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Author Topic: Audience  (Read 5020 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« on: October 17, 2001, 06:34:00 AM »

We can continue this discussion here. I propose the following as a definition for Audience behavior. This definition tries to acknowledge Ron's version of the stance definition.

Audience Behavior, is the "non-stance" if you will. If a stance is the angle from which a player makes the decisions for their character, then Audience Behavior is to not have a stance. That is refusing to make decisions at all for the character.

Now, lest Ron accuse me of creating something that has no objective reality, I have players (who I don't like playing with) who are this way. Agaain, this is a behavior, and they will not do this all the time. But the following is a RL example of Audience Behavior.

Me: Hey Frank (name changed to protect the innocent), is your character going along?

Frank: Well, I suppose so.

Me: What do you mean? Why is your character going?

Frank: Well, maybe he won't then.

Me: Well, make a choice.

Frank: Whatever you think is best.

Note that Frank still hung around and seemed at least somewhat interested in what transpired. Frank rolled dice when asked to. But all Frank seemed really interested in was being entertained.

This is Audience Behavior. A player actually refusing to participate in making decisions for their character, or in other words refusing to adopt any stance.

The usual GM reaction (mine at least) is to just make the decisions for the player, so that the game can continue. Note that a GM can force players into an effective Audience mode by not allowing them to make decisions. I've seen this too.

Me: My character tries to look intimidating.

GM: Your character skips along in a silly fashion.

Me: Huh?

GM: It's just funnier that way.

So, I refuse to make any more decisions for my character that evening, and never play that game again. But that's not to say that there might be people who might theoretically like that sort of thing, and will participate as much as allowed to.

Mike

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-10-17 10:42 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2001, 06:56:00 AM »

Hey,

I agree with Mike that we are discussing something that exists. I am arguing that it is not a Stance, and that anyone who may have thought that "Stance" means "something done during role-playing" is using too broad a definition.

I also want to correct Mike's usage slightly, and I also take the blame for it. Stance is REALLY about more than JUST a character's actions. A quick look at Director Stance will confirm that it also includes the possibility of affecting the world relative to the character, most especially things that the character is unaware of.

Therefore a person (a real one) engaged in role-playing who kibitzes during a scene involving someone else's character, suggesting (a) an action for the character to do or (b) a circumstance in which the character is embroiled, is respectively in co-Author or Director Stance.

I want to make sure that role-playing that DOES influence "the world" is recognized as the Stance it is. I also want to make sure that just because someone's "official" character is not in a scene does not mean that player cannot be taking a Stance.

Therefore, when we talk about this Audience thing, I would like to see proposed definitions that do not overlap with these established, recognized, already-existing definitions.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2001, 07:13:00 AM »

Hmmm...I see why you have restated the definition in order to get Director in. And rightly so. So Stance is the manner in which you are creative in the game relative to your character? Director stance saying that you are not considering the character at all because you are working with something outside the character. OK, I can buy that. It's use, of course, comes in trying to decide what sort of mechanics facilitate a Stance in order that it be enjoyably used (what we refer to as Directorial Power, or Authorial Power, etc). But still, Audience in this case is still interesting. One might investigate how to better make for Audience enjoyment mechanically. Audience Power is, as I've defined it absurd. But you might have mechanics that lead to Audience enjoyment.

I'm starting to agree with Ralph, here. I'd still call Audience a Non-Stance, but it's still worth discussing in the same context quite often. Essentially if I say that a player in a certain circumstance is in Audience Stance, I'd just be saying that the player refuses to take one of the other stances. Would that be acceptable?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2001, 07:59:00 AM »

Whoa Mike, I think your fingers are getting ahead of you just a little.

ONE
"So Stance is the manner in which you are creative in the game relative to your character? Director stance saying that you are not considering the character at all because you are working with something outside the character."

The above two sentences are contradictory. I agree with the first but not the second - you DO consider the character in Director Stance, but you are able to influence his environment and circumstances rather than just his decisions and motor movements. The scale of that influence can be pretty broad. (Just for Universalis people, "world components" are characters for purposes of this discussion.)

"But still, Audience in this case is still interesting. One might investigate how to better make for Audience enjoyment mechanically."

Sure, but it's not a Stance.

"I'm starting to agree with Ralph, here. I'd still call Audience a Non-Stance, but it's still worth discussing in the same context quite often."

With respect, you are not agreeing with Ralph at all. You are agreeing with me. This "thing" is not a Stance, but it is worth discussing. That's been my position all along. Ralph's position, last stated, is to acknowledge that (a) it is NOT a Stance, and then to ask (b) why can't the definition of Stance be expanded to include it.

My call, at this point, is for someone PLEASE to tell me what we are talking about. What is the "it" that people are referring to, when they say "Audience Stance?" And please, no itses that are actually extreme forms of Author or Director are valid for this purpose.

Best,
Ron

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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2001, 08:05:00 AM »

The only form of "Audience Stance" I can think of is during an InSpectres Confessional, where the rules state that Player A takes center stage and talks to the other players as if they were a TV audience.

Other than that, "Audience Stance" is bogus. It's not role-playing...it's asking where the Cheetos and the Mountain Dew are located in your friend's house. Being an audience is a form of passive entertainment. Stance is all about action.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2001, 08:52:00 AM »

OK, can we all agree on something like the following?

Players have behaviors in RPGs. Some of those behaviors are Stances, such that Stances involve making decisions (and are differentiated with regards to the players relationship to his character in relation to the decision made; Ron's definition, anyway). Within the subset of other behaviors is Audience behavior, being defined as simply observing the game and not assuming a Stance.

My agreement with Ralph is that the Stance definition seems to be getting less and less useful, and that the discussion should potentially move to the discussion of all behaviors such as I have things organized above.

For example, I could say to Jared:

Yeah, we seem to agree that audience behavior sucks when uncontroled. But it seems to be very appropriate when enforced in certian circumstances as in the case of Confessionals (which you so eloquently point out). I wonder if we can find other ways to extend the usefulness of this behavior? Sometimes less is more. Or at least to influence the behavior and move people into actual stances when required.

Mike

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-10-17 13:00 ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2001, 09:02:00 AM »

Hey Mike,

I'm with you so far. I differ insofar that I think discussion of Stance AS Stance IS useful, for its purposes. But I do agree that there are many behaviors during a role-playing session that are important that are not Stance. At the very least, moderating one's use of Python jokes would be one of them, or knowing when a joke supports the group effort rather than disrupts it.

As I've said many times, there's a lot more to GNS than Stance. I think the all-inclusive set of role-playing activities that we are talking about doesn't need a name or category - it's just "what people do," of which Stance is obviously one big King-Hell candidate.

If we want to talk about what ELSE people are doing, that's cool too, and I'm more than happy to talk about it. For the record, and to no one's surprise, I think that these other behaviors play into GNS and into social-reinforcement or disruption of the group activity, in rather apparent and unsurprising ways.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2001, 09:13:00 AM »

Ron,

As a note regarding the OOC joking that goes on, we used to have a social mechanic called the pun fund. Those making puns had to donate a quarter to the fund which was then used to purchase pizza. Interestingly this backfired, because the presence of the fund (and potentially the pizza reward) actually worked to produce more awareness of the idea of making puns, and therefore more puns.

I mention this as an example of a failed mechanic for moderating an odious behavior.  :smile:

Anybody got one that works? Besides giving the player the old heave-ho?

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2001, 09:27:00 AM »

Hey,

It all comes down to disruptive vs. reinforcing, doesn't it? I've found that many game sessions can have an enormous amount of OOC joking, ribbing, kibitzing, and off-topic references - and still be awesome, powerful, and engaging role-playing experiences. All the "extra" stuff is the group's way of reinforcing and expressing excitement about what IS going on. I, for one, find the dour and must-focus, must-think-of-world-only approach to role-playing to be often pretty depressing.

I believe I've expressed previously that truly disruptive behavior is intolerable and, as it is usually performed by someone who knows EXACTLY what he is doing, can be dealt with brutally and personally. But reinforcing behavior of any kind, as long as it is socially recognized as such by the people involved, is great with me. Sometimes that Python joke really does nail the in-play situation to a T, and wraps our attention further into it when we're done snickering.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2001, 09:28:00 AM »

I think I'd like to take a stab at describing what we mean when we refer to this thing we're sort of calling 'Audience Stance.'

Jarred was right about the pass me the Cheetos and the Moutain Dew but I don't think he was 100% right about it being completely passive.  I'm a very active Audience.  When I read a book or what a TV show I'm constantly making 'decisions.'  Those decisions are mostly value judgements of some kind.  I've 'decided' that this scene was well written or that character X made the right choice or that action K annoyed me.

In a roleplaying context I think Audience Stance consists of all these decisions that the Player doesn't actually act on.  In a gamist context there might be a combat going on in which this Player is not involved but yet he watches it intensely.  Inside, he thinks, 'Now at this point I would have cast Hold Person.' or 'Damn!  Why didn't Frank use his healing potion on that last action.' but ultimately he doesn't act or say anything.  At least not anything that effects the world.  After the fight is over he may offer his insights but by this point it's too late to have any impact on the game.

So to me Audience Stance is an internal decision making process consisting largely of value judgements which never manifest any impact on the game world only retroactive speculation and commentary.

How's that?

Jesse
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2001, 09:40:00 AM »

I'm a very active Audience. When I read a book or what a TV show I'm constantly making 'decisions.' Those decisions are mostly value judgements of some kind. I've 'decided' that this scene was well written or that character X made the right choice or that action K annoyed me.

I could care less about what people think. I could have the best idea in the world but if I don't act on it, I might as well be doing nothing, right? So while I agree that you do react when you're in Audience mode, you don't act -- and acting is what Stance is all about: what is the level of involvement between the player and the game. Just like you don't call a 5-speed blender a 6-speed because it has an "off" setting, you don't call audience a stance. Just like the blender, it's just the "off" setting.
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Laurel
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2001, 11:38:00 AM »

To take what I said above in Roles & Stances, and fit it into this on-going conversation *s*, I think its valuable to add a specific term for non-stance player involvement in games, such as role.  This will provide the opportunity to explore what kinds of roles people participate in during an RPG game beyond the obvious (GM, player) and what behaviors within each role seem to help or hinder gameplay, and why.

Laurel
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Valamir
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2001, 07:20:00 PM »

See, this is exactly what I was talking about.  How much bandwidth is being used to decide whether Audience is or isn't a Stance.  I see alot of time debating it and not yet a good reason as to why such distinction is necessary.  Its like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  Great for generating discussion, but to what end?

What is Stance?  To me its any attitude or affectation a player takes towards the game he is playing while he is playing it.  Thats where I see utility in the definition (more on this below).

I hear people saying "Stance is about ACTION, Audience doesn't have action therefor it isn't a Stance".  Come again?  WHY is Stance about Action.  What is being gained by limiting this category only to ACTIVE player attitudes and affectations.  Conversely what is lost by includeing ALL such attitudes and affectations.

In my mind there are myriad ways for a player to interact with the game.  Each of these is a stance.  Actor is a means of interacting with the game through what the character is capable of without metagame influence.  Author is a means of interacting with the game through what the character is capable of with metagame influence.  Director is a means of interacting with a game without being limited to character capabilities.  Audience is also a means of interacting with a game.  It just happens to be one where the player is recieving and not transmitting.  Sure the "interaction" is "one way" and that makes it different then the others.  Different enough to not be includeable in the category of Stance?  So far I've yet to see a reason why.

As a Stance is Audience Stance useful or is it "bogus"?  Well, I'd say its probably the easiest stance to get into (then probably Author, Actor, and Director in that order).  Being the easiest stance it is perhaps to be expected that it is the Stance that people will retreat to when they're bored or just not interested, because it requires the least amount of effort or involvement.  Thus, perhaps, it has come to be looked down upon as bad.  It isn't "really roleplaying" because often the people who choose to use it are trying to escape from having to roleplay too hard.

However, can it have legitimate uses?  To be sure.  Contracycle had one that spurred my interest in the thread, that of the GM delivering the backstory.  Jared explained how he actually formalized the use of Audience stance in InSpectres.  Sometimes its simply the stance you use when you're willing to keep your mouth shut and let someone else have the lime light and call the shots for awhile.  And yeah, sometimes its the stance you wind up in because the sessions just gone on way too long and its all you can do to just stay awake, let alone participate.

I don't think times when the GM is leading your character around like a puppet is Audience Stance (save perhaps when that is part of the initial backstory [i.e. "you are all prisoners in a dungeon" Frederick has just been beaten for attempting to escape"]...an interesting topic to discuss).  

To me Audience stance is when the player is recieving information about what is occuring in the game without transmitting anything back into the game.

I'm sure if we thought about it we could find examples of "abuse" of all of the other Stances.  Heck the reason why Director Stance pretty much requires a Social Contract is because its easy to abuse.  So sure there are those who use Audience as a cop out or a form of disruption.  Because its such an easy Stance to use its likely also easier to misuse.  But that fact alone does not "invalidate it" as a stance.

So what if its not the same as the other Stances, what is gained by shunting it off into a list of "other behaviors that exist but aren't stances"...what's the point of even having such a list.  Thats my whole question WHY have two seperate lists when one will suffice.  Thats just adding complexity without adding value (again, no value that *I* see.  I'm waiting for someone to show me where the value of two seperate lists vs one lies).

When the rubber hits the road players are playing the game.  Not talking about it, not designing it, not critiqueing it...playing it (and I know Ron agrees with this which is why he's been pushing so hard to get activity in the Actual Play forum).

When we play there are certain attitudes we take on how we as players are relating to our characters, the game mechanics, the game world, and the metagame environment.  As far as I'm concerned ALL of those attitudes are Stances.  And if this violates some age old definition of Stance as developed in some 50 post thread back in 1999 in some other forum...so what.  Until someone can tell me why the more limited, less inclusive, more narrow definition of Stance increases its utility as an analytical tool, I'm more than willing to throw that definition out and come up with a more useful one.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2001, 07:58:00 AM »

Hi Ralph,

Laurel has presented a point of view which makes sense to me, in the first post on the Roles & Stances thread.

It may be that Laurel's assessment and yours will simply have to stand as differing outlooks. I can see what you are saying, but your point is based - as far as I can tell - on a call for a full redefinition of Stance. I know you've called for a justification of the view I've presented, and that is valid - but again, Laurel's statement, for me, provides that justification.

If we can't get past endlessly stating (1) "I want to talk about ANY behavior during play and call it Stance," and (2) "Stance is a set of in-game-influencing behaviors, nested within the general set of behaviors," then we can't get past it. We'll have to live with different views.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2001, 09:57:00 AM »

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