News:

Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

Regarding the "actual moment(s)” of Role-play.

Started by Silmenume, August 02, 2005, 09:15:00 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Silmenume

Looking at the Big ModelTM we note that "play" is said to have actually commenced at the level described as "Exploration."  So what has changed when the players switch from the Social Contract level where play "is not" taking place to Exploration where play "is" taking place?  The most obvious difference, as per the current glossed definition, is that the players are "sharing imaginings."  This definition, however, needs a bit more clarification or at least some examination.  For example its not that the players are just "sharing imaginings," but there is a socially reinforces process which both limits what might even be considered for input by a player before he share's his imagining to the overt social process of actually accepting, rejecting or modifying a given player's statement after he has shared his imagining by all at the table.  There is some aesthetic operating both on an internal and social level that both delimits input as well as functioning as the "yardstick-of-player-effectiveness."  IOW we look back over the shared imaginings and monitor these imaginings to determine if we like or don't like what is "going on."  It's no secret here that this had been labeled "Creative Agenda."  But the question I am interested is what exactly is the "going on" part?

We have a "shared imaginary space" that is the "official" compilation of "facts" that have been previously been imagined, shared and then agreed upon by everyone at the table.  As stated above, these "shared imaginings" are not just random statements of imagining, but rather "structured sharings of imaginging."  There is a guiding aesthetic – In Narrativism that would be the Premise question and in Gamism that would be Step on Up.  In these two forms of role-play the players are actively trying to accomplish some over riding goal – whether they are overtly aware of this drive or not.  The shared imaginings are structured around this aesthetic (the realization of the CA).  IOW the players are trying to Engineer something (that is – create something specific)  via their "shared imaginings."  In Gamism that would be an arena where Step on Up can be effectively expressed via conflicts organized and recognized as Challenges and in Narrativism that would be an arena where a Premise question might be examined under controlled circumstances.  Thus it could be said that in both cases the players are "using" their shared imaginings to create things.  Specific things.  IOW the players are using their shared imaginings or more specifically the SIS/Fact space to Engineer the "shape" of these arenas.  I should clarify that, given the Hardcore version of Gamism and the PTA expression of Narrativism, we can see that play can function on a level where the players employ a great many ad extra tools for the purpose of constructing their arena of play so that "play" may proceed according to their aesthetics (CA's).  I am not saying that all play in either CA functions at the level of player control over the arena that I used in my example.  However, it is important to note that such play can be perfectly functional in both Gamism and Narrativism.  In fact such input to play from the players' is so important that play is often considered incoherent (not necessarily dysfunctional) if they don't have an "official means" of expressing their input to the creation of the arena.

OK – so we have established that players can and do use tools in coherent games designs (sometimes referred to as "meta-mechanics") that function at the level of what has been called in the past the "meta-game" level.  This bifurcation is interesting to me as it implies that play operates at two levels or more specifically in two different ways.  The "upper" or "controlling" level operates at the Social Contract level – or at least outside the SIS.  IOW the players function and speak as players to players directly (bypassing the SIS "means" or "conduit") about their intentions and desires.  Now this sort of activity is certainly a "part of play" but there is an implied or unstated difference between this "meta- level" of player dialogue and the expressions of "statements of fact" that MUST transpire regarding the facts that are in the SIS via the player's "agency of action" – their Characters.  So we have a division of kind regarding statements from outside the SIS about the SIS and statements from within the SIS about the SIS.  Much of a games time can be spent at the meta-level but at some point or another players must make statements about how their agent inside the SIS "acts" regarding the conflicts facing the player's agent.

These "internal" statements are very different qualitatively from the meta-level statements.  At the meta-level of play a player can state that they would like a conflict to be created "here" and what the conflict will be about, etc.  They are operating at the "concept" level employing an Engineering paradigm or put another way the players are talking to each other about ideas that they would like to see expressed within the SIS.  So my question becomes how are these "internal" statements regarding the SIS qualitatively different from meta-level statements about the SIS? 

I propose that these internal (ad intra) statements are not conceptual in nature but rather "concrete" in nature.  That is we "move" physical things around the SIS (that is have our Characters do things) in order to signify ideas.  We know, for example, that a Character in a Narrativist game is not the player inside the SIS, but rather a "physical" embodiment/representation of the Premise issue.  Thus we have "things" (objects) that are employed and manipulated by the players to demonstrate – signify – ideas.  All the "meta-mechanics" are really a formalized means by which we create the "concrete" pieces and pre-attach specific meanings said pieces so that we can be assured of reaching the conflicts we want.

Let me illustrate by way of analogy.  This analogy is for illustrative purposes only and not intended to be the actual thesis.  Let us imagine the "fact space" to be the analogous equivalent of a game board – in this case let us say a chessboard.  This "board" is the arena that all the interested players will be referencing when either planning their next move (deciding which imagined statement to share) or monitoring to determine their satisfaction (deciding whether Premise has been addressed in an interesting manner or that Step on Up has been satisfactorily scratched).  This "board" is also the arena where the "actual moments of play" will transpire.  In this example it is not enough that the players are talking "smack," they have to demonstrate Step on Up via the interactions of the pieces on the board.  Now those "pieces" that we just readily assume to do certain things without much thought a forehand are really nothing more than shapes in some material – wood, plastic, glass, metal, etc.  That a piece is called a "Queen" and can "move" certain ways are concepts that must be agreed upon by all the players.  You will note that there is no piece, no specific move nor any rule that is "Step on Up."  The nature of the Step on Up (stakes and arena/form) is discussed before hand but the process which demonstrates Step on Up ("play") is a derived quality of the play.  That is the movement of the pieces demonstrates or signifies Step on Up – something that is not inherent in the medium.  However by careful negotiation and agreement we decide that moving the pieces around in certain ways will have "significance."  In this example moving the plastic, metal, glass, etc., objects on the board in a structured fashion can be employed to demonstrate "concepts" from "concrete" objects – that is not only do I have more guts than you, but I am also a more effective strategizer!  The pinning of the King, which is typically the ultimate end, need not necessarily be so.  IOW "victory" need not be the sole end of the game.  There are many, many ways that these pieces/concrete objects can be pre-seeded with meanings and the manner in which they interact is also completely up for grabs (mechanics design).  This pre-seeding of meanings to the pieces, the choosing of the milieu in which the pieces will interact on and determining the goal of these interactions – when they are present mechanically are the meta-mechanics in RPGs.  This analogy also extends to Narrativism --- and ultimately Sim.

What does all this boil down to?  That the meat and potatoes of role-play is a mythic style bricolage process.  Gam and Nar harness bricolage to their Engineering style – we are doing or creating X via a highly structured signification process.  We as players create a Premise so that we can then bricole towards a goal.  We as players agree to the stakes and milieu in Gamism so that we can then bricole towards a goal (demonstrate Step on Up).  It is relatively easy to discuss such play, as this is a common literate culture way of thinking.  Sim, however functions at the other end of the spectrum with the mythic bricolage paradigm.  Sim doesn't have a specific constructed or conceptualized goal; which makes it difficult to discuss other than perhaps a generalized "knowing" – the Dream.  Here we come to the conundrum of Sim.  Like both Gam and Nar which use bricolage to signify or demonstrate "concepts" so does Sim.  However, what "concepts" are demonstrated and how we choose to do so is very different is Sim.  In Sim the players demonstrate the soundness or completeness of the model – only when they are at the ragged edge of the known "concepts."  IOW the Dream grows not because the mechanics "hold it together," but rather the Dream grows because the players "expand" the understanding of how the Dream works by providing solutions to conflicts that are NOT accounted for in the mechanics.  Typically this expansion would fall into the realm of the "social rules of interaction" but the mechanics themselves not only can also open to expansion but need to be.  So how is this done?  By bringing play to the edge of the known and then have the players demonstrate that the unknown was "really/already known" – the Dream is truly whole and unfailing.  Except that it was the players who demonstrated the "wholeness" of the Dream – not the fixed rules.  See, this expansion of the understanding of how the Dream works is the Sim game action – and it is demonstrated through the signification process (bricolage) of adding facts to the "fact space" in a manner which signifies the wholeness of the Dream.  IOW when the players are at the edge of the known they create more Dream as they attempt to patch over the gap in knowledge ad intra (from within the SIS.)

I digress, but the gist of my idea has been presented. 

I had been wrestling with this issue not long after I got here when I noticed myself and everyone else stumbling over and tap-dancing around that black box moment when "play happened."  ...or to use a phrase that Walt employed – turned the "semiotic crank."  I hope there is some meat to this and that it helps in future discussions not only about play but in game design as prior to my epiphany there seemed to be big ragged hole regarding "the moment of play."

Any thoughts?
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

Alan

Hi Jay,

Can you restate your main point in 100 words or less?  I'm afraid I couldn't find it.

- Alan
- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com

Nathan P.

Hey Jay,

This is the exact kind of stuff I've been trying to figure out at my blog, when I'm not design journal-ing.

I was nodding at some of the stuff in your post, but I think a summary would make it easier to talk about. Though, I would like to know what you think about this idea: Bricolage is the primary dynamic that is roleplay, and is present throughout all play. Roleplay can also include Story and Challenge, and often does - that is, all three are often present, though Bricolage is always present to some degree. Narrativism is Story on Purpose, and Gamism is Challenge on Purpose. Likewise, Simulationism is Bricolage on Purpose.

How does that interface with your thoughts?
Nathan P.
--
Find Annalise
---
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters

Silmenume

Hey Nathan (and Alan),

Quote from: Nathan P. on August 02, 2005, 06:19:11 PMI was nodding at some of the stuff in your post, but I think a summary would make it easier to talk about.

I will try.  This thread is a first go through on this idea process so unfortunately it is clunky and not altogether coherent.  I am actually looking to work some of the ideas out here on the boards and see where they lead.  Regarding the "summary" here is the best I can do so far.

    Role-play is the process of the creation of symbols (via meta-mechanics) whose interactions are informed/delimited by resolution mechanics so that they may be manipulated by the players to
signify concepts/memes/ideas.[/list]

How both the symbols themselves and the interactions of the symbols are deciphered/interpreted is CA in action.  Thus one man's interpretation of events as Challenge can be another man's interpretation as Premise conflict.  Same symbols – different meanings.

Thus I see all CA related input efforts as "on purpose" actions.  The players are "trying to imply an idea/concept via the manipulation of the meaning laden symbols."  Note the word "imply."  I chose that very specifically.  I think it is at the heart of the difference between meta-SIS Exploration and intra-SIS Exploration.  The meta-level is all those activities that are engaged in order to set up the symbols (their meanings), the arena (their starting relationships to one another), and the means by which the can be interacted.  Resolution mechanics on the other hand deal specifically with the symbols and their interactions.

Quote from: Nathan P. on August 02, 2005, 06:19:11 PMBricolage is the primary dynamic that is roleplay, and is present throughout all play. Roleplay can also include Story and Challenge, and often does - that is, all three are often present, though Bricolage is always present to some degree. Narrativism is Story on Purpose, and Gamism is Challenge on Purpose. Likewise, Simulationism is Bricolage on Purpose.

How does that interface with your thoughts?

Pretty close, but there are some differences.  I agree that Bricolage is the "primary" dynamic that is role-play.  What I mean is that Bricolage is the process of creating meaning from the manipulation of symbols – as it were.  Thus if one is "creating Story" or more specifically addressing Premise then one must view all the symbols in the "fact space" and their attendant "meanings" in a unified fashion.  This is part of what "on purpose" means; at least to me thus far.  Same goes for Gamism and Simulationism.  This is why I don't think it is possible that all three CA's all being present in a given player's play in a given night.  First it would be difficult to diagnose and second given that all the symbols would have to be reinterpreted in their entirely when "switching" from one CA to another – that would be a monumental task.  Now do that many times in a night.  Then add in that as this is a social process all the other players would have to make the same reinterpretations of the symbols and all come to the same (or extremely similar) interpretations before play could start to be "meaningful" again.

So I see Bricolage, which is a process that purposefully creates meanings, yoked to Premise or Challenge concepts – that is Bricolage is employed by an Engineering mindset.  This is not accidental but can only happen "on purpose."  Hence Narrativism and Gamism can only be "meaningful" if they are "on purpose."  It cannot happen passively, the players must be involved with the symbols sets in order to derive meaning from their interactions.  They are trying to demonstrate/imply ideas.  This to me is the heart of Creative Agenda.  Following this logic, for play to be considered Sim CA, then the players must also be trying to "demonstrate ideas" as well – however this process is not yoked to an Engineering paradigm.  That is it is not driven by an easily definable literate culture simply expressed "concept."  IOW Sim in not about generating or demonstrating "a" thing, but rather an opened ended process of expanding the Dream via Bricolage from within the Dream.  If play does not purposefully attempt to imply/demonstrate anything new then it is Zilchplay.  So, yes, Sim is "Bricolage on purpose" which then demands that for play to be considered Sim the players must be generating "new" concepts/ideas.  Prioritizing the running of (resolution) mechanics is not Sim simply because there are no new ideas being expressed, via bricolage, "on purpose."
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

Justin A Hamilton

Quote from: Silmenume on August 04, 2005, 02:10:39 AMSo I see Bricolage, which is a process that purposefully creates meanings, yoked to Premise or Challenge concepts – that is Bricolage is employed by an Engineering mindset.  This is not accidental but can only happen "on purpose."  Hence Narrativism and Gamism can only be "meaningful" if they are "on purpose."  It cannot happen passively, the players must be involved with the symbols sets in order to derive meaning from their interactions.  They are trying to demonstrate/imply ideas.
Perhaps this is just me being the new guy and misinterpreting something here, but by this statement are you saying that everyone who roleplays by default falls into Simulationism because they are not actively participating in bricolage?  I suppose the issue I have with this statement is the "meaningful" part.  Perhaps I have missed something, but what exactly do you mean when you say "Narrativism and Gamism can only be 'meaningful' if they are 'on purpose.'"?

Silmenume

Hi Justin!

Since you're a new guy, let me say, "Welcome to the Forge!"

Quote from: Justin A Hamilton on August 04, 2005, 05:30:12 AMPerhaps this is just me being the new guy and misinterpreting something here, but by this statement are you saying that everyone who roleplays by default falls into Simulationism because they are not actively participating in bricolage?

Actually – no.  I am saying that anyone who is not actively participating in Bricolage is engaged in Zilchplay.  Simulationism just prioritizes Bricolage over Gamism and Narrativism which prioritizes address of Challenge and Premise respectively over Bricolage.  The distinction I am making is that the mere entry of statements into the SIS does not automatically qualify as mindful Bricolage – i.e., CA expression.  In fact I would go so far as to say that outside most modern indie-designed games the players are typically not effectively expressing any CA.  IOW unless the game design itself expressly emphasizes address of Premise or Challenge thus helping shepherd the players into effective CA expression many of the remaining games lead to Zilchplay either through GM Force or lack of player mindfulness.

Quote from: Justin A Hamilton on August 04, 2005, 05:30:12 AMI suppose the issue I have with this statement is the "meaningful" part. Perhaps I have missed something, but what exactly do you mean when you say "Narrativism and Gamism can only be 'meaningful' if they are 'on purpose.'"?

This is a little tricky, but I'll try my best.  I don't "meaningful" in an existential sense; that the game process gives meaning to the players' lives.  That is not what I was trying to get at.

By "Narrativism and Gamism can only be 'meaningful' if they are 'on purpose'" I meant that the expression of a Creative Agenda can only occur when the players are mindfully (on purpose) trying to enter statements into the SIS such that they intend them to have CA relevant "meaning."  IOW one cannot be said to be expressing what is called the Narrativist Creative Agenda unless they are "mindfully" doing so.  If the players are not mindfully pursuing the expression of a Creative Agenda then their statements meant for the SIS will not have a coherent "meaning."

By "mindful" I will borrow from Ron here -

Quote from: Ron Edwards on August 03, 2005, 04:23:10 PM"Conscious" is a terrible term. It focuses on introspection, deliberation, and "what I meant to do," staying locked up in the person's head.

It's also fundamentally meaningless, if you want to get really critical. After all, am I "conscious" of my desire to publish a game? To play a game? To eat lunch? And so on.

However, "mindful" is much more useful because it's social and has an "off" condition. I am mindful of your actions when I consider how they affect me and behave accordingly. I am mindful of my actions when I consider how they affect you and behave accordingly. You can see when I fail to be mindful of either of these, in how I talk, how I treat you, and what I do.

I hope this helps.  Let me know if you have further questions.
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

Simon Marks

Quote from: Silmenume on August 04, 2005, 02:10:39 AM
    Role-play is the process of the creation of symbols (via meta-mechanics) whose interactions are informed/delimited by resolution mechanics so that they may be manipulated by the players to
signify concepts/memes/ideas.[/list]

This is a fascinating summary, and one that I think is true of me.

I am reminded of the "Creator or Fan" thread here and here, and how the difference between the two approaches is what is prioritised within the above statement.

One would seem to concentrate on the use of Role-Play to investigate a thing. It is the use of Role-Play as a tool.
The other would concentrate on the use of Role-Play to experience a thing, to know what it feels like. Role-Play as an entertainment.

Hmmm. Thinking about it like that makes me think - "Is this what the traditional divide between GM and Player is?"

A GM is usually driven by the idea of creating a good game, which the players then experiance?

"It is a small mind that sees all life has to offer"

I have a Blog now.

Ron Edwards

Hello,

Jay, jargon aside, it seems to me that you're presenting a fairly close paraphrase of "GNS and other matters of role-playing theory."

1. Basic, required, communicative process underlying the activity, regardless of goal.

2. Two distinct goals which utilize that process as a medium, as well as a third goal which focuses on refining the process itself.

Best,
Ron

Nathan P.

Jay,

Cool! I'm pretty sure I'm grokking you, and, for the most part, agree. However, I'm not so sure about the clear divide that I see in your statement that

Quote from: Silmenume on August 04, 2005, 02:10:39 AM
...I don't think it is possible that all three CA's all being present in a given player's play in a given night.  First it would be difficult to diagnose and second given that all the symbols would have to be reinterpreted in their entirely when "switching" from one CA to another – that would be a monumental task.  Now do that many times in a night.  Then add in that as this is a social process all the other players would have to make the same reinterpretations of the symbols and all come to the same (or extremely similar) interpretations before play could start to be "meaningful" again.

I agree insofar that, if a group sits down at the table with the mindful intent to adress Premise, or whatever, then yes. But what about "fencesitters", or people who mindfully want to kind of wait and see which CA is going to be appropriate for a given group and game? I would say that this happens often with "mainstream" games that don't clearly support a given style of play, and basically need to be drifted to match a groups desires.* In this case, I think it's entirely possible to introduce things into the SIS with an array of possible, CA-significant meanings. An examples: the leader of the ninja assassins has revealed himself - to be a characters father! If the players wants Challenge, he's highly skilled. If they want Premise (about family ties, or whatever) he can certainly serve as a catalyst for that. He's also part of the Dream, to be Bricoled in whatever fashion (sorry, a little hazy on that last one....).

Now, the system certainly guides how this situation is addressed, etc. But I can certainly see a situation where this kind of thing is presented for the purpose of giving the group clues into how they like to play, which is then mindfully reinforced over the rest of play. Something of a diagnostic for CA? Anyhow, my basic question to you is what do you think of the notion that a symbol can be consciously representative of an array of meanings, to be pared down through the actual events around the table and in play?

*A note - I'm defintely not trying to make a case for sneaking up on mode. I'm assuming that the group is on the same page in regards to this, with the understanding that they're trying to settle on a preferred style of play through actual play. It's a process that my group engages in, at least.
Nathan P.
--
Find Annalise
---
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters

Silmenume

Hullo Simon,

I apologize, but I'm not sure if you are looking for a response and if so what you are looking for from me.

Hey Ron,

I am both excited and somewhat uncertain of your response!

I am excited that what I wrote dovetails so smoothly with the GNS and other matters essay.  I did not have that essay in mind when I set off on this thread, but that I did not contradict it is very good to hear.

However I was dismayed that the main thrust of my post went by more or less uncommented.

Quote from: Ron Edwards on August 04, 2005, 12:34:18 PM1. Basic, required, communicative process underlying the activity, regardless of goal.

Italicizing added

My post was aimed very specifically at the "communicate process underlying the activity."  There are two basic ideas that I would like to work on regarding "underlying activity."

First is that I believe the "underlying activity" is not just a substrate upon which the game is built, but rather that the "communicative process" is the heartbeat of role-play.  It is not so much an adjunct to play, but it is where "play" happens.  I believe that everything "above" this level is actually performed in service to this "basic communicative process."  One can have a "vanilla" environment and still express CA (no meta-level mechanics etc. but still manipulate the symbols to express the CA) yet one cannot have a "pervy" environment and express CA without the actual process of manipulating the symbols (lots of CA supporting meta-mechanics but never get to actual "play."  I further believe that effective game designs are aimed specifically at organizing and informing this "basic communicative process."  However, I have not seen any effective descriptions about this most critical component of Exploration and this is what my original post was trying to ignite.  This is the very core of play and all this brilliant theorizing, and I am NOT being sarcastic, has not really touched on it all.  To me this is the missing piece.  This is where the ideas actually get played out.  As you even alluded to in the glossary under Vanilla Narrativism there is an "abstract" level of play and some other level – which, borrowing from Chris, I call the "concrete" level of play.  Which brings me to my next point...

Second, this "underlying communicative process" is profoundly and fundamentally different from that of the "abstracted" level of play.  While "concepts" are spoken about in the meta-level of play, in the concrete-level of play "concepts" are demonstrated or signified by the manipulation of symbols.  That is one does not say, "I have strategy and guts," but rather one demonstrates strategy and guts via the manipulation of the agreed upon symbols.  One does not merely state their response to the Premise Question in abstracted terms, but rather demonstrates their response to the Premise Question via the manipulation of the agreed upon symbols.  This "concrete" level of play is where the "ideas" get worked out and the output of the CA expression process is built.  That is the Theme is created or that one does effectively demonstrate that they indeed have strategy and guts.  However, reading the symbols and the results of their interactions is an interpretive process and this is how people can come away from a game with different points of view.

At any rate I don't this particular level of play/process is ever mentioned in any role-play game.  Simply put, the manipulation of concrete objects to create or confer meaning is Chris' mythic bricolage and is a learned skill.  However, it is one that is not really taught anymore and thus something I believe is worth investigating.

Nathan,

Quote from: Nathan P. on August 04, 2005, 04:51:51 PMAnyhow, my basic question to you is what do you think of the notion that a symbol can be consciously representative of an array of meanings, to be pared down through the actual events around the table and in play?

On one level, the process of bricolage is pretty much that very paring down process.  That is – as the symbol becomes more "refined" the possibilities of what it could possibly represent become ever narrower and narrower.  That is the symbol loses potential as it becomes more "concrete."  However, I'm not that answers your question ...

I am going to assume, and let me know if I am wrong; that by "consciously representative of meanings" you mean that a symbol could be purposefully created with the intention that it could be interpreted by a player via more than one CA's at a single moment?  I don't know, but I doubt it would be an effective method of play.  Most players are not consciously aware of CA and thus just "react" as their aesthetic desires compel them.  To players who are deeply immersed in GNS theory I suppose it is possible to choose the communal CA this way, but then why not just hash it out before play and save everyone a lot of banging heads?

Going back to my first interpretation of your question, what you proposed is exactly what Sim play is about.  The GM throws out a symbol just bloated with potential meanings and it is up to the players to decide how they want to interpret that symbol and react accordingly.  The skill that comes into play is the ability to "interpret" that symbol in such a way that is both consistent with precedence (themes, physics, character, etc.) while instilling "something new" at the same time.  To me, the most exciting part of play is when I get the chance to create a new symbol through concrete actions and have another player run with it (GM or otherwise) and we totally "get" each other, or myself grokking a heretofore ambiguous symbol.  When that light bulb goes off it is something to experience.  For this to be effect the GM needs to create symbols at "the edge of the known."  If the symbol is already deeply "known" then there is little for the player to do.  However if the symbol has the potential of "breaking the dream" then interpreting it in such a way as to account for it within the Dream then one has both understood and expanded the Dream because the player has made to work that which was previously not accounted for.

Have I touched upon your question at all?  Let me know!
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

Simon Marks

Quote from: Silmenume on August 08, 2005, 10:07:32 AM
I apologize, but I'm not sure if you are looking for a response and if so what you are looking for from me.

I don't think so, just saying "This is making me think."
Is what you are saying is that there are 4 processes? within Roleplay?
Creation of Symbols,
Their Interaction,
How they are manipulated by the Players, and
What they mean.

It almost lines up to 'Cause' on one side and 'Effect' on the other. I suppose I am wondering if you feel that this flow is what you mean.

Symbolic Flow,
Creation -> Manipulation -> Interaction -> Meaning

So, the Symbol is created and set in motion, it then interacts with other symbols to form a meaning.
This flow seems somewhat .. right to me, and also it feels that some of the divides in play style can be down to what it is in this that you most prioritise.

Hmmm ... reading this back sounds more disjointed than I thought.
"It is a small mind that sees all life has to offer"

I have a Blog now.

Silmenume

Hiya Simon,

I hadn't really given much thought previous to this as something that is specifically a four-part process.  So to your specific question of, "Am I [Jay] saying there are four processes?" The answer is, I wasn't trying to say that, but it does seem to be a reasonable conclusion.  However, I have not thought this through enough to make a solid claim that there are four and only four processes.

Regarding your flow –

First I would say that in order for a symbol to be "symbolic" is must be imbued (usually by the creator) with at least a meaning or it will be unusable.  That is it will cease to be a symbol and default to the literal sign itself.  A symbol must point to a referent/meaning.  One cannot have an "empty" symbol and manipulate it – which results in the obstructing of the interaction and meaning steps.  In fact the whole process is predicated on there being a "meaning" to operate on.  Most solid Narrativist supporting game systems have mechanics that do this overtly and empower the players specifically for this process so that the interactions will be the kinds the players are looking for.  Thus we have your model modified.

Meaning
      ↓
Creation -> Manipulation -> Interaction -> Meaning
      ↑               ↑                     ↑                ↓
      └────────┴──────────┴─────────┘

I have taken the liberty of borrowing from you post to try to indicate my thoughts as they line up with yours.  I am not trying to put words in your mouth.

So, the Symbol is created (introduced by a player and given at least one meaning) and set in motion then a player uses it to interact with other meaning laden symbols to try and create a new meaning.  In this process all the symbols that were employed are all changed to a lesser or greater degree by these interactions.  In Sim this self-reflexive morphing of the meanings of the symbols is the priority of play – while in Nar and Gam the morphing of the meaning of the symbols is yoked to an "outside" prioritizing idea which is here called Premise or Challenge.

I don't know if any of this helps, but it is the best I can do right now.  Feel free to ask any additional questions you might have.

Regarding "cause" and "effect" I don't understand what you are trying to get at.
Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay

Caldis

Hey Jay,

This all sounds good to me.  One exchange in this discussion caught my attention and it's something you've been on about for awhile yet I dont totally fathom it. 
This section is where you really speak of it.

Quote from: Silmenume on August 08, 2005, 10:07:32 AM
If the symbol is already deeply "known" then there is little for the player to do.  However if the symbol has the potential of "breaking the dream" then interpreting it in such a way as to account for it within the Dream then one has both understood and expanded the Dream because the player has made to work that which was previously not accounted for.

As I said I dont really get where you're coming from here, though I may have an inkling now that I think about it.  Could you post either short examples (or an Actual Play thread) showcasing play where the symbols are deeply known contrasted with one where the symbols had the potential to break the dream.   I'm specifically interested in the social recognition aspect that shows the group realizes these are important moments rather than just the individual and also what happens if the mechanics of the game breaks one of the established meanings of a symbol, though maybe that second part should wait until further into the discussion.

Thanks.
Vern



Josh Roby

Quote from: Silmenume on August 04, 2005, 02:10:39 AMThus if one is “creating Story” or more specifically addressing Premise then one must view all the symbols in the “fact space” and their attendant “meanings” in a unified fashion.  This is part of what “on purpose” means; at least to me thus far.  Same goes for Gamism and Simulationism.  This is why I don’t think it is possible that all three CA’s all being present in a given player’s play in a given night.  First it would be difficult to diagnose and second given that all the symbols would have to be reinterpreted in their entirely when “switching” from one CA to another – that would be a monumental task.

I think you're giving short shrift to ambiguity, here, and you're assuming too explicit a connection between a signifier and its referent.  You also seem to be dabbling in the oft-implied proposition that 'good' (or coherent, or functional, or whatever) roleplay must choose and adhere to one and only one CA for all players at the table.

Signifiers point to referents -- but that's not the same as saying a signifier points to a referent.  In fact, any signifier points to a number of different referents.  This is why a cigar can be a phallus or just a cigar -- or a spaceship.  This is not, however, a problem, and is, in fact, a great boon to creative minds everywhere.  The juxtapositions of the different referents assigned to a specific signifier can create tons of meaning (concrete example: the old veteran NPC can be both a father-figure and an embodiment of military tradition).  Further, the referents attached to specific signifiers can be idiosyncratic to different players around the table (my father-figure, your embodiment of military tradition), and can even be complicated by different referents for a player and his character (I personally find the Big Bad repulsive evil, my character thinks she's gloriously uninhibited) or multiple referents all working at the same time in one person's head (player or character).

This ambiguity is not, as it may first appear, to be detrimental to the creation of meaning, only that it complicates and qualifies all meaning created -- it, in fact, creates more meaning than if the signifiers exclusively and exhaustively pointed to one and only one referent.  Deciphering ambiguity, deciding when to parse it out, when to consider more than one option, and when to leave it as an open and intriguing question, are processes that we as signifying monkeys do every day.  While it certainly is a monumental task to reassess details in different lights, that is to a great deal what our brains are designed for, and I don't think it would be any undue burden to assume that your typical gamer monkey could consider the elements of a game in both competitive (Gamist) and explorationist (Simulationist) terms simultaneously.

While I certainly recognize that there is value to be had in exploring the antipodes of the GNS triangle, and I think that the Forge has 'discovered' a great deal of incredibly evocative techniques, concepts, and experiences, I think it's hyperbole to state that striking off to one of the GNS poles is the only way to have 'good' roleplay.  In fact, taking such an approach to extremes will actually delimit meaning to such a degree that it closes down new opportunities for new meaning.  I'd much rather have a little G-and-S in my Narrativist gaming experience, if you will.  I don't want to 'stay on target' on just one interpretation of elements within the SIS; I want to play with them, look at them in continually changing light, and see what different facets and subtleties I can find.
On Sale: Full Light, Full Steam and Sons of Liberty | Developing: Agora | My Blog

Ron Edwards

Hello,

Joshua, I invite you to the GNS forum where certain misconceptions of yours can be dealt with directly. Some of them are pretty off-base, and you might be surprised to learn what is really being said rather than what is wildly promulgated in various places.

Your point about signifiers and referents doesn't have anything to do with GNS, but it sure does address the topic of this thread. I'm interested to see what Jay makes of it.

Best,
Ron