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Author Topic: Anti-my-guy Syndrome  (Read 13798 times)
John Kim
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« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2003, 06:40:34 PM »

Quote from: greyorm
  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.
...
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.  

OK, but how do you define "destructive behavior" except that other players don't like it?  

There were certainly a lot of control issues going on in the game.  I would say that was definitely one of the more railroaded adventures in the Ripper campaign.  In retrospect, one could reasonably interpret that Jim and I were attempting to seize control away from railroading GM behavior by our insane PCs.  Now, the slide to insanity had been established for a long time -- but the particular choices involved fit pretty well with a struggle over control.  

The PCs had gone out to a Scottish village near Hayward's home, and we knew there were dangerous magical goings-on out on the moors.  One night we were staying at a manor house, I think of the family of Hayward's fiancee.  We were wakened in the night to see that his fiancee was sleepwalking some distance out onto the moors.  The others immediately ran out after her; Grimmond got a shotgun and fired bird-shot out at her.  (NOTE: Bird-shot isn't dangerous to humans at range, but it will sting.  Grimmond intended to wake her up by this.)    

After she doesn't respond, Grimmond headed out and eventually caught up with the others.  The group lost sight of the manor, and soon it became clear we had wandered onto some faerie path.  He and Hayward lag behind, I forgot why.  Hayward began babbling insanely of the magical powers at work and trying to invoke them, which immediately set off Grimmond's rather justified paranoia.  He threatened Hayward, then beat him senseless when Hayward refused to cooperate.  He dragged his unconcious body along and tied him up, searching for the others.  

I should go on to say about how Hayward died, as well.  Grimmond eventually let Hayward loose as long as he behaved.  Much later, though,  Grimmond and Hayward were by the edge of a forest when we heard the trampling of something huge and monstrous approaching.  Grimmond attempted to seek cover, but Hayward went with the delusion of his magical powers.  He sat down and began a ritual as the thing approached.  Essentially, the GM gave many warnings that the thing approaching was flattening trees as it came and the ritual wasn't working, but Jim had Hayward stand firm in his delusion.  Hayward was then squashed to jelly as the troll-things came.  

Now, one can easily read this as control issues.  Mark and Liz were the pro-GM-story players, while myself and Jim were against.  The insanity and clash of my and Jim's PCs can be read as an attempt to derail the GM's story by putting spotlight on internal conflict.  That wasn't how I thought of it at the time, but I'd buy it as subconscious acting out.  I don't know what Jim was thinking, really.  He clearly went farther than me in that he deliberately killed off his PC over this.  

Following the session, it was clear that Edwards (Mark's PC) would not have anything to do with Grimmond any more.  I made an argument with the GM that Grimmond could still work as a PC as long as Edwards needed him for protection (which he did prior to that session).  But the GM voted it down and I went with a new PC instead -- who was working with Jim's new PC.  

So framing it about control works, but I still think my point stands.  Jim and I were exhibiting "My Guy" -- attempt to seize control through character action.  Mark, Liz, and the GM Chris were exhibiting "Anti My Guy".
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2003, 08:05:15 PM »

Quote from: John Kim
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.

O.K., I think that the problem is more one of degree here, maybe. My Guy syndrome isn't about the moment when you have your character do something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, I thought that's what my character would do, so I went with it." It's about when your character does something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, that's what my guy would do, and there's nothing you can do about it because he isn't your guy, he's my guy, so there."

Now, if by anti-my-guy we mean "everyone in the group is obliged to consider everyone else's feelings and limits during play, and not cross known lines if they can be avoided even if that's where it looks like they're character would go", then we have a relatively simple social contract issue--do we know what the lines are, and are we willing to stay within them? But if we mean "you can't do anything I don't like because I get veto power over everything that happens in the game" then yes, that's dysfunctional.

Am I on the right page here?

--M. J. Young
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John Kim
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« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2003, 09:45:17 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
  O.K., I think that the problem is more one of degree here, maybe. My Guy syndrome isn't about the moment when you have your character do something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, I thought that's what my character would do, so I went with it." It's about when your character does something someone else finds objectionable, and you say, "Well, that's what my guy would do, and there's nothing you can do about it because he isn't your guy, he's my guy, so there."  

I'd agree with this.  I'm sure there are much much worse cases out there, but on the other hand this one wasn't totally trivial.  Mark, Chris, and I were all pretty steamed.  I was forced to change PCs after this session; and Jim's PC Hayward died.  

Quote from: M. J. Young
  Now, if by anti-my-guy we mean "everyone in the group is obliged to consider everyone else's feelings and limits during play, and not cross known lines if they can be avoided even if that's where it looks like they're character would go", then we have a relatively simple social contract issue--do we know what the lines are, and are we willing to stay within them? But if we mean "you can't do anything I don't like because I get veto power over everything that happens in the game" then yes, that's dysfunctional.  

Well, I think I agree in principle -- but I disagree that the first part is at all simple.  There is enormous complexity to the lines (which are really shades rather than lines), and it can be tricky how to respect them.  Fundamentally, this principle rewards being picky and sensitive with control over the game.  It doesn't have to be an aggressive "I'm calling you out".  It just means being sensitive to other people's play.    

Personally, I see two extremes.  At one extreme (My Guy), everyone just does what they enjoy and doesn't pay attention to the feelings of others.  At the other extreme (Anti-My-Guy), everyone focusses on pleasing others and never selfishly does things just because they enjoy them.  Both are dysfunctional, but both also have a sort of logic to them.  My Guy works by evolutionary sorting.  If I play just to enjoy myself, there's no inherent reason that should be offensive to others.  In fact, people of similar taste will likely enjoy it as well.  If our tastes differ, then we should migrate to be in different games.  Anti-My-Guy works by enjoying the spectacle of other people's play which is tailored to please you.  

I think that most problems occur in the wide range in between the extremes.  Everyone has different range they prefer.  It seems to me that those tending towards "My Guy" will be those who get enjoyment primarily out of playing their character.  In turn, those tending towards "Anti My Guy" will be those who get enjoyment primarily watching the group as a whole.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2003, 07:49:07 AM »

Hello,

John, I still don't see anything in your behavior that resembles what Paul originally described as the My-Guy Syndrome. I do see some possible power/control issues, just as you describe (i.e. what you say makes sense to me), but nothing like the My-Guy breakdown. That's usually characterized by the group breaking apart in a seriously negative way.

I really do think that you're latching onto a term, making it apply to something it doesn't, not liking the implications (as you see it as a criticism of a perfectly fine way to play), and then attacking the term.

Is it at all possible to ask you to take a break from the point-by-point exchange of positions, which tends to cement people into those positions, and just review that idea for a while?

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2003, 12:41:12 AM »

Just wanted to remark that I too think My Guy is bandied about a little too loosely.  A while ago, I raised a question about a certain player behaviour and all I got was "oh thats My Guy syndrome" - which I don't think it was.  It strikes me as a form of throwing your hands in the air and saying "what can you do?"  It means we have no vocabulary to address any but the most extreme case, and the moderate cases seesm to be lumped with the extreme.  Simply put, I don't much like the term as it stands.
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John Kim
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« Reply #35 on: December 17, 2003, 11:09:41 AM »

Quote from: contracycle
Just wanted to remark that I too think My Guy is bandied about a little too loosely.  A while ago, I raised a question about a certain player behaviour and all I got was "oh thats My Guy syndrome" - which I don't think it was.  It strikes me as a form of throwing your hands in the air and saying "what can you do?"  It means we have no vocabulary to address any but the most extreme case, and the moderate cases seesm to be lumped with the extreme.  Simply put, I don't much like the term as it stands.

This pretty much agrees with my observations of the term.  My approach in this thread has just been to formalize the usage you describe.  i.e. "My Guy" syndrome covers a broad range of behaviors.  I generalized it to be a player choosing PC behavior which is objected to by other participants, where the ostensible reason is "That is what my guy would do".  

Now, I think others want a more narrow definition -- that "My Guy" syndrome only applies to dysfunctional behavior (perhaps of a particular type) on the part of the player.  But I think that isn't a practical distinction.  The players who object will naturally claim that the behavior is "dysfunctional", while the player doing it will naturally claim that it isn't.  I think it is better to have the label be more neutral, and then after agreeing on the label people can discuss about causes and fixes.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #36 on: December 17, 2003, 01:30:29 PM »

To quickly recap, I think that, sure, My Guy get's bandied about too much, and like any simple answer will tend to get overappllied. But that doesn't mean it's not useful. Sometimes you can tell that a player is being an ass, and, when they are, it's My Guy syndrome. When they're not, it's probably a GNS issue. The fact that you redifined it for purposes of the thread as something larger, John, in order to attack it, doesn't mean that it never had an important meaning. It did, namely when it was defined as Paul defined it when he created the term. Sure, if people have warped it since then that's a bad thing. But that just means that people should be referred back to the original, working definition.

Now, I would say this. In "diagnosing" My Guy, I think that the best tactic is to assume from the start that it's a GNS issue and proceed as though it were one (unless it's glaringly obvious or something). Because if you do, then at the point at which you are being reasonable, and the other player becomes unreasonable, then at that point can you move on to calling it My Guy syndrome with some accuracy. Until then you could be misdiagnosing a simple misunderstanding.

Would that suffice to quell your fears of "Anti-My Guy Syndrome"? If we advocated a more careful diagnosis? And stuck to My Guy as the last resort diagnosis only when it becomes completely apparent? Because I do agree with you that this would be, by far, the best mode of operation here. What one can't do, obviously, is to assume that such a problem is My Guy from the start without any analysis. That's obviously a bogus approach. And what your player did in the example, I think.

Mike
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John Kim
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« Reply #37 on: December 17, 2003, 05:41:34 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  To quickly recap, I think that, sure, My Guy get's bandied about too much, and like any simple answer will tend to get overappllied. But that doesn't mean it's not useful. Sometimes you can tell that a player is being an ass, and, when they are, it's My Guy syndrome. When they're not, it's probably a GNS issue. The fact that you redifined it for purposes of the thread as something larger, John, in order to attack it, doesn't mean that it never had an important meaning.  

The thing is, I don't think "Being An Ass" is a useful criteria.  In clashes like I described, both sides will tend to see the other as being an ass.  This makes diagnosing "My Guy" into just fancy name-calling.  You're trying to claim that it's only about times when the offending player is really an ass -- not just when someone thinks he's an ass.  I dislike this approach to the situation.  Even if the player is unequivocably being an ass, I don't think that officially labelling him an ass is helpful.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
  Would that suffice to quell your fears of "Anti-My Guy Syndrome"? If we advocated a more careful diagnosis? And stuck to My Guy as the last resort diagnosis only when it becomes completely apparent? Because I do agree with you that this would be, by far, the best mode of operation here. What one can't do, obviously, is to assume that such a problem is My Guy from the start without any analysis. That's obviously a bogus approach. And what your player did in the example, I think.

Anti-My-Guy syndrome as I've described it does exist as a real entity, regardless of the approach.  If I go with the approach you describe, then Anti-My-Guy syndrome is simply defined as "Calling 'My Guy' syndrome when that isn't really the case".  You can claim that the recommended approach is to be careful -- but in practical terms, mistakes will happen.  

However, I don't think that trying to analyze in terms of objective right or wrong (i.e. functional / dysfunctional) is a good approach in the first place.  I prefer to approach it as a subjective difference of opinion.  i.e. Player(s) X and Player(s) Y disagree.  One side thinks that a character action is appropriate, and one does not.  For example, I don't think that Mark (the objecting player in my example) was being bogus.  He was speaking out how he felt.  What I disliked was how his objection was ultimately handled.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #38 on: December 18, 2003, 03:14:44 PM »

John, the only place that you and I differ on this is in how hard these things are to determine. I think that if one is educated on the subject, that it's pretty easy to remain objective about it, and avoid overdiagnosis: Anti-My Guy Syndrome. I don't know how you can see me as saying that it doesn't exist, when at every turn I keep saying that I agree with you that it does exist. If, by Syndrome, you mean that these misdiagnoses happen with a pattern, I'm sure you're right. I never said otherwise. And part of the reason is undoubtedly because of people talking about My Guy Syndrome irresponsibly. Part is an agenda to get away from Immersive play. Loads of reasons. Yep, I'm with you all the way.

But I still see the solution to the issue as one of making people aware of it. Because the phenomenon described by the original definition of My Guy happens. Shocked by previous play that makes the player feel that he can't trust the GM or other players, a player will cordon off his own space and play his character as he likes despite it being annoying to the other players. Remember that the player practicing My Guy is a victim of abuse, not somebody who's proactively using his interrperetation of his character to make for a good game. As such, the symptoms are obvious. And we can help these people as long as we acknowledge what's going on - a social level problem, not a GNS problem.

Psychiatrists in previous decades used to overdiagnose "Borderline Personality Syndrome". Many times as a way of marginalizing women and minorities. Did that mean that they should just have ignored that there was a problem for the people who did have it? Should they have dropped the categorization of the illness overall? No, they did the right thing and have tried since to educate doctors to spot the real thing. Your solution seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Mike
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John Kim
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« Reply #39 on: December 18, 2003, 08:06:30 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Psychiatrists in previous decades used to overdiagnose "Borderline Personality Syndrome". Many times as a way of marginalizing women and minorities. Did that mean that they should just have ignored that there was a problem for the people who did have it? Should they have dropped the categorization of the illness overall? No, they did the right thing and have tried since to educate doctors to spot the real thing. Your solution seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

No, my solution keeps the objective diagnosis -- and simply throws away prejudiced bias.  I would offer homosexuality as an alternate example.  Now, homosexuality objectively exists as a pattern of behavior.  No one questions that.  Thus, we can diagnose it.  However, it's classification as a mental illness is questionable.  Whether it is accepted or not is a social issue.  

I propose that we diagnose My Guy Syndrome as objective behavior, just like a psychological syndrome.  No psychologist would accept "being an ass" as an objective definition.  An objective definition describes what happens -- it doesn't predefine whether that behavior is right or wrong.  

Then separate from the definition, we can argue about where the dividing line between valid and invalid play is.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #40 on: December 19, 2003, 06:55:19 AM »

Hi there,

That's my exit-point, I think.

Neither "objective vs. subjective" nor "valid vs. invalid play" make a whole lot of sense to me, and I'm not even sure why they're being brought in as criteria or topics.

Carry on.

Best,
Ron
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