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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 86 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Tony's Standard Rant #1: Roleplay/Game Duality  (Read 15641 times)
Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2005, 10:28:38 AM »

Let's split the topic of Capes off into another thread... explaining it will get involved.  I'll start that thread momentarily in the MOF forum.
Quote from: Doug Ruff
But that doesn't mean that a "roleplaying" game is just a game with roleplaying chucked in (or the other way around.)

No more than poker is just a game with gambling thrown in.  
Quote from: TonyLB
Roleplaying games are not about roleplaying. Roleplaying games are not about games.

Poker IS, however, ABOUT gambling.  Chess, a strategy game, is about strategy. Tag is about exuberance and activity. Chutes and Ladders is about morality.  Truth or Dare is about social oneupmanship.

So why aren't roleplaying games about roleplaying?
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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!"
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2005, 10:31:10 AM »

Quote from: Vaxalon
In order for it to be a roleplaying GAME, rather than just roleplaying, there have to be FORMAL rules that the players are adhering to.  If there aren't any, then it's freeform roleplaying, and not a game.


So let me ask a question in order to see if I'm understanding correctly. If you take your standard "freeform," then write on a piece of paper...

The Rules

1. Narration is determined by social interaction.
2. All players agree to be bound by rule 1.

...and then everyone signs it, does this turn the freeform into a roleplaying game?
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2005, 10:43:06 AM »

Writing something down doesn't make something formal, just as not writing it down doesn't mean it isn't formal.
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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
gorckat
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Posts: 39


« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2005, 10:56:27 AM »

okay- if a PB&J sandwich isn't such withou PB or J, does it really matter what the PB is, or the J is?

i think i see Fred's argument that roleplaying is a game about roleplaying-whether the roleplay is oriented towards 'munchkin' style kill the dragon in a way that maximizes my reward, or release the dragon because my 'role' believes that is right, or ally w/ the dragon because that would be interesting...it doesn't matter, really, as long as everyone at the table is considering things in a similar fashion (assuming that everyone wants ot have the most fun possible)

i must be missing something, because i see and agree w/ both Tony and Fred here- 'roleplaying game' is something that neither word alone describes, but it is just a 'game'- something done willingly, leisurely, for fun...

what am i missing? is there something deeper that you both are getting at? is it purpose of design? of play?
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2005, 11:18:50 AM »

I'm denying Tony's assertion that Roleplaying games aren't games, that the word "game" is used metaphorically.  I'm saying that "game" is actual, not metaphorical.
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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
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2005, 11:40:00 AM »

Quote from: Vaxalon
Writing something down doesn't make something formal

Okay, what is it that makes rules "formal" rules, then?
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2005, 11:45:00 AM »

In this case, I mean it in the sense of being a structural framework, something that gives form, something that is essential.  The rule you posit is not formal because it does not provide form.  You can substitute the word "formative" for "formal" in this instance.
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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
Callan S.
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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2005, 02:54:22 PM »

I think it might be terribly simple, if I propose it this way.

There are simply two games being played at the same time. One is entirely rules based. The other is entirely freeform imagination. And there are interconnections between the two.

Think about the gamist essay and the hardcore gamist.
Quote
The Hard Core occurs when Gamist play transmogrifies into pure metagame: Exploration becomes minimal or absent, such that System and Social Contract contact one another directly, and, essentially, all the mechanics become metagame mechanics.

You can see Ron describing how something is being shut down here. This is where you stop playing one of the games (freeform imagination) and just stick with the other.


Now, if you don't see two games being played at once because "Hey, when my fighter takes 15 damage, he's been hit and is bleeding for that much damage! That's all one thing right there!".

There doesn't seem to be two games playing at once, because social contract making them interact with each other so seemlessly that they seem like the one game.

Nothing forces you to imagine something...the rules certainly don't force you. Your own respect of the rules (possibly) forces you to (or some other personal commitment forces you), which is an imbedded part of the social contract.

An different example might be imagine having a game of chess (replacing the hard rules example above) and a game of monopoly (replacing the freeform imagination example from above) running at the same time, with each person at the table playing in each.

Now, imagine that the chess game has extra rules that say when you lose a piece, you also lose a monopoly house. But the monopoly game doesn't have that rule amongst its rules. So, your playing in both games and you loose a piece in chess. Now you go sit at the monopoly table. The rules there don't say you have to take any house away. Do you take one away or not? There's nothing in this game that says you have to. Nothing at all.

Only the social contract will ensure any interconnection between the two games.

The reverse applies as well. If someone gets out of jail in monopoly and that is supposed to partially reset the chess board (yet the chess game has no rules to match that), the only reason it can happen is social contract. In my previous example, this is where the freeform imagination game demands something of the rule based game, when those rules are busy determining something else entirely (an example might be someone taking the standard listed falling damage, but everyone declaring how he's wrapped in hundreds of pillows and that should change the rules effect).

On a side note, I think many users get rather used to using this latter technique example (for various incoherant game design reasons) and give up on rules because of it.

Two games at once, with social contract ensuring each half/'hemisphere' of the 'brain' effects the other. When they are connected, you can't actually say either one is THE game, just like you couldn't say chess or monopoly was THE game in my other example.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
TonyLB
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2005, 04:24:22 PM »

Callan:  This sounds an awful lot like "Roleplaying games are sometimes games and sometimes roleplaying. You do some parts of the activity by playing a role, and some parts by playing a game but you never do both at once."  Was that your intent?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2005, 09:13:23 PM »

Hi Tony,

Quoting myself and adding emphasis:
Quote
When they are connected, you can't actually say either one is THE game, just like you couldn't say chess or monopoly was THE game in my other example.


When you can't call it game A and you cant call it game B, then you have a new game; game C.

Mixing rules gaming with freeform imagination gaming produces far more fireworks than mixing chess and monopoly. But it's still the same principle as mixing those two.

As for never doing both at once, I didn't say that, but I think it's a very interesting point of discussion to bring up. It's social contract agreements that blend these two games into one, so your not just doing one game or the other at a time.

Quote from: You
There is a misconception that's become a pet peeve of mine, and that I want to debunk: The idea that "playing a role" and "playing a game" are ever separate parts of playing a roleplaying game.

You talk about a potter latter on. I think that slab of clay and that potters imagination are very seperate until he uses the rules of pottery making, to blend the two into some sort of funky new pot (I'm stretching the analgoy, using the pottery skill here instead of SC).

But until the end user applies that pottery skill/SC, they are indeed just a game and just freeform imagination. What some people will do though is look at a game and deliberately ignore any imagination game element, and say this is just a bunch of rules. Or ignore the rules element and say it's just a bunch of made up stuff. This is playing the idiot and like saying the Ikea furniture someone bought is just a bunch of parts....of course it is, it takes the end user to put them together! A very irritating 'observation'.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2005, 03:39:45 AM »

Do you think that players can really remove roleplaying from (say) D&D while playing according to the rules?  Or if they ignore the imaginative elements are they just roleplaying poorly?

I believe the latter.  "I take my sword and kill the orc" is roleplaying.  Uninspired, perhaps, but still roleplaying.  Even "I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage" is roleplaying.  Yet more inspired, but still roleplaying (as well as, of course, gaming).
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2005, 04:16:10 AM »

Yes, you can remove the roleplaying from DnD.  It's called the DND miniatures game.  I think I already made this point?
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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
contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2005, 04:22:18 AM »

Quote from: Vaxalon

I suppose that fits in with the "Games People Play" school of interpersonal relationships.  Sometimes, interactions ARE described in terms of "games"... but I don't think those are games in the same sense of the word.  There are games one is conscious of playing, and ones you are not conscious of.  "Game" in that sense is used as a metaphor.


The book by Erich Berne, which he followed up with "What Do You Say After You Say Hello".  I'm heavily into this school of thought.  I don't think that game used in this sense really is a metaphor - I think he is identifying specific, predicatble systems of interaction; and thats about as good a capsule definition of 'game' as you are likely to get.

But this definition of game is still rather nebulous, even implicit rather than explicit, and allows for the participants to not be aware that they are playing a game.  This concept of game is only that of predictable exchanges, identifiable strategies and so on.  I find this helpful, becuase it serves as a thinking-outside-the-box check; if the game is at least in part  in the eye of the beholder, then I can reassess the game I think I am playing to see it I am also involved in another, bigger game; or if the the present game can be broken down into solvable sub-games.

As I say, I don't see 'game' as a metaphor so much as a class of information structures.
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2005, 04:38:23 AM »

You see, I'm of the opinion that a true game requires formal rules, to which all of the players consciously assent.  The "game" theory of human interaction doesn't have formal rules.  To me, it's an "as if" construct.
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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
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2005, 05:02:31 AM »

Quote from: Vaxalon
You see, I'm of the opinion that a true game requires formal rules, to which all of the players consciously assent.  The "game" theory of human interaction doesn't have formal rules.  To me, it's an "as if" construct.


I would agree with that in the following sense: a game played by humans as entertainment must have formal rules to which participants consent.

But I think a lot of human interactions that are not for entertainment exhibit predictable interactions and can be modelled as a game.  And I think that is indeed a game in every practical sense.
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Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
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