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Author Topic: Anti-my-guy Syndrome  (Read 13800 times)
pete_darby
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2003, 02:06:54 AM »

I get the feeling we're whirling around each other again, folks.

In this thread, I think I came up with a pretty good set of phrases that "My guy woud / my guy wouldn't" is a cover for, some of them pretty much always dysfunctional, other functional within certain agenda, or depndent upon the prevailing SC.
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Pete Darby
John Kim
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2003, 12:13:41 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  "My Guy" is, by definition, problematic because the player is doing things specifically to annoy other players (thanks Kirt). When immersion is the form of play selected, and it's being used correctly, there's no reason why it should be problematic, neccessarily.  

Hmm.  Let me take my original example again -- where Grimmond (my PC) beat up Hayward (Jim's PC).  Now, my play in that case did annoy another player (Mark).  On the other hand, I did not do it with the specific intent to annoy that player -- or at least not with conscious intent.  Does the fact that I didn't consciously try to annoy Mark make it non-problematic?  I wouldn't think so.  My impression was that "My Guy" play is considered problematic because it annoys other players, regardless of the conscious intent.  

However, here's the issue.  He is annoyed by my play.  The group never explicitly formed a contract with regard to this case.  As I see it, this could be validly interpretted as "My Guy" syndrome -- which suggests that I was wrong for annoying him.  On the other hand, this could also be interpretted as "Anti-My-Guy" syndrome -- i.e. he was wrong for being annoyed at my valid immersive play.  

By suggesting "Anti-My-Guy" as a syndrome, I hope to highlight the fact that neither of these are objectively right or wrong.  Neither of us was inherently wrong, but we did have differing preferences.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  John, I, Ralph, Stolze, et al, I believe are not railing against immersive play (which seems to be your point in coming after this following on the other conversation). We're against players who use the idea that characters are sacrosanct to play badly.  

Now, what consitutes bad play, and what's just player prerogative? Well, that is a fine line, I suppose. But you can't say that no player ever used My Guy stance. And we'd never say that players don't make the mistakes that you cite. So there's no difference of opinion here.  

My point is that I don't think there is any objective line for what is "bad play" and what is "player perogative".  I am opposed to trying to classify play into objectively "bad" or "good", which clouds the issue IMO.  There is no one right way to play.  The exact same play might be considered bad to some and good to others.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2003, 12:33:07 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
My point is that I don't think there is any objective line for what is "bad play" and what is "player perogative".  I am opposed to trying to classify play into objectively "bad" or "good", which clouds the issue IMO.  There is no one right way to play.  The exact same play might be considered bad to some and good to others.

Then what is the point of examining actual play at all?

Certainly I should think the criterion for if a pleasurable activity isn't working is when the participants aren't enjoying themselves, or at least not enjoying themselves as much as they could be. This is generally the criterion for "bad" sex, for example.

I mean, you seem to think that Jim calling you out was bad. If one can't objectively determine if social behavior is bad or good, how can you claim what Jim did was bad? And actual play is just a form of social behavior in this context -- everyone is trying to play, and enjoy, the game.

Did this incident actually happen to you? I think you are blowing one incident out of proportion and attaching it to something it isn't. The problem with the situation you cite is the fact that the two of you -- intentionally or not -- had a disconnect in terms of how play should go.

To me, "My Guy" syndrome is about selfishness -- where the player considers his own fun to be paramount over that of everyone else. Is that what you're asserting? That your own fun should eclipse Jim's fun? I assume not, but...

There is no "one right way to play". But there are situations where different styles of play conflict, which is bad for everyone involved.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2003, 01:24:48 PM »

Hmm.  The point of My Guy (it seems to me) is that citing the fictional construct (the character) in and of itself as justification for something is never a good idea.  The point of Anti-My Guy would be (again, it seems to me) that saying "this is what *I*, the real world person, WANT the character to do" is not a case of trying to place blame on a fictional thing that can't actually BE blamed - it's a legitimate gameplay desire.

"My Guy would . . . " bad, "What I want My Guy to do is . . . " good.  Sometimes, what people really mean by the former is actually the latter, but sometimes, they use the former as a way to avoid responsibilty/conflict/etc.  Which "sometimes" is more impoartant and/or common will vary based on individual experience and play styles, but both can be true without invalidating each other.

The difficulties that can show up when what you want doesn't match up with what others want can't be avoided, and can in fact be really fertile ground for interesting play when managed appropriately.  But they are interpersonal issues ABOUT the fictional world - the fictional entities themselves don't enter into it.

As far as I can tell, John's example with his character Grimmond is firmly a case of conflict between what people want/expect, and not entirely within the purview of My Guy at all.  The insights from classic My Guy (or even his Anti-My Guy) might have helped him a bit in discussing things (before/during/after) with Mark, but there's nothing in his description that makes me think he tried to avoid the conflict by pointing at Grimmond and saying "hey, it ain't me - it's him!"  Mark didn't expect a brutal intra-PC fight to be part of the game, John thought it would be OK if that's where the character concept(s) and play events pointed to.  My Guy is at the periphery - possibly usefully so, but not fundamentally the issue.

At least, that's how I see it,

Gordon
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2003, 01:31:50 PM »

We agree, John, that no CA level preference is superior. But what we're saying is that there's a problem on the Social Contract level when "My Guy" syndrome appears, by our definition. That the player in question is breaking the social contract implicit to all play about everyone having a good time. You wouldn't argue that if I punched you that this would be just my preference, would you? On the social level I'm sure that there are all sorts of things we can agree are "bad behavior".

And you make my point. Since it's not a Social Contract issue as you point out, its an incoherence issue. That is nobody is wrong, as you point out, the problem in this case is that the CA wasn't agreed on in the first place. Thank you for providing the first concrete example of a GNS issue from your play.

Now, do some people misdiagnose a CA issue for a Social Contract issue? Yep, probably happens all the time. I stipulated to that above. So, yes, if somebody is complaining that somebody is doing something wrong on the social level when it's actually a CA problem, that's wrong, and should be fixed. Hence GNS.

Mike

P.S. on the whole "intent" thing again, that's not important. If a player is exhibiting a consistent behavior that's causing problems on the Social level, then they're obviously not paying attention to the social needs of the people playing. Which is, again, a violation of the social contract. Doesn't matter whether or not they intended to ignore the other player's needs or not, they have. Legally, that's guilt by negligence.
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John Kim
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« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2003, 03:02:43 PM »

Quote from: xiombarg
  I mean, you seem to think that Jim calling you out was bad. If one can't objectively determine if social behavior is bad or good, how can you claim what Jim did was bad? And actual play is just a form of social behavior in this context -- everyone is trying to play, and enjoy, the game.

Did this incident actually happen to you?  

Well, yes, it did.  But no, Jim did not call me out.  Jim, as far as I can tell, enjoyed the session fine despite the fact that his PC was beaten up by Grimmond and later was killed by a troll.  It was another player, Mark, who objected even though his PC wasn't there.  To add some perspective, Grimmond was retired as a PC following that session in part because of the split between him and Mr. Edwards (Mark's PC), and I took on a new PC, Miss Hawksquill.  

As I said, I don't think that either Mark or I were objectively in the wrong.  It is a difference of preferences.  The solution would be that we need to compromise or need to split ways.  It worked out OK in the end.  However, at the time I was angry, in that I felt that I was made to compromise by switching to a new PC without corresponding give on Mark's part.  

It seems to me that in previous threads, people talked about "My Guy" syndrome without any acknowledgement of the opposing "Anti My Guy".  This implies that in the difference, the acting player is in the wrong and the complaining player is in the right.  This thread was intended to correct that  -- to point out that these are two preferences in conflict, not just one-sided bad behavior.
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xiombarg
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« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2003, 04:05:43 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
It seems to me that in previous threads, people talked about "My Guy" syndrome without any acknowledgement of the opposing "Anti My Guy".  This implies that in the difference, the acting player is in the wrong and the complaining player is in the right.  This thread was intended to correct that  -- to point out that these are two preferences in conflict, not just one-sided bad behavior.

The reason that most people haven't talked about "Anti My Guy" is, frankly, in most people's experiences, the "Anti My Guy" view is quite well represented. The sheer number of RPG texts that advocate immersion as the One True Goal of roleplaying without qualification and without admitting there are other styles of play are staggering. Take a look at any early White Wolf game or the 1st edition AD&D DMG, or the sheer amount of rants that people aim, even to this day, against "metagaming", likethis one. The number of times I've seen people yelled at for taking Author stance far outnumbers the times I've seen people accused of My Guy Syndrome.

And a lot of the time the problem IS with the person engaging in "My Guy", at least to some extent. Unlike the example you cite, in more games than I care to count I've seen people deliberately act to ruin other people's fun in order to enhance their own fun, and get away with it because they were "just acting in character". People who talk about My Guy syndrome aren't trying to oppress people interested in immersion and "more flexible" play, they're trying to wake up groups that have been hypnotized into believing that you're not allowed to critique someone's play so long as it's "in character", i.e. so long as there is no "metagaming", everything is cool -- which is often not the case. Such groups are often very adverse to discussing the Social Contract at all.

Let me give you a counter-example. In a pick-up game I was recently in, all of the PCs were located in New York City except one. One of the players decided that his character lived in LA, and refused to change his character concept to accomodate the other PCs or the GM. "I already decided he lives in LA and that's it." This is classic dysfunction, and what most people think of as "My Guy" -- "His Guy" wouldn't live in LA, so he wasn't going to change anything to match.
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Christopher Kubasik
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« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2003, 04:28:13 PM »

Hi John,

While I appreciate your concern that things are sometimes more complicated than people would like, I think you're missing the core issue here.

My Guy Syndrome is not about a player playing a character as he sees fit.  It's about a player using his character as justifaction to be a thorn in the side of other players or the whole group.  The PC, in a circumstance like this, is only the tool.

In the same vein, the person who usually hosts the game might declare is place no longer available because he's getting pissed off with how the game is going; the guy who owns the rule books might state no one else is allowed to flip through what used to be available resources for fear of "wear and tear" -- again, as a way of saying, "No.  I want to get in your face now."

For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense. No one here would suggest you shouldn't play the guy the way you want.

The term only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.  

The fact that almost everyone responding to your example of play  said, essentially, "You're behavior seemed resonable to me," only lends credence the idea that there is reasoanble playing of character and unreasonable playing of character -- and that it's really not that impossible to tell the difference.  (I know that this notion will bother people who want to be able to disprove statements by using hypothetical examples drawn from circumstances having no bearing on actual real play, but them's the breaks.)

I offer that Anti-My-Guy as a manifesto (using "My Guy" as defined by everyone here at the Forge), could only be defined as Every Guy for Himself, Fuck the Others If They're Going to Fuck ME -- not the positon I think you mean to be taking.

Again: My Guy, is the "cover" taken for the real issue of some sort of anger/frustration at stake; it could be revealed through several other covers.  No one is arguing that there might not be issues between players about PC behavior at the table -- but such issues are not by defintion My Guy issues -- and certainly no one thinks it was in the case you cited.

Christopher
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eyebeams
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« Reply #23 on: December 13, 2003, 03:09:27 AM »

In my experience, both My Guy and Not My Guy come from problems with taking ownership of the storyline. Sometimes the GM doesn't allow real cooperation by insisting that she's the filter for all information that should apply to the session.

Everyone in the group needs to have a compatible vision for where a scene is going. There's nothing wrong with stepping out of character and chatting about it, or even with the GM making a directorial decision.

Really, why should anyone get to play their characters as they see fit, whether they're being deliberately obnoxious or not? There are online games for that. Unless the game is primarily a tactical exercises (including social tactics), the goal is to create an enjoyable narrative for everyone -- and not everyone likes the PCs throttling each other at inappropriate moments in the story.

When I GM, I have a couple of guidelines:

1) Absolute transparency. I get to know what the character's unspoken/secret intentions are, ask why X would do in Y situation and get a truthful answer, without omissions, every time. In my games your character does not have a right to privacy.

Many games where this stuff happens are games without a transparency clause. The character comes out of left field and frankly, the GM doesn't know enough about the character. Sometimes, the player doesn;t want anyone to know, because the rational of being in character is bogus.

2) You will renegotiate your actions at my insistence. Going to kill a character because it fits your character's personality? No -- no your aren't. This doesn't mean I utterly control character actions. It means I say: "That'd be bad for the game; what else would you like to do?" Usually, there's a way to resolve it. Get agreement from all partipants, do it and move the game along.

Cause you shouldn't me My Guy or Not My Guy in a tabletop game. You should be Our Guy. He;s there to entertain all of us.
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Malcolm Sheppard
greyorm
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« Reply #24 on: December 13, 2003, 09:38:08 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense...The term [My Guy] only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.

I agree with Chris in all this, as this is exactly what I was trying to get at earlier (with obviously limited success).

My Guy is a control issue, as Malcolm states: its about getting what you want by-any-means-necessary, and those means in most games are the character, because that's the only tool and control the player is allowed.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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John Kim
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« Reply #25 on: December 13, 2003, 11:45:30 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
For this reason, I offer that the term Anit-My-Guy simply makes no sense...The term [My Guy] only refers to the excuse of "character" to justify destructive behavior.

I agree with Chris in all this, as this is exactly what I was trying to get at earlier (with obviously limited success).

My Guy is a control issue, as Malcolm states: its about getting what you want by-any-means-necessary, and those means in most games are the character, because that's the only tool and control the player is allowed.

Hmm.  You seem to be saying that "My Guy" syndrome is a matter of intent.  i.e. If someone are genuinely following their character, then it is OK to be destructive (like Grimmond).  However, if they are intentionally using character as an excuse for destructive behavior, then it is bad.  I tend to agree with Mike Holmes, though, that intent isn't (or shouldn't be) the issue.  Someone can easily be very destructive without consciously intending to.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
What we're saying is that there's a problem on the Social Contract level when "My Guy" syndrome appears, by our definition. That the player in question is breaking the social contract implicit to all play about everyone having a good time. You wouldn't argue that if I punched you that this would be just my preference, would you?  On the social level I'm sure that there are all sorts of things we can agree are "bad behavior".

I agree that this is a Social Contract issue, and that intent is not the central issue.  The general situation is this:  one player X says that her PC does something, and another player Y says that he doesn't like what that PC did -- that it hurts his enjoyment.  Let's say we ignore intent.  Who is right?  You may say that we look to the Social Contract, but in most cases the Social Contract is implicit -- i.e. it is what all players agree to rather than a formal document.  If players disagree, then there is no inherent authority to say who is right.  

So "My Guy" syndrome is having your PC act in a way which adversely affects the enjoyment of another player.  It is, as another poster put it, selfish because it makes the game less fun for player Y.  That makes it a violation of Social Contract.  Grimmond (my PC) acted in a way which made the game less enjoyable for Mark (another player).  That makes me player X in my example.  

But there has to be a counter-balancing notion, so that the complainer Y is not always right.  It can be equally selfish to complain about other people's PCs to get what you want.   This is "Anti-My-Guy" syndrome.  It is a form of passive-aggressiveness.  By being ultra-finicky about what you want in a game, you can control it because the others are bound to make you happy.  It is equally a violation of Social Contract, because it is putting your enjoyment ahead of the other players.
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greyorm
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« Reply #26 on: December 13, 2003, 01:22:47 PM »

John,

I'm afraid you're putting words in my mouth (or in my text, as it were). Intent has absolutely nothing to do with "getting what you want by-any-means-necessary." The player does not, in any way, have to be conscious of this for it to occur, so forget what it "seems" I am saying.

Nor do I agree that "My Guy" syndrome has anything to do with the effect upon the enjoyment of other players -- it is purely a control issue. Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.

So the issue you keep bringing up, "My character did this, and that bothered this other player" is not, not, not a My Guy issue. That event, to me, is purely an issue of Lines and Veils -- that situation is all about the Social Contract of the group in play, what's believed allowed and what isn't, with people's comfort levels and their expectations about play events.

So, that's why what you're discussing is not Anti-My Guy -- because the contrasted instance isn't My Guy.

Also, keep in mind we can't discuss My Guy in terms of discrete occurences, because they occur in a context, so those phrases about what a person's character can and will pop up during a completely functional game session!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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John Kim
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« Reply #27 on: December 13, 2003, 05:23:41 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
  Intent has absolutely nothing to do with "getting what you want by-any-means-necessary." The player does not, in any way, have to be conscious of this for it to occur, so forget what it "seems" I am saying.

Nor do I agree that "My Guy" syndrome has anything to do with the effect upon the enjoyment of other players -- it is purely a control issue. Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.  

I don't get this.  As you put it, the syndrome occurs when "my guy" is said in order to maintain control.  Is that not intent?  If we ignore intent, then isn't this exactly what happened in my example?  I had my PC Grimmond beat Jim's PC Hayward unconscious.  Hayward was no match physically for Grimmond, so by taking that action I inherently derailed the power of Jim's player.  

But really this happens all the time, to greater or lesser degrees.  Inherently, by taking character action I am seizing control in the game.  By seizing that control, that means (by definition) I am taking control away from others in the game.  There's nothing inherently dysfunctional about that.  For example, as far as I can tell, Jim had no problem with control being taken away from him for a time.  

This puts it right back in Social Contract territory.  Seizing control isn't wrong, unless another player objects to it.  If they do, then we have my basic quandry of acting player X vs complaining player Y.
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #28 on: December 13, 2003, 06:48:07 PM »

Had a bit of a realization about My Guy tonite. Let's see if it helps any.

I was in a Mekton game. I was a late arrival in a years-long game, with most of the other players since graduated and moved on. Well, due to bad planning and worse execution, the players and one NPC, a large lizard-like alien, were at the mercy of the bad guys. They took the NPC away and the players managed to escape. Later we confronted the main bad guy (who was actually a flunky to the BIG big bad guy, but I digress) he was wearing the NPC's skin like a cloak. He killed and skinned the NPC. This made me sick to my stomach. This would have been a situation of "my Guy" with the GM being the one saying "My Guy." You guys don't really know but in person I rarely speak up about things.

I am now certain that My Guy is purely a symptom of a social issue at the table. Not necessarily someone gaining power by any means necessary. The GM in my example was the GM. No player has more power in most games.

I am thinking of John's example. Was the other player upset because John's character beat someone to death, or because his character beat a PC to death?

Was I sickened by the idea of a sentient being being killed and skined and made into clothing or was I sickened because that was mostly my fault for not making very good moves earlier.

I believe that it is both in my case, and possibly the other case.

It seems to me to either be social considerations interfering with the  in-game events in way not really meant or one player causing events to please themselves without much though or poor judgement to the other players' possible reactions.
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greyorm
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« Reply #29 on: December 13, 2003, 09:59:13 PM »

John, I quote the most relevant part of my previous post: Saying "Yeah, well, my guy does X" or "My guy wouldn't ever" in order to maintain control of a situation, or rather, to derail the power of another participant (most often the gamemaster, though it could be another player) is where it is occuring.

But this has to be IN CONTEXT. Your examples of someone using their in-game power as a character to overpower someone else's character is so not My Guy syndrome I'm not sure where to begin.

It occurs to me you're looking at all the little pieces as pieces, rather than a whole -- hence why I said IN CONTEXT. There has to be dysfunction going on for My Guy syndrome to be occuring, there has to be destrutive behavior.

As to the intent issue...I'm not sure how to put it...it appears you are talking about conscious intent. I'm not. The player who behaves "in order to gain control" is usually not even thinking "I'm doing this in order to gain control." It's a reaction rather than a choice, a behavior rather than a thought or a conscious strategy. That's why intent has nothing to do with it.

Regardless, that is why I'm saying your situation specifically is all about Lines & Veils, not My Guy. There's no dysfunctional attempt for control going on in your example -- just good, ol' fashioned breach of unspoken expectations. And that's why I feel Jack's post is all about the same thing -- it isn't "My Guy" GM, either.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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