*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 16, 2021, 03:56:28 PM

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: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Publishing theory  (Read 16208 times)
Montola
Member

Posts: 36


« on: October 25, 2005, 10:57:24 PM »

Okay, as I've bragged already, I'm working with a PhD on role-playing pretty soon. In that effort, and in my real work (researching pervasive games) I have one major pet peeve with the Forge. I chatted this with Ben in Finland, and now I actually found the moment to do what he told me to do -- to post it here as well.

For outsider, Forge is almost completely unaccessible. You don't learn GNS, for instance, by sitting down for ten hours and reading these pages. (Been there, done that, didn't work.)


This is because

1. Knowledge is hiding in myriad discussion threads. Reading old discussions through is a huge amount of work.

2. 90-99% of discussion thread volume would be irrelevant if the original idea was presented again, adjusted after the round of critique.

3. Much of this material is plainly misleading or false, even in the articles section. To the date, at least Eetu, Eero and Ben have been happy to tell me that I shouldn't read the GNS papers from the articles section, since they are outdated/misleading/?, since the Forge opinions have been changed or were badly communicated in them. Happily, I noticed that Greg Costikyan had the same threfoldish misunderstanding of the theory I had for a long time, and you really can't blame him. (Video stream of his Helsinki lecture should appear here in a couple of weeks.)

4. The Forge lingo is very sophisticated, and using a glossary as an entry point to a conceptual framework is not the good way.

5. Lack of easy references to track the ideas back, largely due to ideas popping up in discussions.


So. Why don't you package and publish your ideas when you get them, one by one, in a language that would unfold to the reader who took the time of reading the said packages in the chronological order?

Please. :-)


(Summaries, like Ben's recent introduction, are nice but not enough. At least not for a fellow theorist, who reads and especially cites the book by Foucault rather than a book about Foucault, so to say.)


If M.C. Escher designed an ivory tower, it would look like The Forge.

 - Markus
Logged

Montola
Member

Posts: 36


« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2005, 11:08:26 PM »

(Not intended as a bashfest. If I could edit it, I'd soften the tone in order to ensure that you wouldn't take it as an aggression, but as a honest concern rising from the fact that I'd like to understand and use your stuff, but I can't, and I'm not alone here.)

Best,

 - Markus
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2005, 12:46:42 AM »

All well and good Markus, but there's no governing body to degree this kind of undertaking. We're aware that many people'd like more material on the theory, but mere need never caused anything to happen; somebody has to write the material. Furthermore, it seems to me that there's at least as many texts to be written as there are audiences. The kind of text you'd be happy with would be completely useless to some others who have called for introductory texts.

So yeah, I agree that it'd likely be nice if there was some kind of publication culture here, with people writing papers on their conclusions. But to make that happen you'll have to find individuals who want to write those papers. So scrap that general "you" and contact people whose theory work you like, and pester them for finished articles.

If it seems that I'm sidestepping your issue, it's because we get this same conversation every couple of months. In the end we all have to remember that there's no duty or obligation for anybody to write the introductory material just because another person wants it. This kind of translation work (believe me, it's translation; there's no universal language and format for this information everybody would be happy with) isn't socially rewarding, so I don't expect many people to be interested.

One false conclusion many seem to come up with is that somebody here (Ron, or the "old-timers", or everybody in general) specifically wants to service the world, and is highly motivated to do his best to be understood by everybody and his dog. Whether it's for good or bad, this doesn't seem to be the case. Rather, the great majority of posters here seem to be quite happy to be understood by their peers.

I expect that you'll get the kind of articles you want when academical careerism aligns with Forge participation in some particular and specific person. That hypothetical person then has a motivation for tapping the Forge for a series of rpg theory articles for academic consumption, improving his own publishing history while explaining Forge theory to outsiders.

For your particular needs: in my experience the best way to get what you want out of the Forge is to participate in dialogue around here and let the people tutor you in whatever parts of the theory are still vague for you. Just start asking questions and see if you don't get the material you need that way.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2005, 02:33:19 AM »

Seconding Eero in all points, particularly the last.

The only way to gain a deep understanding about Forge discourse is to participate in discussions regarding it (which include: "I don't understand X, please explain" discussions.)  Efforts like the glossary and my present essay are meant to reduce the amount of stumbling time, not eliminate it entirely.

If you want to understand Forge Theory, it's tough.  It's like learning any new theory, albeit somewhat simpler than most.  For instance, it would be laughable to say "I spent 10 hours reading String Theory and I still don't get it -- we need better texts!"  Forge Theory isn't as complicated as String Theory, but it isn't trivial either.

Read my essay, and the glossary, and then start posting about what, exactly, you don't understand and people will answer you.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2005, 04:48:02 AM »

Hello,

I suggest asking simple questions of me, in the GNS forum, based on the first section in the Glossary. To date, this works very well.

Also, Eetu, Eero, and Ben? Quit telling people the articles are wrong and false. I have no idea what your intention was in whatever conversations you had, but you've clearly created a culture of confusion. All you had to do was say the articles represented a series of developing ideas (exactly the same as any legitimate inquiry produces, in science or other substantive academia). I'm pretty annoyed with the message Markus seems to have received, to ignore them. All he had to do was read them in order, understanding that they culminate in an easy and straightforward presentation in the first section of the Glossary.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Eirik Fatland
Member

Posts: 8


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2005, 06:05:47 AM »

Markus writes:
Quote
For outsider, Forge is almost completely unaccessible. You don't learn GNS, for instance, by sitting down for ten hours and reading these pages. (Been there, done that, didn't work.

Seems to me that the answers from Ben Lehman and Ron Edwards can be summarized as: if you become an insider (by reading, then posting and discussing to confirm that your understanding is correct), this is not a problem.

Which is all well and good, but not really adressing the issue Markus raises.

What I miss at the Forge are the clear, concise articles wherein a concept and it's supporting arguments get explained, and where supporting concepts and terms are referenced. I don't mind studying a number of such articles, backtracking them through their references, and I don't need them to feed me their contents with a teaspoon.

What I find, instead, are a very few long articles that cast some light on a changing model without clearly describing how it has changed, where possible counter-arguments are not really adressed but possible misunderstandings receive ample attention, and where the references consist mostly of links to very long conversations between people I do not know (but who seem very familiar with each other's positions) conducted in a context with which I am not familiar.

Introductions like the Glossary or the series on Ben's blog are not really what I need either, since they are simplified and not necessarily accurate descriptions of aspects of the thing, but not the thing itself. They help you getting started, but not to continue.

This problem is accute if you are an outsider trying to integrate and/or present some of the Forge's ideas into a theoretical text written for other outsiders, whether they be new media researchers (which I currently study) or Nordic larp theorists (my long-time passion). While I can go through the trouble of posting and discussing at the Forge to get a better grasp of the theory, I cannot reference Forge theory in this way. (See Murray, 1997. Also see Edwards, 2003, and make sure to also read Topic A, Topic C and Topic D and to post questions at indie-rpgs.com/forum to make sure you understood Edwards, 2003 correctly).

This is not a criticism of the Forge community or the theories of people involved in it. The problem is not one for insiders but for outsiders. The lack of "article theory" doesn't seem to hamper Forgeans' ability to produce novel, interesting and independent games for outsiders to play (which is the Forge's primary purpose, no?) - and if I were an aspiring indie rpg designer looking to join the Forge community I think the request that I take time to read, understand, post and discuss at the Forge would be entirely reasonable.

However, if you (hypotethical Forge theorist reader) are interested in having your ideas picked up and discussed in conversations outside of the Forge / indie rpg design community, I think the request that:

Quote
(Markus:) Why don't you package and publish your ideas when you get them, one by one, in a language that would unfold to the reader who took the time of reading the said packages in the chronological order?

... is an entirely valid and reasonable one.

regards,
.eirik.
Logged

hullu norjalainen
Rorimack
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2005, 07:11:16 AM »

Quote
This problem is accute if you are an outsider trying to integrate and/or present some of the Forge's ideas into a theoretical text written for other outsiders, whether they be new media researchers (which I currently study) or Nordic larp theorists (my long-time passion). While I can go through the trouble of posting and discussing at the Forge to get a better grasp of the theory, I cannot reference Forge theory in this way. (See Murray, 1997. Also see Edwards, 2003, and make sure to also read Topic A, Topic C and Topic D and to post questions at indie-rpgs.com/forum to make sure you understood Edwards, 2003 correctly).

I can see your point.

Couldn't you use "Edwards et all, personal communication, 2005". Or, being more concrete, asking the specific question from that specific person in a PM who made that specific statement?
Logged

Balazs
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2005, 08:02:53 AM »

There are articles, and they are good. Ron's GNS articles, for instance, are not how you characterize them Eirik. And MJ Young and Ralph Mazza have also published "introductory" summaries of the theory which are generally available. John Kim has on his own site a plethora of articles by him and others. And many more that I'm probably not thinking of. No, they are not always quite of academic standard (though see Lehrich and Kim's works which usually are).

Also, we are willing to help people get through the rough spots. People willing to discuss with us get pretty cogent explanations. It's a lot like being able to take a class in the subject online. Basically I've likened the amount of information there is to know about the theory to what you have to learn for an undergraduate class. Maybe higher level, or there might even be two or three classes in here. So, as Ben said, expecting to understand it by reading for X hours might just not be reasonable.

Lastly,
Quote
However, if you (hypotethical Forge theorist reader) are interested in having your ideas picked up and discussed in conversations outside of the Forge / indie rpg design community, ...
What incentive do we have to do this? No, really, think about it for a second. The goal of the site is to enable people to create independent RPGs. As you say, we do that just fine. We've met out goal. You're assuming that we have some need to have our ideas picked up outside this community. Why would we want that? I mean, I don't think it would hurt, but what does it do for us?

One thing that we say about the theory a lot is that nobody has to know it to have fun playing a RPG. Mostly the theory applies to design. Further, what if everyone knew what we did? Then they could compete with us. Is that something we really want? Actually, again, I don't think we're against it, but we simply have no incentive to promote our ideas outside of this venue.

Given this fact, we've actually been pretty good about writing essays and such that do help to introduce people to the theory discussed here. So nobody can claim that we're being intentionally obstructionist. We've already acceded to the requests for such material, despite having no incentive other than being nice to the people who've asked.

So, as usual when this subject comes up, I'm baffled by the attitude. Are you having a hard time understanding the theory? Sorry, but it sucks to be you.


Now, all that said, man I wish I had a degree in RPGs. I wasn't aware that such a thing existed, and I actually doubt that I'd be able to get one in this country. That said, if you can get me a degree for writing this stuff up, show me how, and I'll have a doctoral thesis in your inbox in just a couple of months.

Put another way, if you want academic quality to the theories produced here, there has to be the rest of the structure of academia behind it. We have remarkably close to this anyhow, with something that's very much like peer review. But until we're associated with some institute of learning, I don't think it's going to get any more academic than that.

What's funny is that on alternating quarters people will be complaining here that The Forge is too unapproachable because it's too academic. You just can't please everyone.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
matthijs
Member

Posts: 462


WWW
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2005, 09:15:32 AM »

A year or so ago, I started my own thread about how the Forge community should get better at organising and communicating their ideas. Then, I realized they weren't going to write me a big happy book, so I just read all I could, including Vincent's "anyway" blog. I got some helpful answers to my questions, and a few sarcastic ones - oh well. Now I feel I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on, and am able to use some of it - and ignore some of it - in my design.

It's nobody's responsibility to make Forge theory easy to understand. Nobody's getting paid, nobody's gotten a government grant or sponsorship deal. Appreciate the amazing amount of work people do here, and be ready to do some work yourself. (My contribution is to help people in Norway understand Big Model and its applications, through seminars and debates).
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2591


WWW
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2005, 09:58:07 AM »

Also, Eetu, Eero, and Ben? Quit telling people the articles are wrong and false. I have no idea what your intention was in whatever conversations you had, but you've clearly created a culture of confusion. All you had to do was say the articles represented a series of developing ideas (exactly the same as any legitimate inquiry produces, in science or other substantive academia). I'm pretty annoyed with the message Markus seems to have received, to ignore them. All he had to do was read them in order, understanding that they culminate in an easy and straightforward presentation in the first section of the Glossary.

Well, this is nitpicking, but let's set the record straight: Markus might have got something like that from somebody on that list, but it wasn't me. Personally I read the original GNS article and got it, no problem. Then, later on, I read the Narrativism article and got the Big Model, no problem. Then I read Chris Lehrich's ritual article and... well, I don't generally have problems with reading comprehension. No idea why other people have such huge problems understanding others in writing. I might have suggested trying other sources if Ron's style doesn't click, but never have I told anybody that the articles are somehow wrong in their own context, or better replaced by something else.

Generally I just try to not comment on how somebody should go about researching this stuff, as I obviously am quite happy with what we have already in that regard.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Montola
Member

Posts: 36


« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2005, 10:02:28 AM »

I understand that no-one's getting paid, and happens to be that it was the weirdest of coincidences that got me paid for doing stuff bordering on yours. (I can use maybe 25% of my working time with role-playing related things). So of course no-one has responsibility to do anything, and I'm all fair and square with that.

What might motivate you, then? Because you'd have interested readers. Because those interested readers might contribute to the discussion. Criticize it, support it and use it. It all depends on your goals. I don't know; I got the work I have much for coediting Beyond Role and Play and publishing role-playing stuff, and Mike, if you are really interested, I have several European university contacts that would help you started with your degree. I really do.

The issues with The Forge think tank are not isolated issues, of course. Research projects face the same situation, the point where the insiders have learned something, and then it is discussed how it could be disseminated. In the academia, this dissemination is an important part of creating the theories, because it's used to validate the findings (anonymous outsider peer-review) because it clarifies and structures the argumentation, and because the cyclic movement in the wider community contributes to everyone's thinking. (That cycle requires reading as well, of course).

It is not the work for a governing body Eero asks for. It's work to be done by individuals (and teams).

Quoting personal discussions, Rorimack, is one option. Of course, the huge amount of exact and theoretical discussion around the place would mean quoting a million personal communications, and that's plainly bad form. It means that my reader then couldn't backtrack my arguments, to scrutinize if I am concise and valid.

Certainly the truth is that if the sole objective is to design new games, publication is a heavy tool to help that business. Of course, if the sole objective is to design new games, the whole Forge forum is a massive tool to do that.

Matthijs, government funding -- I really don't know about US, I'm talking about EU and Nordics now -- follows the publications. You probably don't get money for something before you have proof that you are good at it. I didn't; I wonder if Eero gets some indie games funded after publishing two of them. Academicization of a field increases its credibility, helps the public image, helps getting it funded and so forth. At least here the role-playing arts and sciences, so to say, have accomplished a lot.

Quote
Also, Eetu, Eero, and Ben? Quit telling people the articles are wrong and false. I have no idea what your intention was in whatever conversations you had, but you've clearly created a culture of confusion. All you had to do was say the articles represented a series of developing ideas (exactly the same as any legitimate inquiry produces, in science or other substantive academia). I'm pretty annoyed with the message Markus seems to have received, to ignore them. All he had to do was read them in order, understanding that they culminate in an easy and straightforward presentation in the first section of the Glossary.

Ron, I believe this may have been what they were trying to communicate. Except for the fact that reading the series far enough would clarify/correct/change/refute/fix the undeveloped stuff.

Quote
So, as usual when this subject comes up, I'm baffled by the attitude. Are you having a hard time understanding the theory? Sorry, but it sucks to be you.

Indeed.


 - Markus

PS. Good to know that the basic four GNS papers are accurate and up-to-date. Pardon me for being misinformed; I'll try to find the time to read them without preconceptions as they are, and try to open up some discussions on the parts I disagree with.
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2005, 10:11:55 AM »

Hiya,

Markus, I want to stress that the good will you're bringing here is extremely valuable to me and everyone else. My suggestion is to start only with the first section of the Glossary, which includes about seven terms and a brief diagram. We can discuss that, and then you'll find that all the other terms and ideas flow from it in a simple, layered, and non-circular way. I look forward to any dialogue about it. Feel free to use the GNS forum here, or contact me by private email.

Best,
Ron
Logged
matthijs
Member

Posts: 462


WWW
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2005, 11:10:14 AM »

Hey -

- Markus, could I persuade you to elaborate on RPGs and government funding, perhaps in a new thread? I'm trying to get this ball rolling in Norway right now, and am curious about the Finnish process.
Logged

Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2005, 11:35:46 AM »

Perhaps these are just my feelings, but anyway...
There are a couple of tricks to accelarate the understanding of the theory (any theory).

GNS and the Big Model describe something. Thus, it is important to relate wht we read about the theory to our own knowledge and experience about the object described by it (roleplaying). I have the feeling that many people arrive here with a very pre-conceived idea of what is roleplaying, and is very difficult for them to understand what are the articles talking about. They look for answers to different questions, and it is very frustrating at the beginning.

After reading; the terminology and the theory will not lead immediately to understand all its implications. We need to expose ourselves to its application. Many people are ignoring the actual play, which is the only way to fix everything together.

I should admit I went through those mistakes when I arrived at The Forge. Perhaps this advice helps someone.

Cheers,
Arturo
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2005, 11:50:07 AM »

Quote
Mike, if you are really interested, I have several European university contacts that would help you started with your degree.
You're on. Though I really hope I don't have to move. :-)

I'm no expert on the situation of academia here in the USA, but from what I've seen the closest thing to a degree for RPGs are the game design degrees offered by a very few universities; degrees that are really all about computer games. I'd be happy to hear otherwise.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that I've long envied you Scandanavians for your government and educational institution's willingness to support RPGs. :-)

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Pages: [1] 2 3
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!