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General Forge Forums => Site Discussion => Topic started by: Vaxalon on July 26, 2004, 06:59:14 AM



Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 26, 2004, 06:59:14 AM
As some of you may be aware, I joined up here recently and started doing my best to contribute... and while I find the theory discussions mildly interesting, I have had a real hard time with the jargon you guys have developed.  I don't mind new terms (gamism, frex) for things that people generally haven't talked about, I have a REAL problem with renaming things that already have names in the common parlance.

When someone in the "real" gaming world (by that I mean people outside this ivory tower says "system" they know what they mean.  A system is a published game... DnD 3.0, GURPS, Shadowrun, etc.

You guys mean something completely different... you mean a SPECIFIC instance of an implementation of a particular game for a particular group of people.

I'm sure there are other instances of this, but I haven't learned enough of the jargon in the past two weeks to have noticed them, but this one troubles me.

It seems to me that the Forge is building itself a nice, cozy, self-referential ivory tower, and by doing so, the Forge is eliminating whatever relevance it ever had.


Title: Jargon
Post by: timfire on July 26, 2004, 07:07:44 AM
Have you read the Provisional Glossary (http://indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html)? I'm sure Ron would love to get feedback from newer members on whether it helps or not with the jargon issue.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 26, 2004, 07:11:13 AM
I have.  There's a LOT of information there, and I'm still digesting it.  I have to refer to it pretty much every day to make sure that I am properly understanding the posts in GNS and Theory.

But that's not really the problem... what bothers me is that the glossary is so NECESSARY.  I know of no other gaming site that needs such an extensive glossary.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Christopher Weeks on July 26, 2004, 07:36:02 AM
I empathize.  I've been here almost a year and I'm still looking stuff up.  Jargon is a bitch.  But without it, we'd be limited to the same conversations that can be found everywhere else.  So I think overall the Forge has a real niche in large measure because of the willingness to accept and adopt such Jargon.

That said, I think there are specific examples -- and "system" is one of them, that I think would be better off changed, for the same reasons that you cite.  There's no cost to our ability to communicate by finding another word for "our" "system" and using it to refer to rules.  There is a gain in external communication abilities, so it seems like an obvious choice.  But it's not my choice.

Chris


Title: Jargon
Post by: Matt Machell on July 26, 2004, 07:50:54 AM
Do terms have a common usage in the RPG community? Ask a dozen gamers what any term means and you'll get a dozen radically different answers. System, Cinematic, Rules-lite, Crunch, all are pretty casually thrown about and nobody seems to agree on what they mean.

The Forge is very good at looking at RPGs from a different angle.  Its terms reflect that, and are used in particular ways that works here.  Yeah, Jargon can be frustrating at first, but it aids better communication in the long run.

-Matt


Title: Jargon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 26, 2004, 08:21:56 AM
Hiya,

One point to consider is this:

Does the Forge community's discussions have a meaningful audience outside those who would like to participate here?

To many, the answer is Obviously Yes, and they appropriately conclude that Forge discussions therefore benefit greatly from being as easy-access as possible. A first step then would be to invent, all-at-once, a set of terms which are unique to the Forge to avoid confusion with existing terms.

To many others, the answer is Obviously Not. Think about that for a minute - the site is open to anyone, it has a high effort/study bar for entry, and the benefits are great after that (yes, even if you primarily disagree with everything). But it is only for those who do that.

Now, I cannot in any way dictate which of these answers are your answer. Clearly both outlooks are common.

The Forge was begun very much in the second context, and most of us who've been here for a while were primarily concerned with understanding one another, not with constructing a primer or summary that would be understood cold by newcomers or casual drop-bys.

What is it now? I dunno. But I do think that people holding either outlook are going to have to cut the other outlook some slack - the Forge cannot 100% please both. To date, I think that the Outlook #2 folks have made a fair effort (which does vary, but is ongoing) to welcome those who would indeed like to participate. However, and not surprisingly, the Outlook #1 folks are not especially inclined to respect the other outlook. I'm asking for fair effort on that side too.

Best,
Ron


Title: Jargon
Post by: John Kim on July 26, 2004, 09:25:56 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
One point to consider is this:

Does the Forge community's discussions have a meaningful audience outside those who would like to participate here?

To many, the answer is Obviously Yes, and they appropriately conclude that Forge discussions therefore benefit greatly from being as easy-access as possible. A first step then would be to invent, all-at-once, a set of terms which are unique to the Forge to avoid confusion with existing terms.

I think the question is somewhat misleading, because I believe that avoiding such confusion is useful even for Forge participants.  It's not like everyone who participates on the Forge has memorized Ron's glossary, let alone many of the other terms used around here.  Indeed, in my experience, there are a great number of people who do participate in the Forge who still claim to have problems understanding the jargon.  In practice, Forge participants continue to use many common RPG terms invented outside the Forge rather than exclusively switching over to Forge-specific lingo.  So we have a mix of terminology used.  

My point is simply that we shouldn't needlessly redefine terms that are already in common usage.  I wouldn't think this is very controversial.  I think the question is more "How much effort should we spend to come up with non-clashing terms?"  i.e. If it just takes a minute's thought to come up with a non-confusing term that is just as appropriate, then it's probably worth it.  

To Vaxalon: you might also check out my RPG Theory Glossary, which tries to be inclusive of the Forge as well as other communities.  It also includes working links with many of the terms to relevant discussion.  
http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/glossary/


Title: Jargon
Post by: Valamir on July 26, 2004, 09:28:04 AM
Quote
When someone in the "real" gaming world (by that I mean people outside this ivory tower says "system" they know what they mean. A system is a published game... DnD 3.0, GURPS, Shadowrun, etc.


I want to emphasize Matt's comment above because this is a very common criticism that gets leveled at the Forge.  Basically your statement is fundamentally wrong.

The only thing you CAN say is that when someone is YOUR little corner of the gaming world says "system" that you and YOUR friends know what YOU mean by it.

But that definition (along with the others Matt noted) is hardly universal.

System is used to mean alot of things out there.  Some use it to refer to a published game including everything between the covers of the book(s).  Others limit it only to mechanics as distinct from setting.  Some will allow houserules to be included so that they'd say "we're using the Hero system" even if they'd made some pretty radical changes that other Hero system users would not accept.

When JoeGamer puts the word system in a sentence it could mean almost anything...because JoeGamer (like most folks in casual conversation) is very very sloppy with his terminology relying on 1) context and 2) the listeners not really caring all that much what he's talking about anyway to get by.

At the Forge we need something a little more precise than that.


We also need something a little more profound.  Quite frankly I find using "system" to mean "a published game" to be a pretty useless word.  It tells us nothing.  It gives no insight.  It serves no purpose.  You might as well just say "published game".

Here, the disection of system and what it really is, begun by Vincent Baker, has had some pretty profound implications.


Title: Re: Jargon
Post by: Mark Johnson on July 26, 2004, 10:54:23 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
When someone in the "real" gaming world (by that I mean people outside this ivory tower says "system" they know what they mean.  A system is a published game... DnD 3.0, GURPS, Shadowrun, etc.


I thought in the real gaming world that a "system" was the device that you hooked up to the TV to play your games.


Title: Jargon
Post by: M. J. Young on July 26, 2004, 11:05:47 AM
I'm going to comment on the specific use of "system" here because it illustrates the way jargon has developed here.

My recollection may be a tad faulty on chronologies sometimes, but as I recall the five "elements of exploration" had been defined as setting, system, situation, character, and color some time back. Interestingly, it has been very much since those five elements were identified that serious discussion concerning them occurred.

Thus I think at the time "system" became one of the five elements of exploration, very little had been done even to distinguish "system as used in play" from "system as written in game books", beyond identifying that these were not the same thing. It was perhaps rather fuzzily thought that they were the same kind of thing, and that in theory if the "system" in the book was well written they could be the same thing.

Lumpley gave a completely radical insight to the matter, recognizing that no matter what was in the book, the "system" that was one of the elements of exploration was ultimately a means of apportioning credibility and applying authority between players and various documents in determining the content of the shared imaginary space. "System" in play and "system" as writ were suddenly seen as two entirely distinct kinds of things, the latter a listing of useful mechanics and helpful descriptions which informed our thinking of how to resolve the contents of the shared imaginary space, the former the actual social interactions between the players which applied those ideas.

Because of the focus here on actual play, it was easier for us as a community to retain "system" as that which actually controls play, and then to distinguish "rules" as something separate and different, which informs the players regarding how they might implement their actual system.

Even if I were to agree that most of the RPG world thinks of "system" as meaning a rules set, because of the nature of discussion here that has always ultimately been the less common meaning. The more common meaning here, built from the recognition that the majority of gamers modify and adapt the majority of games and so are actually running games on some "house system" (they would use that phrase if they were aware of their own influence), was not about what was in the book but what was actually done at the table. As we came to understand what was actually done at the table more clearly, the meanings diverged sharply, and confusion was created by calling those game texts "systems" when it was more and more clear that it was not they which controled what happened in the game world.

There are many terms for which this sort of process has applied over time. "Setting" may be going through a similar transformation now, as we search for words which distinguish between what is actually envisioned in play and what is presented in the texts. Illusionism, Force, and quite a few other words have come to have particular meanings here (some of these in flux) because once having brought up a concept we have analyzed it to the point that we've discovered that the common usage doesn't really describe what is really happening in play. Once we've reached that point, we're sometimes left with a bit of a mismatch, in which our definition for a term doesn't completely match what we anticipated when we selected the term initially, because there were facets to it no one expected.

I hope this helps.

No one here will take away your birthday or your posting rights if you misuse a term. It may confuse us, and we may ask for clarification and offer definitions of terms as we understand them, but that's not a foul around here--you just have to explain what you mean, and we'll build on that.

--M. J. Young


Title: Jargon
Post by: Christopher Weeks on July 26, 2004, 11:13:54 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Basically your statement is fundamentally wrong.

The only thing you CAN say is that when someone is YOUR little corner of the gaming world says "system" that you and YOUR friends know what YOU mean by it.

But that definition (along with the others Matt noted) is hardly universal.


Come on!

While there are certain (important!) elements that might get included or excluded at the whim of a person or group, to claim that his statement is fundamentally wrong is, well, fundamentally wrong.  Or at least misleading.  I don't want to take away from your larger point which is that the dissection of "system" that takes place on the Forge is incredibly valuable, but your implication that Vaxalon is hailing from some backwater province with unusual quirks of vocabulary is unreasonable.

I've gamed in Los Angeles and Chicago; in rural Missouri and St. Louis; and in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  I've been to 22 GenCons and dozens of small cons.  And while I haven't taken a careful survey of what everyone ever meant by system, we got along in conversation just fine and if you asked a whole mess of randomly selected players of RPGs, I'm pretty sure that you would get something that looked like:

"The core, mechanical subsystems of the rules that make coordinated gameplay happen."

from greater than 80% of them.  Maybe much greater.  And I'm not understanding how you can really believe something but.

Chris


Title: Jargon
Post by: Valamir on July 26, 2004, 12:19:57 PM
Chris you're falling prey to the same sloppy terminology.

I submit that 1) you haven't had all that many conversations with people you don't know well where the word "system" was actually used, 2) that from context you were able to ascertain close enough what the person(s) actually meant, and 3) that the conversation was not so deep or intricate that any variation in definition really mattered to the extent that you'd even notice.

Questions like "So, what's your favorite system?", or "What system were you using?" provide a pretty easy context to guess that what the person is really asking is "What's your favorite published game?".

But such questions are also pretty empty.  They are the sort of questions that gamers use to make idle conversation when they're just looking for something to talk about.  They are therefor not well suited for judging what the average gamer really thinks the word "system" means if they were to actually sit down and really think about it.

In other words, when a gamer asks you one of the above questions and you respond "Cyberpunk 2020" (or whatever) it makes absolutely no difference to the conversation whether to him "system" includes mechanics and setting both while to you it is just the raw mechanics.  He might have visions of you playing a chromed out game of full bore cyberpunk while you were really playing a game of gritty modern action and all you meant was that you were using the Cyberpunk system (aka rules sans setting).  Such differences make no difference because 9 times in 10 when you strike up a conversation like this with average joe gamer at a con you aren't really interested in answering his question and he isn't really interested in your answer...

Its just the gamer version of "hey how are you doing" or "nice weather we've been having"  

The fact that two people can engage in polite dialog while waiting in line for a dry cheeseburger and cold fries says very little about whether or not they truly have a shared understanding of the words they are using.  Any difference in such understanding just doesn't really matter.

And by "doesn't really matter" I mean that literally.. just as when someone says "I heard it was supposed to be nice this weekend" it doesn't really matter whether they really heard that or are just filling the silence with environment appropriate verbiage...aka small talk.

So unless you're prepared to argue that you hold regular deep intellectual conversations with people around the country on the nature of roleplaying and what constitutes system from a philosophical standpoint and you STILL find 80%+ agreement on the issue, then I'm inclined to standby my statement in its entirety.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 26, 2004, 02:02:15 PM
Whether or not Ralph is correct, Chris, that definition for us would not be useful. Now, to avoid people conflating the version of the definition that we use here, we could write System Component refering to the five components from which the term comes from (as MJ outlined). Would that satisfy you? Because we need the definition as presented for discussing the topic. That is, whether or not it matches anyone else's is not important. We need a term for this definition.

And even if we were to use something like System Component, it would still get mistaken for something else. We'd have to call it Epistemological Throughput Methodology or something. And even then somebody would complain that the parts of the phrase were incorrect. So then what are we left with to construct our dialectic? We could make up a word. How about Syrmestulum? People would then argue about what sounded better.

Or we can just put up a sign at the front gate saying "watch out for Jargon" and avoid all of that. Guess which I'm for?

Mike


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 26, 2004, 03:12:20 PM
Quote from: Valamir
System is used to mean alot of things out there.  Some use it to refer to a published game including everything between the covers of the book(s).  Others limit it only to mechanics as distinct from setting.  Some will allow houserules to be included so that they'd say "we're using the Hero system" even if they'd made some pretty radical changes that other Hero system users would not accept.


Noone anywhere else but here uses it even REMOTELY like it's used here.

Noone else includes the social contract around the game table, for example.

Noone else includes the tone of voice the GM uses when he switches from speaking-as-himself to speaking-as-NPC.

Yeah, they mean different things to different people, but those definitions cluster in a much smaller piece of meaning than it does here.

The fact that horses come in fifteen different colors, doesn't make your giraffe a horse, and when you guys are all riding around on your giraffes, I feel really funny riding in on my horse.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Jaik on July 26, 2004, 07:26:08 PM
Quote from: Vaxalon

Noone anywhere else but here uses it even REMOTELY like it's used here.

Noone else includes the social contract around the game table, for example.

Noone else includes the tone of voice the GM uses when he switches from speaking-as-himself to speaking-as-NPC.

Yeah, they mean different things to different people, but those definitions cluster in a much smaller piece of meaning than it does here.


Not to be snarky, but maybe they should include those other things you mention.  I've read an awful lot of advice about roleplaying games and running them.  I've had good groups and bad groups, good times and bad times.  Until I came here, nothing much made sense and none of the advice was all that helpful.

Ever play in a game where the GM and one of the players were dating/married?  Ever notice how that changed things?  Even if there wasn't rampant favoritism, things were off a little.  Nowhere else did I find advice that aknowledged this without labeling it as bad or telling you to suck it up.  Placing it into system, and with system itself taking its place under social contract, makes it discussable.  It says 'THIS is how things work.  You can spend all the time you want talking about the way things should work or should be, but you're playing with people, so things will be more like THIS.'

Jusr for another quick example, consider the word bug or bugs.  If you and I were having a conversation and I mentioned that I squashed this big bug, you could nod and move on.  If we're both entymolygists (Okay, I butchered it, I know, but bug scientists) then 'bugs' doesn't cut it.  We need better terms.  We need clearer, more precise terms.  We need jargon.


Title: Jargon
Post by: John Kim on July 26, 2004, 07:41:51 PM
Quote from: Jaik
Ever play in a game where the GM and one of the players were dating/married?  Ever notice how that changed things?  Even if there wasn't rampant favoritism, things were off a little.  Nowhere else did I find advice that aknowledged this without labeling it as bad or telling you to suck it up.  Placing it into system, and with system itself taking its place under social contract, makes it discussable.  It says 'THIS is how things work.  You can spend all the time you want talking about the way things should work or should be, but you're playing with people, so things will be more like THIS.'

Can you explain to me why labelling it as the word "system" is necessary for discussion?  Because personally, I've discussed this issue with plenty of gamers without using that label.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
We need a term for this definition.

And even if we were to use something like System Component, it would still get mistaken for something else. We'd have to call it Epistemological Throughput Methodology or something. And even then somebody would complain that the parts of the phrase were incorrect. So then what are we left with to construct our dialectic? We could make up a word. How about Syrmestulum? People would then argue about what sounded better.

Or we can just put up a sign at the front gate saying "watch out for Jargon" and avoid all of that. Guess which I'm for?

Let me get this straight.  You point out that there will never be unanimous agreement on what term fits best -- which is completely correct.  However, from here you take the extreme claim that you should ignore everyone else's opinion and use whatever terms you like, since none of them are going to be unanimously accepted.  

Needless to say, I completely disagree.  There can and should be arguments over what term to use, so that people can generally agree on common terms -- rather than everyone just using whatever term they like while ignoring everyone else's opinion.  Just saying "watch out for jargon" and ignoring others is lousy communication.  

Now, this is not to say that using "System" for a term is wrong -- but your argument for it is absurd.  I don't think we need formal votes or anything to decide on a term.  However, I do think one should be thoughtful about what other people think when one decides on what term to use.  Moreover, just because a term has been used in the past one way doesn't mean that it is written in stone.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 27, 2004, 03:54:58 AM
(double post)


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 27, 2004, 03:56:34 AM
There's a difference between jargon and terminology, IMHO.

(these are MY definitions, by the way)

Terminology invents new words to describe things that have not been described before, in order to make their meanings more clear for everyone involved.

Jargon invents new words to describe things that have been described before, or uses old terms to describe things that haven't been described before, and insulates the subculture that uses them.

I have no problem with Terminology.  I have a problem with Jargon.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Christopher Weeks on July 27, 2004, 04:33:10 AM
OK, well I completely disagree with Vaxalon's newest indictment of jargon at all -- both the meaning and the value.  I just don' tt

Quote from: Mike Holmes
that definition for us would not be useful.  Now, to avoid people conflating the version of the definition that we use here, we could write System Component refering to the five components from which the term comes from (as MJ outlined). Would that satisfy you? Because we need the definition as presented for discussing the topic. That is, whether or not it matches anyone else's is not important. We need a term for this definition.


I absolutely agree that we need a term for what we call system.  I hope I didn't indicate anything else.  And I think that "system components" would probably be worse because we'd have all the same issues of conflation with a layer of removal acting as obfuscation.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
And even if we were to use something like System Component, it would still get mistaken for something else. We'd have to call it Epistemological Throughput Methodology or something. And even then somebody would complain that the parts of the phrase were incorrect. So then what are we left with to construct our dialectic? We could make up a word. How about Syrmestulum? People would then argue about what sounded better.


Syrmestulum made me laugh.  But you're presenting a false dichotomy (trichotomy?) and I'm not willing to bite.  There is lots of middle ground between taking a common piece of jargon from the gaming population at large and applying a significantly different -- but not so different that it's obvious, meaning and generating silly made-up words.  And the fact that ETM is both cumbersom and open to significant argument doesn't mean that we couldn't come up with something better.

In many ways, system is good for that term because it is describing a system -- the system for adopting truth in the SIS.  What about "adoption system," or "SIS System," or "Shared Space Synchronization System," or ...OK, I'm starting to be silly.  But now that I'm thinking along these lines, I do actually think that the reason system as we're using it here is a bad term is precisely because dictionary system is a big, broad term.  You don't talk about the car's system, you talk about automatic braking systems and power train systems and hydraulic transmission systems and cooling systems.  

Ralph is right on a very significant point.  The reason that system works among all those gamers (and I have actually talked about how "their system" works when discussing new games for a long time) is precisely because it doesn't much matter if we get the exact definition right.  When you use a broadly-encompassing term like system, you should have flex to accomodate that way.  And you're right that that's not what we need here for the "system" discussion and analysis.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Or we can just put up a sign at the front gate saying "watch out for Jargon" and avoid all of that. Guess which I'm for?


I think we need to do that too.  And the glossary is a great first step (though I'm thinking that a dynamic tool that could reflect changes and group insight with a bit more meat would be more or equally useful).  But what's so wrong with finding good jargon instead of whatever happens to be first suggested?

Chris


Title: Jargon
Post by: Rob Carriere on July 27, 2004, 04:48:31 AM
Vaxalon,
I understand the distinction you're making, but in many cases it is going to be less clear-cut than that. As understanding of a concept grows, people realize that the old definitions no longer quite work and the words and the definitions mutate.

This sort of stuff is not good, but it is inevitable. You cannot pre-plan the brilliant insight you will have next month nor the impact it will have on the concepts you use.

Also, I think a lot of the time, and most especially with the word system, the perception of jargon gets skewed by the depth of the associated insight. The lumpley principle is a very different way of looking at system than rules+(possibly houserules)+(possibly setting). True. But in casual conversation the lumpley principle is quite compatible with the `classical' meanings of system. As an experiment, try using the word that way for a while--without telling anyone--and count how many times you run into semantics trouble. I did this for a couple of months myself and the answer was `not once.'

SR
"Changing horses into giraffes a specialty"
--


Title: Jargon
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 27, 2004, 06:18:00 AM
Why, John, you act as if you aren't complicit in accepting the definition of System. I've never once heard you say that it was problematic to adopt the term.

Suddenly this is just Mike making everyone else bow to his will? I personally am making everyone accept my definition of the term "System"? Well, if you're going to lay blame, it was actually Mr. Edwards and Mr. Baker (AKA Lumpley) who created this definition in concert. So blame them for forcing their hegemony on others. Yes, I was complicit in it. But then again, so were you, John.

MJ cleared all of this up above with his history of how the term came about. If you were there for it, then you understand that when we use "system" we're using it in the context of Ron's 5 Elements.

So, then this means that what Chris is saying is that he only objects to it beirg presented without that context. That if you say System, and don't refer to the history behind the specific definition, that you risk it being problematic. Well, first, I'd say that usually there is context behind these things. It might be subtle, but in a discussion of, say, the five elements itself, it should be pretty obvious that we're using the local definition. And, again, we do warn people that we use a lot of local definitions here. The other solution is to write a ton more than we do explaining the context of every term every time we use it. (Hmmm. What if Clinton put in a button that put a little sylized "F" into the text next to any term you wanted to use that would mean "Hey, I'm using this in the Forge context, so don't assume it means what you've heard elsewhere?") Jargon is a shorthand that facilitates discussion between those who understand it. Not a tool that I, for one, want to just give up on.

But moreover, I'm not at all against better terms. What I am against, however, is a constant evaluation of terms. That is, once a term has been defined, unless it's changed immediately (like in the thread in which it's created), I don't advocate changing that term just because of contextual problems. Why, if there might be better? Because it sets a terrible precdedent where terms change every single day. How do you decide if a term has been successfully changed? What if two camps (or more) start using different terms to describe the same thing? Eventually what you have is a morass of terms that nobody can understand at all. For terms to have any use, they have to have a generally accepted meaning in the community that uses them.

Better to accept that the people who make terms up are human, and don't always do the best job, and to stick with those terms for the most part.

Now, does that mean that a term can never change? Nope, happens all the time when compelling reasons are presented. For instance "premise" was so problematic that Ron was forced to change it to Creative Agenda. Note how the latter term was selected precisely for it's inability to be mistaken for something else in common use outside of the theory (as opposed to Premise).

So, the thing to do here, if you find the use of System to be problematic, is to state your case for a renaming, and make it happen. I could see that working in the case of System, for instance. Maybe. Depending.

In any case, simply saying that jargon is bad isn't going to do anything. We all understand implicitly the issues involved, but still need terms.

Mike


Title: Jargon
Post by: xiombarg on July 27, 2004, 07:12:28 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Why, John, you act as if you aren't complicit in accepting the definition of System. I've never once heard you say that it was problematic to adopt the term.

I'd like to mention, as an aside, that a lot of the time when I see people using this term in the sense it is used around here, they do what Mike is doing above -- they capitalize it.

Now, perhaps it's just me, but when I see that, it clues me that it's not "system" like "I have a system for eating pears" or "I like the Cyberpunk 2020 system", but something else.

So, perhaps, it's a simple matter to cut through this particular issue. When you use the word System in the sense it's used at the Forge, capitalize it. This way we can keep using the term as-is without calling it "Sybollium" or something, but there's still a resonable indication that it's actually a jargon term, just like when, writing an RPG, you might say something like "every character has certain Traits" as opposed to "every character has certain traits" (i.e. in the former case, it's supposed to be a "game term" unique to the game, just as System is a term unique to the Forge).

Perhaps I'm a simpleton, but it seems to be that adopting a simple capitalization scheme like this one whenever one is using a term that is ambiguous with "common usage" (like System) is a good compromise between what Ron calls Outlook #1 and Outlook #2. And the more people who adopt such a convention the clearer it will be. Plus, it's not terribly onerous as such conventions go.


Title: Jargon
Post by: ADGBoss on July 27, 2004, 08:46:26 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
Quote from: Valamir

The fact that horses come in fifteen different colors, doesn't make your giraffe a horse, and when you guys are all riding around on your giraffes, I feel really funny riding in on my horse.


For what it's worth we are not talking about a specific riding animal but your analogy struck me as very interesting.  To move it further or hijack it :) One way of looking at it is this: When some or most people say "riding animal" they think - Horse. So an assumption is made that anone riding into town will do so on a horse, because most people do in fact ride horses.  What I think goes on here at the Forge is akin to saying "Hey, you can ride Llamas, Giraffes, Ostriches, and all sorts of animals, beside horses."  So when we sa riding animal, the definition may seem alien to anyone who has never rode or tried to ride a Llama.

<shrug>


As always just my 2 Lunars.


Sean


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 27, 2004, 09:02:44 AM
Well, I don't agree with that extension of the analogy, but my grumbling isn't getting me anywhere so I'm going to cut it out.

I'm going to start a new thread, in ... Theory?  About what BIG-S System means, because I still don't get it.


Title: Jargon
Post by: xiombarg on July 27, 2004, 09:05:37 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
I'm going to start a new thread, in ... Theory?  About what BIG-S System means, because I still don't get it.

Okay, I have to comment on this: That is a very different issue than what you brought up. Jargon isn't bad because you don't understand it -- by definition, anyone new isn't going to understand the jargon. Condemning it on those grounds seems... odd to me. But I'll keep an eye out for the new thread.

Theory or GNS Discussion would be the right place for it, methinks.


Title: Jargon
Post by: John Kim on July 27, 2004, 09:08:57 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Why, John, you act as if you aren't complicit in accepting the definition of System. I've never once heard you say that it was problematic to adopt the term.

Suddenly this is just Mike making everyone else bow to his will?

Sorry, I didn't mean to single out you in this.  I disagree with your argument for jargon, but I agree that I am complicit for jargon in general.  I was actually surprised at how people were considering System (capitalized) in recent threads like Setting as a Part of System (long) and Player Ignorance, Lumpley Principle, and Setting.  

I think in part this comes from not using System as a term much in actual play discussions.  In practice, clear definitions come more from having a lot of examples -- rather than having a formal definition which relates it to other jargon.  For example, I would not have considered whether the GM and a player have a relationship to be a part of System.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Now, does that mean that a term can never change? Nope, happens all the time when compelling reasons are presented. For instance "premise" was so problematic that Ron was forced to change it to Creative Agenda. Note how the latter term was selected precisely for it's inability to be mistaken for something else in common use outside of the theory (as opposed to Premise).

So, the thing to do here, if you find the use of System to be problematic, is to state your case for a renaming, and make it happen. I could see that working in the case of System, for instance. Maybe. Depending.

Here I agree with Mike.  To Vaxalon: criticism of jargon is appropriate for Site Discussion.  However, if you want things to change, you should participate in discussions and respond to usage as it happens -- ideally with suggestions for better usage.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 27, 2004, 09:32:03 AM
Quote from: xiombarg
That is a very different issue than what you brought up. Jargon isn't bad because you don't understand it -- by definition, anyone new isn't going to understand the jargon.


Yes, it's a different issue, and that's why I'm starting a new thread.


Title: Jargon
Post by: M. J. Young on July 27, 2004, 07:29:28 PM
Quote from: Vaxalon
Quote from: Valamir
System is used to mean alot of things out there.  Some use it to refer to a published game including everything between the covers of the book(s).  Others limit it only to mechanics as distinct from setting.  Some will allow houserules to be included so that they'd say "we're using the Hero system" even if they'd made some pretty radical changes that other Hero system users would not accept.


Noone anywhere else but here uses it even REMOTELY like it's used here.

It might surprise you that I disagree with that statement. We actually use the word "system" very much as it is used by everyone else in the gaming hobby. It's just that we've thought about it more, and realized things about that usage that most people miss.

I'm sure you'll grant me that most people use "system" to mean, roughly, "what rules do you use to play?"

Now, most people will immediately answer that question with "D20" or "GURPS" or something like that; but if pressed, they'll give you more--"D20 Modern" or "GURPS Fantasy" (which are different systems, distinguishable from the first answers). Pressed further, they'll admit that they don't use certain rules, and that they have a few house rules that they use on their own. So they have a "system" by which they run their games which is based on a particular published game, but which is modified by other elements. They'll go that far with you, and agree that they use a home-rules modified version of a published game as their "system".

What we've recognized is that ultimately you have a "system" by which you run your games which is fundamentally based on interactions and negotiations between players at the table who through defined social relationships and functions are contributing to a shared imaginary space. That "system" may be based on a particular published game and modified by other elements, but what's actually being used to "run the game" is this social interaction.

That is, we still recognize that people are using a home-rules modified version of a published game, but we see one more layer, one critical component, between the rules in the book and the events in the game. That's the negotiated interactions of the players, which work by the system, which apportions credibility between them.

When someone picks up D20, there are some poorly implied concepts of distribution of credibility which get interpreted by the players, and further modified by their house rules, all through their interpersonal negotiations, to create the "sytem" they actually use in play. It contains rules from the books, overtly agreed house rules, and tacitly or covertly agreed house rules, as well as specific techniques which are used in play.

So in one sense you're playing d20, or Multiverser, or Sorcerer, or GURPS, and that is your "system"--or at least, part of it. In a very real sense, though, none of those can be the system you use (and I include my own game and Ron's on the list, because I'm not slamming any game here) because none of them really completely defines how you play your game. They only stand as guidebooks for how to do it--like a book on rock climbing can tell you a great deal about how to handle cliff faces in general, but you still have to apply those techniques your way when you come to the rock and start your climb. The system you use to play your game is very like the steps you take in climbing a particular mountain. The book can tell you how to handle different problems you'll face, but you'll make your own decisions on how to do it when you get there.

Maybe this would be better in the new thread (which I have not yet seen); but there's a lot to get through tonight, so I'm going to go ahead and post this here, and perhaps reference it from there.

I hope it helps.

Oh, and Mike: I'm on your side.

--M. J. Young


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 27, 2004, 08:36:18 PM
There's a duality here that seems to be conflated.

On the one hand, there's system-as-written and system-as-played.  Obviously, oftentimes, there are rules in SaW that do not show up in SaP.  These are the ones that are ignored, discarded, or just plain forgotten.  Therefore, SaP does not contain SaW every time.  

Likewise, obviously, there are rules in SaP that don't show up in SaW.  These are the house rules, the table conventions, the social contract if you want to include it.  So clearly SaW doesn't contain SaP either.


Title: Jargon
Post by: xiombarg on July 28, 2004, 06:08:00 AM
Quote from: Vaxalon
Likewise, obviously, there are rules in SaP that don't show up in SaW.  These are the house rules, the table conventions, the social contract if you want to include it.  So clearly SaW doesn't contain SaP either.

Right. And with the Forge's emphasis on actual play, System tends to refer to  "SaP".


Title: Jargon
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 28, 2004, 09:30:45 AM
Although system as written is often referenced. In fact we'll go out of our way to point that out in most cases, using the old wargamer terminology, "Rules as Written." The term Text gets used a lot, too.

Mike


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 29, 2004, 07:00:36 AM
Quote from: xiombarg
...with the Forge's emphasis on actual play, System tends to refer to  "SaP".


This seems to come down to the nub of it; The Forge tends to refer to "as played" and most people outside the Forge refer to "as written" or (if they're being a little more perspicacious) "as published plus our house rules".

I have already stated that these two sets, the "as written" and the "as played" are two different things, neither of which are contained within the other.  They're not the same thing, and neither is a subset of the other.

Which finally brings me to my original point, that when the word "system" is used in the Forge, it means something ("as played") that is different from what it means outside the forge ("as written", or "as published plus house rules").

You can make the point that the thing that the people outside the forge are ACTUALLY referring to is the same as the thing that is being referred to inside the Forge, and that may even be true (though I have already spoken to that point, and offered a refutation).  It doesn't change the fact, that when people use a word, for them at least, it means what they intend it to mean.


Title: Jargon
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 29, 2004, 07:07:22 AM
Vaxalon,

What are your goals in posting in this thread?

I cannot see them. Please tell me which of these applies.

1. You want your viewpoint to be heard and understood.

2. You want to influence or call for a change in how "the Forge" does things or  conducts discussions.

3. You want actually to change the vocabulary itself - i.e. re-write the Glossary.

4. You want one or more of the people who have disagreed with you to alter their viewpoints to be more like yours.

5. You want sympathy and attention because you don't feel as though you immediately fit in at the Forge with full expertise.

Bluntly, this thread has gone on for three pages with absolutely no fruitful outcome, not because "no one's listening to you," but because you are apparently determined to repeat yourself until ... something happens. I'd like to know which of the five somethings it is, or are.

To clarify my outlook, I think #1 has been amply fulfilled, that #2 is an ongoing process that you are free to participate in (like everyone else), that #3 is a perfectly fine option for you if you'd like to volunteer to do it, and that #4-5 are goals that I recommend abandoning quite quickly.

Best,
Ron


Title: Jargon
Post by: Vaxalon on July 29, 2004, 07:16:41 AM
You know, you're right.

Any goals that could have been achieved, have been.  Any goals that remain will never be achieved.  This will be my last post on this thread.