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Author Topic: Accessible? To Whom?  (Read 13916 times)
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2002, 10:07:25 AM »

Necromancy?  Excellent!

Okay.

This is what I thought of last night after I posted:

Real case example:

Christopher Kubasik walks into a WotC a while back.  He sees AD&D 3e on the shelf.  He thinks, "Hmmmm...  Role playing.  Fantasy.  D&D.  I used to like D&D."

At this point he seems to be meeting the first criteria of "accessiblity": "the chance that an interested person, looking at the game, will keep looking at and want to play the game."

(By the way, I'm quoting your definition not to back you into a corner, but because I'm stuck on it.)

So, as Christopher is looking at the book, he's interested.

He pulls it off the shelf.  Flip, flip, flip.

"Oh, jesus.  Right.  All those spells.  Oh, right. Different levels, different spells in different combinations...  Oh, all those modifiers.  Christ, proficencies.  Right.... Flip, flip.  The character sheet... Oh, sweet lord no.  All that crap to keep checking during play."  It's all coming back to him, those nightmarish rolling marathons to bring down the two cave trolls.  He puts the book back.

So now he's lost interest.  So, at this moment, the book is not "accessible" because it failed to keep his interest.

But!

Some kid walks in behind him, picks up the book.  Flip Flip.  It's even more tightly built than 2e (as Peter correctly points out, and congratulations to him, sincerely, for getting that right).  The kid was interested, the game held his interest.  He buys it.

Now.  Here's where I get stuck. There seem to be three posibilities here:

One:  The state of a game's inherent "accessibility" is defined by the viewer.  This is the Uncertainty Principle model.  When Christopher looked at, its actual accessiblity morphed into failure.  When the kid picked it up, he morphed it into success.  Since the presumption of accessiblity, as your using it, is that its something a designer can actively build into a game, I'm assuming that the Uncertainty Principle has no place in this matter.

Two:  The game's accessiblity exists completely independent of the viewer of the game.  That is, the accessiblity is built into the game by the writer of the game, and no person's reaction can alter that.

But that makes no sense either, because the current definition of accessiblity rests on the reaction of another person.

Three: One must remove the concern of the viewer in relation to the product completely.  In this case we are left with "Good".  (cf "Quality"; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence.)

In this case the game is either built well or not.  Whether or not anyone thinks it is good, it actually might be good.  It might even be recognized as such at a later time.  (see the movies "Sweet Smell of Success," "Wizard of Oz," and others.)

It also might gain people's attention and hold it, but might in fact be bad.  (See Filmography: Michael Bay).

This third option is the only one that makes any sense to me.  The first one somehow transubstantiates the actual "accessibility" depending on who's looking at it; the second is incosistent with the whole purpose f the term.

The third is the horror of twentieth century construction because it presumes "you can't know."  Who wants to face that terror?

But the truth is, no one does.  A 1930's archeologist fighting Nazis for the Ark of the Covenent?  Please!  A little wizened alien who befriends a boy in the suburbs?  A soft spoken boy who sees ghosts who essentially spends 90 minutes talking to a soft spoken shrink?

No one thought these movies where going to go anywhere, and the first two were hell to get financing.

No one knows.  No one.

I suspect, from other conversations we've had and the use of the concept "accessibility" that you think someone can.

No one knows.  One has gut hunches that what you love others will love, and you raise it and sweat it and get it out the door and hope for the best.

I think this is the crux of our difference.

***

As for my friend and her lovely eyes lighting up at the Sorcerer character sheet, I'm going with Jack on this: timing.  Luck, maybe.  I'll add Fortune that she's who she is at that moment and I happened to have the darned thing in my bag at that moment.  Grace?

I don't know.

But the conundrum still stands.  Either the author/maker builds the work correctly and it lives independent of the reaction of others, or it actually changes depending on who is looking at it.

At this moment, I don't know how to get around that.

That doesn't mean I won't as we bat this back and forth -- but that is where I'm stuck right now.

Take care,

Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2002, 11:23:57 AM »

Hi Christopher,

I think it's still the universalism thing which is keeping the horse upright, acting as it were like a combination of expanding bacterial gases and rigor mortis. Here I come with a sharply-pointed stick.

Poke 1: In my eyes, the kid you describe is simply not the same entity as the woman you describe. The former is a person already ensconced in the gaming hobby, as well as committed to D&D fantasy (fringe); the later is not associated with the hobby in any significant way (to the contrary, apparently) and her interests may be described as mainstream (in terms of gaming).

I describe the audience I'm talking about in the Promotion. In terms of the categories I laid out there, you and the woman are the "accessibility group" I'm after - the kid you described is not.

Poke 2: You are apparently talking about purchase; I am talking about conversation and some increase in the willingness to play.

Poke 3: A great deal of my currrent thinking is based on the idea that a personal-vision sort of design is better suited for mainstream accessibility (as I've been using the term) rather than any attempt at a "broad appeal." That's what a lot of these threads are about.

To quote Edward Gorey (cue bemused English accent): There was a wet sort of explosion ...

Or I hope so, anyway. Let me know.

Best,
Ron
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2002, 11:57:35 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
The horse may be dead, but perhaps the post-mortem will be valuable.

...

So, if "accessible" is too problematic a term for describing what happened with her, what term would you use?


I never miss a chance to root around in horse entrails.

Let me play devil's tennis instructor here and ask why do you need a term for that? I may sound like I'm just making trouble, but I am dead serious. If I'm reading the topic correctly, and you can add and subtract words from the following to make it correct, by accessable we mean "something that appeals to, and raises interest in roleplaying in people who are not currently roleplaying but may have a potential interest in roleplaying." Am I right? That's an awfully large, mutlifaceted group to be trying to tie up with a neat little word like "accessable."

Jump to an episode of Dudley Do Right. Snidley Whiplash is marrying the Inspector's daughter. The inspector says "I should hate to call you 'son.' Can I lengthen it to make it fit?"

For those of you who don't get it, like me, he means "son of a..."

Maybe we should lengthen accessable to make it fit? You can take a sign that reads "accessable" and put it on a set of stairs and be correct although not especially helpful because most people already know stairs are accessable. But for a ramp, you put the word "wheelchair" in front of "accessable" and now you are being helpful. I mean a ramp is still accessable in the common sense way stairs are, but not you are addressing people with specific needs for whom stairs are not so accessable after all.

We could put a little games like Heartquest that read "romance fan accessable," Kafaybe could be label "pro wrestling fan accessable" and the like.

I think you see what I'm getting at. At some point, we had mainstream defined and it seems to me a weird kind of us & them attitude has been brewing beneath the surface and, worse, it seems to me that mainstream has all been lumped together in one big group. Mainstream has been defined as: science fiction, fantasy/surrealism, sex, biography, humor, horror, and drama. These represent eight different populations of people with interest in at least one of the various categories and not necessarily interest in any of the others at all. This is my problem with using the term accessable in this way. It's making a fairly complex issue a little too simple. Which is what Christopher asked with this topic: Accessable? To who? "People who are not currently roleplaying but may have a potential interest in roleplaying" is a really big, diverse group and making a game accessable to them really doesn't say anything specific about it IMO because such an accessable game could be anything, literally.

Thanks for your time.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2002, 12:05:00 PM »

Hi Christopher,

Right! I say again, right! To consider "mainstream" be one thing is ridiculous. That is a big, big point I've been trying to clarify since the beginning of the original thread. I see where the problem is now: it's the commonly-used phrase, The mainstream. Which does not exist.

You've re-phrased my statement in a way that expresses, I think, this unconscious addition to the concept I presented, when you said I'd defined the mainstream as X, Y, Z, etc. But I didn't do that. What I'd done was to describe the range of mainstream interests. These are pretty different things, conceptually.

For "mainstream appeal," you're reading, "Must hit all of those people," whereas I'm saying, "Must do some one thing wellwithin that range."

Hence: Kayfabe doesn't appeal to "the mainstream," but rather to "people who like pro wrestling and might like role-playing." Dust Devils doesn't appeal to "the mainstream," but rather to "people who like solid westerns and might like role-playing."

This is so right that I can't believe it hadn't been articulated before. Thank you for pushing the issue so it could come to light.

Best,
Ron
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2002, 06:07:19 PM »

Hi Ron,

Just so the Forge Bean Bag Doll goes to the right person, that was Jack who made your day.
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
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