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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 127 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Escapists vs "Social" gamers  (Read 6225 times)
Thierry Michel
Member

Posts: 177


« on: February 11, 2003, 09:20:48 AM »

After reading a few threads, here and on RPGnet, about escapism and "genre", I've been thinking about something that I've rarely seen discussed about RPGs.  

The goal of many "non-gamers" games is to facilitate socializing with friends and allow one to discover facets of one's friends personalities that would not show in everyday interactions. The canonical example would be Scruples, where winning means guessing the answers to your fellow players to moral dilemmas (exploration of character, so to speak, but not yours).

While RPGS have many similarities with that style of gaming (after all, virtual dilemmas are common in them), the social part is conflicting with the "escapism" part. Being "in the story" though a carefully constructed alter-ego is quite a solitary, if not narcissistic, past-time.

[Yes, I'm caricaturing]
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2003, 09:45:56 AM »

Not to portray your post as a cariacature in response, but are you saying that RPGs are anti-social? Or that they just lack an interesting element present in other games?

Mike
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2003, 12:51:53 PM »

It seems to me that he's saying that the "escapism" elements of RPGs sort of preclude it from being a social activity. I guess. I can see it if you consider it as a social activity where everyone pretends to be somebody they are not. Then who are these people?

I don't think this is true of every game, or if this is really something that happens or is worth discussing. But maybe it is. *shrug*
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Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2003, 01:06:46 PM »

There's also the question of which facets of a player are represented in the character, and what it says about a player to portray a certain type of character. That can be pretty revealing, I think.
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Thierry Michel
Member

Posts: 177


« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2003, 02:23:39 PM »

What I'm saying is, more simply, that the elements that appeal to the escapist might conflict with the elements that would be please the social gamer.

Yes, to some extent, the fun is in seeing what your friends choose for characters and what things they can come up with but I'm not sure that the rules encourage or facilitate this.
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greyorm
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2003, 05:03:49 PM »

All RPG play is about escapism to some degree. Actually, all entertainment and any hobby is ultimately about escapism. Frex, anyone who reads a novel of any genre is participating in escapism.

So, I'm not sure what to make of this perceived distinction...that is, I don't see any value in it myself. Someone care to enlighten me?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
C. Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2003, 05:31:00 PM »

I believe Thierry is refering to games that have, say, a lot of directorial power or metagame issues.  Someone who considers escapism to be almost synonomous with "being someone else for a little while" might have issues with such games and not enjoy them.  Social players would, on the other hand, like the more "OOC" interaction allowed by the metagame and directorial possibilities that let them get to know the players and not the characters.

While I see the distinction, I think varying moods and a mix of preferances may over-ride any value the distinction might have beyond self-knowledge.

-Chris
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2003, 05:34:43 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
So, I'm not sure what to make of this perceived distinction...that is, I don't see any value in it myself. Someone care to enlighten me?

The distinction seems to be that for some it's an excuse to get together and socialize, like a poker game or going with your friends to the movies, any old movie.

For others, the game is for escapism.

I'm not sure what the purpose of this is, either, to be honest. I can see a, say, dungeon crawl game where the players do a lot, and I mean a lot of out-of-game chatter and rolling they dice when their initiative comes up. In this case, the game is just an excuse to get together. While that's all well and good, this is not especially useful for us because in this case, the players really aren't playing the game. Not seriously, at any rate. It has been suggested that such players can play a lethally incoherent system with no problems because they're not really there to play the game.

Or such is my view on it.
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Green
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Posts: 247


« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2003, 06:51:30 PM »

Quote
What I'm saying is, more simply, that the elements that appeal to the escapist might conflict with the elements that would be please the social gamer.


I'm not exactly sure what to make of your dichotomy.  It seems you are talking about the purpose of roleplaying from an OOC POV.  However, if you only draw the line at escapism vs. socializing, I think you could be ignoring other elements that could be there as well.  In my experience, the two mesh quite well if they are aware of each other, and if they take the same enjoyment out of the same types of games.  Also in my personal experience, I have often felt out of sync with other players because my goals in roleplaying were different from escapism vs. socializing.  I tend to use roleplaying as a way to express, develop, and explore certain ideas and as an exercise in empathy for different types of people.  I have had the most difficulty roleplaying with people who feel uncomfortable with or afraid of certain ideas.
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arxhon
Member

Posts: 254


« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2003, 09:04:15 PM »

I think that most people play for both reasons. It's great to pretend to be a powerful wizard or Luke Skywalker for a few hours every week or two.

It's also a great way to hang out with your buddies and have a good time. IC, OOC, it isn't really important. What IS important is that you are playing a game with some friends, much like Monopoly or poker.

Roleplaying in a group is inherently a social activity. It's not really something you can do by yourself.

I would like to contrast this with online roleplaying games (if i may be a heretic for a moment). Everquest, is in my opinion, actually quite anti-social, and pure escapism. There is simulated contact with people, not real contact, and from what i've seen, most EQ players get so wrapped up in EQ that they will ignore all else around them, and will skip class/work in order to escape.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2003, 09:38:58 PM »

Quote from: arxhon
I would like to contrast this with online roleplaying games (if i may be a heretic for a moment).

I don't think pointing out that a computer game is not an RPG is heretical at all.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2003, 12:29:12 AM »

It was not so long ago that I recognized, contrary to what is suggested here, that (real) role playing games are an intensely social activity. A group of people come together and relate to each other in the process of creating an imaginary group of people who also relate to each other. In some ways, the interactions of the one are a mirror on the other. In some ways each is a place in which people can experiment with social interactions. We can do things at the table which involve our relationships with each other; we can have our characters do things in the games which involve their relationships with each other. It is social interaction examining social interaction. I imagine many gamers have learned more about how to relate to people through gaming than they realize, both by testing such things in the game and by getting together with the friends with whom they play.

I know one guy who has been accused of using his games to psyche people, to figure out what makes them tick and how to manipulate them in real life. The social aspects of role playing games should not be undervalued.

--M. J. Young
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Thierry Michel
Member

Posts: 177


« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2003, 04:37:41 AM »

Just to clarify a point. I'm not thinking of out-of-game chat etc. I'm thinking specifically of the (lack of) elements in rpgs that reward exploring each other's personality or group dynamics.

For instance, consider a simple example : each player creates his/her own character because "what fun would it be to play somebody you don't like ?"  

But the other players might be interested in making you play someone different from your habitual persona, just to see how you do it, or how you would react to their ideas for you, etc. and they might also be interested in seeing what ideas you would come up with for them to play. So I can see the rationale, from a "social gaming" viewpoint, of allowing players to interfere with each other's characte'rs creation.
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Thierry Michel
Member

Posts: 177


« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2003, 04:44:28 AM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
In some ways each is a place in which people can experiment with social interactions. We can do things at the table which involve our relationships with each other; we can have our characters do things in the games which involve their relationships with each other.


Yes, that's what I had in mind.

To drift a little, I find it strange how some simple parlour games can tap this vein to appeal to non-gamers (and lots of them women) while gamer's games such as RPGs don't.
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Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2003, 12:59:06 PM »

Quote from: Tierry
Just to clarify a point. I'm not thinking of out-of-game chat etc. I'm thinking specifically of the (lack of) elements in rpgs that reward exploring each other's personality or group dynamics.


I think I know what your getting at here.  Something like a RPG in which you make a character and another player has to play that character.  Soem friends of mine did something similar with magic one time.  We each made a deck that we thought was really terrible, but still playable and then gave that deck to our opponent.  The winner of the tournament was the erson whose deck got pounded on the worst.

I'm not sure how many RPGs encourage player to player interaction over character to character interaction, but there are a few.  Some allow player to player interaction such as dice sharing (ie. The Pool).  Then there are games like Universalis that allow you to establish rules outside the game world, like being able to spend a token to make Mike go get you a pop.

Are there any others that I'm forgetting?

,Matt G.
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