*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 20, 2021, 07:49:09 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 211 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: 1 2 3 [4]
Print
Author Topic: Bricolage APPLIED (finally!)  (Read 55413 times)
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


WWW
« Reply #45 on: February 18, 2005, 12:39:40 PM »

Quote from: Sean

I'd actually like to see some narrow and even 'accumlulationist' mechanics for this sort of thing, like a Collection of Meaningful Facts, the character as a curiosity cabinet. More magical than the list of magic items maybe.


I mentioned this to Chris in a PM, but upon reading the initial article for this thread, I immediately thought of Universalis as a game that supports this sort of bricolage on some level.  The ongoing group construction of Components might be the sort of thing that Sean is talking about, here.

Maybe.  Assuming that I read him right.
Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
J. Tuomas Harviainen
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #46 on: February 18, 2005, 01:10:22 PM »

Quote from: Sean
Superficially, I'm inclined to disagree with you. What you see as a difference in kind I see as simply an additional technique: the reassignment of functional roles within the imagined space to real objects. Not much different than waving a pencil around as a magic wand, or handing out a 'scroll' or similar widget, in a tabletop game. Just a matter of degree.


This is a (hopefully small) sidestep from the topic, but you've hit one of the core debates of the intra-Nordic rpg theory discussion here: the viewpoint issue on whether the epokhe vs. eidetic reduction (my choice of description, but the core is essentially the same) is a matter of degree or two diametrically opposed ways of approaching role-playing. (I personally favor the latter, and thus approach the situation discussed here from that perspective.)

Quote
So anyway. I agree that in a certain kind of immersive LARP there's going to be relatively less bricolage-in-play than in an RPG, but it seems to me that it still happens, and has to.


This is where your (well-refined and presented, I must admit) interpretation is wrong. An accurate description would be that the possibility of negotiation exists, but is not availlable to the players, just the GM. Thus bricolage does not actualize. Think of it as the difference between a communal ritual where everyone may participare in their own way (tabletop rpg) versus a ritual where everything is up to the shaman who has esoteric knowledge he won't share (experiential larp). While both contain the same theoretical potential for negotiation, only one features the possibility of the negotiation really happening without a huge risk of the ritual being broken.
Logged

LordSmerf
Member

Posts: 864


« Reply #47 on: February 18, 2005, 02:17:05 PM »

Quote from: J. Tuomas Harviainen
This is where your (well-refined and presented, I must admit) interpretation is wrong. An accurate description would be that the possibility of negotiation exists, but is not availlable to the players, just the GM. Thus bricolage does not actualize. Think of it as the difference between a communal ritual where everyone may participare in their own way (tabletop rpg) versus a ritual where everything is up to the shaman who has esoteric knowledge he won't share (experiential larp). While both contain the same theoretical potential for negotiation, only one features the possibility of the negotiation really happening without a huge risk of the ritual being broken.


Perhaps this needs a new thread, if the answer isn't a simple "Yes" then I will kick one off if you don't.

Is this a feature exclusive to a type of LARP play, or do you see this in certain types of table top play?  I think that this is a feature of extremely high Immersion table top games.  Where the players are so deep into the characters that this is exactly what you're talking about.  Or am I missing something about eidetic reduction?

Thomas
Logged

Current projects: Caper, Trust and Betrayal, The Suburban Crucible
clehrich
Member

Posts: 1557


WWW
« Reply #48 on: February 18, 2005, 02:29:26 PM »

Quote from: LordSmerf
Perhaps this needs a new thread, if the answer isn't a simple "Yes" then I will kick one off if you don't.

Is this a feature exclusive to a type of LARP play, or do you see this in certain types of table top play?  I think that this is a feature of extremely high Immersion table top games.  Where the players are so deep into the characters that this is exactly what you're talking about.  Or am I missing something about eidetic reduction?
I'd like to see this as its own thread.  I don't mean I want to banish it from this one, but I think it deserves its own separate treatment---and I very much want to read that!
Logged

Chris Lehrich
Sean
Guest
« Reply #49 on: February 18, 2005, 02:37:24 PM »

Seth - yes, that's what I'm on about. I think Universalis play, especially in the hands of less experienced groups, involves this kind of process. I wonder though if it starts to slip away for skilled Uni groups with a clearly Narrativist CA. Still, the play example in the text with the Meadow seems like a really solid example of what you're talking about and what I had in mind both.

Christian - as it turns out, I knew Peter Winch rather well before he passed on. Paraphrased in his terms, I think what you're saying is that we have to understand not only the 'behavior' of people in a culture, but the kinds of understanding and reason they themselves give for that behavior - its 'point' as they see it. And since languages involve (on your view) a culture-wide process of bricolage, translation necessarily leaves out the non-cross-cultural aspects of another culture's group piecemeal construction. Interesting...

Tuomas - if the players are robbed of all authority to negotiate stuff, then yeah, I guess I'd have to agree with you - only the GM is doing anything like this. But:

(1) Doesn't what's being said still hold for the GM?

(2) Wouldn't it be possible to give players in such a LARP the authority to do this for themselves? If I was immersed as, say, an alchemist, I'd much prefer to be able to pick up a coffee cup and say it was an alembic or the like - that would free me up like mud pies does.

(3)  Some tabletop GMs arrogate similar authority to themselves, and likewise in the name of immersive play sometimes, or so it seems to me. It seems like the main difference in LARPs is just the whole-body character of it.

So I think I see a little better where you're coming from but I'm not persuaded. We should probably pursue this in a new thread if it's worth pursuing though.
Logged
clehrich
Member

Posts: 1557


WWW
« Reply #50 on: February 18, 2005, 02:42:13 PM »

Quote from: xenopulse
My actual play example: .... crossbows really should be more dangerous. ....
Nice example.  Can I steal it?
Quote
Secondly, it helped me to understand this phenomenon when looking at it from the perspective of my own field. I have my M.A. in Political Science. It seems to me that what we're seeing is a constitution--i.e., the social contract--and the specific laws that are created based on that. We always check: Does this specific law (action, mechanic, IIEE distribution) violate our constitution? If so, it needs to be changed. Now, people change, groups change, and so the interporetation of the constitution changes. And sometimes the damn thing just needs to be rewritten. The important part about it is that it's vague. It has some clear guidelines, but overall, the implications and implementations are open to discussion, testing, and fiddling.
Somewhere I have a bunch of references to structural analyses of British Common Law and American law, with the idea of the precedent interacting with constitutional law to generate a notion of certainty where it is necessarily absent.  I'll see if I can't dig that up.
Quote
P.S.: As to your point about translating the French originals, translations never perfectly work, actually for bricolage reasons. Language is a prime example of bricolage. You cannot export ideas one-on-one in every aspect from one culture to another (see Peter Winch, The Idea of a Social Science). I am frequently frustrated with English translations of Kant and Hegel. But there are just basic cultural interpretations in there that are really tough to translate properly. I guess we all just need to learn more languages and spend some time immersed in other cultures :)
You're entirely right about this point, but the translation of The Savage Mind is not in fact a good example.  The problems there are not especially the result of this kind of cultural mismatch, though there is certainly some of that at work.  The main problem is that the translators (3 of them, in succession) simply didn't understand the book, and screwed things up.  For example, they  translate technical terms indifferently, by which I mean that a single technical term consistently applied by Levi-Strauss gets multiple different terms in the English, without remark, so that readers cannot see the connections at all.  The translation is so poor, in fact, that no translator was willing to sign his name to it!  Even Clifford Geertz, who hates Levi-Strauss and all he stands for, trashed the translation as "execrable."  

The book certainly cannot be translated perfectly, of course, and not just for the deep reasons you mention.  For example, the title, La pensee sauvage, could mean both "savage thought" or the like OR "wild pansy," which is to say viola tricolor, the Johnny Jump-up.  It is a spectacularly untranslatable pun.  And what's annoying about that is that Levi-Strauss actually does mean both: the flower is a really good example of what he thinks "savage thought" is like: familiar, under our noses, even beloved, with deep emotional resonance, and yet completely wild and untamed.

But all that aside, the translation mostly sucks because it's badly done.
Logged

Chris Lehrich
xenopulse
Member

Posts: 527

Heretic Forgite


WWW
« Reply #51 on: February 18, 2005, 03:12:21 PM »

Chris,

Sure, feel free to use the example.

I don't want to clutter up your thread with more discussions on structural analysis of politics and difficulties of translations, so maybe we'll do that via PM sometime. Just let me add that Hegel's Geist is probably comparable to the La pensee sauvage pun in its multiple meanings. And that I get irritated when people conflate words to one translation as well; even such usually meticulous scholars as Mary Gregor translates Kant's Zufriedenheit and Befriedigung both as "satisfaction," even though that's a core differentiation between "being at peace and positively content-ness" and "satisfaction."

Anyway, back on topic. I do think that there are positive and negative ways that bricolage can work. My own example is not a positive one. I don't even think it reinforced the group. Why not? Because we have power structures in our group. The GM and the longest standing player make all of these sorts of decisions. Sure, they publicly state that anyone can say whether they'd like rules changes or more input, but when it comes down to it, I am just not as willing to put the time and effort into trying to fix something as broken as AD&D 2e. And switching systems has been flat out rejected.

Positive examples clearly include your SitF. Actually encouraging bricolage in-game and giving guidelines and currency for people to make these changes (also apparent in Universalis, of course) and adopt the game to their own interpretation has great potential. It sounds like Multiverser has similar potential, though in a more reactive rather than proactive way.

Actually, today, I finally understood your game. Not just how it works, but why. And why that is a good thing. It seems to strike a balance between focused constraint and creative potential, and that balance is player-driven. Actually, that's very cool.
Logged

contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #52 on: February 22, 2005, 03:12:47 PM »

My apologies for coming to this rather late.

That was very interesting. But also interestingly, it was not at all what I was hoping for.  I was not thinking so much of mechanics but the rest of the game space, and I fear that emphasis may have been unfortunate.  It would seem to me to probably be more useful to detach the concept of bricolage from Levi-Strauss and examine instead only the procedural similarities.  Recognising that bricolage as applied in mythology is useful as precedent and referent for the argument that this process also characterises RPG’s but then we should move on to discussing it in RPG’s.

So here’s my rough take on the topic to date.  My brief survey of bricolage as art technique shows some very simple mechanisms such as addition, subtraction, juxtaposition and so on.    With the analogy to native mythology in mind, I think it seems reasonable to see the use of similar techniques in RPG, and spaces for them to be used further.  Whenever an object is introduced into the game space – such as, for example, the text establishing “the elvish kingdom” – it becomes one of the objects in the bricoleurs shed and can be manipulated.  The incorporation of “the elvish kingdom” into a character concept or motivation or locale in the game space is such a usage.  In the case of incorporation into characters I think this takes us back to one of Sil’s earlier points regarding representation.


Quote
Well, Sean's remark on "subversive" certainly hit some chords, now didn't it? I have to think about this. Put that way, out of context, it sounds so anti-Levi-Strauss it's got to be wrong. But given that the phrase "System does matter" means something specific here at the Forge, I have to wonder whether you may not be right, or whether it entails a different conception of "system," or what.


I’m going to differ and instead argue that the importance of system can be seen to arise from your argument.  Or perhaps, to be echoed in your argument.   As I see it, if everything is vague, as is necessarily the case where connections are formed by intuition and inspiration, then the credibility to make firm statements about the limits to the objects – such as the need to dismantle the toaster – is a precious commodity to be mediated by system.  Ultimately, the only way to make a positive assertion into the SIS is with the active or tacit consent of your peers, and system serves to structure and organise this arrangement.

In fact I think the significance of ambiguity is kinda going in the wrong direction.  There are limits to the associations you can draw to real objects because of their real nature; that physicality is common to all observers, in the first instance.  In RPG there is no physicality to play this coordinating role, and personal credibility necessarily steps into the gap.  I think RPG should be seen as more ambiguous than myth in this regard – system and the other players mediate what is possible.

I suspect that some issues of social status and hence credibility will also be present in indigenous populations mythology and may not be explicit either; that is, such status may constitute one of the tacit rules about what is sayable and who can say it.

Another aspect of system that I think arises from this view is the issue of system introducing time to the imaginary space.  Just as you mention the irreversibility of the stripping down of the toaster, system lends permanence to certain decisions, moves the action causally from step to step.

Sean wrote
Quote

I think this article also may shed some indirect light on the curious need of many role-players to feel like a 'game' or 'campaign' is open-ended and indefinite even though in practical fact they know that it's unlikely to last more than six months. The feeling of open-endedness or indefiniteness is necessary for many minds to get into this kind of meaning-making process, I think.


Yes an interesting point.  I agree the feeling of indefiniteness looks like a good fit, its’ interesting to speculate on what this means.  Perhaps it is as simple as a creative freedom, but this flies in the face of my perception that sim entails discovery, and also
in the light of this form of play being most common in heavily GM-directed contexts.

Perhaps it is merely because the purpose IS unclear, indefinite, rather than absent.  Perhaps it can be discovered, or deduced.  I shall have to think about that some more.


Komradebob wrote:
Quote

bricolage= Found Art+ constraints on materials ( limited choice of materials, reuse of materials) ?
bricolage as applied here is basically doing the same thing, but with ideas rather than physical objects?
If this is essentially correct, why are we using bricolage instead of the (arguably) more accesible Found Art?


Also a good point; I’m in favour actually.  My researches such as they have been into bricolage as art technique have not been startlingly successful, and I’m not sure that mere collage is not good enough.  Perhaps precisely because the original was coined in another language we should not get hung up about the specificity.  Also I think we have move past the point already at which the specific aboriginal mythic context of the coining is appropriate any longer, and should just grab the essence and get on with it.  The point of identifying the parallel between myth and RPG as bricolage, that itself being only a metaphor, is to identify an independently existing prtoxcess in the real world which we can mine for controls to experiments, source of analogies, and so forth.  What we don’t actually need to do much of is worry about what Levi-Strauss meant, with all due respect.

--

I outlined the kind of territory I think this gets us into in the second paragraph.  Really these are not complex ideas about bringing elements “objects” if you will, into and out of the game space.  What the precedent allows is an opportunity to see that this can be functional, is not just senseless speculation.  Surely if I take “the elvish kingdom” and add it to the game space, and then I add “the orkish hordes”, and then I remove “the elvish kingdom” from the game space, I have already created a kind of meaning.  I’ve damn near created story (although of course I have not for all sorts of story-structural reasons).  Actually executing that in a game now becomes a purposeful act – even better, and act for which we can design.

After my collage, bricolage, found art, whatever, actions on the game space (assuming I have the credibility to do them), that space is now different, the meanings have changed.  Elvish Camelot has fallen, or the mighty warriors of the orkish Khan have achieved their destiny – all that is in point of view, in specific construction.  Movement, time, has been introduced, the Colour has come alive.

The Found Art aspect of all this also explains and expands the way players interact with setting, I think.  We know that, necessarily, the specific content of an SIS re any particular game setting will vary from local game to local game.  Maybe you found the guard on the left of the gate, I found him on the right, whatever.  This is precisely the fact that has impeded metaplot construction – the metaplot must be specific for it to be that plot, but in order to remain specific in the local game, it can’t be touched and can’t be manipulated by the, umm artist, if I’m not going to say bricoleur.  That’s broken from the get go.

But with any luck the utility of this concept will be to produce methods of sim-satisfying structured settings and game play.  Hopefully, ALL I need to know in phase 2 of my game/metaplot is that elvish Camelot has fallen; I can now structure further work based on the knowledge that these conceptual associations are flitting about, regardless of what the specific local story of the fall of elvish Camelot was.  

Again, I think the specifics of the anthropological context of bricolage are now irrelevant, if the similarity has been sufficiently demonstrated.  In the local game – the local tribe to which the anthropologist is a stranger – there WILL be a “mythic” construction that WILL contain much ambiguity and that WILL be contextual and incomprehensible to outsiders.  It will contain impressions, cultural perceptions that vary geographically, all sorts of things.  But we can still design into that space I think by realising we can still control the elements found in the shed.

We can also reset the shed, because the shed doesn’t actually exist either.    We can negotiate local social contracts based on this realisation.  How about we had a discussion like this at the outset of a game – in phase one, one of the objects in the shed will be “Chicago”;  in phase 2, “Chicago” will be removed and replaced with “Los Angeles”, and in phase 3 “Los Angeles” will be again removed and replaced with “Chicago”. ZAP a comprehension about the game is created in the minds of the participants, and I have not had to discuss plot or story.  Establishing this in such a vague form allows it be vaguely taken up; this would hopefully negate something of the resistance players give to such direction.  Maybe one of them is running a bar and would not by inclination leave, but by establishing this at the player level rather than the character, mutual cooperation might with any luck emerge; at least the player has reason to believe their investment to date is not about to be wiped out.

Of course they still don’t know whether they are going for years or days but at least they have been implicitly reassured through the prior negotiation that the move is not permanent, they are not simply being driven hither and yon.  Ambiguity is thus exploited for both reassurance and insecurity.  Now this example assumes some vigorous central control, but extending the concept to multiple-GM type games also opens opportunity.  Perhaps we establish a cast of dramatis personae and then play RPG Big Brother with the NPC’s – this week, Prince Vanya is being voted off, how will he go?  How do we reconcile the sudden absence of the Vanya object in the shed, how do the rest of the objects settle?

Perhaps we play The Fall of the Empire, and outposts disappear one by one.  Perhaps we play The Rise of the Empire, and outposts appear one by one (perhaps the players even found one).  Perhaps settlements change colour as their allegiance switches.  Perhaps I am a lord and can create my own minions, but thereafter they are subject to the manipulation of others, being objects thrown into the shed.  Or raise my children.  What this offers is a purposeful rather than serendipitous approach to manipulation of the setting material.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Silmenume
Member

Posts: 467


« Reply #53 on: February 22, 2005, 04:15:21 PM »

Hey Contracycle,

Wow.  I'm not sure of all the implications or nuances of what you have posted, but by and large you have nicely summarized virtually all the ideas I have been overtly and subconsciously playing with.  My tuning fork is resonating very strongly with what you have presented here.   I'm in love with the notions of "the shed", and how it is "filled" (the "movement of items in and out" of the "shed") as being extremely important (highlighting the importance of "time") and an excellent place to focus on in game design and play execution/process.

I wish I had something more constructive to add, but alas all I can say is, "Right on!"
Logged

Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #54 on: February 23, 2005, 01:52:33 AM »

Fantastic, I had hoped that was the case and am glad to see your confirmation.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
pete_darby
Member

Posts: 537

Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


WWW
« Reply #55 on: February 23, 2005, 02:13:26 AM »

Very interesting, especially in relation to my gaming obsession, Glorantha and it's metaplot.

The metaplot has only been related from diagetic, unreliable narrators (until very recently); hence it is available for small groups to manipulate, form relationships between their own characters, etc, while remaining within "canon".

Meanwhile, published scenarios relating to major events of the metaplot (the cradle, the skyship) have been criticised for being too "railroady": they don't seem to afford the same opportunities to forge meaning, as the plot is imposed. The suggested solution, to make the story about the raltionshop between the PC's and the immutable elements of the canon plot, attempts to use the same process of creation covered in bricolage, but with a large new component imposed from outside the group. Since this is quite different from the way that HeroQuest has encouraged folks to interact with Glorantha previously, this comes as somewhat of a culture shock, een though it's the default method of running metaplot in other games (white wolf, for instance).

I'm personally just kicking myself that, being passing familiar with this area of cultural theory, and having referred to all elements of rpg's as either a toybox or a toolbox, and I never made the connection between the two.

Gareth, referring back to a previous thread where we thrashed out that Nar play would tend to be ethically normalising within the group, would you agree that the process called bricolage here would also tend to be culturally normalising within the group?
Logged

Pete Darby
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #56 on: February 23, 2005, 04:40:19 AM »

Quote from: pete_darby

Gareth, referring back to a previous thread where we thrashed out that Nar play would tend to be ethically normalising within the group, would you agree that the process called bricolage here would also tend to be culturally normalising within the group?


Yes I would think so, because the whole process is self-referential.  Now that may well be useful in aboriginal societies in that people may acquire status based on the knowledge of or ability to manipulate the shared, implicit cultural connections that the group maintains.  Specifically in RPG, like the point Chris Lehrich, this extends even to interopretations of "how reality works" - thus, "we thought crossbows really should be more dangerous".  Equally a group who think "there should be atribute modifications by gender", or, "homosexuality is correctly represented as a mental disorder" probably cannot be challenged within the terms of their own cultural norms.

But that being said the textual nature in RPG does give external writers some opportunity to intervene in that game space through the declaration of items in the shed.  Some time ago I discussed Norman Davies book "The Isles", a history of Britian, in which he uses different names for geographic locations appropriate to the period.  The express purpose (which Davies discusses) is to erase the conventional cultural associations we have with say "Essex" and replace them with ones that would have been more like those in the minds of the people who lived in those periods.  While this approach is not astoundingly innovative it does show how an awareness of existing associations can be exploited for specific, counter-conventional purposes (this suggests some similarities with culture jamming/subvertising).

Because the RPG texts are themselves the only authoritative reference - and they are authoritative because their credibility is NOT locally negotiated - there is a high degree of dependancy, deference, to this original Sacred Text.  Mostly, the authors world is accepted en bloc and then locally adjusted to fit the perceptions/prejudices of the players, should that need doing.  So while I still don't think that RPG is usable for propaganda or  advocacy, I do now see a way a way for an external author to drop something into the shed that the local group may find challenging, hopefully in a good way.
Logged

Impeach the bomber boys:
www.impeachblair.org
www.impeachbush.org

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
lpsmith
Member

Posts: 23


WWW
« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2005, 12:31:06 AM »

A quick post to follow:

Quote
What’s needed is deliberate ambiguity. You need some bits in there, which are clearly powerful and important, that are sufficiently constrained that people don’t say, “Um, I have no idea how to use this at all,” but are sufficiently open that players can readily bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate. You also need a system that, in its mechanical and rhetorical design, makes clear that such mucking about is intrinsic to play.


My immediate thought about this was 'this is how Nobilis works'.  For almost every mechanic in the system, there is a nice balance between ambiguity and definition.  The core idea is that players represent a Thing, usually a noun, and can Do Stuff related to Your Thing.  Then there's a list of how hard it is to do different stuff:  the list goes, Knowing if Your Thing is OK, Illusionary Stuff, Information (lesser), Preservations (lesser), Creations (lesser), Destructions (lesser), Change(lesser), and then the '(greater)' version of all of the above (overlapped slightly).  As you play the game (in my experience), you work out what all that means for you specifically.  If Your Thing is doughnuts, you know both a) that there's not going to be anything in the rules about doughnuts, and b) that you can probably figure out the appropriate level for particular things you want to do.  And that's just one example--almost every mechanic in the game is similar in nature.

During play, I've seen exploration naturally progress from some initial experimental, 'hmm, can I do this, then?' to more confident, 'OK, I do that thing I did last time.'  The Power of Bureaucracy once Created a stream of (literal) red tape, and from then on, was creating strands of red tape in a variety of situations.  Our group in general took the ability to 'perform low-level magic' and after some initial exploration ('I take, uh, an invisibility potion with me!'  'OK, I'll watch your progress in this... scrying pool!')  it settled down to where we had a particular suite of spells we consistently used.  ('These potions only work for three hours, so we better take two each.  John, keep an eye on the pool and we'll wave if we need backup.')

-Lucian
Logged
Scrubilicous
Member

Posts: 6


« Reply #58 on: March 02, 2005, 02:42:54 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
]Yes.  I think this is because designers think like engineers.  As Levi-Strauss predicts, the engineer and the bricoleur are fundamentally at odds.  The thing is, I think bricolage a basically self-policing mechanism.  Once it gets rolling as a social process of thought, it handles itself just fine, thanks.  Derrida's sly shot that the engineer is another invention of the bricoleur is very, very telling.  Practically speaking, I think a lot of this bricolage damage-control in game design is unnecessary and potentially limits the range of possibility undesirably.  As I say, if you want a game that's engineered, that reliably produces X with a minimum of fuss and trouble, you engineer it.  But I think a lot of gamers like the fuss and trouble, and even find that among the most fun bits of gaming, and engineering may be counter-productive for that.


But you want my honest opinion?

I think there is very good reason for why AD&D was such a success.  Sure, Ron is dead-on about the cultural situation, and Xero has made some lovely additions to that with his remarks on the rise of the popular notion of the auteur in George Lucas and such.  But I don't think that's a full answer.

Honestly, I think AD&D has an enormous learning curve, and I don't mean what you think I mean, or rather, I don't mean what people would usually mean if they said that.

I'll start again.

I think AD&D has a steep learning curve, because you have three quite independent things to learn, and only one of them is in any way explicit in the texts.  

First, you have to learn the rules as a system of messy and not entirely coherent or cohesive bits and pieces.  This is sort of explicit, though I think the idea that players should not read the DMG and so on undermines this; I do think a lot of players went right ahead and read it anyway, sensing somehow (from their neolithic minds, perhaps) that this rule should be observed in the breach.

Second, you have to learn how your group plays, and the ethos of the group and its context of other groups, and how all of that works as a social system.  Nothing about this, that I know of, is explicit.

Third, you have to learn how to bend the system.  In other words, you need to learn how to do bricolage with it.  Not only is this not explicit, I'm pretty sure it's explicit that you shouldn't do it.  Again, it sounds anecdotally as though an awful lot of gaming groups, probably including the very first originating groups, observed this in the breach.

The thing is, there is just so goddamn much to parts 1 and 2, and they are so powerfully riddled with fractures and intricate weirdnesses that just beg for exploration (how do you use the magic item creation rules, anyway?), and there are so many inconsistencies just waiting to be put to good use somewhere.  And so once you get to stage 3, it's like a whole world opening up.  And I think that because there were so few other choices, and those groups had a social structure that kept their core players bound tightly, a surprising number of players did reach stage 3.

And I deeply believe (I hope I am never proven wrong!) that players who got to stage 3 of this process, with that game or those sort of like it, are the tiny but fabled minority who played those endless, year-after-year games, the ones that people still tell stories about.  They genuinely did create something disturbingly similar to myth, in a ritual process.  And that is so powerful that it created a legend of its own, without which this hobby would long since be dead.

I love seeing all this cool engineering and cleverness going on in design around here.  It's fantastic.  It keeps the hobby vital and vibrant and exciting.  But those guys were doing something very different, and I think we are painting ourselves into a corner---a very exciting and fun and valuable corner---from which we can barely even see that stuff.



If the preceding two post article is as awesome as  this response, you get major props =)

I do think RPGs are a very good way of understanding primitive science and religion.  People spend a great deal of t ime builidng up complex systems that bear no intrinsic relation to reality; and when it comes time to actually use the system, they ignore the system and simply make it up as they go along.  Those gamers who actually take the system seriously in all its detail often look a little weird to the rest of us.  I imagine it was the same way with primitive religions and medical traditions.  

"Holy shit, that guy just put leeches on that other dude!"

"But arn't you a doctor, didn't you say that would work?"

"Well yeah, but that guy's fucking HARD CORE"

Or something
Logged
GB Steve
Member

Posts: 429


WWW
« Reply #59 on: March 04, 2005, 02:08:20 AM »

Loads of good stuff here, firing ideas all over the place.

I'm reminded of the IT dictum that "no system survives contact with users", which is often mimicked in RPG terms as "no scenario survives contact with the players".

Although there is a subtle difference here, I'm starting to think that Game Design/Engineering seems not to be a social activity whereas Bricolage/Play does. And then we get caught in a deconstructionist loop that says "hang on, but engineering is a social activity too. It's not really performed in ivory towers but against a social context". I don't think this loop necessarily destroys the thought process that attempts to separate engineering and bricolage, design and play, but it is very chicken and egg.

Even in well engineered systems like MLwM, there always seems to be some bricolage. Most of it that I've encountered is about Sim issues. And I think that this is because most players are used to Sim and feel deprotagonised when moving away from it. There is a strong association between ownership and identification with the PC and control over each action. Rolling the dice is often a physical proxy for whatever the PC is doing. In these cases, reference to the original design intent, which is strongly stated in MLwM, usually prevails.

But it's not always about Sim issues. Sometimes there are worries over the boundaries of deprotagonising in a Nar sense. Local arrangements then come into play.

So can Game Design exist without Bricolage? Je pense que non.

I also get the vague uneasy feeling of a tautology lurking somewhere in the midst of this discussion, something along the lines of "roleplaying, that is a social activity, is always resolved socially." But as with any equation, the terms usually need much more explanation before we can all nod our heads and say, "well, it's obvious really."!
Logged
Pages: 1 2 3 [4]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!