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Author Topic: Heresy! Trollbabe needs a new name.  (Read 4473 times)
Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« on: July 28, 2004, 05:11:59 PM »

I have encountered a lot of resistance (even more than I expected) to Trollbabe because of the name.  Everyone I hand it to looks at me funny.  "Ignore the name.  It's good, really."

It's really the only barrier to getting people to play it that I've encountered.

Ron, what other titles did you consider and discard when making this game, and why?
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2004, 05:35:15 PM »

Vaxalon, I think you'll find that the name is one of the main points in the design. Ron designed the game precisely because of reactions like those you've encountered.

From where I'm sitting, telling your pals to "ignore the name" is tantamount to saying, "Aw, forget a huge part of what the game's really about and what it's for."

What the game is really about, as far as I can discern, can be found here: Trollbabe, feminism, and the chain mail bikini

It certainly explains Ron's ambitions far better than I could, and maybe more explicitly than Ron generally does.
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Matt Snyder
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2004, 06:31:04 PM »

Hi  Vax,

I didn't consider a single other title. Trollbabe was and is perfect.

Bear in mind that I have kind of a funny take on things like "how can I get people to play this game."

Given your inquiry, I'll explain a bit about where I'm coming from as a designer. I'm not especially interested in appealing to the broadest number of people - I'm interested in nailing something specific for those who tune into that exact thing.

In the case of Trollbabe, that thing is best understood as underground, or perhaps countercultural, especially in reference to women's choices in life, sexuality, and to a lesser degree violence. It begins with images and words that in most cases are connected with points and themes that are used toward abusive (in this case, sexist-marginalizing) goals in our culture.

The immediate reaction to something like that is often reflexive, pushing it away or expressing disapproval for some kind of detail. The people you're talking to very likely understand already that there is no possible way that the words of a game's title can possibly affect how good or bad the experience of play is. Therefore, and in my experience, such reactions cover the fact that the people would very much like to see these images/words utilized to more positive ends, but have no faith that it can happen.

Trollbabe is visually, textually, and experientially designed to bring that desire into the light and to pay off tremendously.

To attract people to Trollbabe, the best thing to do is leave it lying out (perhaps with a color-printed cover) and let people respond to it, not to you suggesting it as a game.

Them: "What is this? Trollbabe?

You: "Mmn, yeah. Great game." (turn away, do other stuff, display no interest in whether they are looking at it)

The illustrations and a lot of the singled-out text, visually speaking, are designed to grab them - yes, those exact people - on their own. They work well to that end in the current version, and my plan for the eventual hard copy is to maximize this effect to a very extreme degree.

If you do hand it to someone, and they react to the name, your best bet is to ignore that completely. Don't even say "Ignore the name" - by doing that, you are already confirming that the book's title is a "bad thing" and by extension representing its contents. Yes, even if you say "Ignore it," the message is actually the opposite. You're also apologizing for something that needs no apologies.

Best,
Ron
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pete_darby
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2004, 02:49:37 AM »

For the interested student, compare and contrast Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

To my mind, quite similar approaches: titles that sound, well, ick, but do exactly what the title says with much goodness & kickness of posteriors.
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Pete Darby
Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2004, 05:16:48 AM »

Everyone that I have shown the game to, who hasn't seen it before, has had a negative reaction to the name, to the point of not being interested in reading further, of not wanting to listen to my explanations of what the game is about.

How is that a good thing?

I've read "Trollbabe, feminism, and the chain mail bikini" and it doesn't address my point.

I understand what Trollbabe is all about, and it doesn't address my point.

WRT Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Trollbabe doesn't have the WB's marketing department behind it to redefine the image.

Quote
The people you're talking to very likely understand already that there is no possible way that the words of a game's title can possibly affect how good or bad the experience of play is.


That hasn't been my experience.  The people I have talked to believe that the title is descriptive of the game.  I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that the title of a game describes what the game is about.

Quote
To attract people to Trollbabe, the best thing to do is leave it lying out (perhaps with a color-printed cover) and let people respond to it, not to you suggesting it as a game.


Lying out where?  On the coffee table?  First of all, I have visitors who aren't there for a game, hmm, twice a year, and it's either my mother or my wife's.   People come to my house for one reason; to play a game I invited them there to play.  That happens about once a month if I'm lucky.  If I leave it out for a guest to discover, I estimate it'll be about five years before I get a chance to run this thing.

It MIGHT work with my mother.  For one session, an hour or two... but her visits are too short and she's always more interested in seeing the grandkids and catching up on things.  90% no-go.

And don't even START to suggest playing Trollbabe with my MIL.  SO not happening.  She's there to see the kids, not me or my wife.

Maybe your reverse-psychology marketing works for you.  I just don't have the kind of gaming life that will support it.

Is this selfish?  Hell, yeah.  I play games for me, and for the people I play with, not for the author.  Is this solipsistic?  Yep, that's true too.  My gaming world is the only gaming world I experience directly, so it's the one that I care most about.

My wife is disabled; I can only rarely get out of the house for a game.  I have to be OUTGOING with my gaming life.  If I'm passive, then nothing happens.

Quote
I'm not especially interested in appealing to the broadest number of people - I'm interested in nailing something specific for those who tune into that exact thing.


Maybe this is the essence of my problem; the people I game with don't grok it, and as a result, the game would never click with them anyways.  If the title is a problem, then (according to Ron) the whole game would be a problem.  The title is supposed to keep out the people who don't understand.

Sucks to be me, I guess.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Christopher Weeks
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Posts: 683


« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2004, 05:39:27 AM »

Quote from: Vaxalon
Maybe this is the essence of my problem; the people I game with don't grok it, and as a result, the game would never click with them anyways...Sucks to be me, I guess.


When I didn't have anyone to play indie games with I started watching for folks posting to the Forge that were near me.  I wrote to them.  We talked.  We interfaced at a con and then started occasionally getting together.

Maybe you could game with other people sometimes.

Chris
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2004, 05:41:11 AM »

I really don't think you understand just how limited my ability to get out of the house really is.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2004, 05:54:03 AM »

Hi Vax,

You've effectively explained why nothing and no one can help you. My only possible answer to your concern as a customer is "Thanks for buying the game, have a nice day."

Best,
Ron
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2004, 06:12:22 AM »

Like I said, sucks to be me.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
pete_darby
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2004, 06:31:10 AM »

Just a quicky from me... WB marketing has little or nothing to do with it.

As an "early adopter" of Buffy, the initial reaction to the title, and concept, was "holy cow, something with that name can only be so lame as to be worth watching for sneering mockery points."

As I got drawn in, it dawned on me that my problems with it at the early stage were just that: my problems with it. That a series with a preppy californian blonde called buffy fighting the forces of darkness could only suck was just plain wrong, and taught me a lot about some of my more "socially acceptable" prejudices.

Hence Trollbabe. Has to suck, right?

When folk dissed Buffy on the name / concept after I'd got into it, I'd just shrug and say "You're missing a great show. Your loss." If you want folks to get interested in Trollbabe, leave it out, and if they diss it based on the cover, shrug and say "Great game, your loss."

It's not like you're leaving kill puppies for satan out or anything...

Of course, you could just tell your players your running it for them...
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Pete Darby
Valamir
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2004, 07:03:05 AM »

I think your fear of repercussions is making this more difficult for you then it needs to be.  Seems pretty simple to me.  All you need to do is say:

"Saturday's gaming day.  If you come over on Saturday we will be playing Trollbabe.  I think its a fantastic game I really want to try and share with you.  If you don't wish to play Trollbabe, then don't bother coming over"

Then you simply play with whoever shows up.

If no one shows up, then you've learned a really good lesson about the sorts of friends you've been gaming with.

Seems win-win to me.
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2004, 07:12:03 AM »

The social contract in my gaming group isn't that authoritarian.  What we play is a matter of consensus; people propose different ideas for what to play, and whatever generates the most interest is what gets played.

First of all, my wife is part of the group.  I can't tell her not to bother coming over, because she's already here.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2004, 07:17:02 AM »

Folks, it's clear that Vaxalon is not asking, "How can I get people to play Trollbabe," but rather, "No one will play Trollbabe with me and I can't play with anyone else."

There is nothing we can do about that. It has nothing to do with the title (no, Vax, it doesn't). It has also, apparently, absolutely intractable to any kind of suggestion. It is literally not a topic for discussion - Vaxalon is making it perfectly clear that there's nothing to discuss.

Best,
Ron
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2004, 07:44:51 AM »

That's what it morphed into as time went on.  My initial question was about how the name was chosen; that was answered very emphatically in the first responses.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2004, 04:58:59 PM »

This may be off-topic, but I'd greatly encourage you to choose a setting-less narrativist game like Univeralis to sell to people who get finnicky about details if you're unable to get better players.
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