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Author Topic: Brain damage  (Read 135000 times)
Levi Kornelsen
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Posts: 210


« Reply #75 on: February 14, 2006, 01:42:42 PM »

My personal and subjective experience:

My own personal and subjective experience varies.  I know a *lot* of people that specifically got, bought, and played Vampire and other games specifically in order to create stories together.  I was one of them.  My experiences in those games and with those people are the basis of my own take on all this.

(Okay, I did spend a lot of time trying to get into the pants of hot goth chicks, as well.)
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Supplanter
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« Reply #76 on: February 14, 2006, 01:47:29 PM »

Man, a lot of people are all going on about this without ever just asking.

So? Ron's as free to respond to counterclaims and implicit questions as explicit ones.

Best,


Jim
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John Kim
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« Reply #77 on: February 14, 2006, 01:49:25 PM »

But I'm inclined to agree with John Kim that malformed "storytelling" games don't cause this kind of behavior, they select for it. In fact, I will go one better: I think these kinds of story-damaged people already existed in the "dungeon-crawl" style rpg scene, and when some people got bitten by the same bug Walt describes and tried to make a storytelling game, the only way they could achieve a story was by having the GM create the story and railroad the players, because most playgroups had these story-damaged people in them already. AD&D2e isn't the cause, it's the symptom; frustrated people who wanted to tell stories couldn't do so collaboratively or with "Story Now" methods, because some of their players just couldn't grasp that kind of play.

Minor correction: I offered that as an alternate possibility -- not as something which I necessarily believe is true.  To distinguish between these two, one needs some sort of data.  I don't think I've got enough base of experience or observation on this particular sort of dysfunctional gamer to distinguish.  

Offhand, I don't think that dungeon-crawls select for the story-damaged.  Dungeon-crawling was fairly mainstream particularly at the height of the D&D craze in the late seventies, and there were lots of studies of the profile.  I was a dungeon-crawler in my early-to-mid teens ('83-'87).  I had a pretty fair grasp of story for someone that age, I think.  I think the average person and the average dungeon-crawler are both fairly capable of grasping play with a system like Dogs in the Vineyard.  It's not that tough.  I allow that there may be some specific type of dysfunctional story-oriented gamer who can't grasp it, but I retain my skepticism.  

Thinking back, I think of the Dramatist-leaning folk on rgfa, for example.  That was mid-nineties, close to the heyday that Ron talks about.  People like Kevin Hardwick, Bruce Baugh, Robert Barrett, and David Berkman were the most outspoken for drama.  I thought they all had a pretty good grasp of story structure.  (Well, er, I had a lot of issues with David Berkman's view of story -- but he was at least in line with typical Hollywood screenwriters.  I supposed you could make a case that the typical Hollywood screenwriter is "story-damaged", but I don't think that's what people are talking about.)  
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Wormwood
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« Reply #78 on: February 14, 2006, 02:00:43 PM »

I'll put this as succinctly as I can:

How do we know whether or not games like Sorcerer produce a like form of damage, especially on people who were unexposed to "storytelling" games?


   - Mendel S.
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Rustin
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #79 on: February 14, 2006, 02:19:34 PM »

Quote
How do we know whether or not games like Sorcerer produce a like form of damage,

What evidence of subsequent misapplication of rules by Sorcerer players do we have?
The test for damage or stunting seems to be the inability to correctly read and apply other gaming systems.
Have we witnessed a Sorcerer player just totally not getting PTA, Polaris etc... and then rationalizing, saying that these games are missing something because it is not doing what Sorcerer has taught them?

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JonasB
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« Reply #80 on: February 14, 2006, 02:20:08 PM »

I'll put this as succinctly as I can:

How do we know whether or not games like Sorcerer produce a like form of damage, especially on people who were unexposed to "storytelling" games?


   - Mendel S.

Or a completely different form of damage, that makes them unable to appreciate concept X?
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talysman
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« Reply #81 on: February 14, 2006, 02:20:34 PM »

Offhand, I don't think that dungeon-crawls select for the story-damaged.

Nor do I. I stated that story-damaged people were always a part of roleplaying, including the golden years of dungeon-crawling, and that when the urge to create storytelling games arose, only broken (Illusionist) designs were possible, because story-damaged people couldn't grasp collaborative approaches. These Illusionist designs may select for the story-damaged among new players, however.

To be absolutely clear about dungeon-crawling: I think it's a story-neutral style of play. In my experience, stories could arise naturally out of dungeon crawling by reacting to color details of items, monsters and events in the dungeon. A certain portion of any description of an element in a classic dungeon was essentially a "plot hook without a plot"; if a player chose to react to that plot hook, it created a story. If no players chose to react to any plot hooks, it was just a gamist tactical exercise.

I think what may have happened is that a number of people who are attracted to imagination and fantasy but have stunted powers of abstraction were drawn to dungeon-crawling as a way to partake of fantasy without the frustration of being unable to comprehend the story. I don't know how common these people may have been, but they may have been common enough to create the difficulties I described when their non-story-damaged comrades tried to introduce storytelling. So far as I can tell, no one, not even Ron, is saying there was anything wrong with dungeon crawling, except maybe that the techniques then in use weren't as sophisticated as they could be.
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John Laviolette
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rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #82 on: February 14, 2006, 02:29:51 PM »

Boy, are you guys babblin'.

I'm taking the evening off for Valentine's. Tomorrow I'll comb over some threads and seek out questions that interest me.

Best,
Ron
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JonasB
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« Reply #83 on: February 14, 2006, 02:33:41 PM »

The test for damage or stunting seems to be the inability to correctly read and apply other gaming systems.
...
and then rationalizing, saying that these games are missing something because it is not doing what Sorcerer has taught them?


How do we separete the inabilty of a person to "correctly read and apply" a game system from a game system inherently incompatibility to that person?

How do we distinguish between a rationalising person and a game system that are really missing something when applied to that person?

Is the inability to like and/or understand narrative rpg:s any weirder than the inability to like beer, football or computer games?
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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #84 on: February 14, 2006, 02:45:06 PM »

Ron, thanks for addressing the repairability issue. Clearly it's too complex to sum up in a simple phrase as I tried to do. But I'm glad you had a chance to explain it in depth. After all, these issues -- efforts at repair, continued improving of 'prostheses,' rediscovering' the missing limb, and so forth -- is where these ideas, right or wrong, must go to seek practical applications.

Let me second Vincent (and others subsequent) and ask again, as I tried to bring up before, the question of evidence for causation as opposed to selection.

I also have a comment applicable to the comments made in several posts a few pages ago, to the effect that only those who played the games in question (WW games, in particular) with overt Narrativist intent would be affected and that that group would be a narrow slice of the whole. Overt Narrativist intent is not required for dysfunctional Narrativism, any more than an overt intent to fly is required for you to fall if you go and jump off a cliff.

If you have the expectation of story-like outcome (overtly promised in the game books), the expectation of focus on thematically weighty concepts (overtly spelled out in the game rules, e.g. the Humanity stat and the feeding rules in Vampire), and the inevitable deprotagonization resulting from the prescribed play techniques, then you're going to get dysfunctional Narrativism no matter what your intent was going in. You might not have such expectations if, for example, other group members tell you "ignore all that stuff, the important thing is to raise your Generation to get more powers," or you don't read the game book at all. But I find it hard to believe that only a narrow slice approached these games expecting what the books promised on their covers.

- Walt
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JonasB
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« Reply #85 on: February 14, 2006, 03:28:54 PM »

...then you're going to get dysfunctional Narrativism no matter what your intent was going in.

If you analyse the game by forge theory you might come to that conclussion, but I belive that theory to be flawed or at least biased. I certainly do not buy the "not having fun for real" part. I hate dungeon crawling, but I'm sure people who like it are really having fun while playing them. I find My Life With Master to be one of the most pointless games I have ever encountered, but I do not belive those who like it to be brain damaged. You can certainly get into a habit of less than optimally fun roleplaying, but I maintan that it is mostly a difference in taste.
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jeffd
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Posts: 58


« Reply #86 on: February 14, 2006, 03:38:40 PM »

I'll engage in my annual delurk to throw some comments out there:

Jonas I don't think that the distinction between "a person can't correctly read and apply the rules to Sorcerer" and "Sorcerer is simply not compatible with this person" really exists.  A person might not like Sorcerer, sure, but that doesn't mean that they can't understand how it works.  Yet it seems that there's this subset of roleplayers who take a game like Sorcerer and simply can't help but try to mush and mold it around until it's more like their favorite bloodsucker simulator.  

Look, at the end of the day there isn't structurally that much difference between a game like Sorcerer and games like Monopoly or Candyland.  I mean obviously they're different but they're all game systems: they provide a set of rules which you follow.  You don't see people engaged in big misunderstandings over how Monopoly works, do ya?  I've never seen anyone try to collect 2 benjamins for crossing Go in Scrabble, have you?  

Now we can argue that maybe the reason people don't grok a game like Sorcerer - the reason they misapply and seek to fit it into the structure previous storytelling RPGs have given them - is that Sorcerer is just poorly written.  But again, the distinction you're talking about hasn't come into play; it's just that Sorcerer is a crappily written game (and to be clear I don't think that's the case at all; Sorcerer and it's supplements are some of my all-time favorite roleplaying texts </suckup>).  

JD


How do we separete the inabilty of a person to "correctly read and apply" a game system from a game system inherently incompatibility to that person?

How do we distinguish between a rationalising person and a game system that are really missing something when applied to that person?

Is the inability to like and/or understand narrative rpg:s any weirder than the inability to like beer, football or computer games?
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Rustin
Member

Posts: 91


« Reply #87 on: February 14, 2006, 03:44:09 PM »

Jonas-

Sounds like you are interested in looking into Causality.
Is Causality really critical to the issue/hypothesis Ron has offered? Would it matter if the remedy is the same? (writing instructions that account for the audience).

The issue isn't whether one likes or understands, but whether one can execute the rules of a nar-strong game.  I may not like Football, but after reading the instructions on how to play I don't suddenly stop in the middle of a rushing play and try to dribble the ball (because I grew up playing Basket ball) and then say, "Football is stupid because when I try to dribble the ball it just goes any old direction."
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JonasB
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« Reply #88 on: February 14, 2006, 04:02:13 PM »

Jeffd:

Are they really *unable* to play the game as written or are they *unwilling* to do so because they are *unable* to get the fun otherwise? I have met many persons who are very unwilling to play any type of game without introducing their own changes to it because they think it gets better that way. Is this evidence of brain damage?

A real life example: The board game "Twilight Imperium 3e" introduced a drastic and unconventional scoring mechanism. About half the fan base found it to be a complete disaster and removed it after only a few games. They were then happy with the game. The fans of the game as written to this day insist that it is an important part of the game you should not play without. Everyone was able to understand and play the game as written, but some were unable to have fun playing it that way. They changed it to suit them better. This may be because their expectations about how a game should work, but in no case would I call that brain damage. How does the failure to appreciate (not the same as understand) Sorcerer count as brain damage? Trying to "mush and mold" a game is not the same as not understanding it.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #89 on: February 14, 2006, 04:43:34 PM »

OK, some folks want an example, so I'll make an exhibition of myself.

Here is a page that dates from 1999 about a Vampire game run by my good friend Barry, though the game strained our relationship somewhat -- indeed that improved measurably when we stopped gaming together as much. I found these e-mails again years later and put them online as a reminder of where we had gone. A reminder not to go back.

Barry was a fantastic roleplayer, really one of the best when I first met him in the early 90s, and such an imaginative guy. But, y'know, we had been playing Vampire for most of the 1990s and look what our games had become... what a fucking train wreck.

Warning: it's ugly, stunted, dysfunctional play and incoherent.

And we were selective: we had the smartest, most imaginative guys in our peer group. And look what the fuck we did to ourselves. Week after week we went back for more! Madness! And you can see we thought of ourselves as telling stories.

It's worth noting that Andy in the mails was pretty smart too. He pretty much gave up roleplaying after that. We chewed ourselves up and spat ourselves out when we could have been having, y'know, fun! In some ways moving to Edinburgh and gaming less got me away from this stuff. Gave me a chance to think.

Choice quotes:
-----
i can't say the party helps that much either, we're all pulling in different directions, but the story (what there is of it is completely unengaging)

Tony's managed to bug out as he has exams ... looks like i'll have to go back to school...

Actually, he's threatening to kill my character off, if only :-) I might have to speed up my move to Edinburgh to get out of this one :)

-----
As to story, well ... we didn't have a clue either. We kept running into NPCs who all had their own agendas, and who weren't for letting us in on anything. At no time did I get an overall sense of what was going on
-----
Hmmm, i'm sure his Warharnmer FRP years ago had more character-centred action, maybe he should get back to his roots? Where things happened involving us rather than around us.
-----

Heh, I'm not proud of it. But it happened and I was there. To me that is an observed, documented case of exactly what Ron is talking about.
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