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Author Topic: People We Like to Game with Are People Like Us  (Read 6047 times)
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« on: September 23, 2003, 03:46:40 PM »

I haven't seen anyone do this before, so I apolgize if I'm breaking a Forge convention.

The discussion of "women" and settings and the uselessness (in my view) of talking of "women's" taste reminded me of this artcle I read a couple of weeks ago in the Atlantic Monthly.  I highly recomend it.

I think the interesting implications are clear, but a discussion might be justfied.

http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/09/brooks.htm

Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2003, 04:48:13 PM »

Hmmmm.

Yes and no.  I must be an elf!

This really struck me:

Quote

It's likely that hiring committees would subtly—even unconsciously—screen out any such people they encountered. Republicans and evangelical Christians have sensed that they are not welcome at places like Brown, so they don't even consider working there.
[snip]
...in a semi-self-selective pattern, brainy people with generally liberal social mores flow to academia, and brainy people with generally conservative mores flow elsewhere.


He notes that most college professors are liberal, and the above is his conclusion.  How many brainy conservatives are actually TRYING to get jobs at these places?  Is it because the 'liberals' won't hire them, or is it because the 'conservatives' don't want to be surrounded by liberals?  Or because the 'conservatives' don't value the low pay but high job satisfaction of being a teacher or a professor?

The article is right that we are self-segregating.  I disagree with the conclusions as to why, but I do agree that it's unfortunate.

Separate but equal is neither.  :/
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Eric J.
Member

Posts: 396


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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2003, 05:08:31 PM »

I'm betting that this topic will be nerfed unless it provides a focus on RPG Theory.

In any case, I would like to agree with AnyaTheBlue.  I like some of the reasoning earlier in the article.  However, I disagree with its conclusions.

I care about living in a culturally diverse community.  However, culture extends beyond skin color, which is something people don't seem to get.  With respect to culture, I believe that the United States allows for cultural diversity, which is really the only thing it can do.  Here in Hicksville (Lincoln, Nebraska) we have cultural festivals, just as I'm sure everywhere else does.  There was a Greek one last week and I'm planning on attending a Renaisance(I wrote a 10 page report on this and I STILL can't spell it.  {Sigh}) fair this weekend (with some fellow Roleplayers).

I better finish up writing this before the topic is nerfed.

Again, there are several conclusions that I don't really get.

Point:
College proffesors are generally liberal.
If this shocks you...um...

Point:
A large part of the acedemic world is not made up of evangelical Christians.
Could there be an alternate reason for this?  Um...


I also believe that being concervative restricts one's enterance to the acedamia portion of society...

Oh, well.  As a liberal pro-death (pun intended, geeze) white, non- Evangelical Christian I should have a free ride into Universities.  At least that's good to know.
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AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2003, 05:27:31 PM »

ObRPG Content/anti-Nerf shielding...

This is directly relevant to the general topic of Social Contract, culturally diverse gaming groups, and gender-inclusive gaming groups.

I think it's fascinating that gay men playing men of indeterminate sexuality seem to 'blend' into 'standard' gaming groups more easily than, say, women playing either male or female characters, or men playing female characters.

I think the 'seperate but equal' drive to surround oneself with others who mirror yourself is part of the reason this is so.  Differences are okay, as long as they are 'ignorable' differences that don't make themselves uncomfortably present.

Having people who challenge your beliefs be present and unignorable is a social dilemma.  Most people game for fun.  When having fun, dealing with social dilemma is frequently hard work, and affects our ability to have fun.

I think there's a split here between 'Casual'/'Munchkin' RPG play and 'Socially Mature' RPG play.  Socially Mature play is frequently about evoking social dilemmas for fun.  That's not everybody's bag, though.  And even here, it's about invoking social dilemmas in a 'safe' and 'controlled' environment, where you have direct influence on the intesity of the process through meta-game social dynamics.

Or something like that.
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2003, 06:13:53 PM »

Well, leaving aside whatever one thinks about politics and academia, let's turn to RPGs.

Ron said to me last week that he always tells people that their best gaming group is one degree removed from them.  That is, who you know is who you out to be playing with.

Think about how counter-intuitive that is to the *assumptions* of gathering a gaming group, which usually involved: posting at the game store, going to chat groups, and so on.  The asssumption is, you'd never actually play with the people you'd know, you'd only play with utter strangers. And why would you play with utter strangers?  Because they play games.

The assumption is: that's enough.  That somehow, despite the fact you might have nothing else in common with who these strangers are, the fact that you all want to play games is enough to pull together a group that's going to work.

I have come to disagree with the tactic.  It fails for me because the truth is, the rules between a RPG book are not enough to bind an actual social group.  A social group binds a social group.  Who people are, what they care about, how they interact with people, their education, energy, what kinds of habits are acceptable and not acceptable go far beyond the scope of an interest in RPGs.

One only need surf the threads of RPG.net to find countless examples of people apparently being driven insane by fellow gamers they think they have to game with but, aside from the need to fill seats at the table, would never, ever associate with outside of those circumstances.

This is an issue of social contract, and this is central to a lot of the threads that occur here at the Forge.

To bring it back to the article, then, and so back to conservatives and academia: Dana suggested that conservatives might not be willing to work in lower paying, but "satisfying" jobs.  But the social environment has a lot to do with the satisfaction of any situation.  (Again, see the RPG.net threads.)  It'd be nice to think that a great teacher could teach in a vacuum... But I've got a lot of friends in academia, and I can guarantee you, the job doesn't stop at the classroom door.  Who you're going to have to go to meetings with, who's going to confront you with another damned arguement in the hall, who's going to be setting up guest speakers that match the views of the views of the current majority because funds are limited and well, no one really wants to hear the woman speak who you'd love to come in as a guest this month... Is all going to affect whether or not you're experience is satisfying as a teacher.

It's the same with RPGs.  Once doesn't just interact with people on the roll of the dice.  Satisfaction is more than a matter of having played an RPG.  Satisfaction is going to come from having spent time, for better or for worse, that on some level, we enjoy because they share concerns, values and habits we have.  The issues that are focused on, the style of play, how decisions are negotiated among the players about resolution, plot points and so on will all be brought about *because* of who is at the table.

And, having been with people I simply don't get, I can tell you, it really doesn't matter that I'm getting to play an RPG. We're people first, and who we are as people will determine, really, what we're going to be doing and how we're going to react to the evening.

Christopher

PS

Because some people might jump in here without actually reading the article but only these posts, please note that there no shock in the article that most of academia is liberal.  And there are, of course, evangelical christians in academia.  The article makes it clear they hang out together, at their own schools, rather than applying for jobs at Brown.  So there's no need to rush onto those matters.

As I noted at the start, this is in part a response to the "Women"/Setting thread. My point: there are no "Women".  There are many sub-groups of people, mixing along countless categories.  Trying to find the killer ap of RPGs is like trying to find the killer ap for "Women" movies.  You won't make a movie that appeals to "Women."  You'll end up making a movie that appeals to women who like "Women's Movies" -- which is not at all all women.
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Lemonhead, The Shield
AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2003, 06:44:32 PM »

Lots of good points, Christopher!

In my experience, no, just because everybody games is not enough to bind a social group long term to get deep, satisfying play, generally.

However, I moved around a lot as a kid.  I gamed with my younger brother lots as we grew, as well as with both his and my friends (mostly my guy friends, but not always).  Generally, there was strong overlap between my geeky friends, and my geeky gaming friends.  This may be a side effect of having started gaming in 81, and having graduated college in 92 (I'm old).

Generally, I didn't game with all my friends.  But I didn't by and large game with complete strangers, either.

When I did game with complete strangers, it was usually either because someone whom I was a friend with was friends with that person, or because I had just moved somewhere, and people I had met otherwise (in class, or whatever) were gamers -- generally there was some previous context.

The most satisfying gaming comes from gaming with people you know fairly well, I'll certainly give you that.  But it doesn't completely invalidate using gaming to get to know people.  It's another arena of socializing, just like 'going to a club' or 'going to see a movie' or 'watching a video' or 'hanging out at the arcade' or whatever.

There are two big glaring counter-example to all this, for me.  In Jr. High (in Minnesota), and then again in High School (in Nevada) I joined the school sanctioned 'D&D' clubs.  In both cases, I didn't know anybody there.  Interestingly enough, there were two other girls in the club in Jr. High.  I was pretty much solo in High School (although the original founder of the club's girlfriend would game with the rest of us on an infrequent basis).

In both those situations, it was interesting.  The initial gaming sessions were sort of 'get to know you' sessions, where lots of informal Social Contract negotiations took place, and there was jockeying to determine who was going to DM and how the groups would get split up.

Very very different from the gnashing and wailing of teeth that you hear over on RPG.net.  Instead of everybody bringing their fixed and immovable positions to the table, there was an actual dialog and hashing out of who would go where, play with which sub-group, and what stuff people wanted to see.  If someone was not having a good time, they excluded themselves from the game.  And as you gamed, you got to know one another.  And it lead to doing stuff with each other (gasp) Out of Game, In the Real World!  We ended up all socializing not just in the game, but outside of it, too, which provided it's own sort of social contract feedback loop.

So while I agree with Ron's point, I also think that there's more than one way to skin a cat =)

Then again, maybe I've just been incredibly lucky.  And, too, maybe it's different being a 'gaming girl' in this respect.  I don't think so, though.
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2003, 07:10:54 PM »

Hi Dana,

Let me offer quickly that an interest in RPG is not valueless for determining shared interests.  It's *one* axis for determining compatability.  The fact that you all ended up doing things outside of the game suggests that you lucked out found a good group of friends through gaming.  That's a certain possibility. I'm saying, gaming *despite* social difference is where the craziness comes in.

OH, and let me add... A friend of my friend is often my friend, and not my idea of a complete stranger at all.

Christopher

PS 92?  Old?  Pshaw!
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2003, 07:41:40 PM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik

Let me offer quickly that an interest in RPG is not valueless for determining shared interests.


Absolutely.  That was one of my muddled points, actually (although I'm not sure if I made it, or made it clearly).

Quote from: Christopher

I'm saying, gaming *despite* social difference is where the craziness comes in.


I completely agree with this, too.  Sorry, I think I must have actually missed your point.  Gah.  Y'know, posting here on the Forge is a little intimidating.  I'm glad I'm drugged up today and my inhibitions are down.

Quote from: Christopher

OH, and let me add... A friend of my friend is often my friend, and not my idea of a complete stranger at all.


Also a good point.

I guess the thing I was trying to hash out in my uber-post was that in the groups of strangers I've started up gaming groups with, there was generally a sort of informal, but still fairly deliberate, sorting out of mutual shared interest and game focus social contract issues before gaming started, a process which continued at least through the first few sessions of actual gaming.  I was lucky, in both of the times I really did this, that there was a large enough group of people so that mixing and matching was possible and most of us were conscious and mature enough to actually do this self-sorting intelligently and with purpose.

In high school, there were probably two or three games with five or six core players each going simultaneously, and with a generally larger ephemeral cloud of 'drop-in' players who we would all game with, but who weren't committed (largest single session was 13 simultaneous players, 1 DM, all with characters in the 10-15 level range -- heavy Gam/Sim focussed D&D with a light frosting of Nar.  Lots of Pawn stance, occasional Author stance (I think I'm using all those terms right)).  DM-ship tended to rotate in each group between two or three players on an irregular basis (this was all AD&D1e), and the larger group served as a sort of staging area for the subselection of more 'intimate' infrequent gaming subgroups where deeper, better matched play and non-game socialization happened.

In both cases the DMs were sort of self selected, set the tone for their games, and tended to accrete a set of mutually amenable players, with a few notable exceptions (cough...Vraknid...cough)
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
John Kim
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Posts: 1805


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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2003, 08:16:54 PM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
  The assumption is: that's enough.  That somehow, despite the fact you might have nothing else in common with who these strangers are, the fact that you all want to play games is enough to pull together a group that's going to work.

I have come to disagree with the tactic.  It fails for me because the truth is, the rules between a RPG book are not enough to bind an actual social group.  A social group binds a social group.  Who people are, what they care about, how they interact with people, their education, energy, what kinds of habits are acceptable and not acceptable go far beyond the scope of an interest in RPGs.  

I'm a little divided on this.  On the one hand, sure it's fun to socialize with friends you already know.  My current Vinland campaign is made up of primarily people known outside of gaming.  On the other hand, it's also fun to game with strangers and thus meet new people and their ideas.  I recently had a lot going to my first gaming convention in years (Con*Quest), and two of the people I met there have now joined in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer campaign my friend is GMing -- which has restarted it after a several-month hiatus.  

I was involved in gaming clubs in both college and grad school, and I found both to be very rewarding.  A good club means that it is visible and open to new players, which hopefully means regularly meeting new folk.  In contrast, playing with friends can be rather cliqueish.  Having had trouble finding people to play with in the past, I respect being visible and open to new players who are strange to you.  

I think this is the same as in many other specialized activities: theater, poetry, script-writing, a capella singing, folk dancing, etc.  The people you directly know may not be into those things.  Thus, you may find it more rewarding to organize a club to find other people with similar interests.  

I agree that not any random set of gaming club members will form a good group for a campaign.  However, going to the club may help you meet new people who share your interests, who may go on to become your friends outside of gaming.  I have many long-time friends who I got to know through gaming.  

I should note that since leaving grad school, I haven't had much success with gaming clubs.  I tried going to several, but didn't find anyone particularly compatible gaming-wise.  I have had more success with other methods, such as meeting people online or at conventions.
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- John
Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2003, 10:16:41 PM »

Hi Dana,

Nothing muddled in your post as far as I could see.  You simply made me clarify my points before others actually become muddled. Thanks.

Hi John,

I understand your concern, but your actually trying to hold open a door I'm not trying to close.  The thread is not called, "People We Like to Game with are People We Already Know."  Its called, "People We Like to Game with Are People Like Us."  We like playing games.  People who like games are people like us.  Voila!  Going to a game con is a good idea.

You quoted this from my post:

"...despite the fact you might have nothing else in common with who these strangers are, the fact that you all want to play games is enough to pull together a group that's going to work.  I have come to disagree with the tactic. It fails for me because the truth is, the rules between a RPG book's covers are not enough to bind an actual social group."

(Emphasis just added.)

Games are good.  Games are good at joining people together who like to play games.  Meeting new people is good.  Playing games with new people is good.

I'm just saying that a bond at the table in the basement isn't enough to make a socially functional group.  And a socially functional group is what's going to provide a really great time.  And I don't mean you have to marry these people.  I'm just saying that if I attended a meeting of a screenwriting group and everyone is a man working out their own variaion of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with women replacing the rolls for all the victimes -- (full disclosure: never saw it, don't wanna) -- I'd tiptoe quietly out.  That's all.  The fact that we all wanted to write screenplays would not be enough to keep me there.  They had found each other.  I'd be on the road again looking.

And, again, this thread is in a response to our malpropic friend from Italy's attempt to find the killer ap setting for "women."  My point still stands in the example in the last paragraph.  You can't win "women."  You can only win *some* women who happen to like the thing your pushing.  I don't need to see TCM.  Some guys love it.  We're all guys.  Does that movie appeal to guys? Or doesn't appeal to guys.  Well, it appeals to the guys who it appeals to.  That's all.

The added bonus of this thread is that out of the people who like it, a lot of them are going to know each other.  I don't know anyone who has ever spokent to me about that movie.  Ever.  I only know about it because I read a lot about movies, and that's just in the mix.

So, what you like, who you are, will determine who is like you, and, in general it seems, being with people who are like you will make you happy.  Good gaming tip, it seems to me.

xeo...guy.. whatever, wants women to like his game 'cause they're women... Not because he actually has any thought about anything specific a specific woman might respond to.  Just cause, out there there are these things called women.  He's doomed to failure, because it will be about nothing.  

(One more thing.  There are some, what, close to four billion women on this planet. (I've lost count of the world's population.  Sue me.)  When we speak of "most women," or "most men," are we seriously talking about an RPG (or movie, or album) four billion and one women are just gonna love?  Please.)

There is us, and then there are the people we repel and attract and the people who never give us a second thought.  That's it.  What this thread is about is acknowledging that.  To focus on your actual tastes and desires -- because that's how you're going to pull *you're* people to you.  That's how you're going to have a good time.
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Bill Cook
Member

Posts: 501


« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2003, 01:47:12 PM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
There is us, and then there are the people we repel and attract and the people who never give us a second thought. That's it. What this thread is about is acknowledging that. To focus on your actual tastes and desires -- because that's how you're going to pull *you're* people to you. That's how you're going to have a good time.


Your conviction is inspiring.  You could apply this credo to all manner of pursuits.  I find it comforting that I might find my people.  I feel perplexed as to how to see the world in terms of my preferences.

Quote from: John Kim
On the other hand, it's also fun to game with strangers and thus meet new people and their ideas.


I assume that exposing oneself to new people and their ideas can be processed with focus on personal tastes.  Surely they are not mutually exclusive.

To my mind, this thread points to the limit of openness.  Its instruction is on target for me on a personal level.  After all, we really are pleased by the things we like; hence the definition.  And there's no moral currency awarded for toughing it out in a bad match.

What I find encouraging is the suggestion that focus on preferences attracts good matching.

Quote from: AnyaTheBlue
Y'know, posting here on the Forge is a little intimidating.


Indeed.
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