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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 147 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: The social agenda and the antisocial agenda, as I have experienced them  (Read 9227 times)
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2005, 05:19:10 AM »

the "social agenda and and anti-social agenda" material I am presenting here is not an attempt to supplant, remove, or add to the "creative agenda" theory.  They really aren't creative agendas.

Yes; if I'm understanding right, what you're talking about is somewhere in the uppermost/outermost layer of the Big Model, engaging directly with Social Contract rather than with Techniques (yes, Creative Agenda "goes all the way through," but in practice most GNS discussion is solidly down in the Technique weeds and tends to assume "we're all here to have fun playing the game"). I think Ben Lehman's discussion of "social agenda" and "technical agenda" is well worth reading in this context, and certainly better expressed than what I just said.

I still think all of us sitting around agreeing "yeah, this sucks" is less useful than sitting around debating "okay, how can we harness this combativeness to power fun and functional play?" (Ron "asserting one's position through violence is absolutely required in real life" Edwards, I'm lookin' right at you).
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2005, 05:47:52 AM »

Actually, the question I'm coming around to isn't "How can we take the anti-social agenda and harness it to our ends."  I think that finding value in that line of inquiry will take a lot of work for little result; if there's someone at the table who isn't interested in giving support to the group, he needs to either change his attitude or get out.  The former is a preferable and achievable goal, compared to the latter.

What's more useful, I think, is finding techniques and methods for the following tasks:

1> Achieving buy-in from all participants in a strong agenda of mutual support, i.e. a social agenda
2> Fostering awareness of giving and accepting mutual support
3> Creating Systems that reward, by appropriate means, giving and accepting that support

I'm not sitting here saying "Yeah, this sucks."  I'm trying to draw attention to a field of inquiry that goes beyond GNS theory, and even goes beyond Ben Lehman's article on social agenda.

What I'm talking about is competent leadership.  The best gamemasters, in my opinion, are the best leaders.  Creativity can be bought (such as running an adventure module) but the ability to communicate, persuade, and unify or divide a group of people is not.
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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 #17 on: December 06, 2005, 06:03:00 AM »

Hello,

This is interesting, because some of the earliest discussions I had, in the couple of years pre-Forge, were all about this issue - the larger scale of simple cooperation.

I think it's much simpler than it seems from within the hobby and activity. When you put aside the debased and ineffective geek-mentality which demands that "we all have to get along no matter what," then you can look at other social leisure activities as a model. And in all of them, it's easy as pie - the person who demonstrates that he or she cannot commit to others' enjoying themselves, is excluded.

This could be because they're all mean and he's nice, or vice versa, or whatever. I'm not saying anything about who's right or anything like that. However, apparently, the geek-culture attempt to avoid doing this at all costs has grotesque and nearly-entirely unworkable consequences. Seeing the consequences manifest in confusions, irritations, and weird compromises during role-playing is entirely predictable.

We talked about this stuff in great detail in the Infamous Five threads, which are linked in a sticky at the top of Site Discussion.

Neal, the player/GM distinction is not relevant. As far as I can tell based on what you're saying, your behavior is uncooperative and pushy when you're not a GM. I see that as a basic Social Contract issue that you bring to the table - "I have to be GM." I was very similar about twenty years ago. This has nothing to do with Creative Agenda, which you seem to be mis-reading as a personal typology, and/or as supposed to explain any and every dysfunction during play.

Victor, I think you can see that my solution is exactly the same as I've been saying in Actual Play for many years, especially during the first year of the Forge, much to people's horror: "stop playing with the person who clearly decreases everyone else's enjoyment," or conversely, "stop playing with a group which doesn't enjoy play the way you do," and finally, "stop wanting others to enjoy play like you do just because you like it that way."

All this goes double for people who've been exposed to the theory here, even though they often forget it.

Best,
Ron
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2005, 06:14:05 AM »

Ron, I agree with everything you've said, except the last bit.

I don't believe that the solution has to be that inflexible.  There's a middle ground between "We all have to get along no matter what" and "We have to get rid of anyone who doesn't get along".
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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
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2005, 07:43:41 AM »

What I'm talking about is competent leadership.  The best gamemasters, in my opinion, are the best leaders.  Creativity can be bought (such as running an adventure module) but the ability to communicate, persuade, and unify or divide a group of people is not.

Amen to that.

But! (warning: tangent)

The GM is not always the leader; sometimes it can be someone else. (Someone with better search-fu than I can probably produce a passel of links about dis-aggregating the bundle of roles traditionally pinned on "the GM"). And I'm not talking about GM-less (or distributed-GM) games like Capes or Universalis, here; I'm talking about a game with a formal GM in which one or more non-GM players step up to the tasks of reining in the annoying guy, making sure the shy person gets a chance to contribute, integrating the wild-eyed creative guy's ideas with the story the rest of the group is following, and keeping the creative spark in the game. Arguably, any functional gaming group has non-GM players doing all of these things some of the time; sometimes, a non-GM player may be dong them more than the GM does.
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Vaxalon
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« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2005, 07:51:19 AM »

Oh, certainly.  Traditionally, the job has fallen to the GM, but it can also be elsewhere, or collective... but if it doensn't happen, the GM is usually blamed.
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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 #21 on: December 06, 2005, 07:59:35 AM »

Hi Fred,

Agreed about the middle ground. My own use of "get along" includes the possibility of social tensions and shifting dynamics about all sorts of things - it doesn't mean, for instance, happy smiling clones at all points.

The sadness here, though, is that many role-players I know tend to keep struggling for the middle ground when they are, frankly, drowning, and the entire experience of play is shot to hell by the time they realize something's wrong. That's why I tend to be a bit of a hard-ass in my advice about these things. I say, "Dump'im," I'm talking about after the point when someone has realized this guy will not contribute to others' fun. Your example seems like it might have been in that category, at least based on reading.

Great thread, by the way.

Best,
Ron
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Neal
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« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2005, 08:10:10 AM »

Neal, the player/GM distinction is not relevant. As far as I can tell based on what you're saying, your behavior is uncooperative and pushy when you're not a GM. I see that as a basic Social Contract issue that you bring to the table - "I have to be GM." I was very similar about twenty years ago. This has nothing to do with Creative Agenda, which you seem to be mis-reading as a personal typology, and/or as supposed to explain any and every dysfunction during play.

I see what you're saying, Ron, and I think you're correct; I'm just most comfortable in the GM seat, and I tend to push when I'm not in that seat.  It's something I've gotten more mellow about, but it's still something I have to watch out for.  

I also see some of what Fred is saying, in that I've encountered players who run the gamut from my own pushy style, through in-game mavericks, to out-and-out fucknuckles who seem to take an impish glee in wrecking what others have built.  I'd agree with you that the latter end of that scale should be excised entirely, every time -- we will not get good play while those folks are in the game because they have a personal agenda which is inimical to good play; they want to break stuff.

Having said that, I think any gamer, before tossing a fellow gamer out, should ask the question "Why does this guy wreck?"  It could be that he's just an antisocial dickweed -- out he goes, no question.  It could also be that the play style of the group is squelching creative expression, and this player is lashing out, in which case he might be more fun to play with in another game which permits freer expression and a broader palette for decision-making.

I'm not making a case for harmony at any cost here; I'm making a case for asking "Why," and then accepting that part of the responsibility which falls on the shoulders of the group itself.  Instead of saying, every time, "That guy's a shithead; let's not invite him back," try saying, on occasion, "John's just not a paint-by-numbers kind of player; he'd be really good in Mage, but he just isn't what we need in XCrawl, I think."
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Danny_K
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Posts: 198


« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2005, 09:01:36 AM »

One of my issues with the Big Model is that it presupposes players who have a Creative Agenda; I think that's why it doesn't describe zilchplay really well, and why most of the Forge-baked games that draw heavily on the Big Model tend to require players who are willing to work hard to make the system work.  But that's a little off-topic.

Anyway, the antisocial player, I think, is driven more by his own psychology than by any Creative Agenda.  He's a real live version of the "Griefer" players that are common on every MMORPG, who seem to mainly play to piss off their fellow players -- positioning their guy to block the doorway that everybody needs to go through, for example.  In a long-ago thread, I speculated that there must be lots of tabletop Griefers out there, but that they must be subtler or rarer because they're face-to-face and not anonymous. 
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I believe in peace and science.
Callan S.
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« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2005, 07:32:30 PM »

Hello,

I'm with Jim on this one. Looking for some kind of real Creative Agenda to describe or justify this guy's actions is a lost cause.

Best,
Ron
Yo,

Jim's story doesn't come with an example of payoff - the player was milling around. This other player seemed to get major payoff when one character was incensed enough to kill his PC. Despite the murky way he got to that, I'd say that if he's getting a payoff, there must be some sort of objective that did work out. I can't be entirely sure if it was pure meta game 'piss off everyone' objective. I would have thought the character loss would have been a penalty if meta was the focus.

He's certainly an alien at the dinner table.
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Philosopher Gamer
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