Friday, July 20, 2007

Editorial: Goals

Like playing and designing RPGs, it helps a great deal to have an idea of what your goals are then theorizing about RPGs. Without knowing your goals, you can't evaluate the directions you are taking, or determine when you have achieved something of worth. Also, like playing anddesigning, theorizing has a variety of possible goals.

On one hand, a practical direction of theory focuses on your needs of play or design. Whether you theorize for the purposes of making your own play more enjoyable, helping others enhance their play, or to better design new RPGs, the ultimate measure is your success. Just like any strategy, you must be weigh the costs and benefits of your theory.

Alternatively you may have a goal of curiosity and understanding. If so you'd have a compulsion to learn and delve into the unknown around a subject you already have interests within, namely RPGs . Thus the quality of your work is based on how it reveals and clarifies the subject, rather than some more specific applications.

Sometimes the goals come from other places, an interest motivated by other fields. If you want to understand small group interactions, RPGs are one rich area to tap. Likewise, if you study games as a broad category, RPGs likewise present a valuable resource.

The more honest you are about your goals, the more clearly you can evaluate your work, and how useful the work of others is in aiding you. One of the risks of theorizing is that our purposes drift, causing us to lose sight of why we are trying to understand RPGs. When this happens we find ourselves lost in a forest of ideas, only with care can we find again a path we wish to follow.

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