathan
Bill Cook
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Posts: 501


« Reply #55 on: August 17, 2004, 03:00:59 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
I think there's a risk to the simulationist that he will push his curiosity beyond the ability of the elements to provide answers--walking off the edge of the map, as it were, ..


I find this especially accurate.

In a style of Sim I'll describe as Exploration without Intent, if you walk off the map, what you've done is exhaust the GM's prep or his imagination; you get a moment of "Oh, that's right. I'm not really a knight on a quest. This is just a game we're playing."

In a style of Discover the Plot, you get the "choose between 10 doors" thing; the risk is that you hate life, choosing the 9 doors that go nowhere.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #56 on: August 19, 2004, 02:28:07 PM »

I think that Jonathan has put it well.

I'm going to caveat the point about death of the character being very dissatisfying in sim play. Multiverser can be played very simulationist, but the sting of death has been severely attenuated--death has become the means by which the story moves to the next chapter. Thus the "end of the experiment" may be annoying, but the beginning of the next one comes on its heels, so that's not as much of a problem as it is in most games.

But then, that just means we've changed the definitions--death is no longer the end. The end of the character could be very dissatisfying, but the way Multiverser is set up, it's very nearly impossible for the character to reach that point unless player and referee collaborate on bringing it about.

--M. J. Young
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