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What is possible to achieve with game design? (Adult with some vulgarities)

Started by Clyde L. Rhoer, August 15, 2006, 09:40:35 AM

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An important question which I haven't seen answered yet is what sort of emotional place you want people to be in after the game.

You stated you were OK now. Is that where you want people to end up, ie. past the pain? Past the silence as well, since you've basically shared it with (potentially) the entire Web now. Or do you want the game to end before that point, leaving players more emotionally troubled and probably happy that they can just walk away from it?

Another matter, that ties in to your question about being honest up-front, is how much 'replay-value' you want. Do you want people to be able to play your game more than once, in which case, they'll know what it's all about the second time so the game still needs to work then. The other option, really designing it as a one-off, could certainly work as well. It might scare away some paying customers, but I'm getting the impression that this isn't much of a concern with you for this specific project.

Tomas HVM

I find this idea very interesting. It's important to make serious games. To make games that will change your/my life is the best ever design goal!

I'll try to contribute with a handful of thoughts...

RPGs are usually group-stories:
- will you find a natural group to focus the game around (perhaps a treatment group?), to give each player a character in the group?
- will you opt for another approach, perhaps some kind of shared character/story-gameplay?

To focus on silence:
- would you impose silence on the player, giving him/her a fictional secret to hold, that must not be revealed during play, and will be sought after by the other players?
- would you let each player use a personal secret of his/her own in the game, for them to press on the others, and for the others to resist?
- would you let the characters be a group of people facing a victim of child abuse or rape, and make the game mechanics support any silencing of the issue, hiding the fact, speaking up for the evildoer? In such a game the characters would "succeed" when they are able to contain the rape and its victim, avoiding any disclosure or treatment.

Hope those questions helps a bit.

Good luck with the game!
Tomas HVM
writer, storyteller, games designer


I'm glad to be of help, Clyde.  Random thoughts which don't really need responses:

1. Replay value may grow stronger with a 'veil,' even a very thin one--a setting that doesn't take the issue on head on but displaces it into some other environment.  That itself creates a sort of 'safety' for people to explore without engaging the fear of 'getting it wrong' that Bill mentioned.  Just a feeling, so I could be dead wrong.
2. There is a lot of power in a game that makes the players' secrets the heart of the game, esp. if you are seeing the game take on a therapeutic dimension.  I don't know how to quite mesh this with 1, except to gesture to some two layer structure in which the player is allowed/encouraged/enabled to create a 'mask' for their personal secret which they may safely explore in the game, perhaps with an opportunity to 'come out' at the end of the game, to unmask their secret.  That could be some serious energy, for good or ill, with players speaking to each other through their characters...that would definitely need to be a game with warning labels.

Directed questions that (I hope) zoom in on important details for consideration:

1. Who gets to feed and enforce the silence?  Is the enforcement power centralized in a player or two, distributed in the group, or fixed into the mechanics?  Or do all three play into it?
2. What actions feed the silence?  This seems awfully important and seems to rest at the crux of your game, the life changing element--what can it show its players about how their actions create silence?
3. In a similar vein, what actions alleviate the silence, allow the characters to start talking?
4. Follows on random thought 1, what sort of color/setting are you leaning toward?


Sydney Freedberg

Glad I could help. Please note I was mostly just quoting other people who are also on this thread! (Meg, Ron). And now I'm going to do it again, because Ian's (aka Isbo's) "great wall of silence" idea is an excellent and scary one, and I was just struck by one subtle and hideous refinement.

As in Ian's original idea, everyone wants to speak, openly and honestly; and the more tokens are in the pool, the harder it is to speak; so therefore everyone has an incentive to drain tokens out of the pool. (Somehow).

Now add this: Everyone also has additional objectives, things they want to accomplish -- get a job, graduate from school, keep their marriage intact, get a date, whatever. These things, unlike "speak openly and honestly," will vary from player-character to player-character. Maybe each player comes up with a few during character generation, or maybe players suggest/impose goals on each other.

On your turn, you can both try to speak and to accomplish your personal life objectives. No conflict there.

But if you fail at your personal goal (don't roll high enough, draw the wrong card, whatever), you have a choice:

- Accept the failure and its consequences (however defined). Your turn ends.
- Refuse the failure, reroll -- and add a token to the pool. Explain how your character just bullied or abused someone else to make them feel stronger and better about themselves. Explain how you're only doing it this one time, that these are special circumstances, that you're not normally like that.

Whoever accomplishes the most personal life goals gets the most points (of some kind). But until the pool of silence is empty of tokens, the game never ends.

Now it's not just "the abuser" who had a dilemma between draining the token-pool to be able to speak and filling it to have power. Everyone has that dilemma. Anyone can turn from abused to abuser, thus rolling the shit downhill perpetually, generation after generation, yea, even unto the end of the earth... or say, "No, it stops with me," and pay the price to break the cycle.

Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

Rightly or wrongly, my little antennae are twitching. I think it's time for us to step back and not design Clyde's game for him.

Go, Clyde!!

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Rightly or wrongly, my little antennae just twitched. We should now step back and not design Clyde's game for him.

Go, Clyde!!

Best, Ron

P.S. Something funny is happening with posting ... this may end up showing more than once

Sydney Freedberg

Well twitched, Ron. I'll rein in my excitement. Luckily or unluckily for Clyde, of course, "one neat idea" gets you about 1% of the way towards "finished game."

Clyde L. Rhoer

Ron: Thanks. You beat me to it. I was actually going to close the thread... now. *grins*

Everyone: Thanks so much for the help, ideas, and encouragement. I've already started on the game with some rudimentary ideas and some frustrated fiction. At this point rather than answer your very excellent questions here, I'll answer them soon via the product, which I'm titling, "Silence Keeps Me A Victim." Be Well.
Theory from the Closet , A Netcast/Podcast about RPG theory and design., Clyde's personal blog.

Tomas HVM

That's a good thing, Clyde; to answer our questions through the design of the game itself. Good luck!
Tomas HVM
writer, storyteller, games designer

Ron Edwards

Tomas, pay more attention to the Forge rules. This thread is closed - by posting to it again, you are violating the social standards that keep this site functional.

When a thread is closed, do not post to it again. It does not matter what you want to post.

Best, Ron


One idea I have without being subtle is one of keys and locks. the basic idea is that in an abstract way of thinking the victim has had something not just taken from them, but also their mind and will has been locked and the attacker is holding the keys.

So the game could be about ways to obtain the key to your soul. Whether it be through confrontation, counseling, god, friends, family, or ultimately yourself.

Along the way you conquer "disorders" such as depression, paranoia, drug abuse etc. etc. And you have to take tests (roll for) which gets you past the emotional pulls of the past.

In context of a fantasy setting, it could be a demon that stole this key. Whether it possessed a host, or just to as a metaphorical expression to take away the awkward silence of the subject.

Ultimately for this idea the games theme is about taking control of your surroundings and not letting the negativity affect your life. Its about granting yourself peace and positive attitude in life.


Ron Edwards