Monday, September 18, 2006

Weekly Review Sep. 10th to Sep. 16th

This week has seen a wealth of theory developments, from color to system, and all sorts of places in between.

Color Words

Thor Olavsrud brings up how color descriptions expand what we can get from play, noting that color is contributed by all players (GM and otherwise) more strongly than most aspects of play. He also discusses a particular type of color, the chronological tag, which puts each scene in relation to the rest.


Joshua BishopRoby introduces the idea that playing RPGs is often seeking one of two experiences. Either a direct experience, where a character's experiences translate to the players, reflected by a parallel chronology. On the other hand, play focusing on redefining experiences and retrospectively changing the meaning of past events, is about implied experience. He suggests that this dichotomy is both important and pervasive, making it at least difficult to encounter both experiences at the same time.

Games and Toys

Brian Hollenbeck discusses the distinction between games and toys, typically that the former has built-in goals, while the later does not. He disputes this distinction, suggesting that toys are better seen as proto-games, which manifest a variety of possible goals, requiring only a context to make them into games. He argues this distinction is very important for RPGs because both the RPG book and the shared imaginings are toys, the game derives from their joining.

Resolution and System

John Kim takes a stab at defining a new terminology for resolution systems, to avoid the baggage and connotations of terms such as task, conflict, and stakes. He suggests distinguishing resolution defining success, from those that flavor the outcome. Also he classifies two properties of resolution systems, first how consequences are determined, and second the levels of abstraction in which the resolution occurs.

Later, Troy Costisick describes another approach to system in general. He breaks down the broad concept of system, "means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play", into two major categories: rules and procedures. The distinction being that rules are derived overtly from a game text, while procedures are not. He suggests that understanding the relationship between these two aspects of system is an important skill in RPG design.

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