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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 204 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [tSoY] A Boy Named "Boy"  (Read 5404 times)
Keith Senkowski
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Posts: 725

On A Downward Spiral...


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« on: September 01, 2005, 07:50:09 AM »

It's been a while since GenCon now, but I wanted to post a bit about the tSoY game we played one night. The group included myself, Thor, Droz, Clinton, & Matt Wilson (I don't think I am missing anyone). It was the first time I had a chance to try out the funky Fudge version of the game, and I have to say, despite my misgivings about using funky ass specialty dice, I dug how the game went down.  That, however, isn't what I want to post about.  Instead I want to hit on something that was fucking cool that was going on in game.

Clinton decided that he wanted us to kinda help him work out a new socio-ethnic group he was working on for the whole world of Near shit.  Called the Ochre or something, I don't remember.  But they were horselords and had some cool relationship/sex aspects of the culture.  That of course means cool as in, "Wow that's fucked up." sort of cool.

Anyway, the entire session was a process of give and take among all of us, building an entire society as we went along and played out an interesting story.  We built on each other's ideas.  We threw out suggestions and offered alternatives to each other's actions.  We created our own conflicts with the system that made the game dynamic.  It was fun, and exciting, driven by the players as a group, and everything games should be.  But it brings up something that is bugging me.

See I know that the folks I play with at these after-hours sessions fuck'n rawk and that the games will pop.  The problem is, I can't seem to figure out how to explain what makes the shit pop.  I know what it is.  I can smell it and taste it, but how do I explain to some poor mutherfucker who gets 20 minutes of flavor out of hours of shit that there is another way and it is soooo much better?

I've been sifting through the various books I own designed by folks who get how to make every second of a game be fun, and not one of us stops to say, this is how you fucking do it.  This is what makes shit pop.  We all flirt with it.  We write about it online ad nauseum.  Clever monkeys like Vincent makes cool as diagrams that help.  But how do we take all that collective bullshit and turn it into: This Is How You Do It, Mutherfuckers.  I want everyone else to experience the kind of interplay we had.  I mean shit, if people who have never played together as a single unit can work that sort of shit out from the get go, why can't we explain it so everyone else can?

Keith
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Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2591


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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2005, 08:22:42 AM »

One of the standard theories for the last couple of years has been the gamer dysfuction theory: the problem is not us, it's them. Play shitty games long enough, and you unlearn the fun interactions. I have to say that the theory is partially true and partially false, based on my experience. More close to the reality might be that you have to talk differently to gamers and non-gamers, and it's simple sense to concentrate on the bigger pool of people.

Also, an observation: put a skilled Forge-type GM into an authority position (I mean a real authority, not the faux kind players frequently bestow upon GMs as defense measure) over a game session, and the game will ROCK every single time. At worst the GM might eject some people half-way through, but it'll work out anyway for the rest. What this means: it means that whatever it is that you have to teach, it's something that is transmitted in actual play.

How to put it in words, one suggestion: vicious deconstruction. The reason many Forge games don't transmit the info is that they're either made for particular kind of unsatisfied gamers (Sorcerer, MLwM, Dust Devils) or non-gamers (Trollbabe) or Forge gamers (Polaris) to begin with. They're special literature from the average gamer viewpoint. So if you want to heal the average gamer, you have to do the same thing the European culture did when it was time to shed Christianity and some other isms: savage, cruel, definite deconstruction of the false teaching, burning it's crops and salting the earth. Be unambiguous, because ultimately people will love you for that. "I want entertainment" is a lie, what he wants is the truth. If he doesn't want the truth, he's not your audience. Except he will be sooner or later. There's no Christian apologist who didn't read atheist philosophy sooner or later, because being an apologist means you're interested in the issues of your opponent. So when he comes to read your defense, don't bother to coat your words and pretend kinship. Offer your new way boldly, and if it's better, it will prevail.

Well, that's one theory, anyway. Another is to recognize that gamers are a statistical blib in the charts, and ultimately you shouldn't care one way or another whether they get it or not. You get it, I get it, lots of other people get it. And if the average non-gamer gets it, then it doesn't matter a whit whether the gamers get it. And yes, I stole this one from Ron.
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Jason Lee
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2005, 11:36:43 AM »

Being mindful of everyone else's fun, unity of purpose in general, is a skill.  Selfishness is default behavior.  The military, sports teams, and even lowly role-playing groups all have to train people to work together.

You could look at it like the only real role of game mechanics are to teach teamwork.  Argueable yes, but what is functional free-form play except role-playing without training wheels?
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Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2005, 11:59:10 AM »

Hey Keith!

Quote
Anyway, the entire session was a process of give and take among all of us, building an entire society as we went along and played out an interesting story.  We built on each other's ideas.  We threw out suggestions and offered alternatives to each other's actions.  We created our own conflicts with the system that made the game dynamic.  It was fun, and exciting, driven by the players as a group, and everything games should be.

The first part sounds like the kind of thing I've seen in free-form play groups where everyone is empowered & interested in building setting together.  The creating your own conflicts thing is exactly what all these games are getting at: giving people solid cues to be able to do that together.  The best games do this really well. It's my opinion that that's why Primetime Adventures is so ridiculously fun to play--it gets everyone's juices going at the same time.  Total synergy.  I think we're just figuring out how to get everybody involved like that more of the time and with a broader sweep of folks.  Not everybody will get it, esp. "gamers" for many of the reasons that Eero laid out.  But you're totally right & I think we're on the right track to get there. My money is on making games as collaborative as possible, with really solid production of conflict.

Nice to meet you by the way!

best,
Em
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Black & Green Games
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