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Do RPGS allow for diverse participation/discourse?

Started by am, May 03, 2005, 09:36:53 PM

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I think a woman can make a female statement in gaming, it's just a question of boldness and venue. At the same time, what's the definition of a female statement?
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If we're talking about form/system, I think the ability of RPGs to hear diverse voices has everything to do with an implicit vs. an explicit social contract. If the social contract is implicit, then it is either a matter of established gaming habits or it is an unexamined extension of the larger cultural (or subcultural) setting. I doubt either of these is a great way to make certain that everyone's voice is heard.

With an explicit social contract, even if the system doesn't say, "Discuss gender issues," it does create a space where this conversation could take place. Creating this space is important, and I'm not sure you could answer "yes" to Anna's first question without it. With mainstream RPGs, though, discussing the social contract seems limited to such things as "Who's going to bring the chips?" This basically takes the SC back to the implicit level, and doesn't allow for multi-voiced discourse.
Paul K.


Indeed, well said Paul.

And the distinction that you raise between the explicit and implicit social contract is very important, IMO.  Becuase it is only recently, and pretty much only really here, that the concept of the social contract in RPG has been explored.

It is precisely the potential for an explicit, exploratory social contract that is not about "me making a statement" but is instead about "me subordinating my own perceptions to those of the game" that suggests to me that RPG could conceivably be used as a kind of experiment in subjectivity.
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Mike Holmes

Well, I think that even if it's been extremely rare, that some implicit social contracts previously have allowed for such statments. That is, you might have a GM using their influcence to create an agenda where people can and do make statements.

I'd agree that making these things explicit would allow for it to happen with a lot more regularity, however.

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