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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 79 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Shaping Gamer Culture (Looooooong)  (Read 26758 times)
Bankuei
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« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2005, 12:14:40 PM »

Hi Roger,

I think you're missing a key point to this discussion.  Joshua's initial post lists serious and fundamental differences between this type of gaming and traditional rpgs- there isn't "competition" between these styles- they're two different activities altogether.  People play both wargames and boardgames, but you don't see Advanced Squad Leader gamers measuring their hobby by how many people they get to stop playing Monopoly...

D&D changed the gaming, CCGs changed gaming, videogames changed gaming, MMORPGs changed gaming, and all of these did so because they were vastly different activities that all happened to be under the umbrella of gaming.  Here, too, is something that is doing it's own thing, and not to be measured by the standards of another.

Chris
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Lig
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« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2005, 01:07:07 PM »

On the other hand, I would very much like to see an avatar-intensive, GMless LARP. I really Dread the idea of a GM in a LARP.

Do you mean a LARP with no GM power during the actual play or eliminating the GM/larpwright/writer influence from LARP preparations (character backgrounds, relationship maps, plots - all the content that's been prepared by someone other than player before the actual LARP begins)? I'd have some experience on the first choice, less in the second, if you're intrested (in a new thread, I presume).

As there doesn't seem to be another thread, I'll post here. Our work on N-E-X-U-S includes aspects of both those categories, and yet we still have to put hundreds, even thousands, of hours of prep over the course of the year.

We have almost no control of the game during play - we mainly "run" the gameworld, and deal with the admin hassles of generating new characters....etc. It's a bit of a black box, to be honest - we rely on players to tell us what's happening out there. Last event, we thought all the players had come on site, and then gone straight back to bed - the site seemed empty, and it wasn't until hours later that we were told everyone was inside the buildings, doing lots of negotiation.

We don't run plot, although we do write some NPCs for each event. Because of the style of larp, however, these NPCs are effectively normal characters that we get to create, and they are outnumbered by PCs. They do receive fairly complex objectives, but those aren't designed to push our agenda as organisers, and there is no relationship-mapping or suchlike.

So, while we do have some influence, it's minimal enough that we have almost no influence on what happens during the event.

But we still do lots of work. Not sure if that's suggestive...

Of course, larp, certainly in Britain, tends to be designed specifically for each campaign, rather than using an off-the-shelf product (of which there are few, and none seem satisfactory), and so writing the game (and expanding it, as we've found out that our's didn't have the depth it needs) takes up a considerable amount of time.

In a tabletop game, perhaps there is a low enough attendance to run without any form of planning, but I doubt that's the case with larp - stick 100 people in a field, and they'll do something - I just doubt that they'd all be playing the same game.

There are few other larps that take as much of a hands-off approach as we do, and yet the work is still there to be done.

As was said in the post that started this thread, someone has got to ring round finding out which night everyone want's to play on (gm or not), and with larp, this becomes much more involving, as sites must be booked and paid for, and crew obtained....etc.
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We could be a thousand years apart, or a thousand miles away...and yet, here we are.
John Kim
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« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2005, 03:52:52 PM »


Hi Roger,

I think you're missing a key point to this discussion.  Joshua's initial post lists serious and fundamental differences between this type of gaming and traditional rpgs- there isn't "competition" between these styles- they're two different activities altogether.  People play both wargames and boardgames, but you don't see Advanced Squad Leader gamers measuring their hobby by how many people they get to stop playing Monopoly...

D&D changed the gaming, CCGs changed gaming, videogames changed gaming, MMORPGs changed gaming, and all of these did so because they were vastly different activities that all happened to be under the umbrella of gaming.  Here, too, is something that is doing it's own thing, and not to be measured by the standards of another.

Well, Roger's point is that CCG's changed gaming culture not because of their mere existance, but because millions of people played them.  Indie RPGs currently aren't anywhere near those numbers, though they are expanding.  The top numbers for indie RPG sales are still in the hundreds (i.e. 500-something for Dogs in the Vineyard, say).  We are still just a drop in the bucket. 

Now, that said, I think that indie games do have an indirect effect because writers and other professionals within the mainstream are aware of them.  For example, when I was at ConQuest recently, I know that the game which Ken Hite most recommended to me was Bacchanal.  I know we have also had an explicit (though probably minor) effect on other games like the Conan RPG and Paranoia XP. 

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- John
M. J. Young
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« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2005, 07:51:16 PM »

Arpie, you might look at Legends of Alyria. The referee's role is optional and ultimately can be made unnecessary, but the players all handle their own characters once play begins.

Justin, I'm going to suggest Multiverser to you, because it is a campaign system, yet is constantly in flux as players have to adapt to the shifts in the rules. Also, using the On the Fly Character Creation System, you can have your character up and running inside five minutes, and fill in the details during play.

Incidentally, one of the factors Joshua mentioned as "new" is the design of games in which player attendance or absence does not impact the game. That was one of the touted features of Multiverser in 1997, that you can play with whoever shows up without any problem, even in an ongoing campaign.

--M. J. Young
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Arpie
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Posts: 83


« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2005, 09:46:43 PM »

On the other hand, I would very much like to see an avatar-intensive, GMless LARP. I really Dread the idea of a GM in a LARP.

Do you mean a LARP with no GM power during the actual play or eliminating the GM/larpwright/writer influence from LARP preparations (character backgrounds, relationship maps, plots - all the content that's been prepared by someone other than player before the actual LARP begins)? I'd have some experience on the first choice, less in the second, if you're intrested (in a new thread, I presume).

Oops. Hey, thanks for responding.
I would very much like to discuss this in a new thread, but I'm a little new to this forum stuff.

What I was talking about was eliminating the GM from the play process itself. I think that the many distinct duties (referee, prop approval, story goad/foil, clue wrangler, etc.) of the GM could and should get split up and distributed to the players in a LARP environment.
The role of prep (backstory, character relationships, etc.) can be simulated, I hope, in a variety of ways...

Of course, some GMs are artists in the prep field and even make their livings putting LARPs together, but I'm dreaming of a quick-start environment, where a lot of basic background stuff can be pre-prepared in the game rules. Sort of a package "treatment" for each player and their avatar.
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DrVital
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« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2005, 11:31:46 AM »

Roger:

I'd like to know more details about what source Dancey was using to claim "1.5 million people a month playing D&D".  My guess is that he was rolling up computer players into that number, although I guess I could concieve of that being a real number if we're discussing worldwide play of the D20 sysetm.

EIther way I think that the D20 crowd is primarily an "owned audience".  If and when the kind of RPGs that the Forge is developing are going to grow beyond the borders of this site it will not happen by it's influence on the gamers who are already involved in D20 gaming.  There's a lot of reasons for that, including the sheer power of Hasbro's marketing dollars, but the primary one that I can think of is that the D20 audience is well-fed. They're not looking for an alternate experience.  D&D (and the derivatives) is an activity they like. They are obviously very happy to shell out their money to deepen and extend that activity.  So D20 players aren't the market because they're not RPG players.

But I think that "Forge Style RPGs" will have a tremendous influence over the next few years. Why?  Because many of these new methods bring simplicity to what has always been a comparatively complicated method of play.  It also unleashes what I believe has been the (unrealized) underlying promise of RPG gaming; a set of rules that encourages and enables dramatic game playing among ordinary people.  If the methods being developed here can be communicated to a mainstream audience in a clear and simple way, it will ultimately bring a whole new audience to role-playing.
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John Kim
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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2005, 01:13:20 PM »

I'd like to know more details about what source Dancey was using to claim "1.5 million people a month playing D&D".  My guess is that he was rolling up computer players into that number, although I guess I could concieve of that being a real number if we're discussing worldwide play of the D20 sysetm.

Wizards of the Coast commissioned a major survey in 1998, which is the best demographic data.  I report some of the trends and have a link to it in my article, Who are Role-players?.  You can compare the numbers to retail market data, such as Comics & Games Retailer magazine report -- cf. Ken Hite's State of the Industry 2004 market.  The market numbers seem smaller.  Ken Hite's market estimates are $25 to $100 million in the Americas.  The survey implies roughly $300 million -- based on the D&D player average of spending $10 to $14 per month and 2.25 million monthly players.  Then again, all of these are rough estimates.  The survey is from 1998 versus Hite's numbers from 2004.  Spending patterns and number of players may have changed.  The method of self-reporting of retailers is more suspect in principles than the survey, but it's hard to say. 

EIther way I think that the D20 crowd is primarily an "owned audience".  If and when the kind of RPGs that the Forge is developing are going to grow beyond the borders of this site it will not happen by it's influence on the gamers who are already involved in D20 gaming.  There's a lot of reasons for that, including the sheer power of Hasbro's marketing dollars, but the primary one that I can think of is that the D20 audience is well-fed. They're not looking for an alternate experience.  D&D (and the derivatives) is an activity they like. They are obviously very happy to shell out their money to deepen and extend that activity.  So D20 players aren't the market because they're not RPG players.

OK, here I would tend to disagree.  I may be biased because I'm not much of a D&D fan, but I think that they can definitely be lured to other systems.  D&D is a hard-to-approach market leader, but I think there are still major weaknesses to it even within its niche.  I've heard that Steve Jackson Games suggested that most GURPS players started on D&D, and moved to GURPS as a more advanced and flexible system. 

But I think that "Forge Style RPGs" will have a tremendous influence over the next few years. Why?  Because many of these new methods bring simplicity to what has always been a comparatively complicated method of play.  It also unleashes what I believe has been the (unrealized) underlying promise of RPG gaming; a set of rules that encourages and enables dramatic game playing among ordinary people.  If the methods being developed here can be communicated to a mainstream audience in a clear and simple way, it will ultimately bring a whole new audience to role-playing.

It is a perenial topic about what will popularize tabletop play with "ordinary people".  I don't think any of the current generation of Forge games really does that.  I think there's hope for the future, though.  As for simplicity, ideas about simplifying RPGs have been around for a long time, driving past game designs like Ghostbusters, Amber Diceless, Theatrix, Everway, Hogshead's "New Style" series, and many others.  The key difference about Forge games isn't about simplicity (which has been tried many times) but rather just breaking out of the design rut that tabletop has settled into since the nineties. 
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- John
Roger
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« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2005, 08:27:57 AM »

Everyone,

I think there's some good discussion here, but I'd like to hear from Joshua again.

(This isn't my attempt to backdoor-moderate this thread -- I'm just expressing my personal desire to see what the thread's originator has to say about where it has ended up.)


Cheers,
Roger
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2005, 06:40:27 PM »

Hm?  Oh.  This thread hasn't been about what I wanted to talk about from the start, so I haven't been paying much attention.

I said something to the effect of "Look at the effects on the social structure of gamers that our game designs create," to which the response came, "Indie games don't change anything cause they don't sell enough."  Which I found kind of funny, considering how many people have posted repeatedly on this very board how indie games have totally changed their gaming experience.  Strictly speaking, I don't care about the diehard 30-year-old DnD gamers who have been playing the same way since they were fourteen.  They're doing what they're doing for their own reasons, most of which has more to do with doing things like they were fourteen rather than generating an intriguing play experience.  I'm interested in the roleplayers, and how the game designs change how they approach their hobby.

If somebody would like to start up a split thread about that, I'd be interested in contributing to it, but my use for this thread is pretty much over.
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komradebob
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Posts: 462


« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2005, 07:18:47 PM »

Quote
Net Effect
I've already gone on way too long, but to summarize, I see us doing the following:


We are streamlining roleplaying to require less time commitment on everyone's parts, increasing the frequency of -- gasp -- actual play.
We are decentralizing roleplaying to an individualized and personalized experience, authorizing player investment in idiosyncratic and meaningful ways.
We are expanding roleplaying to embrace global communities, diversifying roleplaying experiences.

In short, we are making roleplaying simpler, bigger, and more significant.  I like to think we're trying to pare down that big long description at the top of this post to something closer to this:

Some people get together and share an enjoyable experience.

Are you perhaps positing that these games are bringing rpgs more into line with more common types of games like boardgames or cards games?

I don't mean that as a slam. I actually think that might be a fine outcome. I do tink there is something of a contingent within the game community that would very much like for rpgs to not become more accessible.I have some suspicions about why this is so, although I can't think of any way to give it a nice, polite spin, so...

I'm not necessarily sure that the games you mentioned are leading a change, so much as confirming a change that has been developing for a very long time. Many of the elements that you mentioned in your initial post are elements that have entered into gamer culture informally, usually tucked into the "soft rules" suggestions found in gamemaster advice or online/magazine articles. Those designs you use as examples take that "soft rules" methodology/advice and formalize it into "hard rules" procedures.

Ideas can take a long time to cross pollinate. I think you will see more cross-pollination in the future, but economics also plays a part, so don't hold your breath
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Josh Roby
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« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2005, 07:31:11 PM »

Leading or confirming, Forge games are at the very least participating in the changes, which is why I find it worth talking about here.

Accessibility is a very large part of it, and yes, in those terms RPGs are becoming something closer to boardgames and card games.  However, the personal investment and engagement is just as much a part of it, and that sort of emotional weight attached to "just a game" is most certainly not like boardgames and card games.

There certainly is a large portion of the gaming community that does not want their game experiences "dumbed down" to board games, and I think they're afraid of losing the latter -- the emotion engagement, the identification process, the social credibility they gain among their peers -- in favor of the former.  I also don't think there's any danger of that ever happening.
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