*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 14, 2019, 10:31:10 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 148 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 6
Print
Author Topic: A wild and an untamed thing - how literature refuses gaming  (Read 19722 times)
simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2004, 10:17:16 AM »

This thread reminds me of something a friend of mine said a few days ago. he's running an SF game, and aferwards he was telling me about how liberatign it is to run a game in a game world entirely of his own devising. Ok it's got a lot of loan stuff from other game worlds, but he's got his own ideas about how everything should fit together. Too often RPGers stick with established game worlds and rules simply because they're there and it's easy, rather than because they actualy serve any useful purpose "in this game we're playing right now".

When a novelist sits down to write a new story, it's standard practice for them to start from scratch with new characters, new settings and new story elements. Sure some writers develop ongoing sagas and consistent worlds from one book to the next, but actualy this mode is the exception rather than the rule.

The Forge is all about breaking out of the rut of playing the same old games the same old ways over and over, and I think that's what keeps bringing me back here.  I think it's contributing enormously to the maturation of the Roleplaying hoby in this regard.

Another idea that struck me reading this thread is that RPG writing is much more like playwriting than novel writing. Plays are inevitably interpreted and developed by the director and the cast, who have considerable creative input. The closest comparison with RPGs is probably scenario writing, but I think the analogy hold pretty well for game writing as well.

Simon Hibbs
Logged

Simon Hibbs
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2004, 10:38:30 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
 His rejection of roleplaying is the same as mine. We need to abandon other peoples' creations. We need to stop it with the roleplaying "in" Middle Earth nonsense. More, we need to hold our own creations to the same high standard Harrison holds his: it's not a real place, they aren't real people. They're made of words. They illustrate what we mean.  

Well, I reject these delusions of originality and ownership.  "Your" creations are not your own, nor should you despise others for taking "your" creations and doing something new with them.  If you don't want other people to steal your creations, don't publish them.  I do roleplay in Middle Earth (as well as the Buffyverse, Star Trek, and other settings), and I actually agree with M. John's assessment:
Quote from: M. John Harrison
The moment you concern yourself with the economic geography of pseudo-feudal societies, with the real way to use swords, with the politics of courts, you have diluted the poetic power of Tolkien's images. You have brought them under control. You have tamed, colonised and put your own cultural mark on them.

That's damn straight.  I'm putting my own cultural mark on what I do.  And when I publish my interpretation or analysis of Tolkien, my fan fiction, and/or my role-playing game logs -- I am screwing with the purity of that vision.  Tolkien's original words are still there, but now my mark is out there as well.  And I consider that a good thing.  I call that dialogue.  

As for economic geography and the politics of court, I call that imagination.  Maybe some people are content to just let words wash over them and never think about the words as anything more than words.  Not me.  I think about what I read, and I will imagine in my mind parts which aren't literally there in the words.  So I will consider economics and politics and religion and more.
Logged

- John
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2004, 10:39:19 AM »

Quote from: Valamir

In fact, I'd say the only significant difference (other than the medium of the output) in the process of the writer and the Narrativist roleplayer is that the writer is roleplaying Solataire while the roleplayer is relying on the collective input of the other players.


BL>  This is untrue.  Writing and gaming are wildly different processes.  Indeed, writing is a unique process which every writer approaches differently.  That said, there may be contained within the world a single writer (or even a handful) who approach writing like you approach Narrativist play.  But I seriously doubt it.

I state this as the product of some experience, not only being a writer, but knowing a great many writers and having gamed with them.

yrs--
--Ben

P.S.  Myself, I would relate RPG play of any sort more to fortune telling than to writing.  The creation of meaning from external input and all.

P.P.S. Also, I agree with Vincent.  We need to start valuing our own creations more.
Logged

lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3453


WWW
« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2004, 11:38:21 AM »

John: Did you really read me to be defending Harrison's property rights? Because I'm not.

I'm saying: you can regurgitate Tolkein's answers to Tolkein's questions, or you can abandon Middle Earth. If you have anything worthwhile to say, you'll have to do the latter in order to say it.

I'd say the same to someone wondering whether to write fiction or fanfic.

-Vincent
Logged
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2004, 12:06:30 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
I'm saying: you can regurgitate Tolkein's answers to Tolkein's questions, or you can abandon Middle Earth. If you have anything worthwhile to say, you'll have to do the latter in order to say it.

I'd say the same to someone wondering whether to write fiction or fanfic.

And I flatly disagree with that.  

I'm not even sure I understand your position.  Are you saying that the Lord of the Rings is nothing but a regurgitation of the questions and answers which are in the Hobbit?  If not, then how can you say that any other story set in Middle Earth is necessarily a regurgitation of the questions and answers which are in the Lord of the Rings?  

It seems patently obvious to me that a shared world between two stories doesn't imply regurgitated content.  Heck, by that notion, all stories set in the real world are regurgitations of each other.  It just doesn't make sense.
Logged

- John
lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3453


WWW
« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2004, 12:15:38 PM »

I'm saying that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings variously transcend and reject one another.

Which Middle Earth do you play in, The Hobbit's or The Lord of the Ring's? Neither, of course - you play in your own game's.

You gotta remember that there's no there, there. So then why do you need the baggage?

-Vincent
Logged
ethan_greer
Member

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2004, 12:18:03 PM »

Vincent's talking about theme, not content overall.

I think the rubber hits the road somewhere between Vincent's and John's stated viewpoints. I think meaningful stuff can happen in roleplaying that is set in, for the sake of the ongoing example, Middle Earth. That is to say, stuff that Tolkein didn't say, and didn't envision. On the other hand, I don't think that's real likely to be the case - I think the majority of Middle Earth role-playing and fan fic (or Star Trek, or Star Wars, etc.) is pretty pointlessly derivative. That doesn't mean it's not fun.

Edit to note that I cross-posted with Vincent.
Logged
Sean
Guest
« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2004, 12:24:06 PM »

It's funny - when I was reading Harrison's article, I thought this: "I see what he's saying, but he doesn't get it. The phenomena he's describing make Viriconium exactly the right sort of world to roleplay in, because it's not all already decided for you."

I mean, I have on certain occasions been guilty of liking Middle Earth, but I never even remotely considered roleplaying in it. Tolkien made his statement about power with those characters and that world already - we're going to muck about with a few leftover dwarves in the fourth age? Now, I know that e.g. Jay and his crew see something in ME I don't, and it's possible that someone steeped enough in a Tolkien-like worldview could find cornices of the edifice to sculpt out. But that's not me.

On the other hand, a shifting, polyvalent world with a general philosophical statement and color and the possibility for endless iteration - that's where I would want to roleplay, if I was taking setting from elsewhere. You could still do something with Viriconium because of the author's self-conscious choice to keep the thing alive.

Undoubtedly there are serious logical flaws in the preceding paragraphs - I have no illusions that I'm doing much besides recording my feelings here. Still, the structure of those feelings may have some trans-subjective relevance, even if attitudes towards different source materials and their possibilities may vary. John Kim brings up a responsible counter-position, treating the art object itself as a token in a dialogue rather than as a self-sufficient object. Taking that up seriously would require doing philosophy of art though, so I'll demur.

Footnote 1: In thinking I saw what Harrison was saying, I thought I saw sim assumptions about roleplaying conflicting with ongoing-wrestling-with-material assumptions about fiction writing.

Footnote 2: Whatever its false assumptions about roleplaying, Harrison's essay is a useful corrective to Poul Andersen's "On Thud and Blunder", which is wrong in its main thesis.
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2004, 12:26:03 PM »

Quote from: Ben Lehman

BL>  This is untrue.  Writing and gaming are wildly different processes.  Indeed, writing is a unique process which every writer approaches differently.  That said, there may be contained within the world a single writer (or even a handful) who approach writing like you approach Narrativist play.  But I seriously doubt it.

I state this as the product of some experience, not only being a writer, but knowing a great many writers and having gamed with them.


This portion of the conversation was in relation to the idea of having compatable Creative Agendas.  Clearly there are as many different approaches to writing as there are approaches to a Creative Agenda.

The issue I was discussing is whether the literary author shares a kinship with the Narrativist agenda.  I believe they do.  The same issues that a writer wrestles with regarding the statement he is trying to make with the story and how the actions of the characters in that story reflect that statement are the same issues that a Narrativist wrestles with.  

That is to say, they both understand and embrace the desire / need to address premise.

The assumptions of what purpose a character serves in the story, the desire to engineer the situation to climax at a dramatic moment where that premise is at a crisis point are common to both the literary writer and the narrativist.

Ron noted above that many writers find role playing abhorrent.  His point (which I agree with) is that this is because most likely the roleplaying they've encountered is "Simulationist" in nature, and the needs / desires / and motivations of what makes for a good sim game  are completely alien to writers used to crafting literature.  The devotion to verisimilitude common across most Sim play has far more in common with fan fic than actual writing.

What I was pointing out is that these authors (if they could be convinced to give it an honest second look) would likely find Narrativist roleplaying to be much more familiar, and something they would be much more likely to appreciate as an endeavor.
Logged

Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2004, 04:50:12 PM »

Quote from: Ben Lehman

BL>  This is untrue.  Writing and gaming are wildly different processes.  Indeed, writing is a unique process which every writer approaches differently.  That said, there may be contained within the world a single writer (or even a handful) who approach writing like you approach Narrativist play.  But I seriously doubt it.

I state this as the product of some experience, not only being a writer, but knowing a great many writers and having gamed with them.



Quote from: Valamir

The issue I was discussing is whether the literary author shares a kinship with the Narrativist agenda.  I believe they do.  The same issues that a writer wrestles with regarding the statement he is trying to make with the story and how the actions of the characters in that story reflect that statement are the same issues that a Narrativist wrestles with.  

That is to say, they both understand and embrace the desire / need to address premise.


BL>  I think if you talk to most writers, you will find that their concerns are much more prosaic than "what grand point am I trying to make?"  Most of the authors I know are much more concerned with "How can I make enough words today?  Were there really Irish fishermen off Vinland in the 1300s?  If not, can I fake it?  How do I tie together these two plot threads?  I had this plan that these two people were going to fall in love, but they haven't even met and it's already Chapter 6.  What is that word that starts starts with c and means 'to falsely consider identical?'"  These things can be brushed over in gaming, because the goal of gaming is not to produce a refined product for consumption by others.  They cannot be brushed over in writing.

Can you agree that writing and gaming are, at their heart, fundamentally different arts, and that comparing the two is roughly like comparing, say, gaming and ballet choreography?

Quote

Ron noted above that many writers find role playing abhorrent.  His point (which I agree with) is that this is because most likely the roleplaying they've encountered is "Simulationist" in nature, and the needs / desires / and motivations of what makes for a good sim game  are completely alien to writers used to crafting literature.  The devotion to verisimilitude common across most Sim play has far more in common with fan fic than actual writing.

What I was pointing out is that these authors (if they could be convinced to give it an honest second look) would likely find Narrativist roleplaying to be much more familiar, and something they would be much more likely to appreciate as an endeavor.


BL>  Well, let me talk about my experiences with writers and their contact with role-playing games.  They fall into roughly five types:

1) Writers who also game.

2) Writers who say "That was a lot of fun, but I can't keep playing that, because it'll suck up all my writing time."

3a) Writers who have Prima Donna or Typhoid Mary tendencies and, realizing that gaming is collaborative, have to supress them, and thus don't enjoy themselves.  To these people, it seems like gaming is a lot of extra effort to do something that you could do better alone with a typewriter.

3b) Writers who are like the above, but not polite about it, and run roughshod over everyone else.  The reaction is the same "what a complicated way to do what I already do."

4) Writers who see gaming is just a totally different thing, and not a thing they do.

5) Writers who see gaming as part of the "deplorable cultus" aspect of F/SF, associated with fanfic, cosplay, and stalkers.  Writers in this group have most often never played an RPG, and only have vague ideas what it is like.

I'd like to note that these are pretty much seperate from the CA of the game being played.  Nothing in the writerly consciousness seems to uniquely dispose them to Narrativist play.  Tom Clancy is a wargamer.  Mark Oakley, author of one of the greatest fantasy comics ever, plays D&D dungeon crawls.

Saying that "they just haven't gamed my way, if they gamed my way they'd like it" about a blanket group of people strikes me as deeply misguided.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2004, 05:45:29 PM »

Clearly writing and role playing have similarities and differences. I think we've discussed those before, but perhaps it's worth discussing again--on a different thread.

Given that narrativism owes a good part of its conception to Egri, who is discussing how to create good story in writing drama, which is in turn a particular form of fiction, it's pretty evident that the creative agendum of some role players is at least closely analogous to that of some writers. Whether the creative process itself is similar is very much dependent on individual approaches.

Focusing back to the initial topic, however, I think that Harrison's statement reflects something of a concept of ownership that some writers have in relation to their intellectual property and others do not. Agatha Christie so wished to prevent others from "spoiling" her detective Hercule Poirot that she wrote his last case, Curtain, and kept it put away with instructions that it was to be published when she died, so that Poirot would die with her. Arthur Conan Doyle, on the other hand, invited anyone to do anything they wished with Sherlock Holmes (whom he detested), answering one American playwright who wished to have him marry in a particular play, "Marry him, murder him, do anything you like with him."

Sometimes we create worlds, or places, or characters, or objects which we feel we know so intimately that we could not possibly express everything we know about them. Were someone else to do something with our idea, they would almost certainly get it wrong. As a writer of role playing game materials, one of the toughest things I had to accept was that other people, people I didn't know and probably would never meet, were going to take these things and do things with them which would be completely unlike anything I intended or expected. The temptation is to try to give them more information, to try to create in such detail that they are locked in to your vision. The better answer is to provide a sufficient framework and feeling that those others might be able to build on what you've done in unexpected but exciting ways.

People who just write fiction don't have that in view. We write to tell the story we are telling, and in doing so we create the world to suit the story. We usually attempt to create the impression that there is an entire universe out beyond the bounds of the story we tell, but the details of that universe may be sketchy. We might know what's out there, or we might not. Either way, there's a significant degree to which the world we created exists to tell our story, and it's a bit jarring in some ways when someone tries to tell another story in it. I know. I've taken worlds I've created in books and used them as the basis for play, just as I have done with the books by others. The odd thing is that when I use someone else's story I have no trouble letting the player craft his own story within the framework of the major events and places I've extracted, but when I use my own story it is much more difficult for me to go with the flow, to let them write a story that is different from the one I wrote, even though that's what I intend. The idea that someone else could tell a better story than mine in my world is a sticking point. I have to accept that it's fine for them to tell an inferior story; that's easier in a lot of ways than trying to persuade myself that their improvised story might be better than my crafted one.

So I suspect that there's this conflict in the author's mind, in which he sees the world and the story as intimately intertwined to the point that a different story would ruin the world.

--M. J. Young
Logged

daMoose_Neo
Member

Posts: 890


WWW
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2004, 05:52:32 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
I could be wrong, but I have trouble envisioning any quality writer asking "what would the character do next" and feeling obligated to abide by it.


Maybe I'm taking something out of context, I dunno, but I really have to disagree with this.
I'm not a 'professional' writer, but I've been writing for ages, reading for ages, and most of my education in HS and College has been of the literary or english/writing variety and I can't sit at the keyboard unless I can wrap myself around a character and get inside their head.

Final Twilight's stories I consider to be the backbone of it. Maybe the wrong thing for a CCG, but I do. I have drafts of the original stories from my attempts to write it out in like middle school (I've been at this for a while) and they SUCK. I look at the current versions and there is a marked difference, in my belief because I did alot of "What would he/she do in this situation?"
I start out with a blueprint of things I want to happen and a set of characters. As best I can, I guide the characters through these hoops, but many times I do end up sitting back and saying "Wait a second...he wouldn't do that!" And spend the next couple minutes/hours/days trying to figure out, from what I've written and from what I've sculpted, just what this character would do in this situation. Its changed many courses of my writing, the characters begining to, in my mind, interact, react and bounce off each other.
The events of Trinity, the first story, totally changed how I approached Entropy, my next story and set. One of the characters, a vigilante, realizes at the end that yes, life IS precious...and he was letting his slip by. And thus, he decides to walk away from his own decision to defend the innocent. My original draft the guy was just recouperating at the start of the next story, not totally and willingly out of the loop! Also, the villian of Trinity was slated to make a return...only as I'm writing I realize theres no way that the planned set up would happen, he was A) too weak and B) to self rightious to allow it to happen as I wanted, which added a new element to the story.
Trinity also took on its own, weird little moral or "grand point" without my even touching it...it just popped out at me that a fair portion of the story dealt with being who we are and accepting others as they are...the understanding of which ALSO changed how the story ended.

Maybe I'm not "quality", but chapters of Trinity have won awards and earned the game recognition almost a year before it was actually released. I like my approahch, I think it works, and I think more writers could benefit from that perspective.
Logged

Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2004, 07:39:55 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Quote from: John Kim
I'm not even sure I understand your position.  Are you saying that the Lord of the Rings is nothing but a regurgitation of the questions and answers which are in the Hobbit?  If not, then how can you say that any other story set in Middle Earth is necessarily a regurgitation of the questions and answers which are in the Lord of the Rings?

I'm saying that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings variously transcend and reject one another.

Which Middle Earth do you play in, The Hobbit's or The Lord of the Ring's? Neither, of course - you play in your own game's.

You gotta remember that there's no there, there. So then why do you need the baggage?

Isn't this again finding fault with what Tolkien did?  From your description, Tolkien was just accepting pointless baggage by setting LotR in the same world as The Hobbit.  He clearly would have done better to create a new world.  

My reaction is that the world isn't pointless baggage.  The world adds greater context which can be used to generate depth of meaning.  It is another layer of meaning which is cast over the elements.  It can be transformative, as well as commentary on the original, or perhaps shedding new light on the changes.
Logged

- John
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2004, 07:50:41 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
I could be wrong, but I have trouble envisioning any quality writer asking "what would the character do next" and feeling obligated to abide by it.

I'll quote a bit from Ursula Le Guin's essay, "Dreams Must Explain Themselves".  It was republished as part of the book "The Language of the Night" -- a collection of her essays.  
Quote from: Ursula Le Guin
If William is a character worthy of being written about, then he exists.  He exists, inside my head to be sure, but in his own right, with his own vitality.  All I have to do is look at him.  I don't plan him, compose him of bits and pieces, inventory him.  I find him.
...
The Farthest Shore is about death.  That's why it is a less well built, less sound and complete book than the others.  They were about things I had already lived through and survived.  The Farthest Shore is about the thing you do not live through and survive.  
...
In any case I had little choice about the subject.  Ged, who was always very strong-minded, always saying things that surprised me and doing things he wasn't supposed to do, took over completely in this book.  He was determined to show me how his life must end, and why.  I tried to keep up with him, but he was always ahead.  I rewrote the book more times than I want to remember, trying to keep him under some kind of control.  I thought it was all done when it was printed here, but the English edition differe in three long passages from the earlier American one: my editor at Gollanec said, "Ged is talking too much," and she was quite right, and I shut him up three times, much to the improvement of the whole.  If you insist upon discovering instead of planning, this kind of trouble is inevitable.  It is a most uneconomical way to write.  The book is still the most imperfect of the three, but it is the one I like best.  It is the end of the trilogy, but it is the dream I have not stopped dreaming.

So, strictly speaking, she didn't feel completely obligated to follow what Ged said he would do.  But she was strongly lead by it, at least.
Logged

- John
Matt Snyder
Member

Posts: 1380


WWW
« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2004, 07:54:17 PM »

John, I'm not sure where or how you and Vincent are disagreeing. Can you or Vincent clarify? Vincent seems to be saying that the meaning is the thing Tolkien's after, not the world. The world is the vehicle, the means to revealing that meaning.

You are, too, apparently, when you say "The world adds greater context which can be used to generate depth of meaning."

I don't think Vincent is saying that the world is pointless baggage, so long as it's your world.

The argument, I think, is that the world itself is not the destination. It's mistaking the vehicle for the destination that prevents many gamers from recognizing what story is and does and what story is worth.

Wouldnt be the first time I've read folks wrong, but that's what I'm seeing.

(Obviously, by story here I'm referring to it in the literary sense, rather than the, say, episodes of events sense)
Logged

Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 6
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!