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Author Topic: Asrogoth's First Rant -- Edwardian Philology and RPG Design  (Read 5128 times)
Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« on: April 09, 2004, 04:57:35 PM »

My understanding was that this site was created to promote the GNS ramblings of Ron Edwards and to provide a forum for people to discuss the theories related to his premises (GNS/Creative Agenda).

Several people lately seem to be questioning the "integrity" of the site and its use of site-specific terms which are used in order to relate the theories as best as possible within the limits of human (more specifically the American dialect of English) language.

The reason I bring this up is that it seems that some of us need to take a step back and say, "yea, I'm here because I found these ideas intriguing, and I want to understand them, dispute them or just give them a big hug."

I agree, some of these theories seem to be "high-minded".  But that's the nature of the beast.  When talking Creative Agenda, we're talking THEORY.  This theory is based on practice, but it is not practice.

Please keep in mind that the language devoted to expressing this theory is specific to the nature of the discussion.  It may be difficult to apprehend the reasons for certain words chosen, but the reasons are generally explained in the specific essays of origination.

Furthermore, the English language is maleable enough to allow for multiple denotations and conotations of words.  Words such as Narrative and Simulation have multiple meanings aside from those assigned through the Forge website.

Please keep in mind that this site is specifically designed for people to talk about certain theories and their application while also dealing with creation of Independent RPGs.  The two co-exist and are not NECESSARILY intertwined.  On this website you can discuss the Gameyist Gamist Game ever and still not get involved in GNS theory.

So... to boil it down... Ron, the "Lord of the Forge" or "Prometheus" for short, has the last say about his theories.  If he decides to usurp particular common understandings of sacred words, that is his right.  He is sharing his ideas with us.  It therefore behooves us to try to get into his mind and understand his precepts -- it's his site -- if we're wanting to engage in discussion about his theories.  To propose that he has it wrong and try to redefine his theories before understanding them is a little underhanded and somewhat rude.

Finally, if you want to discuss "Actual Play", "Publication" and "Design", this website is a great place to be, and you're not required to wrap your head around Ron's (or anyone else's) theories of GNS/Creative Agenda.

Okay, my rant's done...
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"We know what we know because someone told us it was so."
Steve Samson
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2004, 08:36:38 AM »

Quote from: Asrogoth
My understanding was that this site was created to promote the GNS ramblings of Ron Edwards and to provide a forum for people to discuss the theories related to his premises (GNS/Creative Agenda).


and later...

Quote
So... to boil it down... Ron, the "Lord of the Forge" or "Prometheus" for short, has the last say about his theories. If he decides to usurp particular common understandings of sacred words, that is his right.


I cringed when I read these sentences. My understanding is that The Forge was created to promote the discussion and development of independent role-playing games. So far it's done a wonderful job (for me, at least) at accomplishing that goal. Since joining The Forge I have been inspired and educated and my game design ideas and ambitions have been given a solid focus and structure. I have also been able to participate in some lively discussions about some of Ron's ideas and their application to RPG design. And I've been able to do so without feeling that the "terminology police" were going to swoop down on me if I had a different understanding of one of Ron's terms.

As far as Ron's ideas, I appreciate his efforts to provide sound idealogical foundations to the art of RPG design. I don't agree with all of his assertions and I think in general that there is too much focus here at The Forge on terminology for the sake of terminology, rather than on the practical application of the ideas represented by the terminology. But that hasn't detracted from the value of The Forge (again, speaking for my own experience) as a haven for independent game designers looking for intelligent, helpful and well-grounded guidance. If The Forge really is a marketing tool for Ron to promote his own views (which I emphatically believe it is NOT) then it loses a lot of credibility in the RPG community and a lot of value to me and many other aspiring game designers.

Basically, I don't disagree with most of what you had to say, but alarms went off in my head at how you said it.  Any hint of The Forge as a "Cult of Ron" greatly undermines its value as a forum for the free exchange of ideas and its perception in the RPG community as a rich and diverse source of innovative game design.

Steve
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clehrich
Member

Posts: 1557


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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2004, 09:16:31 AM »

I agree fully with Steve.  I think Ron is generally quite adamant that the point of the Forge is to promote theoretical thinking about RPG's and to promote Indie RPG design and play more specifically.  Ron has a model, which is probably the most sophisticated around, and discussion of that model belongs in the forum dedicated to it.  Of course, sometimes the lines blur, and we get discussion and use of GNS terms and such in other forums, but the point of the RPG Theory forum, as I see it, is to discuss theory -- not to promote Ron's terms or model.

There is certainly validity in challenging and debating terms.  But there has to be a point to such challenge, not simply a matter of aesthetics.  And that, I think, is what has been going off the rails a bit lately.
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Chris Lehrich
Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2004, 09:21:39 AM »

Quote from: Steve Samson

I cringed when I read these sentences. My understanding is that The Forge was created to promote the discussion and development of independent role-playing games. So far it's done a wonderful job (for me, at least) at accomplishing that goal. Since joining The Forge I have been inspired and educated and my game design ideas and ambitions have been given a solid focus and structure. I have also been able to participate in some lively discussions about some of Ron's ideas and their application to RPG design. And I've been able to do so without feeling that the "terminology police" were going to swoop down on me if I had a different understanding of one of Ron's terms.


Steve,

This rant is about the fact that we've got people who decide that the theories are faulty because they misunderstand the use of certain vocabulary.  I have no problem with discussion of these ideas or theories, but to state that they are faulty because of our own misunderstandings is ridiculous.  It's like a "pagan" saying Christianity is an invalid religion because Christians are cannibals.  It's important to understand the terms in their native habitat in order to properly discuss them.

As for your concern over Indie Game discussion, that is part of the dual nature of this site.  The RPG theories are there to explain Ron's take on things.  He came up with an Indie game that won awards and "made a statement" to the gaming community because it was not "pop" fodder.  It was just a good game, created outside of the usual business model and paradigm.

Quote

As far as Ron's ideas, I appreciate his efforts to provide sound idealogical foundations to the art of RPG design. I don't agree with all of his assertions and I think in general that there is too much focus here at The Forge on terminology for the sake of terminology, rather than on the practical application of the ideas represented by the terminology. But that hasn't detracted from the value of The Forge (again, speaking for my own experience) as a haven for independent game designers looking for intelligent, helpful and well-grounded guidance. If The Forge really is a marketing tool for Ron to promote his own views (which I emphatically believe it is NOT) then it loses a lot of credibility in the RPG community and a lot of value to me and many other aspiring game designers.

Basically, I don't disagree with most of what you had to say, but alarms went off in my head at how you said it.  Any hint of The Forge as a "Cult of Ron" greatly undermines its value as a forum for the free exchange of ideas and its perception in the RPG community as a rich and diverse source of innovative game design.

Steve


I would not try to suggest that the Forge is a "marketing tool" in any shape or form.  Ron's got that at http:// [url]http://www.sorcerer-rpg.com if you're interested.  No, this site is the place for him to provide his theories, for people to discuss them -- and for people to discuss Indie RPGs.  The two again are combined into one site and not mutually exclusive -- and not necessarily mutually "inclusive"; although that is the desired result.

As for the "Cult of Ron", I would hope that no one would ever come away from here with that idea.  I'm sure Ron would be horrified with the thought that people are "worshipping" at the "his" altar.  But, we also need to be respectful of his ideas, just like we would anyone else's and recognize that this site is largely due to his theories and postulations.  If Plato were around to create a web site, wouldn't it be rather presumptuous to expect him to codify every word and make apologies for his unusual treatment of the terms used for reality, shadows and being?

I am not necessarily stating Ron's running in those leagues (apologies Ron), but the same courtesy that would be extended to others -- listening to their ideas and attempting to understand them before "dissecting" their choices of vocabulary -- seems to be most appropriate.

I'm glad you had very few problems with my rant in general, and I apologize if I made it seem "cultish".  That was not my intent.  My intent was for us to remember that we are attempting to think about someone else's ideas which requires patience, not random warbling. ;)

Fire away....
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Paganini
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Posts: 1049


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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2004, 09:29:36 AM »

The rant works fine if you just replace "The Forge" with "The GNS Theory Forum."
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Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2004, 09:36:23 AM »

Quote from: Paganini
The rant works fine if you just replace "The Forge" with "The GNS Theory Forum."


Paganini,

Thank you.  I think that would clarify my point.  Although, it was my understanding that the entire site was created to assist Indie design with the hope that Ron's GNS ideas would help designers in their creative goals; therefore, making their use "implicit" throughout the site.

However, it is obvious that GNS need not be discussed in every forum -- nor should it be.

As it has been pointed out to me (even recently) GNS should not be the starting point of game design -- your goals of design should be.  GNS should rarely be a subject of "Actual Play" within the gaming group -- it's a product of the Social Contract (and hopefully the system used).

Anyway, I should shut up now... I think I'm beginning to ramble.

Thanks so far for the lively discussion.
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ethan_greer
Member

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2004, 07:58:39 AM »

Quote from: Asrogoth
Although, it was my understanding that the entire site was created to assist Indie design with the hope that Ron's GNS ideas would help designers in their creative goals; therefore, making their use "implicit" throughout the site.

Not exactly. The Forge is just about promotion and encouragement of creator-owned RPGs. Ron's GNS articles are simply one of his contributions to that goal. Although it might be seen as a major purpose of the Forge, the GNS forum actually exists to prevent GNS discussion from eating the RPG Theory forum.

Uh, I think. Clinton or Ron should feel free to correct me if I got that wrong...
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Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2004, 09:22:06 AM »

Hi folks,

The Forge is NOT about Ron's ideas nor terminology.  It's about the promotion of creator owned roleplaying design AND actual play.  

GNS just happens to be the most developed theory here and many people have been encouraged to step up and take effort to develop their own ideas(take a look at Fang Langford's Scattershot Forums).  

Not just GNS, but by posting anything here, you are agreeing to have your ideas subject to criticism.  You may be asked to clarify, explain, or prove any idea you submit.  On the other hand, criticism is to be based on reasoned thought, not opinion or personal attacks.

It is perfectly fair to say, "The terminology has issue X", provided you can explain what that issue is, and what should be done about it.  And mostly, when you have an issue, the best way to deal with it is to do it yourself.

Most of the empty complaints in the past, and in general, usually boil down to, "I want to understand the theory without putting in the effort(of reading, digesting, comparing and observing actual play)", which is not much different than "I want to be healthy but I don't want to change my lifestyle".  Then there is also the complaint of "I don't understand it, therefore it is wrong".

These are the sorts of empty criticisms which are useless to everyone involved.  Criticism that comes from understanding allows both sides to re-evaluate and get closer to mutual understanding.

Chris

That said, saying "Think clearly" hasn't worked for ages, I don't think it wil start now :)
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Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2004, 10:25:26 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei

That said, saying "Think clearly" hasn't worked for ages, I don't think it wil start now :)


LOL!!!!

My bad... alright everyone, you heard it... THINK CLEARLY.

End of rant.
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"We know what we know because someone told us it was so."
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2004, 08:14:11 AM »

Lot's of misconceptions here.

Simulation and narration have exactly the same meaning here as they do anywhere else. Simulationism is not simulation, and Narrativism isn't narrative. Hence why they're spelled differently. Isolationsim is about a whole lot more than just isolation. This is always true of isms.

Arguments are never made here (well it's never approved of, and corrected when it happens) that people are wrong because they use the terminology incorrectly. If someone suspects that someone is using the terminology incorrectly, they are pointed to where the definition is, and then asked if that's what they mean. We must know what a term means when somebody uses it or we cannot communicate. That said, we don't all just adapt to anybody's suggested change to the meaning of a term without a review of the advantages of doing so. So, the terminology tends to continue to have the same meaning, though that doesn't mean that it can't change and adapt. Indeed it does all the time. See Premise (now CA) for a good example.

Further, the site is not focused on promoting GNS as a game design tool. In fact, I personally am the biggest advocate of the idea, and even I admit that GNS has limited applicability in terms of designing games. Ron has said at times that it has even less applicability than I think it does - almost none. Ron, I, and most others agree here that GNS is one small part of game theory - an important early discovery, maybe, but one that should yeild at some point to more important theories. Indeed we talk regularly about where to go from here with GNS, and many people promote theories that are alternatives or address other (potentially much more important) issues than GNS.

So, any claim that the site is GNS focused in terms of agenda is in error. Indeed, the GNS forum was created to prevent GNS from completely dominating the theory discussions (by giving space to discuss any other theory without GNS interference). Hence the Theory forum. That didn't exist until Ron decided that GNS needed to be toned down in importance.

I'm not sure if this post is warranted in terms of convincing you at this point. But I wanted to post this as a counter to your claims. I'm not saying that the sort of thing that you're talking about never happens. But most everyone here would agree that it's wrong. If/when it does, please notify me or any of the other invested posters here, and we'll help you smack down anybody using such poor arguing technique. We work hard here to prevent just such impressions from forming, and I'm rather dismayed to see that you have this opinion.

Mike
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Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2004, 11:00:00 AM »

Mike,

Thank you for your post.  Please don't be "dismayed" about my ideas.  I had gotten them while reading through the old posts in RPG Theory and GNS Theory from the beginning of the site.  Also, reading some of John Kim's stuff and various other linked articles, essays and threads I could find on the basic subject of GNS and rpg theory.

I admit that I could very well be mistaken on my understanding as to why the Forge came about -- I stated a "dual" nature of promoting Ron's theories on GNS and support for indie game design/publication.

Regardless of my "theory" on site creation, the important things have been elucidated by you and several others -- this site is for the promotion of indie games -- regardless of GNS theories -- which is what I was really trying to stress in a round about way.  GNS (if used at all in game design or play) should be secondary to the act of creation and should only be involved in the "removed" parts of game design and play.  It is a theory for understanding "why" and "how" we play, not for determining what we "have to do".

GNS is a designer's and gamer's tool that allows for greater creativity because the designer or player is better able to understand how the game can (maybe should?) be played.
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"We know what we know because someone told us it was so."
Asrogoth
Member

Posts: 92


« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2004, 05:44:53 PM »

doh!!!!!


Prometheus isn't the god of the forge!!!  That's Hephestus (sp?).


So, Ron, my apologies... you're not the Prometheus of this board but the Hephestus!!


My mistake....

Toodles...


PS  Did I just say "toodles?"  Someone shoot me quick.
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"We know what we know because someone told us it was so."
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