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Author Topic: Ritual Discouse, RPG, and Creative Agendas.  (Read 6614 times)
cjr533
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Posts: 25


« on: October 10, 2005, 05:33:28 PM »

Hullo chaps.

A big thank you to Rob (Lamorak) and everyone else who answered my questions.  I have now moved on to a more careful consideration of some of the other essays on the Articles page, particularly on which draws on my two areas of academic expertise, Cultural Studies and Religious Studies. 

One quick issue arising - I am told G/N/S has been replaced as a working model by Creative Agendas.  Where can I read of Creative Agendas?  I can not find a definitive article,and am missing a starting point. I sthere an article on CA specifically?

Moving on to the fascinating article,

The author writes -
"At the same time, analyses of RPG's have come to formulate practical, essential divisions and categories, and argued that these may be unbridgeable. For example, Ron Edwards's tripartite GNS model rests upon the notion that the three categories must remain discrete in order to avoid paradigmatic clash and attendant misunderstandings among players, leading in turn to poor play."


This sentence gave me serious pause.  Firstly, I am not sure we can define G N or S as paradigms, but that may just be unfair; I know what is intended.  Secondly, and far more seriously, are they truly particular, seperate and exclusive a sis implied here?  This actually conflicts with my hard won understanding or interpretation of the G/N/S model, which I hae likened in soem ways to the C/A/P Ego States of Bernes Transactional Analysis;  my theory is that asingle gamer will shift position withing the GNS spectrum throughout any given session, and one should talk about a gamer being predominantly GN or S at a given moment, or G N or S in the majority,but never exclusively G N or S.  Outside the realm of Platonic ideals I doubt the pure Ganist gamer exists.  Am I still misunderstanding G/N/S?  Are the "paradigms" exclusive?
 

"That is, a group of players with strongly Narrativist tendencies should be wary of playing a strongly Gamist-structured game, or introducing into the group a player with such an approach. While 'hybrids' -- games that effectively serve more than one of the three major play-types -- are conceived as possible, a central point for Edwards is that Narrativist-oriented play is not well-suited to Gamist-oriented games, and that groups who attempt such may need to revise the game extensively to fit their needs. Similarly, a single player who cannot conform to the paradigmatic norms of the group in which she plays will probably find herself continually at odds with other players, leading to social conflict; this player would be best advised to find another game."

OK, so if your playstyle does not fit, find another game.  One does not need a model to understand that.  It did make me think of  apersonal experience.  We have onne chap who is strongly gamist; yet if his character starts to 'lose' in hi sown definitions, he attempts to derail or destroy the whole group, forcing an end to the game, and campaign.  yet he does this by claiming he is acting 'in character' and citing simulationist ideals, 'its just how my character is and the GM put me in this terrible state', or Narrativist 'well we choose to do this, and let the consequences be on our heads. This story is going to be a tragedy.'  Thsi makes me even more keen to try and look at Berne's Transactional Analysis Model with special reference to TA Games which he devekloped in his 1967 book 'Games People Play'.  I drew up  list of roleplaying TA gamesback in 1991 when I was a young trainee psychiatric nurse, and I shall dig them out, and see if GNS can imform them and make them more useful... 

I will leave the Ritual Essay till tomorrow as it's late and I need sleep, but I am become intrigued by Game Theory and RPGs.  Any pointers on good sources for Creative Agendas?

cj x
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cjr533
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2005, 05:49:21 PM »

I am still reading Chritopher Lehrich's fascinating articles despite needing sleep...

He writes
"The second problem, however, inheres in the nature of RPG's themselves. A purely theoretical analytical model of RPG's, i.e. one without any practical application whatever, will generally be received poorly, if at all, within RPG communities. Indeed, even RPG theorists who go to considerable lengths to formulate the practical implications of their models are sometimes derided as airy pseudo-intellectuals. Fortunately, some recent RPG publications by members of the theoretical community have received accolades,[1] and this will presumably have the long-term salutary effect of legitimizing theoretical work within the hobby at large."

I would argue that this is because the theoretical basis applied is often derived from Philosophy, Sociology and Cultural Studies.  Ethnomethodology, Literary Criticism, Cultural Anthropology, Semiotics, etc, etc may all be fine and worthy pursuits (and having spent many years involvd in them at a British University I hope my life has not been wasted) yet they do not earn much academic respect.  One of the firsdt things you learn teaching in these fields i slie and say you are a theologian, a psychologist, or a folklorist.  You might not get much respect for thiose, but in terms of actually not being ridiculed you aremuch better off.

The cultural theory which we use to underlie some of our theoretical thinking is shaky, and the citics of our disciplines are right to be cautious, as the famous spoof publication scandal demonstrated.  My advice; if you ever feel like what you are writing coul have been produced by the random post modern essay generator (Google it) - talk about the weather, whats on TV, or how you can't pull chicks, or chaps, or whatever.  Chivalry and Sorcery versus Dogs in the Vineyard is always a great start, or Space Opera versus Nobilis.

So rpg theory will remain dubious while it draws from disciplines which our unfairly regarded as fraudulent, pretentious, or pseudish.  Read Raymond Willaims Keywords, or anything by the Birmingham School of Cultural Studies, or Janice Radway's  Reading the Romance, or if you must Levi Strauss on Binary Oppositions (though long since critiqued and left behind) and you get areal sense of an active discipline.  As a sometime Cultural Studies postgrad and  lecturer, I can only say - if you mention Kristeva, Derrida, Lacan or Foucauilt in an RPG theory essay youneed sa goo kicking, and then your head flushing down the loos.

Janice Radway's Reading The Romance, a study of how American women respond to and use Harlequin romances (like Britih Mills and Boons) gives a fantastic example of how theory can be grounded in real cioncerns, and applied usefully, and with respect to the community. This is what I like about The Forge so far; it seems to be theory derived from practice, aimed at objective real goals, and hopefully producing real pay offs.  The airy fairy types are sadly the intellectuals, pseuds and loonies at the universities, like me, teaching theory which may or may not be of use.

Anyway., key point: the prejudice is against the methodology, not the concern and thwe aim of the quest,as far as i can see.
:)


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cjr533
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2005, 06:00:14 PM »

OK, ritual discousre.  I wa sfascinated by Christopher's excellent summaries on theories of ritual behaviour,and there s a great deal here of real benefit and interest.  However, I just realised that I may sound dismissibv in my previosu post of the value of Theory: far from it.  I was soundinga  cautionary note about the offputting effects of relying on too  many dodgy old academics like me participating in the discourse of Cultural Theory.  :)

One thing: who is or was Rube Goldberg? I looke him up, and wa inatntly remineded of the brillaint British cartonnist Heath Robinson, who before his 1944 death gave Englsih a new word - Heathrobinsonesque.  This American chappy appears to be a disciple of his?  Curious i had never come across him before.

cj x



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Trevis Martin
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Posts: 499


« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2005, 06:24:07 PM »

I know that Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist that drew impossibly and comically complex and convoluted inventions that performed simple tasks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg

As for CA

Quote
Creative Agenda (CA)

    The aesthetic priorities and any matters of imaginative interest regarding role-playing. Three distinct Creative Agendas are currently recognized: Step On Up (Gamist), The Right to Dream (Simulationist), and Story Now (Narrativist). This definition replaces all uses of "Premise" in GNS and other matters of role-playing theory aside from the specific Creative Agenda of Narrativist play. Creative Agenda is expressed using all Components of Exploration, but most especially System.

from the Provisional Glossary

best,

Trevis
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cjr533
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2005, 06:39:30 PM »

Thnks Trevis!

I return the compliment with Heath Robinson
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heath_Robinson

Very similar concepts really, but subtly dsitinct. :)

And for the Creative Agendas, scheers. I am reading articles furiously, and was hoping to find a defining article as well as the glossary entry, but that is actually a great help.

Anyway I am really tired and have t move house in the morning, so night all!   Happy dreams!
cj x
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Selene Tan
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2005, 06:40:18 PM »

The Provisional Glossary contains an overview of the Big Model, which contains Creative Agendas. It also links to a diagram of how the different parts of the big model work together. The section "The foundation: Exploration and more" in the Narrativism: Story Now essay describes the parts of the diagram. (Unfortunately, it attempts to use plain-text, since it was written before Ron drew up that diagram and posted.)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2005, 06:57:19 PM »

Hello,

I really cannot do better than the opening page of the Glossary. It is not simply a list of terms. That first section is an essay and a diagram.

If you need help with any of that, please let me know. I really cannot state it better than what I wrote there, but I can help you with specific points, examples, or angles that might work best for you.

Best,
Ron
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cjr533
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2005, 02:52:47 AM »

Yes, I have a print out of the Glossary, and a copy of the model diagram, and now I have read much much more I actually can use the Glossary and understand it fully.  It is hard to grasp if it is the first thing you are directed to, but as a tool once you have understood certain techniques, it sii supperb.

I have now finished the Narrativist article
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/narr_essay.html
and found it very interesting. I am charting my progress in trying to comprehend Gaming Theory simply because I am also noting it here; my aim is to eventually understand not just the concepts which are the Working Models of discussion, but the difficulties many gamers have in grapsing those models.   

It was while reading the mini-glossary to that article, and entries like
Prima Donna
A Narrativist player who engages in Premise-addressing, but will not share screen time or Premise-significant decision-making time with other participants. An extremely dysfunctional subset of Narrativist play.

that I suddenly realised why I keep trying to refer GNS back to Berne - i sounds so much like his work!  I have no idea if Tranactional analysis is useful as a therapeutic model, but it can be applied sucessfully in Discourse Analysis, so I am fascinated by that.

Itonically, I think my grasp of Narrativist CA  was greatly enhanced by simply playing Dogs In The Vineyard and reading the notes on running a town.

I may be struggling to understand, to grasp, and to get basic concepts, but in doing so I am thinking about issues i have never even considered. I love thisplace no matter how much it fustrates me by my inability to understand at times! :)

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Blankshield
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2005, 07:33:29 AM »

Itonically, I think my grasp of Narrativist CA  was greatly enhanced by simply playing Dogs In The Vineyard and reading the notes on running a town.

I may be struggling to understand, to grasp, and to get basic concepts, but in doing so I am thinking about issues i have never even considered. I love thisplace no matter how much it fustrates me by my inability to understand at times! :)

Absolutely nothing ironic about it.  Actual Play is, and always has been, the fundamental underpinnings of the theory here, and informs everything else that happens.

Play more games, and I guarantee you'll get farther in your understanding of the theory than reading a thousand articles.

James
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cjr533
Member

Posts: 25


« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2005, 08:26:24 AM »

Cool!  That si what I love; theory tied formly to practice. Ok, So Dogs In the Vineyard as well as a brillaint game is designed to almost exclsuively favour Narrativist play, a far as I can see. are there any Simulationist agenda orientated games i could look at?

cj x
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Lamorak33
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2005, 09:06:32 AM »

Cool!  That si what I love; theory tied formly to practice. Ok, So Dogs In the Vineyard as well as a brillaint game is designed to almost exclsuively favour Narrativist play, a far as I can see. are there any Simulationist agenda orientated games i could look at?

cj x

I was told by one of the guys that Pendragon is one of the purest sim/exploration games (although there is substantial 'step on up in the combat and stats system). The most powerful sim part is the traits and passions. They tell the player how the character 'should act', which contrasts starkly with 'Narratavism' where we are interested in the player choice for his character.

Regards
Rob

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Nathan P.
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« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2005, 09:09:49 AM »

I would direct you to Chris Lehrich's own work in progress, Shadows In The Fog. This link contains actual play reports as well as links to the game itself. As far as I know, Chris was specifically designing it to exemplify the process of "bricolage" that he posited as being central to Simulationist play. I would argue that my own game, Timestream, also supports this kind of Simulationist play to a degree - you can see a thread about that here . Ron Edwards Mongrel, also linked from the Simulationism article, is also of interest in terms of mechanics dictating the structure of in-game reality.

I hope thats helpful.
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Nathan P.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2005, 09:56:46 AM »

Just for information, last I'd heard, Chris was taking a leave from The Forge to write something or other. So he's not present to discuss his work. That said, I think you might find that Chris would say that the perception of some of the areas of academics that you're saying are dodgy are unfair. To some extent "science wars" is alive and well here at The Forge. We try to ignore this, however, and accept information from the "dodgy" sciences for what it's worth. The argument made is that such discourse on RPGs might lead to something unforseen in terms of practicality, and that, in fact, other fields might profit from the discourse in return.

So, personally, I find the less than practical stuff disinteresting. But I no longer cry, "Where's the practical angle!?" every time I see an essay of this sort.

Ironic that even here at The Forge where we're considered "airy fairy" by a large portion of the RPG world (when relating "system does matter" recently that exact term was used to deride what I was saying) that we can consider some of our own elements to be relatively "airy fairy." Shades of the Geek Heirarchy...

Mike
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cjr533
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2005, 12:50:50 PM »

Yeah, I hope I did not come over as dismissive of Chris' points; I have not even begun to address them, as they are very very cogently argued.  I think we may share a similar academic bias; note my cynicism about Cultural Theory is that of a sometime Cultural Studies lecturer, who actively participates in that discourse and clearly does not dismiss the discipline to which I devoted ten of my postgrad years.  I am cautious about High Theory unless I see it employed, that is all, and even more careful about trying to impose a theorretical framework on gaming, where gamers may well see this as an intrusive, artificial and unwise   attempt to impose values on them;  I think the classic expression of this would be Garfinkel's Ethnomethodology, or just as easy to relate to and just as apt, the Godlearners of Glorantha (for those who know that setting).  Impose theory without lived experience, and you change and become a player, however inadvertantly, in the very thing you are viewing, and perhaps piss off, ad alienate, and even damage, the very structures you seek to oserve.

cj x
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2005, 12:57:41 PM »

CJ, I strongly suggest posting less rapidly. You do not have to respond to each and every post. It's not like you are standing in a pit and people are tossing things at you. This is a common outlook among academics and it hasn't any place here.

Read the replies you've received in the two threads you've started. Print them out. Sleep, then read them again. Take some time to process them. There is no prize to be won here for thinking quickly on your feet and staying on top of each and every reply as it arrives.

Best,
Ron
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