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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 141 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Big Forge, Small Me  (Read 19233 times)
Frank T
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« on: April 05, 2005, 12:47:28 AM »

Now here's another thing which makes me wonder: should I even post this, even in the Birthday Forum? It seems that the Forge promotes such doubt like no other forum I know. There's just so much stuff that doesn't belong here by definition already, and so much more that seems not to belong here by habit.

So, I read an Actual Play thread and just think "wow", but I don't just post "wow", at least not any more. I'll only post "wow" if I have something substantial to contribute, too. As in the other channels, the question is ever present: Am I contributing? Discourse and stuff, you know. It has humbled me a great deal. When I first came to the Forge, I tried to post to the Theorie channel, but had to learn soon I could not contribute at the level of the discussion. Or was it I couldn't contribute to the direction everyone seemed to assume the discussion should take? Tough call.

Now, I have read a lot since then. A lot of old threads, too. Every once in a while, I have stumbled over questions that were left unanswered, and I thought about revisiting them. But I didn't feel I should. Why? Well, because look at the Theorie threads, they all start off with one of them fucking huge scientific-style essays. And even if I could write one of those, the first reply by Ron Edwards would surely knock me out of the saddle.

Sorry Ron, nothing personal. I have read complicated legal and technical stuff written by lawyers and engineers from a variety of nations in English language without problems, but every so often, I just don't get you. Are there by chance any native speakers who have encountered this same problem? Or is it a language problem after all?

Now I read through this birthday forum, learning a little about the people with the high postcount, and think, hey, I am older than most of these guys and have a university degree, a good one at that. What am I afraid of? What's more, I feel that the majority of Newbies at the Forge are even much more humbled than I am. I mean, even Eero Tuovinen posted last year that he didn't feel like belonging to the Forge!

Don't get me wrong, I never felt unwelcome here, and people always treated me respectfully and tried to help me if I faced a problem. Ralph Mazza's advice on my game design was invaluable. But it feels like: "I come before thee and pledge my case." And if I myself post some advice in Actual Play, or some comments in Indie Game Design, it feels like: "Just a few suggestions that the Big Ones may or may not judge worthy when they show up."

This need not be a bad thing. I'm just curious: can anybody else relate to it?
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2005, 02:17:35 AM »

Quote from: Frank T
Sorry Ron, nothing personal. I have read complicated legal and technical stuff written by lawyers and engineers from a variety of nations in English language without problems, but every so often, I just don't get you. Are there by chance any native speakers who have encountered this same problem? Or is it a language problem after all?


You're not alone, Frank.  A lot of this stuff goes right over my head, too.  I just let it go, and concentrate on the stuff I do understand.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Doug Ruff
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Posts: 445


« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2005, 02:20:56 AM »

Hi Frank,

I sort of get where you are coming from, having joined at roughly the same time as you. You can tell from my postcount that I'm a bit less shy at posting here than you are, but I still stay away from some discussions.

(For what it's worth, if you've posted more than 50 since you've joined, that virtually makes you a regular here nowadays!)

Your post (and the latest set of statistics from Ralph) have prompted me to think a bit more about why that is, and I've come up with the following... theory?

I think it's possible to split the majority of topics here into a few broad categories:

(1) Q&A: the thread starter posts a question and asks for help. This also covers "what do you think about my game?" which is why it's usually considered good practice to ask more specific questions than "what do you think about my game?"
(2) Educational: the thread starter has an insight that they want to share with the rest of the Forge. IMO, these are the threads which are most likely to start a friendly argument...sorry, discussion.
(3) Creative "riffing" over some project or idea. The thread starter doesn't have a specific question, but is looking for inspiration.
(4) Networking, especially in relation to conventions or publishing.
(5) Site discussion.

(I don't think that Actual Play is a whole category to itself, because most Actual Play thread are one or more of the first 3 types.)

Now, I love the "riffing" threads and I'll happily get involved in the "Q&A" threads if it's a question I think I can answer.

However, there is a whole level of discourse going on that is way above my head, partly because there is a whole "Forge Theory" thing that's going on from way before I joined, and also because I'm busy enough dealing with the other threads that I don't feel the need right now to get deep into the theory side. That means that I'm unlikely to get involved with any of the "Educational posts" or any "Q&A" posts that involve specific Theory knowledge. "networking" isn't to relevant for me right now, but you never know for the future.

So, there's a lot going on at the Forge that I don't yet feel qualified to take part in, although this is largely through my own choice and isn't meant as a criticism of the more erudite posters here. It certainly doesn't get in the way of my enjoyment of the site, and I still feel like I am making a contribution in return. I post more here than anywhere else, because oof that feeling and because the signal-to-noise ratio here is very high indeed.

So, that's how I feel about this place, does that bear any resemblance to, or help explain, how you're feeling?
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Selene Tan
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2005, 02:22:51 AM »

I've been mostly-lurking for a while, but I don't post much because I rarely feel as if I have anything useful to contribute. I keep reading because there's a lot of insightful stuff, but I don't get insights on the same level.
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2005, 04:58:42 AM »

Hi Frank- I consider myself one of the Core Forge Dudes... but look at my post count. Without the previous B-Day forum(s), it'd be only half of what it is now. :-)

Seriously, I'm in it for Actual Play, Publishing, Connections, Indie Design and the individual forums.  Even though I got my degree in a high-level philosophy program, I find a lot of the GNS or other theory stuff... well, not so much beyond me, but not something I'm willing to put the time into to learn, because the ROI on it doesn't do much for me. If I were more interested in it, I'd put more time into it.

Not that it's beneath me or anything, not like that at all... just that it's not very gripping for me, so I don't participate. So I wait for it to materialize in the next generation of RPGs (or the Actual Play forum).

-Andy
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2005, 05:18:43 AM »

I personally think the "mystique" factor a lot of people speak about is, on some level, a good thing. The upside is it makes you do exactly what you are doing - asking "Am I contributing?" Before putting cursor to reply button. The downside is that sense of alienation that comes from not making off the cuff replies.
I quite prefer the Forge here because 90% of the time I know what I'm getting into- there are no discussions on flame wars, there are few derailed threads and those that are are usually taken in another cool direction. I haven't been here much longer than Frank and Doug, and I most certainly don't have a handle on the glossery, theory, and the essays, but I funtion just as well~
The Forge is a great resource. I don't feel an urgent need to contribute to the higherarchy/foundation of the philosophy here- I'll chime in, but otherwise I just use the blocks I can grab and proceed to build my own little device to share with everyone, which is a fine approach and a good start for a number of people I think.
Jump in to the deep end of theory and debate when you have something you desperately want to contribute, not because you're forcing yourself to. Be quite happier for it I imagine.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2005, 05:44:05 AM »

Quote from: Andy Kitkowski
Hi Frank- I consider myself one of the Core Forge Dudes... but look at my post count. Without the previous B-Day forum(s), it'd be only half of what it is now. :-)


Hey, Andy, how do you get to be a CFD? I've been whining for a VIP card, but Ron claims that you have to publish a game in English and participate in the Forge booth in Gencon to qualify...

Seriously, though, I dig the whole community thing. I feel much more forgey nowadays than I did a year ago. If I had to give a single reason, I'd name the IGC tournament last year - nothing better for communal feeling than participating in a concrete project. Actually, I can totally imagine spending years without identification in this kind of peer group if there is no activity, just communication.

Paradoxically, while I'm more comfortable with the Forge, I'm posting less nowadays. Or at least it feels like it. Reasons are easy - many of my interests run tangential to what's actually discussed, and I'm not naturally a very chatty person - while I could comment on theory, design and actual play, I mostly don't, preferring to concentrate on my own projects (which mostly center exclusively on Finland, to boot). I read a lot, but usually only post for concrete effect or when a particular inspiration strikes. And I don't go for long discussions - I call the issue as I see it, and don't stick around to mull over it repeatedly. I certainly don't myself start threads. Perhaps the need to post has lessened when I've started to feel that I exist in the Forge - there's no need to look for verification or build an identity, which motivations might be subconsiciously affecting new posters.

The point: I don't think that it's so much about the Forge, but about general communal sociology and the particular build-up of each participant. If the Forge crashes and gets moved to my server, my personal ego towards Forge will certainly get bigger. If I get into a time-consuming project, my posting will slag off. Who knows, I might take the time at some point to actually take some of my design work into the Forge, or to write an essay about formalistic methodology in game design, or something like that. That will also affect my relationship with the Forge.

Small things control people's attitudes. This is especially true for newbies, who have only a tenuous and singular personal contact with the Forge. For such a person, even getting cited by a regular is a big thing, and not getting answers on a new thread will seem to resonate on the whole forum. But when experiences pile up, each single experience will lessen in importance, and a feel of personal attachment to the community in the whole will develop.

Overall, it's not something to worry over. Things happen just like they do in RL.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Troy_Costisick
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2005, 06:04:14 AM »

Heya,

We are all students of the craft we love.  Ron has developed a very good system of catagorization and a decent vocabulary to use.  I'm still very much in the early stages of learning it all, but I feel much better equipped as a designer and player from what parts I do understand.  Don't worry, just keep plugging away :)

Peace,

-Troy
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pete_darby
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Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2005, 07:35:41 AM »

I don't know... I feel I 80% grokked it on first pass, and Ron et al pretty much straightened out where I hadn't in short order.

What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"

Or something. But I guess my experiences make me pretty hostile to folks who get intimidated by the prospect of "working to get it". For me, the investment was pretty small, the return high and immediate. But I've been repeatedly told I'm smart but lazy, and if I don't grok something on first pass, I won't work on it at all. So this is mr pot saying to all you kettels out there...
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Pete Darby
Ben Lehman
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Blissed


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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2005, 07:40:17 AM »

Quote from: daMoose_Neo

The Forge is a great resource. I don't feel an urgent need to contribute to the higherarchy/foundation of the philosophy here- I'll chime in, but otherwise I just use the blocks I can grab and proceed to build my own little device to share with everyone, which is a fine approach and a good start for a number of people I think.


A
fucking
men

yrs--
--Ben
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xenopulse
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Posts: 527

Heretic Forgite


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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2005, 07:54:58 AM »

Frank,

I am a native German speaker, and I don't think it necessarily hinges on that. Your english seems close to flawless, and besides, the vocabulary used here is a whole new field in itself.

I don't get it all. But I've learned a shitload of stuff anyway. What usually gets me is the difference between the old articles and what 1,000 threads in the meantime have revised but is nowhere posted in updated articles. I don't want to work my way through all that.

Pete,

Quote from: pete_darby
What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"


Some people are great scholars but not so good at explaining things. Other people have more of a talent in teaching. I often get things more easily the way Vincent explains them. That might be because I somehow think more along his wave length. And whenever someone develops a high-level theory and gets really into it, they tend to have a hard time getting back to basic levels to explain it to people who need to take it step by step.

For example, I would have a hard time teaching people Hegel's phenomenology. I know and understand it, but in order to get into that mindset, I need to immerse myself into it, and then I talk in his specific vocabulary, and that's where I lose people.
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Valamir
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2005, 08:21:50 AM »

Quote
What I don't get is how Ron says something one way, and people go "huh?", then Vincent says pretty much the same thing, and people go "Oh, that makes more sense than whatever Ron said, which I in no way agree with", and I'm all "Dude, it's the same damn thing!"


Some of that's politics.
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lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2005, 08:39:03 AM »

Politics! Unreal.

I get where some people might need to hear something a couple different times or a couple different ways before they understand it. I need that too, of course.

But politics keeping people from seeing how what I'm saying is what Ron's said - that I'm baffled by.

-Vincent
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Shreyas Sampat
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Posts: 970


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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2005, 08:47:22 AM »

Some of it's also a drastic difference in writing style.

For me, it's writing style that has turned into politics and that's why I don't post in threads like that.
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Valamir
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2005, 09:35:39 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
Politics! Unreal.

I get where some people might need to hear something a couple different times or a couple different ways before they understand it. I need that too, of course.

But politics keeping people from seeing how what I'm saying is what Ron's said - that I'm baffled by.

-Vincent


Well, I think for some its just easier to agree with someone who is Not-Ron and to agree with something that doesn't have the initials GNS in it.  Even if what you say is 100% in line with GNS and 100% a rephrasing of what Ron's already said...for some those letters are like a red flag to a bull.
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