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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 84 - 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 14998 times)
Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2005, 05:38:35 AM »

Something that can be modeled as a game is not necessarily a game.  

In the words of René Magritte, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."
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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 #31 on: April 07, 2005, 06:22:19 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 think that a good game (blatantly defined by me here as a game which all participants enjoy) does require that level of buy-in.

However, a lot of the point behind 'transactional analysis' is acknowledging that human interaction exhibits game-like behaviour and that not all of this is going on at the conscious level. There are formal rules, but the players may not always know them or want to play along with them.

In fact, there's a lot to be said for viewing the "games" in TA theory as RPG-style conflicts with stakes and everything.

And roleplaying with a group of friends is a game at the TA level; the stakes usually involve internal self-validation, exchanging units of mutual 'stroking' (respect, attention etc.). It's when this game becomes more important than the roleplaying game that we're ostensibly there to play, that we end up in Geek Social Fallacy territory.

I don't think any of this directly contradicts Fred's point that 'roleplaying game' isn't equal to 'TA game' - but I think that one of the consequences of Lumpley Principle is that you have to accept all these social interactions as part of the system, which means that TA games are necessarily a part of (just a part, mind you) of the system. They just tend to be the bits that don't end up in the rulebook.

Putting this back in the context on Tony's Rant - there is a whole level of strategy going on in any roleplaying game, which is completely above and beyond what we normally consider to be the resolution mechanics for a game.

But (and this is a question for Tony, as it's his Rant) - how is any of this different from saying that 'roleplaying' and 'gaming' are both part of the shared activity known as the 'roleplaying games session' (because it's not a roleplaying game unless you are playing it) and that any analysis which only considers them in separation is doomed to miss the point?

In other words, Tony says 'wave-particle duality'; I say Lumpley Principle. What's the difference?

PS I think I'm starting to Rant a bit myself.
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2005, 06:38:06 AM »

I would be willing to accept the position, that:

interpersonal games + one or more roleplaying games =A System
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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
TonyLB
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« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2005, 07:51:11 AM »

Doug, I think that the theory of Roleplay/Game Duality and the Lumpley principle are probably two different ways of looking at the same underlying reality.  I suspect that each will have circumstances in which it is the more easily applicable model than the other.
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C. Edwards
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Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2005, 09:34:21 AM »

If you look at Social Contract + Lumpley Principle + Creative Agenda it seems to me that any question of a Roleplay/Game Duality goes out the window.

I was going to go on about our natural tendency to break complex phenomena up into overy simple and often non-functional pieces. Instead I'm just going to point at the Big Model like some sad fanboy and say "It's all integrated, yet brilliantly categorized, for your viewing pleasure."

-Chris
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2005, 09:42:36 AM »

Under that system, wouldn't narrative description, rolling dice, consulting tables, assigning resources, etc. fall under the category of techniques?
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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
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2005, 09:56:07 AM »

If you mean under the Big Model, then yeah, the particulars and variations of those things fall under Techniques or Ephemera.

-Chris
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John Kim
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« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2005, 10:02:13 AM »

Quote from: TonyLB
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).

As I see it, you're just trying to slice the cake up differently so that all role-playing gaming falls into one big, undifferentiated lump.  But surely there's a break here -- i.e. If I'm playing a Tunnels & Trolls solo dungeon, or a Dungeons & Dragons computer game, am I still role-playing?  I suspect you'll say no.  But then you're left with saying that playing out a T&T dungeon mechanically is a totally different activity than playing out a T&T solo dungeon.  If we take three cases:

1) T&T solo dungeon
2) T&T dungeon played mechanically
3) Freeform LARP focused on relationships

Your approach is to say the #2 is really the same activity as #3, and different than #1.  i.e. In #2, they're really role-playing, but doing so poorly.  I think it is doing a disservice to #2.  The only reason they're doing it "poorly" is because you've defined their activity to have a different standard.
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- John
TonyLB
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« Reply #38 on: April 07, 2005, 11:07:30 AM »

Well, actually, John I don't really know the limits of "What is an RPG?"  So I have no idea how to categorize those three.  They might all be RPGs.  I'm still trying to figure it out.

For those who are pointing me to the Big Model and Lumpley... yeah, you're right.  This isn't saying anything that isn't said there.  It's saying it in a slightly different way.

Why do I bother?  Well it's a rant after all.  I'm just sick of having people who profess to understand the Big Model in its entirety coming up to me and saying nonsensical things like "Well, I play freeform, so of course we don't have a game system, we just have roleplaying."
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Lee Short
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Posts: 123


« Reply #39 on: April 07, 2005, 11:56:11 AM »

I'm with John here.  This is all one big quibble over definitions.  To make any sense of this, we need formal defintions of 'roleplaying' and 'game' (or perhaps devise more formal jargon for these terms as they apply to RPGs).  

The definition of 'game' that Tony is using seems to make every activity ever undertaken in to a game.  Going to the store with your girlfriend and buying milk is game.   Anything at all is a game.  Ditto the definition of 'roleplaying.'  These seem to me  as definitions that are less than functional for our purposes.  But they certainly make it easy to say that 'roleplaying' and 'game' are really just two different words for the same activity.  

OK,that's a caricature.  But I do think that the very loose definitions being used here are responsible for the slipperiness of the conversation, and Tony and Fred are talking past each other.  

What Fred was trying to say in the original thread was that there are often times in RPGs when he stops thinking about the SIS and completely focuses on the game mechanics.  And vice versa.  

I fail to see how this conflicts with the Lumpley Principle.  So I don't see how the Lumpley Principle supports your point at all, Tony.  Care to explain?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #40 on: April 07, 2005, 12:10:12 PM »

I'm sorry, Lee... what's the question?  I honestly can't parse what you want me to explain.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #41 on: April 07, 2005, 12:18:00 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
Your approach is to say the #2 is really the same activity as #3, and different than #1.  i.e. In #2, they're really role-playing, but doing so poorly.  I think it is doing a disservice to #2.  The only reason they're doing it "poorly" is because you've defined their activity to have a different standard.

Wait a second, John, I may have belatedly understood some of your post in my own terms.

Are you saying that it is unfair to say that in #2 (playing T&T with mechanics only) they are doing a poor job at the overall activity of playing a roleplaying game?  Because I agree with that.

But seen through a model of RPGs that says that creative input comes first and the rules and mechanics are in support of that, the group is playing poorly (in large part because their system permits them to enjoy the game without more than a minimal creative input).  Do you agree with that?
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Lee Short
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Posts: 123


« Reply #42 on: April 07, 2005, 12:34:51 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
I'm sorry, Lee... what's the question?  I honestly can't parse what you want me to explain.


No problem.  

What Fred was trying to say in the original thread was that there are often times in RPGs when he stops thinking about the SIS and completely focuses on the game mechanics. And vice versa.  

It appears to me that the above claim of Fred's is precisely what you have been objecting to.   You have been claiming that Fred's claim is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what an RPG is and does.  You have invoked the Lumpley Principle in support of your claim.  

I don't see how Fred's claim (as paraphrased by me) and the Lumpley Principle are in conflict.  You seem to think that they are.  I'd like to know why.  And, in explaining why, I'd like you to refrain from using the terms 'roleplaying' or 'game' unless you define them.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #43 on: April 07, 2005, 12:55:19 PM »

Oh, okay.  I didn't mean to say that (although without a comprehensive review of the thread I hesitate to claim with any certainty that I didn't, in fact, mis-speak and say exactly that at some point).

I agree with Fred about the perception.  There are times when I stop thinking about roleplaying.  There are times when I stop thinking about mechanics.

What I'm saying is that's just perception.  There are no times when you stop using the mechanics, just times that you stop thinking about it.  There are no times when you stop affecting the SIS, just times that you stop thinking about it.

Does that make more sense?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #44 on: April 07, 2005, 04:12:00 PM »

Quote from: TonyLB
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).


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


I think the contrast between these two post highlights the mechanical difference involved.

Because there is no removal of roleplaying from the DnD minatures game. Or from "Before I kill you, Mr Bond" card game. Or from the "Lunch money" card game. Or from any other colorful game (all of them, really).

In all of them I'm imagining how I kill those monsters, or how my evil fortress eliminates a spy, or how I pimp slap the other guy.

Rules can't magically remove roleplay from my mind.

However, what they can do is not care a jot about my imagination. When I describe how the spy dies in my fortress in "Before I kill you Mr Bond", I get nothing from it system wise (though myself and my partner both enjoy saying these things anyway...separate to the game: social feedback).

Now let's look at Tony's example.
Quote
"I use my sword and roll 17, hitting AC5 and doing 12 points of damage"

Now imagine if the player followed it up with
"With 12 points of damage, blood should be gouting out of him all over himself, and obscuring his vision making it harder for him to see my next attack coming!!"
And the GM might respond "Yeah, I can see that...lets see...AH! The circumstance rules! You get +2 to hit on your next attack!" (side note: Tony, looking at that AC5, is this a 2e example? I'm talking about 3.x myself)

The circumstance rules and many other RPG rules, are asking "What's on your mind? Because we want it to be important, systematically!"

It's these rules, and the social contract agreements that drive them to apply, that blend roleplay with game, which is neither game A or B, but a new game called game C.

Even though you can stop 'thinking' about roleplay, as Tony himself admits, it doesn't mean these rules aren't still drawing on your imagination. If in the above example the guy didn't think about the imagination level, he would have missed out on that +2. The system is continually demanding you roleplay or suffer a penalty/miss out on a reward.

Roleplay games can't have roleplay 'in' them. But they can keep making that demand. They can't have roleplay 'in' them, but in a way they can hold your imagination to ransom. Pay the ransom/suffer a penalty and you can stop thinking about roleplaying. So even if the dude just mumbles "I hit, 12 damage", his imagination/roleplay is being held to ransom by the system. His roleplaying isn't just something he can do if and when he wants, it's a game resource now, and this resource is on the table now because of the system, not tucked away safely in his head. Roleplaying is out there in front of god and everyone, even if the person is being all reluctant about facing that. Roleplaying is out there because either you do it, or suffer.

~~~ speculative:

It might seem odd to look at it this way, but when the absence of your roleplaying is facilitated to have an impact, then your roleplaying by its absence or presence is always having an effect. When your roleplaying or absence there of has an effect whether you like it or not, your always roleplaying. Because even the decision not to roleplay is a roleplaying descision and has an effect.

It doesn't matter if I roleplay and get +2 for twenty rolls because of it, or sit like a rock and don't get that bonus. Either way, I've made a roleplay based decision and it's had an effect. My decision not to roleplay involved me for atleast a moment deciding at a roleplay level, to shut down roleplay in my mind. And that roleplay decision flows through the game by its mechanical effects, just like the decision to roleplay flows through too. There's no difference between the two, so even the decision to not roleplay, is enabled as roleplay by it having an effect.
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Philosopher Gamer
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