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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 164 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Big Forge, Small Me  (Read 20322 times)
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« Reply #45 on: April 06, 2005, 05:32:41 AM »

Quote
his loathing of gamers is something to behold.


Finally, someone who understands the true meaning of kpfs.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #46 on: April 06, 2005, 05:35:47 AM »

The theory is very hard, expecially put into the context that RPGs are entertainment, and not supposed to take "work" therefore to understand. Yes, it's not simple stuff, when you consider the tons of analysis of it that's been done.

But I'm not sure that I get your point? You want it to be simpler? Can't be done. Just like quantum physics can't be made any easier to understand, because the principles underlying it are very complex. GNS isn't even near that level of complexity, but the same principle is true.

Yes, if you do want to post about theory, and don't want to have us tell you, "Go read X, again" then you're going to have to be up to speed on the theory. Would you expect to crash a seminar on quantum physics and be able to chat about it coherently without taking the preliminary courses first? No? Then why would you expect to be able to absorb all of the stuff that it's taken all of us hundreds of hours (maybe more) to learn?

I think some people get the opinion that Ron just posted the theory one day, and simply made it complicated as a barrier to entry in talking about it so that we could have our own little elitist club. Well, those who think that must not have been there through the literally thousands of posts on the subject from all sorts of people that molded the theory over time. It took every one of us who post on this even longer than it takes the people entering into the discussion now to understand the theory.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, the gaming theory is at least as complicated overall as any 100 level course in school, and perhaps more complicated than that. Expect to have to do as much studying as that to "get it." That said, this is far less complicated than all the effort that we put into learning it, having to extrapolate it from GDS and other previous theories without any essays or a glossary of terms to illuminate it. We have, in fact, made it much easier to understand than it ever has been previously.

Not only has it been hard for us to learn, too, but it's hard, very hard, to keep up with the theory. One has to be comitted to following the discussion closely to stay on top of it. I have to admit that in the last year, I've fallen behind myself a bit. To get back into the big discussions more coherenly, I'd have to read up myself on a few things. So it's not just newbs who feel the pressure to study.

If you're not interested in taking the "course," fine. It's not particularly important to understand it in depth or even at all (in many ways it's a completely dead subject). Post about something else. Nobody is requiring anyone to have that course under your belt to post at The Forge about anything except about the theory itself. Use Plain English to explain what you want to discuss, unless you know what a particular jargon term means. Everybody gets tons done here every day by just doing that.

And, again, if somebody tries to throw you in the deep end to stop your discussion, send them to us so we can kick their asses. Tell them to say it in Plain English if you don't get what they're saying.

Mike
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pete_darby
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Posts: 537

Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


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« Reply #47 on: April 06, 2005, 05:37:17 AM »

Hmm, I can agree that Ron has a reputation for being hard to grasp, or easy to misinterpret, but I've never had that trouble (well, no more so than with anyone else, apart from some of my co-workers).

So I can see that Ron, personally, has an intimidating reputation, and the model does too, but since the general reaction when people grok the model is "Wait, is that all? Why didn't you say so!", I can only join in the standard response, which is "aaargh! I did say so!"

Vincent, don't you go starting to pretend you're a real person now. You see, our Lumpley is actually the first successful experiment to build a GNS compatible game designer from first principles... now, back in your box, I say! Back!
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Pete Darby
Valamir
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« Reply #48 on: April 06, 2005, 06:31:35 AM »

Hey, Ron's a college professor.  A professor's job is to convey information.  A good professor doesn't just spoon feed you what you need to pass the test.  A good professor gives you just enough to pique your interest and then coaches you through learning the rest on your own.  Nothing is learned so well as that which one works to attain.

The Forge is just like a college class.  You can use it to build a foundation for life long learning.  Or you can just take what you need from it at the time and move on.
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James Holloway
Member

Posts: 372


« Reply #49 on: April 06, 2005, 08:06:20 AM »

Quote from: pete_darby
Hmm, I can agree that Ron has a reputation for being hard to grasp, or easy to misinterpret, but I've never had that trouble (well, no more so than with anyone else, apart from some of my co-workers).

No, me neither, but I find it interesting that I do better with theory when I'm back at school -- I do think that people expect articles about gaming to be very easy to comprehend, possibly because most articles discussing "how to roleplay" or "how to design games" have been, up to this point, impassioned, colloquial writing like Chris Kubasik's "Interactive Toolkit" or else wah-wah rubbish like the "how to run this game" section of most rulebooks (although there are notable exceptions).

I'm always a little astounded by the suggestion that GNS at its core is "too hard" or that there's "too much of it." There are, what, six essays core if you count the provisional glossary? You could put those in a book called "an introduction to Creative Agenda Theory" (although I can see why you might not want to) and it would still be a medium-sized paperback. You can read through the GNS essays once a day for a week, give it another week or two to digest, come back and read 'em again to see how they make sense in light of the first reading, and Bob's your uncle. You probably know as much about the theory as you'll ever need to. Is that really such hard work?

This is particularly odd coming from gamers, people who have tended in the past to be willing to take on huge amounts of information in the form of rules, setting detail, plot canon and so on and so forth.

I think that the Forge and CA theory have acquired this reputation for being impossibly complex and difficult, and that this tends to produce angry, aggrieved reactions from posters encountering the inevitable early frustration that comes with trying to learn anything new. But I can't escape the conclusion that the theory is as hard as you make it -- I'm not up on the finer points, but I think I have a pretty good grasp of the basics, and I'm not exactly a forge elite-whatever.

Chris Lehrich has talked about related phenomena far more eloquently and more angrily than I in his lj, relating to his students, and come to tougher conclusions.

I don't know what the Forge can do except maybe have a clearer "if you want to get a grip on the basics of CA theory, here's where to start" link, but I don't think it's that unclear already.
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Simon Kamber
Member

Posts: 175


« Reply #50 on: April 06, 2005, 08:37:41 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But I'm not sure that I get your point? You want it to be simpler? Can't be done. Just like quantum physics can't be made any easier to understand, because the principles underlying it are very complex. GNS isn't even near that level of complexity, but the same principle is true.

Hmm, getting into some misunderstandings here. Rephrase:

No, I do not think it is too hard. No, I do not think it's more complex, or even as complex, as other academic disciplines. While both ways of saying things amounts to the same actual thing being said, the academic way of saying it is more precise and complex, for better and for worse. And for those who've just arrived at this place, it takes a while to get used to the way things work. I don't know about everyone else, but I've never seen a roleplaying side that took this long to get to understand.

So yes, it is complex, and it is daunting. That doesn't mean it has to be changed, it's just a matter of fact.

So, I think we basically agree. I'm just trying to see it from the point of the view of the daunted newcomer. Particularly because I'm, at the moment, trying to write something that'll help just those newcomers have an easier time 'getting' The Forge.
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Simon Kamber
Frank T
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« Reply #51 on: April 06, 2005, 09:22:52 AM »

A sticky directing them toward the glossary and "The Model as seen by Valamir" could serve the purpose. Honestly, without those two texts, I'd still be hopelessly lost. The latter is brilliant for getting a first grasp, while the former is invaluable for looking up terms and guiding you to "standard" threads you should read.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #52 on: April 06, 2005, 09:32:53 AM »

Eh,

I think a couple of things go on with the theory communication issue.  First, it's not a religion, so its not like anyone who gets it is trying to run out and "convert" people.   So there's not a lot of incentive to wrap the theory in pretty words and colors.  

When it comes to Ron's writing, its very functional, it's not loaded with double speak and ad copy like a good deal of games and game text out there.  When I started reading the Turku manifestos out on the net, they came off with a bunch of emotional gusto.  I think general readers are left at a loss because they're not reassured, hyped up and coddled throughout the theory.

There's no, "This will CHANGE the way you play FORVER!!!!" type stuff being flung about.

Aside from that, then you add the mysterious veil that falls upon gamers in regards to what's happening at the table and with each other.  If you can't be cognizant of that- then the theory isn't going to make any sense to you, just like a painting to a person with their eyes close.  "But how does blue feel like?  What does it smell like?"  "Um, it's a color, its a visual thing, you gotta use your eyes..."  "Can you translate it into a taste for me?" Etc.

For the most part, gamers have been taught to focus on the imagined elements, so the highest understanding of what's happening is based on character archtypes and character actions- not player actions, which is why most of it goes over people's heads.

It's not quantum physics, its as simple as paying attention to what people are doing, instead of what they are telling you they are doing.  Parents and school and many other authority based figures train that out of us real quick("Do as I say, not as I do", "Why? Because."  "This is for your own good." Etc.)
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #53 on: April 06, 2005, 10:08:20 AM »

Quote from: Simon Kamber
Particularly because I'm, at the moment, trying to write something that'll help just those newcomers have an easier time 'getting' The Forge.
Excellent. Have you seem Ralph's (Valamir's) article as mentioned? Have you seen the recent article by MJ Young on PTGPTB? These are both good overviews, IMO.

Mike
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Simon Kamber
Member

Posts: 175


« Reply #54 on: April 06, 2005, 04:12:36 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Excellent. Have you seem Ralph's (Valamir's) article as mentioned? Have you seen the recent article by MJ Young on PTGPTB? These are both good overviews, IMO.

Mike

I've skimmed Valimir's article quickly (haven't got too much time on my hands right now, so i might have missed something). It looks like a pretty good overview of the model. It's not, however, what I'm trying to do. I'm talking more generally about the forge, and the way we work here. Because, as I mentioned before, the community here is somewhat different from what most people are used to.

As for MJ Youngs article, nope, I haven't seen it. Do you have a link?
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Simon Kamber
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #55 on: April 06, 2005, 11:00:20 PM »

Come to talk about it: An abreviation list would be nice. Especially for all the games being played, playtested and discussed. Between YGAD, TSoY, CoS, PtA, DitV, MLwM, SitF, BW, TRoS and so forth, a newbie can easily lose his footing. Alternatively, one could just take the time to write the game's full title at least once at the beginning of a thread.

Maybe I should just post this request to the Actual Play Sticky.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #56 on: April 07, 2005, 06:35:04 AM »

Quote from: Simon Kamber
As for MJ Youngs article, nope, I haven't seen it. Do you have a link?
Here's the link to the thread here that links to the article (you might want to comment): http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=14870

That said, it's somewhat like Ralphs in just being introductory to the theory, and not what you've indicated you're attempting - which if I get you is an introduction to the social climate of The Forge? Expected conventions and such? That's an interesting idea.

Would the idea be to have it in the essays area? Or did you have some other idea for distribution?

Mike
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Simon Kamber
Member

Posts: 175


« Reply #57 on: April 07, 2005, 10:45:06 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Would the idea be to have it in the essays area? Or did you have some other idea for distribution?

Well, I was thinking of writing it as an essay. But currently, it's still in the "inspiration" phase. I'm figuring out what I actually want to say before I start writing.
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Simon Kamber
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