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Author Topic: The Forge and cultural bias (split from 'Forge as community'  (Read 5905 times)
Irmo
Member

Posts: 258


« on: December 04, 2002, 04:57:33 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Irmo,

Sounds like standard deconstructionist talk. Next you'll be telling us that the Forge shouldn't use English, as that biases it's production in a way that makes it less useful for people who don't have English as their first language.


It may very well be that it sounds like that to you, but it has in fact not a hint of overlap with my argument. The actual language used has nothing to do with the point. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee you that there's a lot of non-native speakers of English who are more fluent in English than a lot of native speakers.

Quote

The only problem with this sort of analysis is that discourse requires participants, and there is no way to cease bringing your bias. So, if we are to have a Forge at all, with real participants, we have to start with what we have no matter how imperfect, and go from there. If you don't like the jargon, or any other biases that we bring, then, well, sorry. Nothing we can do about it, without ceasing to be The Forge.


And that's precisely where we disagree.
As for starting with what we have, I suggest you follow my example and check the memberlist. The Forge does NOT use what it has, because a large number of people are not contributing or barely contributing. And coincidentally, members of specific cultural groups seem to be contributing very little as a rule.

And yes, there is a way to limit the effect of bias. It's called tolerance, or broad-mindedness.

Quote

To suggest that we chuck the specific language of the site is as non-sensical as trying to make all Americans stop speaking English (perhaps we shoud be speaking Navaho). In the end we're still using language, and no matter what we'll be just as bad-off as we were when we started.


The problem with this argument is that I in fact never suggested such a thing.

Mike, with all due respect, but the minimum one can expect is that you actually read a post thoroughly before replying to it. Your post touched nothing I talked about. Were I to treat your post like you treated mine, I would have to say that you suggest that contents is worthless, what counts is the language. What that leads to is endless rambling about trivialities, and I doubt that is your view of the ideal Forge.

However, I believe that precisely the attitude with which you treated my post is in part causative for the refusal of a great deal of people to get involved. Because when any degree of challenge, no matter how valid, is simply dismissed in a derogatory fashion, the only conclusion can be that the "expert members" are not interested in different perspectives, which in the end, will lead to people not submitting any.

Here's something for you to consider: About 50-75% of the points treated as given and practically universally accepted by those contributing in the varius threads about gamers I have not experienced as a given (or only in the very early days) as a roleplayer in a different cultural background. Now you can feel free to just consider your private experience to be universally applicable. But as the discussions on self esteem have shown, private experiences are often contradictory, even within the same cultural background.

As such, the question is if any conclusions drawn on this basis have any validity whatsoever beyond the doorstep of the person drawing them. If not, what knowledge has really been gained for the community?

Instead you could go out and gather different perspectives and wonder how far your own experiences are really applicable as a rule. Instead you could say that you aren't interested in WHAT you experienced as much as in WHAT LEAD to you experiencing it. You can do that for example by comparing yourself with people who didn't experience it and comparing common factors and factors that distinguish your own environment from that of the person who does not share your experiences. Instead of simply accepting circumstances as unchangeable or wondering what could change them, you could look at what did change them elsewhere and see if these circumstances can somehow be recreated.

Of course, your chances to talk with people who didn't experience it are only proportional to your readiness to accept their having different views.

What you are currently doing is the equivalent to a scientist who "proves" his hypothesis by simply ignoring results that refute it.

Nope, Mike, no deconstructionist talk. Just simple responsible sampling of data, instead of only taking the data one likes. And rather than refuting my statements, your post proved them.
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Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2002, 06:08:49 PM »

I was watching an American sitcom the other night called "Andy Richter Controls the Universe." In this show, the main character got a black (you'll see why I don't say African-American) friend of his hired at his company; the company was looking to diversify their corporate culture. Later, he insulted Irish-Americans in front of the new co-worker, oblivious to the fact that he was Irish. Because of this, he was sent to sensitivity training, where he learned that all people are alike on the inside and a perfect world would be one where "black," "white," or "Irish" didn't even have meanings - we'd all be color- and culture-blind.

He ended up dating the Irish co-worker's sister, who wanted to name her kid "Seamus." He responded virulently, saying that we shouldn't celebrate our cultures, but bury them so that we can all be more alike. Of course he was wrong. In the end, he learned this:

All people are the same and different, so we should ignore our differences and celebrate them.

My point:

Quote from: Mike Holmes

The only problem with this sort of analysis is that discourse requires participants, and there is no way to cease bringing your bias. So, if we are to have a Forge at all, with real participants, we have to start with what we have no matter how imperfect, and go from there. If you don't like the jargon, or any other biases that we bring, then, well, sorry. Nothing we can do about it, without ceasing to be The Forge.


Quote from: Irmo

And that's precisely where we disagree.
As for starting with what we have, I suggest you follow my example and check the memberlist. The Forge does NOT use what it has, because a large number of people are not contributing or barely contributing. And coincidentally, members of specific cultural groups seem to be contributing very little as a rule.

And yes, there is a way to limit the effect of bias. It's called tolerance, or broad-mindedness.


In the end, how we deal with culture at the Forge will be decided by two factors:
1) How the administrators treat the issue.
2) How the active membership treats the issue.

I'll admit my biases up-front: I think we're all different. I think that bias is an integral part of perception, which all people have. I think that attempts to remove bias will always fail and result in a subjugated, afraid culture that second-guesses each thought, because bias is such an integral part of perception and human experience.

I think choice is everything; that is, I think our every action comes from either a concious choice, or the choice to not make a decision. Irmo, you mentioned that a large majority of the registered memberlist of the Forge doesn't participate. You're quite right, and the administrators are very aware. I do not consider those people part of the Forge community, which might surprise you. Their choice was to not participate.

The rest of us have to choose how to use our biases. Irmo's quite right in parts of his post where he mentions "Instead you could go out and gather different perspectives and wonder how far your own experiences are really applicable as a rule. ... You can do that for example by comparing yourself with people who didn't experience it and comparing common factors and factors that distinguish your own environment from that of the person who does not share your experiences." By recognizing the cultural differences in the Forge membership, we all do learn.

However, he's quite wrong about a few things:
1) He said, "Because when any degree of challenge, no matter how valid, is simply dismissed in a derogatory fashion, the only conclusion can be that the 'expert members' are not interested in different perspectives, which in the end, will lead to people not submitting any." This, to me, is an implicit accusal of this behavior. (I've talked with Irmo before about this extremely passive-aggressive mode of speech. By stating everything hypothetically, he is able to accuse without accusing, and withdraw that accusation at a moment's notice. More on this later.) This behavior does not exist at the Forge. See my "five percent" thread for more information of why the Forge is able to handle a multitude of views.

2) He said, "About 50-75% of the points treated as given and practically universally accepted by those contributing in the varius threads about gamers I have not experienced as a given (or only in the very early days) as a roleplayer in a different cultural background. Now you can feel free to just consider your private experience to be universally applicable." He attacks Forge members for thinking that their experiences are universally applicable, but then flaunts his as perhaps more applicable. I say that when the majority of experiences expressed by a community larger than you are different from your own, you just might be the "odd bird," and should perhaps learn from others' experiences.

3) He said, "As for starting with what we have, I suggest you follow my example and check the memberlist. The Forge does NOT use what it has, because a large number of people are not contributing or barely contributing." We do not 'have' these people. If I was an active member of every community I've ever registered on, I'd need a 48-hour day.

4) Lastly, as in normal, there are no concrete examples in his post, only generalities. As some people do, Irmo has a vision of an "ideal Forge" that serves everyone, which is a mythical beast. The Forge does not serve everyone; in fact, it's an institution built to serve "those who love it," as I said yesterday in my "five percent" post. The passive-aggressive behavior I mentioned earlier lives of generalities, and does not attempt in any way to improve the actual Forge, but just this "ideal Forge" that doesn't exist, and never will. It does, for the reasons I described in my "five percent" post, tear the Forge apart by putting the agenda of "creating an ideal community where all are equal" ahead of "creating and promoting indie RPGs by improving the community that we're in."

A last quote (I'm treading real close to line-by-line territory, but I understand Irmo's a fan of that): "What that leads to is endless rambling about trivialities, and I doubt that is your view of the ideal Forge." I'm going to make the very ballsy statement that talking about whether the Forge is or is not culturally-sensitive is a triviality to begin with. I see no problem here, and have heard from exactly one person that there is a problem. Someone - someone who's been here for more than a few weeks, and actually posted something of substance that wasn't academic waxing about ideals and had something to do with games - let me know if you have a problem. Send it to me privately, or better, make it public so that we have a record.

And then, would someone please get this thread back on topic? We've wasted enough time and energy here.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Irmo
Member

Posts: 258


« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2002, 07:06:57 PM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon

2) He said, "About 50-75% of the points treated as given and practically universally accepted by those contributing in the varius threads about gamers I have not experienced as a given (or only in the very early days) as a roleplayer in a different cultural background. Now you can feel free to just consider your private experience to be universally applicable." He attacks Forge members for thinking that their experiences are universally applicable, but then flaunts his as perhaps more applicable. I say that when the majority of experiences expressed by a community larger than you are different from your own, you just might be the "odd bird," and should perhaps learn from others' experiences.


Clinton, that does it for me. How you can accuse me of flaunting my experience as 'perhaps more applicable' when I explicitly said that one should look at the individual factors that made one person experience one thing and another the other is beyond me. As for "the majority of experiences expressed by a community larger than you are different from your own, you just might be the "odd bird," and should perhaps learn from others' experiences",  you once again completely ignore the fact that my experiences were made under different circumstances, and thus whether there are more or less people here with different experiences has no impact whatsoever on whether my experiences are representative for the circumstances I made them in. For that matter, they were made in and together with large communities of other players who shared them. Not that that's relevant to any degree, since, what you obviously still fail to grasp, they were made, and that's what counts. They are data, and simply ignoring it won't make your conclusions any more credible.

I would suggest that in future, you try to support your side with facts instead of unfounded accusations and invented arguments.

Quote

3) He said, "As for starting with what we have, I suggest you follow my example and check the memberlist. The Forge does NOT use what it has, because a large number of people are not contributing or barely contributing." We do not 'have' these people. If I was an active member of every community I've ever registered on, I'd need a 48-hour day.


Sorry, but that's wrong. Several of them made some posts. They only made a few, and some stop, some post in huge intervals. But there just might be a reason for that. You once again simply look at the facts stating sh*t happens. It does. But there's a reason for everything.

Quote

And then, would someone please get this thread back on topic? We've wasted enough time and energy here.


Last I checked the topic of the thread was the role of the Forge and it's role for the community. But you may be right, among your ad hominem attacks, that might have become lost. Maybe with a little less putting-things-in-other-people's-writings-that-aren't-there, we can communicate much more efficiently. But frankly, I doubt that anyone is interested in it. For all the talk about discussing roleplaying in an academic context, I have seen a whole lot of decidedly unacademic behavior, and sorry, Clinton, your post was a prime example for it.
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Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2002, 07:16:46 PM »

Quote from: Irmo

Clinton, that does it for me. How you can accuse me of flaunting my experience as 'perhaps more applicable' when I explicitly said that one should look at the individual factors that made one person experience one thing and another the other is beyond me.... you once again completely ignore the fact that my experiences were made under different circumstances, and thus whether there are more or less people here with different experiences has no impact whatsoever on whether my experiences are representative for the circumstances I made them in.


Irmo, you're right. I was trying to make a point, but that statement was a bit out of line. I seriously apologize.

Otherwise, though, I do stand by my other statements, especially about the number of registered users. Unless someone's made a post in the last month, I don't regard them as part of the community.

If it's ok with you, I'm going to point out the crux of this argument, and I want you to correct me on the part I attribute to you:

- I think the Forge is what it is: the collective thoughts and input of its current active members, and their biases and wishes. I think that people who like this collective will come, and those who don't... well, to be honest, I don't care. For $15 and change a month, they can start their own site.
- Irmo thinks it should cater to a group outside of those active members and actively try to expand its viewpoints to match those that aren't members of the Forge now. (See my definition of members above.)

I could simplify this further by asking "Is the Forge a service (Irmo's view, perceived by me) or an institution?" (I actually prefer the term 'privilege,' but people get hung up on that.)

Am I right on this? I hope that by clarifying the argument into a few simple sentences, we can all understand it a bit more. (I'm not an academic and prefer not to be. We can discuss whether the Forge is a forum for academic discourse on role-playing later.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Irmo
Member

Posts: 258


« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2002, 11:01:49 PM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon


- I think the Forge is what it is: the collective thoughts and input of its current active members, and their biases and wishes. I think that people who like this collective will come, and those who don't... well, to be honest, I don't care. For $15 and change a month, they can start their own site.
- Irmo thinks it should cater to a group outside of those active members and actively try to expand its viewpoints to match those that aren't members of the Forge now. (See my definition of members above.)

I could simplify this further by asking "Is the Forge a service (Irmo's view, perceived by me) or an institution?" (I actually prefer the term 'privilege,' but people get hung up on that.)

Am I right on this? I hope that by clarifying the argument into a few simple sentences, we can all understand it a bit more. (I'm not an academic and prefer not to be. We can discuss whether the Forge is a forum for academic discourse on role-playing later.)


I neither think the Forge should cater to anyone nor should be a service. The Forge should, however, make up its mind on what it wants to be and what it wants to be able to do. If the Forge wants to be a chatroom for game designers exchanging ideas, that's one thing. But Ron's threads suggest it wants to be more. They represent an attempt at analysing at least part of the gaming community at large and assessing several issues with it. Such an analysis CANNOT come to a useful conclusion unless it is based on a broad and solid basis of data, not just the experiences of some friends. They CAN however, if done thoroughly, be immensely useful. For the gaming community at large, and for the members of the Forge specifically. More on that later.

Since you said I hadn't brought specific examples, here's some (not all) points, referring to some snippets from subthreads.

-gamers socialising with other gamers mainly or exclusively in the context of playing RPGs or planning to play them
 
My experience:One of the RPG clubs I was a member of had yearly board game weekends out in the woods where RPGs were frowned upon. We also had monthly meetings in a pub for a drink, chatting and maybe a card game like UNO etc. Several members of the club knew each other from, or later joined, other volunteering organisations, clubs etc. Another community I was a member of consisted of an IRC channel practically exclusively used for chatting. That included the occasional anecdote about their last RPG event, but roleplaying itself was confined to other channels. One other club I know of has an anual institution of going to a pseudo-medieval dinner event, or sometimes one of the major jousting events. Others go and visit castles, museums or locations in which they might share interest in due to their being a gamer, but which have no direct connection to RPGs.
Heck, some of the "guys and girls" from the IRC channel repeatedly went on international vacation trips together. I doubt it was about roleplaying on the North Cape. Those people barely ever RPed with each other, living in different areas of the nation. But their socialising experiences established a social network.

-Roleplayers are/aren't more open, creative etc. or counterargument: There's no empirical evidence

My experience: I already cited academically gathered data suggesting that roleplayers are more open to new experiences than the average population. That of course is in the context of the population the data was gathered in and based on a sample much smaller than the normal control.

-Argument by one poster: The attitude towards roleplaying in the population won't change
My experience: (and here we get to the meat of my point) The attitude towards roleplaying HAS drastically changed in my home country over the course of the last, say 20 years (probably longer, but that's the time period I can reliably report on) to the point where departments of city administrations charged with adolescent affairs, in an effort to provide attractive activities for adolescents and young adults, cooperate with and support roleplaying organisations as a way of getting young people off the streets. (Organisations which, not-so-coincidentally, have written their charters in such a way as to declare precisely that, by means of roleplaying, one of the chief goals of their organisation, as well as promoting the development of a wide array of problem-solving skills aside from violent solutions) Has everything achievable been achieved? Hardly. Stating that you play RPGs still isn't the same as stating you play Trivial Pursuit. But routine cooperation with local administrations and recognition as serving the common good (let alone playing in the community halls of many churches) are quite some achievements.

So, obviously, at least in some places, the attitude towards roleplaying as an activity CAN change. Does that mean it can change in the US? It might, it might not, but it definitely means it can't ruled out outright. It's the details that matter.

Which brings us back to the Forge as a community, the topic of this thread.

You're perfectly right in your other thread that the Forge offers a diverse spectrum regarding the US. That offers a chance at gathering a wide range of experiences. But while that seems to some degree to be working in regards to modes of RP, the threads about gaming community and RPG advocacy have demonstrated different experiences to be an impasse, rather than a chance for a synthesis of broader-based knowledge. And if I can tell one thing from the experience of my home country: To change the attitude of at least part of the public towards RPGs, a CONCERTED, organized effort of a LOT of people was necessary. That didn't necessarily mean that there was only one entity working. There were several groups and subcommunities. But they were individually organized communities working towards similar goals. Disorganized, individual efforts are unlikely to have more than local reach. The Forge has the reach to provide a larger structure, and members who should have a vital, monetary interest in promoting public acceptance. Are there fanatics who will never be convinced? Sure. But that doesn't mean that the general acceptance can't be improved. But when people here draw the conclusion that they can't get anywhere in a discussion because they have fundamentally different opinions on underlying issues, instead of trying to reach a synthesis out of their individual ideas, (as has happened in some threads) the whole moves nowhere, and the end result is that one plays into the hands of precisely those fanatics, because nothing changes.

There's steps that can be taken to at least give a fighting chance to move something, and the Forge would be an ideal community to take at least some of them, in my opinion. The question is if the Forge wants to do it or not.
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Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2002, 11:09:39 PM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
I could simplify this further by asking "Is the Forge a service (Irmo's view, perceived by me) or an institution?" (I actually prefer the term 'privilege,' but people get hung up on that.)


I agree that "The Forge" is a privilege. At virtually any time, Clinton can withdraw service or turn off the server and "The Forge" will be no more.

Thank you, Clinton, for The Forge.
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Andrew Martin
Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2002, 11:17:03 PM »

Irmo - best post you've ever made on the Forge, by far. It was clear, easy to understand, and challenged existing thought. Thank you.

Andrew - no problem, man. Ron does as much as I, to be certain. I thank you for your acknowledgement.

Best,
Clinton
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2002, 07:41:08 AM »

Irmo,

I've overstated my case to make a point, to be sure. I extended the argument past what you intended just to make a point by displaying what the logical conclusion is to that vein of argument. In that way, yes, I was intentionally addressing points that you had not made. I've been over this entire debate with deconstructionist scholars quite a bit (living in Madison, WI for eight years made that unavoidable).

But, I think your response was decidedly overblown as well. I meant the apollogy at the end of my post sincerely. That is, I realized that my tone would probably be read as derogatory. If you've felt personally assaulted (and I'm not saying you have), then I apollogise again.

I did read your post thouroughly, Irmo. And my post was in response to your attack on the use of specific language that Rich suggests is key to the whole "Discourse Community" thing. Deconstructionists often use the argument of bias to show that a particular use of language invalidates a discourse, somehow, by alienating some portion of the populace (I can quote works if you like). My point is only that you can't be rid of bias. Deconstructionists actually admit this. In the end they admit that even deconstruction itself is subject to bias (see Deridas). And as such, throwing out the internal language of The Forge is some attempt to improve it resolves nothing. In the end we still have a language that is just as flawed as the original, but without the benefits.

Besides, if you want to use "plain english" there's nothing stopping you. I try to do that all the time with participants who I feel are not prepared to talk in the language that I have adopted as a Forge member. Which is to say that the idea that we are somehow insular, prejudiced, or exclusionary just doesn't hold water. As I've said, I can't help but bring my biases to the table, but that does not mean that I can't also be open-minded. Now, that's a relative term, and you may think me close-minded by some standard. But the only comparison I can make is to look at other sites that attempt to do the same thing, more or less, as we do here.

And I think it would be very hard to argue that we don't engender a greater feeling of acceptance here than on other sites, given the context of our jargon. Now, that might not be enough in the long run. But when I and others here put as much effort into simultaneously supporting the site as a place where rational debate can occur, and try to help newcomers assimilate to the debate, I cannot help but feel that the claim that our efforts are actually hindering the fostering of a community that can accomplish goals is incorrect.

My "feeling" on this matter is as empirical as your claim that we mishandle 60% or more of posters (I could claim that my larger participation, and longer presence gave me more access to data). Even if your claim were true, it would still be better than elsewhere, I think. Is it "good enough"? That's always going to be a subjective matter, and in the end the objective assessment will come in terms of people helped. I think that we've got a good track record so far, even if imperfect (testimonials have been proffered). I see The Forge as a community devoted to it's principles, which include an open acceptance of new ideas through debate. And that's as good a start as I think you can have.

It seems to me that the goal of The Forge is emerging as "helping people have better RPG experiences". On other sites where people go to get such help, usually; very little most of the time, and when they do, the help seems misguided. And that is in part because of a lack of agreed upon definitions to terms. As such I cannot see the Forge changing the way we do business much. Sure, we can all try to be more open-minded. That's always good advice. But open-mided doesn't mean failing to apply critical thinking and debate. As such, that should continue to be the modus operandi here.

Again, you may have a very different perspective on this. That's probably unavoidable, as we're both merely recounting our own viewpoints. If we wanted an empirical look at the benefits, we could perhaps do a survey of some sort, or some other method of data collection. But then that would be biased again because people disenchanted would be unlikely to respond, I'd guess.

As to the number of registered participants who do not respond, you could also point to the probably vast number of guests that lurk without ever registering. But this is just traffic on the street. A person who has registered and left has probably done so just because they don't have the time to participate. Like Clinton, I'm registered on about fifty sites, and I only regularly post to three. If the administrators of those sites are thinking that this is solely because they have alienated me, they should rest assured that it was just because I'm an overeager "registerer". I think, like Clinton that admins understand that there is just a certain rate of people who register who do not then participate. A registration can only be seen in the light that the person registering saw something about the site that interested them, if only for a moment. I wouldn't be surprised to find that the ratio of actively participating registrants to those not participating is actually higher on The Forge than elsewhere. If not, the improved communication here, and rate of successful help is certainly worth losing the occasional registrant who is not willing to participate on the level that we expect.

I think that we'll have to use the method that any community does to ensure it's quality, and that is to self-police. Since that already happens (believe me, I get policed rather regularly), I have no doubts about what I see as the continuing quality. Consider the recent Line-by-line discussion. Debate continues. And some core members (um, me, for example) are on your side. As long as the debate remains open, we can continue to grow. And Clinton and Ron have done as good a job as I believe is humanly possible to ensure this.

I don't think that this is really a derrailure, personally; but it has gotten to the point where this line of debate, and the more eneral topic of mission might be better served if this was split off. (Edited to say, oops, I see it already has).

Mike

P.S. I gather you are not from Dallas. Would you care to divulge your country of origin so that we can put your other comments in context (apollogies if you've already stated this, and I'd missed it).
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2002, 07:51:14 AM »

I've split this from "The Forge as Community," although it's pretty intricately tied to it. The former thread started to focus on the Forge's mission pretty heavily, while these posts focus on the inclusion of viewpoints into the Forge.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Irmo
Member

Posts: 258


« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2002, 08:41:22 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Irmo,

I've overstated my case to make a point, to be sure. I extended the argument past what you intended just to make a point by displaying what the logical conclusion is to that vein of argument. In that way, yes, I was intentionally addressing points that you had not made. I've been over this entire debate with deconstructionist scholars quite a bit (living in Madison, WI for eight years made that unavoidable).


But deconstructionism (and your critique) had in fact nothing to do with what I said.

Quote
I did read your post thouroughly, Irmo. And my post was in response to your attack on the use of specific language that Rich suggests is key to the whole "Discourse Community" thing. Deconstructionists often use the argument of bias to show that a particular use of language invalidates a discourse, somehow, by alienating some portion of the populace (I can quote works if you like). My point is only that you can't be rid of bias. Deconstructionists actually admit this. In the end they admit that even deconstruction itself is subject to bias (see Deridas). And as such, throwing out the internal language of The Forge is some attempt to improve it resolves nothing. In the end we still have a language that is just as flawed as the original, but without the benefits.


I think you both misinterpret what Rich said, and what I said, and what the actual impact would be. There is no single language, for example, in academia. Different journals favor different styles, and different standards of stringency. More, a single journal can have different standards of stringency for different types of articles. "letters" and "immediate publications" are not taken to the same stringent standards as official research articles. Why? Because in the latter case of immediate publications, the CONTENTS is seen as more important. The results have such a potential impact that it's more important to make them available now than to solidify the form first and do some more controls. People know that there might be chaff involved, but consider the content as so important that they consider it acceptable to remove it later. Again, language is the means to a goal. A specific language may facilitate its goal 90% of the time. But if it's truly the goal that is important, that means that the other 10% of the time, one has to be ready to throw language out temporarily and look at the contents first.

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Besides, if you want to use "plain english" there's nothing stopping you. I try to do that all the time with participants who I feel are not prepared to talk in the language that I have adopted as a Forge member. Which is to say that the idea that we are somehow insular, prejudiced, or exclusionary just doesn't hold water. As I've said, I can't help but bring my biases to the table, but that does not mean that I can't also be open-minded. Now, that's a relative term, and you may think me close-minded by some standard. But the only comparison I can make is to look at other sites that attempt to do the same thing, more or less, as we do here.


Well, I can for example look at your discussion with Raven in the "Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)" thread in the RPG theory forum, and conclude that the two of you have delivered a potential example of what I pointed at in the longer post: Arguing mainly based on personal experience, and taking contrary experience as a freak accident of nature, (as in "Ok, it happened, I have no idea how or why, but don't see any reason to revise my opinion") and your own as a natural constant, rather than getting to the bottom of WHY each of you has the experiences he made. Yes, you can't help but bring your biases to the table. But that doesn't say anything about expecting others to comply with them. THAT's what I am referring to with cultural bias. The insistence on a specific language, however, can be a barrier to acquiring data that goes beyond the personal experience, and simply declaring that there's nothing there to learn because it doesn't fit to a)the experiences and b)the language you are used to won't make your own views more credible.

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My "feeling" on this matter is as empirical as your claim that we mishandle 60% or more of posters (I could claim that my larger participation, and longer presence gave me more access to data). Even if your claim were true, it would still be better than elsewhere, I think. Is it "good enough"? That's always going to be a subjective matter, and in the end the objective assessment will come in terms of people helped. I think that we've got a good track record so far, even if imperfect (testimonials have been proffered). I see The Forge as a community devoted to it's principles, which include an open acceptance of new ideas through debate. And that's as good a start as I think you can have.


Could you please cite where I actually made such a claim? The only percentage to which I referred was the degree of circumstances taken as a given in the individual threads which I have not experienced as a given.

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It seems to me that the goal of The Forge is emerging as "helping people have better RPG experiences". On other sites where people go to get such help, usually; very little most of the time, and when they do, the help seems misguided. And that is in part because of a lack of agreed upon definitions to terms. As such I cannot see the Forge changing the way we do business much. Sure, we can all try to be more open-minded. That's always good advice. But open-mided doesn't mean failing to apply critical thinking and debate. As such, that should continue to be the modus operandi here.


Critical thinking requires the questioning of one's own experiences as well. And that hasn't been the modus operandi. Critical thinking requires the questioning of whether one's experiences are broadly applicable or not. That hasn't been the case in many instances.

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As to the number of registered participants who do not respond, you could also point to the probably vast number of guests that lurk without ever registering. But this is just traffic on the street. A person who has registered and left has probably done so just because they don't have the time to participate. Like Clinton, I'm registered on about fifty sites, and I only regularly post to three.


That is all good and fine, but you picked those three, over the others, for specific reasons, probably. For some reasons, you considered participating in these more worthwhile than in the others. Which is precisely what i think has been overlooked by both Clinton and you.

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P.S. I gather you are not from Dallas. Would you care to divulge your country of origin so that we can put your other comments in context (apollogies if you've already stated this, and I'd missed it).


Germany (with the occasional stay in France and a good stock in original French RPGs)
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Bankuei
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« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2002, 09:36:20 AM »

I'm not an administrator, I'm not yet a game designer.  I'm just going to voice my disapproval of the direction this thread has taken, and the behavior I'm witnessing in it.

As far as I can tell, the point of this thread is to discuss whether the Forge has a cultural bias(yes, nothing in this world is without it), how it comes about, and whether anything can or should be done about it.  I, myself, am quite interested in gaming and design in other countries(France, Germany, Japan, etc.).  As an ethnic minority in the US, I'm also interested in the sorts of community and social interaction with other ethnic minorities in regards to gaming.  

Anything that would encourage more information about these subjects would be great, but all I'm seeing is arguing to argue. seeing who sounds smarter than the other, and pretty much not line by line, but subpoint by subpoint argument.

So on to the actual topic at hand;  Is there a bias at the Forge(beyond language and N.America) that discourages folks from participating?  If so, are the folks that are marginalized folks who will contribute in a constructive manner to the Forge?  Finally, are we actually able to change this bias?

And let me ask this: Does anyone feel excluded, and if so, on what basis?

Chris
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2002, 09:56:37 AM »

I'm just glad someone used the phrase "ad hominem" -- now I just need "Hitler," "Versimilitude," and "Semiotic" and I'll have Internet Forum Bingo!
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2002, 10:49:32 AM »

Quote from: Irmo

A specific language may facilitate its goal 90% of the time. But if it's truly the goal that is important, that means that the other 10% of the time, one has to be ready to throw language out temporarily and look at the contents first.
And I think we meet or exceed that 10% goal nicely. The agreement to use specific language does not preclude it's growth. The language here has evolved, and continues to do so. You may disagree with that assessment (I'm guessing you do), but I don't disagree with what you've said in the last post at all. That said, this is simply an admonition, again, to be more open-mided. It turns out that it's not specific language you are against, but rigidly maintaining it against all reason. We all agree with that. It's just a matter of perspective as to how much open-mindedness there is here.

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Well, I can for example look at your discussion with Raven in the "Self-image (split from Gay / Gamer)" thread in the RPG theory forum, and conclude that the two of you have delivered a potential example of what I pointed at in the longer post: Arguing mainly based on personal experience, and taking contrary experience as a freak accident of nature,
In the absence of empirical data, I will use my own ancdotal evidence in the effort to continue to make a point. Nothing invalid about that.

That said, I did nothing there that prevented anyone from posting their anecdotal evidence, which would presumably be accepted as just as vaild. If someone has a different experience they can post it. Further, if you read closely, you'll see that my point in that thread is mostly that, as this data is anecdotal, that the discussion of it is, in fact, probably pointless. IOW, I'm supporting the idea that you are promulgating here. I'm surprised that you read through it if you found it so self-serving. Nobody is under any obligation to read what I post (not to get too passive agressive, myself).

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Could you please cite where I actually made such a claim? The only percentage to which I referred was the degree of circumstances taken as a given in the individual threads which I have not experienced as a given.
Now that's a line-by line response. :-)

Perhaps I quoted you incorrectly (I'm not going to dig for it and respond in kind). But that doesn't invalidate the point, which is that you seem to feel that people here are not handled in a manner that is sufficiently inviting. Or am I mistaken in that as well?

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Critical thinking requires the questioning of one's own experiences as well. And that hasn't been the modus operandi. Critical thinking requires the questioning of whether one's experiences are broadly applicable or not. That hasn't been the case in many instances.
Well, that comes close to an "ad hominem" (gotta feed Jared). I'd can only disagree, and say that this is your own opinion. BTW, which of us are you refering to? Myself? Ron? Clinton? Ralph? Gareth? That seems like a very sweeping statment. Is it our comunity that has made us so closed minded, or our American educations (that's the usual culprit)?

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That is all good and fine, but you picked those three, over the others, for specific reasons, probably. For some reasons, you considered participating in these more worthwhile than in the others. Which is precisely what i think has been overlooked by both Clinton and you.
I picked those three over the others because I'm more interested in RPGs than I am in discussing Lotus Notes, or anything else. And I post here more than RPG.net, precisely because I feel more at home here (actually, RPG.net's been pretty good lately, but one only has so much time). Is it really hard to believe that occasionally someone more interested in programming registers to this site, and then forgets about it, or finds that he'd rather spend his time discussing programming? I assume that a good deal of the unseen registrants are of this type.

But, then again, I'm using anecdotal evidence again. Shame on me. Apllogies, I have no empirical data to offer. But again, neither do you.

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Germany (with the occasional stay in France and a good stock in original French RPGs)
It may comfort you to know, or possibly not, that I have played with German players (students). In fact, I can actually make an observatin about German play. This will be a sweeping generalization brought about by anecdotal evidence, but anyhow let's see if it corresponds with your experience. German players, even in the most Gamist of D&D games, do not compete intra-player as much as Americans. This is probably not too remarkable, as this seems to correspond with the overal cultural psyche. An American friend of mine who lived abroad for years in Germany, and incidentally corroborates this anecdotal evidence, was always fascinated at how Germans actually stopped an the "Don't Walk" signs on street corners. Similarly this sense of...community responsibility?...leads RPG play to be very co-operative.

Is that accurate at all? Have I made at least an attempt to understand German RPG play, if only superficially. I can aloso comment on English and Australian play, from actual play. And I can realate facts on the subject of Scandanavian (even specific differences between countries), and Japanese play (fascinating the differences).

I even bought an RPG (in English) once while in Paris. Probably doesn't say much about play there, but the store was interesting.

Am I really as insensitive as all that? You are aware that I grate on Americans as often as on foreigners (right, Clinton)? That's just my personality. :-)

But again, I'm focusing too much on me. I would hazzard a guess, however, that most people here are at least as welcoming as I am, if not much more. Certainly seems that way to me. So, again, it's hard for me to see the problem. Seems very molehill scale to me.

Keep trying, however - I don't suggest that you stop. Iconoclasts like yourself and Gareth are an important part of a community, IMO. Keeps the rest of us honest (or as honest as possible). Can't hurt to keep reminding us to stay open-minded. Like any community, we'll have to settle on some happy medium.

Mike
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Clay
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« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2002, 11:11:47 AM »

If anyone has read T.S. Elliot's "The Great Rumpus Cat," I think they'll probably agree that we need one here.  His name may well be Clinton Nixon, but I'm not sure at the moment.

Let's calm down a little folks and stop wearing our hearts on our sleeves.  I've probably peed in this pool enough for the whole day, without anyone needing to add to it.
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Clay Dowling
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2002, 11:15:31 AM »

Quote from: Clay
Let's calm down a little folks and stop wearing our hearts on our sleeves.  I've probably peed in this pool enough for the whole day, without anyone needing to add to it.
Yes, please. One of the things I like about the Forge is that -- traditionally -- eveyone has been capable of remaining calm, collected, rational, and -- most of all -- respectful of those that disagree with them.
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