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Author Topic: Committed Passive Players  (Read 4009 times)
clehrich
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« on: February 03, 2003, 02:24:05 PM »

Hi,

I'm slowly reading through all of the Scattershot material, and I'm working now on Ambitious Approaches.  It's been quite a while since this appeared, so I'll give the passage:
Quote
The various Passive forms of play can often be confusing because they are only subtly different from each other. Almost all of the Passive Commitments to gaming have gotten bad names. It’s not terribly fair, seeing as these are the players who often cement a group together or otherwise ‘fill in’ an otherwise Ambitious game when there aren’t enough players to Commit to an Approach. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to only touch on these based on their ‘bad names.’ [Laws calls all these Casual Gamers, lumping them all together. I had a shy, close friend who fell squarely into this camp and knowing him has given me a whole different perspective on the social ‘goings on’ in gaming, so I think that Laws does them a disservice.]

A Passive Avatar player is often called a ‘navel gazer,’ because of his semi-conflicting interest in his persona’s perspective in games Committed to different Approaches. The Passive Joueur player is often (unfairly) lumped into the more dysfunction of the ‘munchkin’ archetype, because his interest in persona capabilities can be at odds with the Approach the game actually takes. A Swashbuckler of Passive Commitment is a ‘tourist’ or ‘escapist,’ mostly wanting to ‘ride along’ and ‘see the sights.’ I don’t have any slang for the Passive Auteur player; her concern with ‘getting it right’ often disappears as she works to support whatever Approach is the general Commitment of the game. The most important thing to note is that all of these Committed Approaches put ‘playing along’ ahead of what they value, but [I disagree with Laws here] they do have Approaches of their own.

First of all, I wanted to remark on how deeply this recognition of Passive players as nevertheless serious struck me.  One of the very best players I have ever seen generally eschews the dominant role in any scene; his best thing is to play off what others are doing, and provoke them to greater heights.  If he's not there, things go flat, but people mostly remember the other guy from the scene he's in.

Thus I think the descriptions of the four types here miss an essential element, which is that the Committed Passive player uses her Approach to support others, no matter the latters' Approach.

Passive Avatar: Focused on his own navel, perhaps, but wanting to make his character's personal issues a dramatic inspiration for someone else.  I think this is rare, but possible.

Passiave Joueur: Wants her gambles to heighten other people's fun.  Will intentionally perform actions that could fail (i.e. where there are real odds of failure) simply to get die-roll excitement involved.  Wants this to escalate some established drama of another character, so the other player can riff of the P.J.'s die-roll success or failure.

Passive Swashbuckler: Wants to see the sights, and wants everyone else as a tourguide, but never complains about the schedule.  If others seem bored or lost, will essentially open up doors or avenues for more sightseeing, in hopes that the discoveries made will encourage others to do fun things.

Passive Auteur: Having a hard time thinking this through.  Essentially someone who does all of the other three things as a meta-concern, but doesn't have much attachment to any of them per se.  Not sure about this.

What do you think?
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Chris Lehrich
Le Joueur
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2003, 03:20:30 PM »

Hey Chris (can I call you Chris?),

You make a very good point:

Quote from: clehrich
Quote from: In the "An Ambitious Approach article Fang
...These are the players who often cement a group together or otherwise 'fill in' an otherwise Ambitious game when there aren't enough players to Commit to an Approach.

...The most important thing to note is that all of these Committed Approaches put 'playing along' ahead of what they value,

Thus I think the descriptions of the four types here miss an essential element, which is that the Committed Passive player uses her Approach to support others, no matter the latter's Approach.
    Passive Avatar: Focused on his own navel, perhaps, but wanting to make his character's personal issues a dramatic inspiration for someone else.  I think this is rare, but possible.

    Passive Joueur: Wants her gambles to heighten other people's fun.  Will intentionally perform actions that could fail (i.e. where there are real odds of failure) simply to get die-roll excitement involved.  Wants this to escalate some established drama of another character, so the other player can riff of the P.J.'s die-roll success or failure.

    Passive Swashbuckler: Wants to see the sights, and wants everyone else as a tour guide, but never complains about the schedule.  If others seem bored or lost, will essentially open up doors or avenues for more sightseeing, in hopes that the discoveries made will encourage others to do fun things.

    Passive Auteur: Having a hard time thinking this through.  Essentially someone who does all of the other three things as a meta-concern, but doesn't have much attachment to any of them per se.  Not sure about this.
    [/list:u]What do you think?

    I think you've got a really good critical eye and I need to work on my prose.  I'm not entirely sure one could 'use their Approach' to do anything, much less support another's play; that's why I suggested that they put "support others" ahead of their Approach.  An Approach isn't a thing or a tool, but a way of looking and a value system.  That an Approach can prompt you to do things isn't of the Approach, but your behaviour within it.  That's why one person's Approach can't support another's.  (Unless you infer that 'Passive' actually means an Approach meant to "support others."  I'm not sure that would work, because I like to think that everyone around the table, regardless of Approach and Ambition would like to "support others.")

    Likewise there seems to be a hint of the idea that people who are Passively Committed are not committed to play somehow.  Passive was about the best word I could come up with to indicate someone who did like something, but weren't terribly aggressive about it.  I don't think there's much point in discussing someone who has little or no commitment to gaming; I can't do much for people who barely want to play.  That's not what Passive Commitment is about.

    Therefore:
      A Passive Avatar Approach might focus on expediting play in general because of how that furthers the opportunities for 'inward play.'

      Actually, all Joueur Approaches are known for taking risks, calculated or otherwise; risk and effectiveness are this Approach's bread and butter no matter how committed.  I've always felt to realize a true T-type personality's ideal in gaming, you'd need to have a Joueur Approach and take all the risks.  Perhaps I overplayed careful Joueur play, but you definitely have something there; Passive Joueur Approach could be thought of as a 'real team player' when it comes to playing in with a Joueur group Approach.

      You're right about Passive Swashbucklers, often they turn into player-facilitators, not only within the context of the game, but also from without.  I get a lot of "but anyway..."s out of these players as then attempt to get the group 'back to gaming.'

      I think the most obvious Passive Auteur is the 'character actor.'  The have solid value in terms of the continuing and overall game even though their roles are largely overlooked.  Sidekicks often come from this lot.[/list:u]Overall, I'd say this indicates I better ditch the 'negative stereotype terminology' in the final draft; all I can say in my defense is that I was somewhat incensed by Laws' dismissal of these Approaches (not that he doesn't value them, but that he doesn't differentiate).  It struck me that since no one holds to their highest Commitment level continuously, it was important to illustrate what they do 'at the lowest ebb,' kinda a list of 'at least you can be doing this' while you wait.  All teams have their stars in differing circumstances and at those times it's important for the rest to be 'the glue' that gets them to the next circumstance and the 'next star.'

      Thanks for giving me (showing me?) the opportunity to expand on this aspect of Approach Commitments.  I can already see some of how I'll need to change this for when it goes on
    the website.

    Fang Langford
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    clehrich
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    « Reply #2 on: February 03, 2003, 04:21:40 PM »

    Fang,

    Sure, you can call me Chris.

    Quote
    Overall, I'd say this indicates I better ditch the 'negative stereotype terminology' in the final draft; all I can say in my defense is that I was somewhat incensed by Laws' dismissal of these Approaches (not that he doesn't value them, but that he doesn't differentiate). It struck me that since no one holds to their highest Commitment level continuously, it was important to illustrate what they do 'at the lowest ebb,' kinda a list of 'at least you can be doing this' while you wait. All teams have their stars in differing circumstances and at those times it's important for the rest to be 'the glue' that gets them to the next circumstance and the 'next star.' [Emphasis mine]

    I think you could go a lot more encouraging and positive yet.  I agree entirely about Laws, and about the whole notion of the passive player being equivalent to the uncommitted player.  But at the same time, I think valuable Passive play should be encouraged as a legitimate option, in addition to being important when not currently in a "starring" role.

    I guess it's the fact that Scattershot is deliberately pitched to be accessible to newcomers to the hobby.  I think it might be helpful essentially to say, "Don't be intimidated, and don't feel you have to be brilliant and a big star all the time.  If you want to, that's great, but there's a whole other range of options that are really just as valuable."  Being the glue that holds things together is one metaphor; I actually think of a really good Passive player (yes, it's a problematic term, but no, I can't think of another) as the grease that keeps the wheels turning.  So what I'd like to say to a shy or intimidated person is not, "Secondary roles are okay too," but "Secondary roles are essential.  Please be that way, if you're comfortable --- everyone will thank you for it!"

    If everyone's a prima donna, you've got a BIG problem; if everyone's a passive player, you've got a minor problem, not to mention a very rare one.  In your description here, just now, you point out that the prima donnas need to remember that there are other important things to do.  I'd like also to encourage the people who don't like to be that way in the first place.
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    Chris Lehrich
    Le Joueur
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    « Reply #3 on: February 04, 2003, 09:38:18 AM »

    Quote from: clehrich
    I guess it's the fact that Scattershot is deliberately pitched to be accessible to newcomers to the hobby.

    Ah yes, the 'line of products' problem.  See, all of the Approaches and Commitments information is for the 'Scattershot connoisseur.'  Each supplement will be targeted at just one Approach (and probably won't even use that terminology).  What I am designing with Scattershot is more of a 'kit' that allows me to design every game I can ever think of using the same Mechanix.

    Why?  Because I recognize that people often come to role-playing games from a direction not entirely suited to what they will find they like.  Many of them become entrenched in dysfunctional 'self-protective' mannerisms.  I hope to provide 'Advanced Scattershot' containing methods they can use to creep around the various Approaches until they find one they like.  (You'll have to do a search on "Transitional" or "Transition" with mine or Ron's name to get the 'big picture on how this could work.)

    I don't intend to put much, if any, of the 'high falutin' theory stuff in anything but the core books (and then only to discuss how to bring two Genre Expectations together - did you realize the Genre Expectation limits the game to usually a singular Approach? - definitely 'appendix' material).  What you are seeing here is the 'whole she-bang' in all its glory, all the smoke and mirrors, generators and frames.  I'm still a long way from figuring out how to 'put it all together' into the line of products I'm looking for.

    Quote from: clehrich
    If everyone's a prima donna, you've got a BIG problem; if everyone's a passive player, you've got a minor problem, not to mention a very rare one.  In your description here, just now, you point out that the prima donnas need to remember that there are other important things to do.  I'd like also to encourage the people who don't like to be that way in the first place.

    You know?  I'm going to have to expand on that point, but more over in the "Who's in Charge" concept cluster.  Thanks for the Tip.

    Fang Langford
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