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Sim Essay: reading the book is the start of play?

Started by Jack Spencer Jr, February 04, 2003, 02:10:07 PM

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M. J. Young

Quote from: Jack Spencer JrI could see making dinner including going to the store to buy the necessary food items, but I cannot see shopping as cooking. It's shopping!
Ah, but playing bridge includes both the auction phase and the play phase (and the scoring phase, too, for that matter). Pinochle also includes the meld phase. The game doesn't stop, because it takes many hands to determine the winner. Thus play is play, but auction, meld, and scoring are also play.

Given the number of kids I've known who sat around in school rolling up characters and creating character backgrounds, it's hard to imagine that character generation is not play, even if it's not roleplay at that instant. I've been guilty of this myself, in a different context. I've spent many hours creating the cities, the NPCs, the dungeons, the scenarios of the worlds I run, and I've also spent a great deal of out-of-game time analyzing character abilities for use in play. Anyone outside the hobby would recognize that those activities are "playing", as much as a model railroader is playing when he drools over the catalogues to determine what to buy next, or draws up track layouts for his next setup; as much as a golfer is "playing" when he stops at the driving range to improve his swing.

I'm not against refining the terminology; however, as I said, I'm not sure how you could refine it without having to tell a lot of people the same song we've heard with so many other words: "When we say X, we mean Y, and not Z." As Alice said to Humpty Dumpty, the question is whether you can make words mean whatever you please. Jargon has the advantage and the disadvantage that it improves communication between those who know the jargon at the expense of those who do not. Thus I think it better simply to leave "play" with the ordinary vague meaning and specify when posting exactly what you mean by it if it matters.

--M. J. Young

Ian Charvill

After reading through this thread it occured to me that it isn't only simulationists for whom character creation is part of play.

A certain kind of gamist, for whom min-maxing is important, has definitely started play before the session begins.
Ian Charvill

Ron Edwards

Hi folks,

That's a good point, Ian, and clearly equivalents exist for Narrativist play as well.

I think M. J.'s last post nailed it for me - most of this issue centers around the semantics of the term "to play." If it's to be cognitively engaged regarding role-playing this game, then fine; if it's to be indeed role-playing this game with others, then fine - but let's not keep goin' round 'nd round the by-now-obvious insight that some folks like to use the term one way, and others like to use it the other.

I'm not real happy with the confusion that people seem to be experiencing regarding (1) reading the book, (2) scenario/character creation and other prep, and (3) role-playing face-to-face with System in full cry. Most of the protectiveness expressed so far about "real play" seems to be about #2, whereas my point in the essay concerned #1 vs. #3.

I can't see much more point to continuing the thread. If someone really wants to address some sub-topic of it, perhaps a new thread is the best way to go.