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Author Topic: Monopoly: The Most Popular Roleplaying Game?  (Read 12726 times)
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2003, 10:52:01 PM »

Quote from: Ralph 'Valamir' Mazza
For a thing to exist it must be able to be defined.
It is impossible to define roleplaying games
Therefor role playing games do not exist.

For a conclusion to be true, 1) it must follow from the propositions and 2) the propositions must be true.

I am not convinced that there are not real things which we cannot define.

I am not convinced that it is impossible to define role playing games. Several people have offered definitions which settle the matter in their minds; others are stymied and don't think there can be a definition. By your presentation, that suggests that role playing games exist for some but not for others? Or is it still open as to whether it is possible to define them? Apart from that, the fact that we have thus far failed to define something does not prove it cannot be defined. We're still working on a definition of the universe; no definition thus far seems adequate for everyone. That doesn't mean it can't be defined--only that we have not yet resolved a definition. It's the same with our current situation in regard to role playing games: we haven't agreed upon a definition, but this doesn't mean it can't be defined.

I will admit that if the propositions are correct, the conclusion does follow from them. Mike's post went the wrong way on that. He should have posted something more like:

All cats are green.
Valamir is a cat.
Therefore, Valamir is green.

That would be of the same sort of argument as I think you've made--the conclusion follows quite solidly from the propositions, but the propositions are both in doubt.

--M. J. Young

M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2003, 10:52:48 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Nichol a.k.a. quozl
M.J.: Well, trivia game have no roles that I can see, so not ALL games are covered under this definition.

I'll admit that when I read this I didn't have an answer; and that this bothered me.

It occurred to me earlier today, when I received an e-mail telling me that someone had again posted to this thread, where the disconnect was. But it may take a bit of a story to convey it.

Before Trivial Pursuit existed, the leading trivia game was probably the Jeopardy Home Game. My gaming group used to play this, before D&D (we didn't stop this when D&D found us, but that's how long ago it was). I think perhaps when one played Jeopardy, one took the role of a contestant in a game show. The same could be said for any of the several other home game versions of television game shows, although Password was the only one I remember playing. (I told you we played all kinds of games.)

This may seem silly. It's a bit like saying when you play a game you take on the role of a player in that game. Yet that is exactly what you do when you play Monopoly, no more and no less: you take on the role of a player in a game.

All games are primarily abstract. Trivial Pursuit is a rules set which sets up certain objectives and means to attain them. Monopoly is a rules set which sets up certain objectives and means to attain them. The difference between the two is not that in the latter you play a role and in the former you do not. The difference is that in the latter the abstract concepts of the game are given an analogy to the concrete by a definition of that role to which we easily relate. What we are doing in the game is still entirely abstract. We are trading one form of game currency for another to improve our position such that we will be better able to acquire the first form of game currency to again use for the second, and so that we will similarly be able to take game currency away from our opponents. It is entirely abstract. We give color to it by dressing up the first currency as money and the second as real estate, and so using the analogy of land barons to describe what we're doing.

Trivial Pursuit does not have so accessible a role; yet it still has a role. We play trivia experts, attempting to prove our greater knowledge of worthless information against our opponents. The difference is not that this is not a role; it's that this role is not easily analogized to something more concrete. We don't have trivia expert as a natural role in our society.

To show the weakness of saying it is therefore not a role, consider an old episode of Sliders. Quinn Malory slid into a universe in which his duplicate was a great player in one of the world's great games, a wild combination of basketball, reversi, and trivia. In the game, a question would be asked with a multipart answer. The team had to pass the ball to a player who could answer that question, stepping from square to square on the board while giving each part, and ending in the square he wished to capture. Mallory was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the next great athlete in the sport, following in the footsteps of such previous greats as Carl Sagan.

Now, in that world, we could create a board game version of this sport. In it, who gets the ball would be decided perhaps by die roll or perhaps by clicker (the simple form of buzzer used in that Jeopardy game). He would then have to move his playing piece along the board while giving the parts of the answer, winding up on the desired square, and overturning the tokens between. In our world, this would be an extremely abstract game, and all you could say was that you were a player in that game; but in that other world, you would naturally see yourself taking the role of the athletes who play it on national television.

Thus I hold that in all games you "take a role" to the same degree to which you do so in Monopoly and Risk; the difference is solely whether that role relates easily to something concrete within our knowledge of the world. As long as you have game-based objectives which you have agreed to assume as your objectives in play, you are placing yourself in the role necessary to play that game.

And I have many, many times played Monopoly and never once thought of myself as playing a land baron. It was just a board game, and I just did what was necessary in play. I never called any of the other players "Mr. Trump" or "Mr. Top Hat" for that matter. I said, "Bob, you owe me $500 for landing on my property." The role we took was not more than players in a game.

--M. J. Young

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #32 on: April 18, 2003, 06:11:50 AM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
That would be of the same sort of argument as I think you've made--the conclusion follows quite solidly from the propositions, but the propositions are both in doubt.

Um, MJ, I gave the wrong correction intentionally because it seemed more humorous to me. I did that because I assumed that Ralph's statement was a joke. I still think that (did you see the smiley). This is also why I suggested that things had gotten silly, and that the thread was done.

Apparently I was wrong, however. The problem, Fang, is that the whole "that which isn't defined by other rules" clause is highly interperable. Nail that down (which apparently I didn't), and you might have something. Maybe the intent idea. So the statement would include something like "there being an intent to leave some area open to interperetation such that these rules regarding credibility and only these rules pertain to the resolution."

In any case, there will be deabte as to whether or not Baraon Munchausen "intends" for the region of play to be left open to interperetation by credibility, or if that's actually being decided by a rule (the rule that says to tell a story).


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Posts: 678

« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2003, 05:12:48 AM »

To those who think they can usefully define roleplaying games in
highly sepcific terms, woh would you classify En Garde, the classic
postal game of swashbuckling and social climbing in pre-revolutionary

You are playing a clearly defined character, yet you only have a very
specific set of actions available that are strictly adjudicated by the

I would say it is clearly a roleplaying game, yet it doesn't conform to
many of the deifnitions presented so far.

Simon Hibbs

Simon Hibbs
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