Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekly Review Nov. 12th to Nov. 18th

It has been an active week in RPG theory, combining several new avenues with some old ones.

Cognition, Passion, and the Other

This week, Moyra Turkington began a series of essays presenting another way to describe how and why people play, based on two continuum. The first was between cognitive and impassioned approaches to play and the second was how deeply players related to that player's object in the fiction, as she calls it, the Other. She qualifies these gradients, by suggesting that social and human variations can shift your typical position, because of change your minds or the situation changing.

These concepts are built on several definitions and principles which Moyra described early in the week. Sockets are the primary locus of enjoyment, the aspects of play which a player focuses, such as character, story, or social. Payoffs are described as what we want out of the game, varying significantly between players. Goals are described as what you work towards within the game, often but not always aligned with payoffs.

Genre and Play

Bradley "Brand" Robins describes a view of genres as socially reinforced classification, that act as mental shortcuts. This enables people to rapidly agree on structures and values of a genre and move onto creating within it. He suggests that, in this sense, classifications of RPG play are types of genres. Specifically mentioning Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism (or GNS), he argues that as genres they should become more focused, and eschew with classifying all play. Malcom Sheppard responds by discussing the role of power in setting genre. Specifically determining when the power inherent in a genre is more important than the benefit the genre can provide.

Unclear Intentions

Continuing the earlier discussions of intent and actions, John Kim describes the situation when intent is unclear. He suggests that a significant difficulty stems from the uncertain dialogue between players about their intentions. This is compounded by the fact that by deceiving the source of antagonism, often the GM, it may be possible to make achieving your intentions easier.

Return to Setting

Troy Costisick suggests that setting has the same potential and importance as system. He goes on to classify important aspects of setting, some required and some helpful, but not necessary for functional setting.

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