Friday, April 28, 2006

Lesson: Resolution - Common Ground

One of the most important aspects of resolution is the creation of common ground which is achieved when players come together to play. Included here are agreed rules of social and game behavior, namely the social contract. Also, part of this common ground is the shared parts of the imagined elements of play.

Resolution is the means by which players take their own perspectives and ideas, and bring them to this common ground. But in a sense, common ground is not something which is achieved, as much as it is something which is always under construction. Mechanics have an especially interesting relationship with common ground. On one hand, they act as means of resolution, but on the other they are themselves common ground, as a means to perform resolution.

Much like social contracts, the way a theory approaches common ground is often very important to determine what sorts of play that theory is well suited, and which present it difficulty. Some theories take the idea of common material as an idealization, and treat it as a place where play happens. Other theories treat these places as processes, a procedure of coming to agreement, of which the actually moment of agreement is merely a flash in the pan.

Often a type of play accents one part of the resolution / common ground relationship. For example, highly mechanical play is often seen in the midst of resolution, with the common ground being merely an after thought. Likewise, free form play is filled with subtle and diffuse resolution, while the common ground is deeply accented.

What types of common ground are created by what types of resolution? Mechanics suggest that resolution can be used recursively, building on itself, where does that recursion end? Can there be resolution without common ground? Can there be common ground without resolution? Can you play an RPG without both?

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