Friday, April 27, 2007

Lesson: Agendas

Agendas are a recurring theme among RPG theories. Succinctly they are how and why players make decisions. But in different places agendas can mean different things.

Some uses of agenda delve into the motives of the player or players making the decisions. These are often based on identifying what a particular player or group wants from play, and then extrapolating that to their decisions during play. So, if someone wants to identify with their character, they will tend to choose to act out that character or place that character in situations where that player can learn or invent more about who the character is.

Other uses of agenda focus more on the method of play. In this case, the agenda doesn't represent the motives of the players, even shared ones. Instead it is the observed regularity of the actions of the group. These agendas often speak in the language of reinforcement, where certain decisions reinforce those same decisions due to the system. A good example of this sort of agenda are the creative agendas in the Big Model.

While agendas can discuss many different things. Some agendas focus very narrowly (delving into your character's family or getting the most points), and some are much broader (impressing others or constructing a story). Distinguishing different agendas can be very useful. But as a tool ofRPG theory, it is especially important to distinguish when an agenda is why someone makes decisions versus when it is how someone makes decisions.

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