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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 104 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: The Store  (Read 18346 times)
James Holloway
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« Reply #15 on: November 19, 2002, 08:01:09 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards


people don't watch videos in video stores, for instance.


I used to live near a really really good movie store. And I rented films because I saw them playing on the screens in there. So, you don't really watch movies per se, but the movie-watching experience is part of a good store.

That was kind of a pointless and irrelevant example, huh? It's just that I was so jazzed about my good movie store. When I moved away, I still went there every chance I got. They were very much the video equivalent of The Store.

I'll shut up now.

- James
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: November 19, 2002, 08:10:01 AM »

Hi James,

Boink! That's right, isn't it? Many video stores do show movies. It's not like anyone really sits down and watches them all the way through ... and granted, in the big ol' Blockbuster type stores, they're pretty much just background noise ... but in the hip stores, you're right, people do always look at them and chit-chat about them with the store people, and at some, blessed moments, with one another.

Double boink. So what we're talking about is bite-size samples of the activity in the store, accessible to the casual customer.

Whoa, people! James hit it - I wanna know, really, what kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment!

The GenCon Forge booth was geared exactly toward this goal, and in my opinion was amazingly successful, but its target was the in-gamer audience. Same goes, at least at first, for my in-store club notion.

But if we shift it more toward this bite-sized video store or record store mode ...?

Best,
Ron
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quozl
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« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2002, 08:16:23 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Whoa, people! James hit it - I wanna know, really, what kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment!

Best,
Ron


"What would you do?" scenarios.

Here's an example I used for some people who wanted to know what RPG's are like.  It only takes 5 minutes and you could have a few of these type of things for every emplyee on 3X5 cards or something.

"It's the Vietnam War.  You're an American soldier walking through the jungle, cut off from the rest of your platoon.  You hear a 'click' behind you."

When they turn around:

"It's an old woman with an assault rifle pointed at you.  She starts shouting in Vietnamese and starts fumbling with the gun.  What do you do?"
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2002, 08:16:27 AM »

Hey Ron, James,

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Whoa, people! James hit it - I wanna know, really, what kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment!

...But if we shift it more toward this bite-sized video store or record store mode ...?

How about those Renaissance Festival booths where the employees just out and get everyone talking in a British accent and acting 'all medieval?'  Or the players (often paid atmosphere) who engage people 'in character?'

Not exactly where this should go, just futher examples to ponder.

Fang Langford
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2002, 08:21:05 AM »

Hey,

I dunno, guys, those sound a lot like "play-acting" to me, i.e., what people tend to think of when they hear about role-playing. Just like the instant assumption made by many when they hear about comics is that they must be humorous ("the funnies") or adolescent/arcane (superheroes).

Funny accents and "playing a role" are not actually what we do when we role-play, not fundamentally, anyway. The fundamental is shared Exploration, socially mediated, with a group goal (GNS). Any bite-sized notions for that?

(And I'm getting ahead of myself; fourth thread, fourth thread!)

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2002, 08:59:02 AM »

Hmm. Determine GNS preference before the player buys.

Run a D&D combat to test for Gamism.

Run a Fading Suns noble gala to test for Simulationism.

Run an OTE scene about whether or not to assasinate Dr. Nusbaum to test for Narrativism.


Make it interactive. Rarely are there enough employees present to make a reasonable presentation. So grab some of the regulars lying around, or even the customer in question, and have them participate. That displays that anyone can do it, and that the presentation isn't "scripted". Just ensure that the GM is an employee so that he can cut off the presentation at the right moment, and can pause it to step out of play just long enough to explain some salient or inobvious point of play.

Then, once the customer decides on a particular style they like, the Personal Gaming Representative can direct them to the sorts of games that they might enjoy, discussing genre with them, etc.

Did I mention that I want to work in this store?

You know, people pay for dance lessons (quite a lot, actually), a form of recreation. Even writing classes. I've often wondered why I'm not a pro GM, and I don't teach gaming full time. The Gaming Dojo would have tables with those comfy chairs where people could recieve personalized instruction or participate in classes about improved RPG play. Probably a pipe-dream, but then it can't become a reality if it's not at least considered.

What, is GMing so easy that we each couldn't learn from lessons?

Mike
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« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2002, 10:48:29 AM »

Hey Ron,

I think we're jumping down each other's throats over a few assumptions we don't hold in common.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I dunno, guys, those sound a lot like "play-acting" to me, i.e., what people tend to think of when they hear about role-playing. Just like the instant assumption made by many when they hear about comics is that they must be humorous ("the funnies") or adolescent/arcane (superheroes).

Funny accents and "playing a role" are not actually what we do when we role-play, not fundamentally, anyway. The fundamental is shared Exploration, socially mediated, with a group goal (GNS). Any bite-sized notions for that?

You hint at my disagreement.  I do think that "playing a role" is what we do when we role-playing game, but that's about the most misleading way of putting it.  I tend to refer to it as having to "Think in Context" (TiC).  You aren't just talking funny or acting out a role, you TiC.  A good magician can get this out of an audience member; a hypnotist almost depends on it.  My belief is that 'social mediation' and "group goal" are merely icing on the cake, the good stuff, not something you need in a sampling.  Giving them something to "Explore" is good, but if they don't TiC, I don't think they'll get it.

Can this be done in a store with people right off the street?  Possibly, but you'd need well-trained performers to pull it off consistently.  Can you be more specific about the target audience?  All we've got right now is some vague idea of the guy standing over in the drama section looking up at the screens (and yes that supports both gaming and video, if you read it right).

Fang Langford
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James Holloway
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« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2002, 02:55:38 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I wanna know, really, what kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment!

The GenCon Forge booth was geared exactly toward this goal, and in my opinion was amazingly successful, but its target was the in-gamer audience. Same goes, at least at first, for my in-store club notion.

But if we shift it more toward this bite-sized video store or record store mode ...?

Best,
Ron


Well, the problem with that is that of all the products you see in an RPG/game store, RPGs look the least like anything and (usually) take the longest. So you can play a game of Mordheim in an hour, and with all the little men and the little houses and the rulers and stuff, it looks really great . CCGs and board games, same deal.

You'd have to get a method of making the game look fun to the customer, and have scenarios specifically designed to be run in a very short time, with no fat on the bones. Short little Twilight-Zone-episode things, like eentsy weentsy little con games.

Mind you, I think certain games have already addressed this wellish. One Shots for UA, while intended for con games, has a lot of demo potential, and very much resembles the "think in context" problems mentioned above:

You're breaking out of jail, and you've wound up in this crazy old man's house. What do you do?

You're on a plane, and some nutcase tries to hijack it. What do you do? (well, maybe not this one)

You wake up one morning, and everyone else in the world is gone. What do you do?

Some games would take more work -- Mage for example...

OK, see, you're a Mage, which is like ... well, OK, reality is mutable, and what people believe is real, but not always, only on certain subjects...

So something with a low explanation time, and possibly something humorous -- cause if people see the players laughing and stuff, that looks more inviting.

The last problem is that RPing looks like a private experience. At cons, people walk up to minis games all the time -- there's just something about 'em that makes you want to watch and ooh and aah, and sometimes you'll get handed a sheet and told that you're in. RPGs seem more like a private conversation -- you don't want to butt in. So how do you make them welcoming?

So, no real answers there. Sorry.
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greyorm
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« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2002, 07:26:46 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I wanna know, really, what kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment!

I had no answers, none at all...none, complete blank...then suddenly this morning it hit me like a ton of bricks. There's this scene written in one of the Dark Sun novels by Simon Hawke, in "The Nomad," starting on page 116:
Quote
There were even several tables where a game was played that Sorak had never seen before. They stopped on their way through to watch one of these curious new games.

The first thing that they noticed was that no cards were used, nor were there any playing pieces. There were no wheels or boards, and the players were in teams. Instead of a dealer, there was a sort of gamemaster who directed the play. Each player assumed a character at the beginning of the game and rolled dice to determine the character's abilities. The gamemaster then presented them with an imaginary scenario through which they had to play, as teams, supporting one another with therir respective skills.
...
Sorak and Ryana noticed that they were not the only ones who had stopped to watch and listen. A number of other people were standing around, observing the play with fascination. It was, in a way, much like watching a small, informal theatrical production of an improvisational nature. The players had to improvise, because they had no idea what the gamemaster would present them with next. He was the only one who had a script.
...
The players glanced at one another uneasily. The gamemaster had a deep, mellifluous and dramatic voice, and he knew how to use it to its best effect.
...
The gambling element entered the game with each new dramatic situation that the players were presented. Before they rolled the dice to see how the scenario would progress, depending on their characters' strengths and abilities, they would first wager on the outcome. It was a game in which the players were pitted against the house, represented by the gamemaster. And even though the gamemaster knew what was coming up next, he had to work from a prepared script, and he could not control the roll of the dice that determined a character's strengths and abilities, and the outcome of any given confrontation.
...
"Player Number Four, you have passed through successfully and won your wager. You are now richer to the tune of ten ceramics. My congratulations."
...
Player One, the templar, had also passed through successfully, won her wager, and would continue in the game. That completed the round of the diverging streets scenario.

"There is now room at the table for two more players," the gamemaster announced to those who had gathered around to watch. "Would anyone care to try their luck on the quest for 'The Lost Treasure of Bodach'?"
...
Before the game proceeded, Sorak and Valsavis chose their characters and rolled the dice for their strength and ability scores. Valsavis, not surprisingly, chose to be a fighter, and his character was a mercenary. Sorak followed his example of playing close to home and chose to be a druid. Valsavis rolled high on strength and only average on ability. Sorak rolled high on ability and average on strength.

"Very well," the gamemaster said, when they were done. "Let us now proceed. You are all past the pit, though Players One, Two, and Four have accumulated more experience points, which will count towards their winnings if they successfully complete the quest..."
...
Do you choose to go inside the stone tavern, with the barred windows and the stout front door, or do you proceed to the towered house of the aristocrat, surrounded by the thickly walled enclosure? Only one will afford safe shelter for the night, but which? You must decide."

The players discussed their options.
...
"Is there anything in the rules that says we must all make the same choice together every time?" Sorak asked...

The gamemaster raised his eyebrows. "No," he replied, "there is not, unless I have specified it in setting forth the situation."
...

Anyways, this scene lasts for 16 pages, detailing the choices of the protagonist and two companions who join the game, their wagers and their rolls.

Take all that as you will...in my long experience, that has got to be the most definitively cool example of game-play I've ever read.

The game was in a a gambling house. Players paid a fee to create a character, and good rolls resulted in them gaining coin, while bad rolls resulted in their deaths and losing their wagers.

Now I'm not suggesting anyone do this at a gaming store, but there are some excellent pointers in the text for things to do in such a game and ways to handle it.

Of course, the example in the book wasn't perfect, but its a great start.
The positive points of it all I've tried to quote above, and to recap those more clearly:

A simple system; in this case, two pre-game rolls: ability and strength. I imagine choice of race/class in this case gave a couple simple abilities you could use when making choices, or a bonus/penalty to a particular stat. Ability and strength would provide a bonus (small or large) to your rolls, depending on which is called for.

It can be explained in ten seconds. Roll this; Roll this and add this; Roll over this number to succeed.

Clear-cut goals...the gamemaster always stated what the choice was and what the stakes of the choice were. Simple as choosing the safest street to go down, and which establishment would be the safest to spend the night in.

One-choice then one-roll comprise each scenario: after the above choice was made, a roll was made to check the results of the choice...did the characters fall into a hidden pit on the street they chose? Did the door of the establishment they chose to hide in hold against the prowling undead through the night? Etc.

This makes for easy scenario-branching, you know the possible outcomes of each choice, and the two possible outcomes of the test (roll) for each choice.

Gamemaster interaction with players...Simple, straightforward, to-the-point, bereft of terminology that needed to be explained. Where explanation was needed, it was quick, easy and to-the-point...and the gamemaster always explained the game itself as it was occuring, for benefit of both player and interested watcher. When open seats were available, he asked immediately and professionally if anyone would care to try their luck. He congratulated successes and gave sympathies to failures.

Inclusiveness: A player could step out at any time, taking their winnings with them, and new players could step in at any time. You could create a new character the moment your old one died and continue playing. Characters were referred to only as "the Thief" and "the Cleric" and so forth...no names, no background and history beyond what was provided by the script (ie: treasure hunters in a ruined city).

This, along with GM interaction above, also made it possible for anyone just watching to immediately understand how things worked and what was happening.

Gamism: No convoluted explanations as to why the characters were together, how the new characters appeared, or so forth. This wasn't hard-core realism...it was blatantly, utterly gamist. It was a game and was treated like a game...it was an introduction...purists need not apply. Easy to understand AS A GAME by a newcomer, while providing an excellent introduction to the basic idea.

Teamwork element: yes, the GM is pitted against the players in this scenario, which I maintain is a GOOD thing for something like this. It showcases the hobby as a game, as something involving the teamwork of players, and has the same elements of a card-game like blackjack the mainstream can latch onto (a dealer, players, wagers and winnings, simple rules and player skill).

Remember, the above is something for the casual shopper...it is not meant to be a definitive experience of RPGs, only to spark interest, nothing more. Store personel or other gamers could introduce those interested to other games and less basic ideas about play...but for the average customer, it is a draw, a picque.

I know this isn't really "bite-sized," at least for the gamemaster, but it is for the player or casual shopper who only has a few minutes to spend.

Comments? Ideas?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2002, 08:52:39 AM »

Hey Ron,

One quick suggestion...

Quote from: Ron Edwards
What kind of bite-sized role-playing experience could happen in that store or semi-store environment?

How about a quick game of Survivor?

Fang Langford
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talysman
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« Reply #25 on: November 21, 2002, 12:09:01 AM »

I like the idea of "bite-size roleplaying" in the stores as a way to get people interested in the games. and, strangely enough, my first thought was to somehow restrict it to character design, something which is sort of in line with what raven suggests.

but the store is going to have staff problems, so what about an interactive character design computer? find out how a character looks in a couple different games. you could have an RPG review database on the same computer (I believe I suggested that once before.)

that's still not targeting nonroleplayers, although I'd say a number of non-comicbook readers went to the flash website where you design a comicbook character... it might be interesting enough to make someone want to try it out.

another idea is the small-scale simple rpg concept, sort of what Fang is hinting at... another good selection might be Toon, or a horror game, or Dust Devils. anything that looks easy (sure, if they watch Toon or Dust Devils and get excited, they'll be disappointed if they buy D&D, but hopefully the store staff will be smart enough to tell the customer "D&D isn't like those games...")
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2002, 08:13:03 AM »

Hi John,

My take, at first thoughts anyway, is that computer interaction approaches Arcana for the new-person to role-playing. Not that people don't know about how to deal with computers and customer interfaces - but I do think that what any game is really selling is a mode of and context for some kind of specific social interaction. If that can, itself, be perceived and experienced in a sales context, then we're moving toward what I, at least, was hoping to get to.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2002, 10:00:34 AM »

I got it!

You want to have actual players in the store playing so that people can see what play is like.  But actual gamers are rude, more interested in their own game than in helping observers understand, not always available, and are not necessarily the most attractive or hygenic spokes models...

Solution...

Animatronics.

An entire table of animated gamers who all look like J-Lo and Brad Pitt chatting it up and rolling dice in the game store window to the sound of "Its a Small World After All"...

Hey, it worked for Country Bear Jamboree...
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greyorm
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« Reply #28 on: November 21, 2002, 10:42:41 AM »

After nearly swallowing my own tongue laughing at the idea of a jerky, animatronic Bradd Pitt gaming and fake-throwing dice (computerized voice: "I rolled a twen-ty.  Whoo-hoo.") to the tune of "It's a Small World After All" I think I have sufficiently cleared my head to post an addendum to my last idea.

How about not in the store, how about on the street?
Go the "shell game" route!  Get a card table, some dice and solicit passers-by.

And heck, make some money while you're at it. A buck to play a character, increase your wager each roll if you want...if you last until you pull out of the game, you get two bucks (or double whatever you've wagered).

I mean, seriously, those "shell game" guys (the good ones, at least) are masters of socialization: chatting up the crowd, explaining the rules, talking it up with the customer.

And hey, it wouldn't be so hard to do...you could even set it up in the park, instead of on the street. All you need are a table, some dice, some scratch paper and your script. No books or anything.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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