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Author Topic: Clarifying Participationism  (Read 15232 times)
M. J. Young
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« on: October 20, 2005, 01:43:23 PM »

Over in Illusionism etc there has been some discussion of illusionism versus participationism.

Hal, to extend your metaphor, the theoretical functional illusionism is where your wife says, "Go ahead and sleep with other women, just don't let me find out about it." Does that make it more clear? All this talk about "lies" is confusing the issue because the term is being bandied about without context. Again, again, again, it's about having a social contract that allows for illusionism. I'd agree that in many cases you don't have a contract at all, in which case, yes, if/when you get caught cheating, you're going to have a problem. Note that all my theorizing about such dishonest play being functional is not condoning it. I'm merely saying that, for understanding's sake, that you should note that illusionism is functional even when not a valid part of the social contract up until the point where it's discovered. Which I think is almost certain to happen. So no, don't ever do this, despite the possible temptation.

What I see here is the wife saying, "I know he's cheating on me, and he knows I know, but we both pretend that I don't know and that he isn't, and it all works fine."

Mike, you coined the term participationism, so I'm not going to try to tell you what it means; but please explain to me, how is this not participationism?

--M. J. Young
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2005, 10:21:13 AM »

In participationism, there's no veil at all.

Illusionism GM: "There's a fork in the road, which way do you go?"
Player: "We go left."
Illusionism GM (ignoring map subtly): "You end up at the city."

Participationism GM: "There's a fork in the road. The city is to the left, so you go that way."

Mike
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Josh Roby
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2005, 01:26:55 PM »

What is it when the GM asks and the players give an answer, all the while everyone knows that the answer was merely Color?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2005, 01:41:12 PM »

Something in between.

As I've said, it's a spectrum, not a binary thing. "You're going to go left to the city, correct?" asked Rhetorically is not much of an illusion of free will. I think that, practically, you don't start calling it illusionism until there's a true intent to hide the truth of the control. Rather than just a thin linguistic veneer.

Put another way, with true illusionism there are likely to be times when the player actually doesn't know that the GM is using illusionist techniques when he does so.

Mike
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timfire
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2005, 03:14:08 PM »

What I see here is the wife saying, "I know he's cheating on me, and he knows I know, but we both pretend that I don't know and that he isn't, and it all works fine."

Mike, you coined the term participationism, so I'm not going to try to tell you what it means; but please explain to me, how is this not participationism?

MJ, to me at least, it sounds like you're saying the same thing as Mike.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2005, 06:29:50 PM »

In participationism, there's no veil at all.

Illusionism GM: "There's a fork in the road, which way do you go?"
Player: "We go left."
Illusionism GM (ignoring map subtly): "You end up at the city."
What is it when the player gives a rather convincing explanation of why the city would be on the left road, and the GM quietly shifts the city to that side to reward the explanation or be in synch with that?
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Marco
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« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2005, 07:10:00 PM »

What is it when the player gives a rather convincing explanation of why the city would be on the left road, and the GM quietly shifts the city to that side to reward the explanation or be in synch with that?
I think in order for any of these to be meaningful as a "style of play" they have to be prevalent. It may not matter if the GM is manipulating covertly or overtly or whatever to get the characters to the city if the important conflicts (to the players) aren't resolved by those methods.

The technique of the GM shifting stuff around based on whatever s/he feels will be a good idea is more in the realm of basic imaginative interaction than an RPG-Technique.

-Marco
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JasonPalenske
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2005, 08:28:12 PM »

In keeping with the example of the city, what if it has been established the city is to the left but is only known to one or two in the group? Do they keep with participation and shift accordingly, or do they break the illusion and say the city is to the left, we're going to the right, and in a way dare the gm to break the illusion themselves?

I would say it may be necessary to break this into two parts. Illusion and participation of the established and the unknown. Each one gives a different answer.
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Halzebier
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2005, 01:39:30 AM »

t's a spectrum, not a binary thing.

It sure is.

(x) On one end, the players truly believe their choices matter. This is Illusionism and isn't contested.

Past that point, the players know their choices don't matter, but - am I reading you right, guys? -

(A) MJ calls it participationism if the players know THAT illusionist techniques are used (and accept this).
(B) Mike calls it participationism if the players know WHEN illusionist techniques are used (and accept this)

Assuming my summary is correct, I'd posit (And I'm not the first person to do this, right?) that (A) does not exist in actual play, except for isolated freak instances. I haven't seen "There's a fork in the road, you go left.", however verbally veiled it was, as a general GMing approach. At this point, the GM usually just frames the next scene on or beyond the road to the left.

(It bears pointing out that there is plenty of "The players know THAT illusionist techniques are used - and do NOT accept this (but try to fight back in-game only, through their characters). I guess this is dysfunctional illusionism, as opposed to the functional version (x) above, and is very common.)

Regards,

Hal
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timfire
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2005, 06:54:26 AM »

(A) MJ calls it participationism if the players know THAT illusionist techniques are used (and accept this).
(B) Mike calls it participationism if the players know WHEN illusionist techniques are used (and accept this)

Assuming my summary is correct, I'd posit (And I'm not the first person to do this, right?) that (A) does not exist in actual play, except for isolated freak instances.

I disagree. I think (A) does happen in real play. There have a been a number of times that in retrospect, I knew that the GM had used illusionist techniques on me. I also suspected that he would continue to use them on me, but I didn't care. I was having fun so I didn't bother looking out for the signs, I just let the GM do his thing.

You know, now that I think about it, I can't agree with Mike's definition of participationism, or more precisely, I think his example, "You see a fork in the road and turn left" is flawed. Isn't the whole thing with illusionist techniques that you hide your use of force? If you outright say, "you turn left", that's straight up force, not illusionism.
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timfire
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2005, 07:00:34 AM »

I need to edit myself. As I was rereading this thread, I realized that Mike would probably agree with what I just wrote, but that first example of his needed some clarification.

What is it when the player gives a rather convincing explanation of why the city would be on the left road, and the GM quietly shifts the city to that side to reward the explanation or be in synch with that?

That's probably Intuitive Continutity... but maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's plain illustionist technique.
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Halzebier
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2005, 07:41:27 AM »

(A) MJ calls it participationism if the players know THAT illusionist techniques are used (and accept this).
(B) Mike calls it participationism if the players know WHEN illusionist techniques are used (and accept this)

Assuming my summary is correct, I'd posit (And I'm not the first person to do this, right?) that (A) does not exist in actual play, except for isolated freak instances.

I disagree.

OOOOPS! I mixed up (A) and (B) in the sentence about what exists and what doesn't, Talk about a major blunder.

Regards

Hal (crushed)
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Caldis
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« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2005, 09:52:17 AM »


Isnt a certain amount of participationism / illusionism inherent in functional sim gaming?  Or at least at natural offshoot of it?

Sim play by it's nature sets up a system that controls so much of the tone and theme of the game that controlling the plot seems like a simple step forward.  The DM in the typical sim game already controls the game world, decides what the players encounter and what the repurcusions of said encounters are.  I think the players are deluding themselves if they believe they have control of where the game goes.  With sim what is hoped for is that the gm and players have an agreed upon destination for where the game is going.  That's why they require the detailed modeling.

I think Jay (Silmenume) is right in his asssertions about sim play.  I dont like the term bricolage but I do believe that sim play is about seeing what you can make of the system, setting, characters, situation, theme, by taking them as predefined and trying to blend them together.  Participationim is just a part of that blending.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2005, 01:52:24 PM »

Hi Tim,
Quote
You know, now that I think about it, I can't agree with Mike's definition of participationism, or more precisely, I think his example, "You see a fork in the road and turn left" is flawed. Isn't the whole thing with illusionist techniques that you hide your use of force? If you outright say, "you turn left", that's straight up force, not illusionism.
Your right, that isn't illusionism. That's why it gets the name 'participationism' so as to differentiate it from illusionism. Participationism is about out in the open force and everyone just being happy with that.


Quote
That's probably Intuitive Continutity... but maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's plain illustionist technique.
Thanks for the feedback. I'd say an illusion is being applied here as well, in that we had agreed to work from how the map is laid out. But after the convincing explanation from the player (which the player was excited to give), the GM covertly breaks that agreement.
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Philosopher Gamer
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Callan S.
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« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2005, 02:03:18 PM »

Hi Caldis,

I think not, if it's genuine sim. It's like address of premise - if the GM is presented with a problematic situation for an NPC he will either A: Address premise and do just what that NPC would do or B: Decide whats best for the story and have the NPC do that

The second would be the GM typhoid marying himself. He's just not going to do that, unless he just doesn't care about the problem being presented (and although he'll do B, he'll probably push the story towards problems he does care about).

Simulationist play is the same. When the players present him with actions which require consequences to be worked out, he'll either A: Address causality and do just what the game world would do in reaction or B: Decide what's best for the story and have the game world do that.

He'll only do B if he doesn't care about the actions being presented.

PS: This is the crux of my 'The impossible challenge before breakfast thread. Where the GM doesn't care about the actions and chooses B. Meanwhile those actions were more than that, they were an address of challenge.
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Philosopher Gamer
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