Friday, September 08, 2006

Monthly Review August 2006

August has been an intensive month. Inspite, or perhaps because, of its convention schedule, there have been many threads of theory development. Two of them have been discussions of RPGs in the social context and investigations into shared aesthetics.

Social Factors

Early in the month, Joshua BishopRoby brings up the topic of gender in RPGs, especially with how this social and cultural concern shapes design and play. Later on, Thomas Robertson puts forward the perspective that games act as customizable social interfaces. Later, he expands on this idea, by discussing social hacking, specifically the modification of social interfaces. Around this time, Joshua BishopRoby reports a realization: that RPGs are, at their core, ways for players to interact. At about the same time, Ben Lehman discusses the importance of designing with social contexts in mind, with an understanding of the perspectives and social groupings of potential players and how the design should influence them.

Shared Aesthetics

Early in the month, Victor Gijsbers presents a justification for telling stories, namely that they enable moral speculation, where we can entertain eventual outcomes of our actions as well as more immediate results. From a different angle, Ron Edwards and Levi Kornelsen delve into the subject of shared aesthetics of play, the creative agenda, at the Forge. From, yet another perspective, Luke Crane at Story Games talks about how system can entrance, enabling, rather than hindering, new ideas and perspectives.

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