Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekly Review November 18th to November 24th

This week has seen several developments in the theory of RPGs, their culture, and their development.

Gaming Identity and Feminism

Violet considers the issues of removing sexism from gaming culture. Specifically she questions whether the sexism is an inherent part of the gamer identity. This leads to a discussion of when it is better toout mode and replace cultural identity rather than to slowly combat and reform it.

Preparation of Story

Rich Warren describes how preparation is a major cost in using complex systems for story-based styles of play. He related the advantages of small footprint, flexible preparation for games which have more narrative influence on the part of the players.

Epistemology and Rules

Thanuir suggests ways of applying epistemology, which "talks about the possibility of and criteria for knowledge," to RPGs as a way to understand how consistency and coherence arise within play. Later, Thanuir expands on earlier discussions on rules, focusing on the consistency of these rules with the more subtle dynamics of setting, as well as their use in creating enjoyable mini-games.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekly Review November 11th to November 17th

Theory development this week has been quiet. Most notable, perhaps, is a Story Games discussion on what the common RPG term, fiddly, means. It demonstrates the dangers both in the use of specialized terms and in attempting to impose a fixed definition on common-use terms.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Weekly Review November 4th to November 10th

This has been another sparse week in RPG theory.

Death and Game Time

Chris Chinn discusses the costs of character death, focusing on combat intensive games such as D&D. He suggests that character death simply means character replacement, which can even offer an opportunity in the game. He argues that the true cost is forcing the player to wait out until a replacement can be brought in, from the process of dying to the creation and introduction of a new character.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Monthly Review October 2007

October has seen a variety of different theory developments. One has been an increased interest in freeform (lacking overt system) and jeepform (story-focused freeform) play. Early in the month, Emily Care Boss contrasts jeepform, which focuses on a communal story, with larp, where events are less unified and no single story emerges. Later on, at GameCraft is a discussion about the ways that freeform can evolve from more structured or overt systems.

Another thread, also occurred on GameCraft, where Levi Kornelsen has been assembling a theory of RPG play, focusing on the dynamic goals and behaviors of players. He starts with a series of stances as ways to interact with play. He then refines these as modes, combining them with goals and some solutions to meeting player goals.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Weekly Review October 28th to November 3rd

This has been a slow week in RPG theory.

Modes, Goals, and Solutions

Over at GameCraft, Levi Kornelsen expands on his ideas about stances as modes of play and combines these with a listing of player goals and ways to meet these goals. Doing so he builds a theory focused on individual goals and group play styles in order to describe two different ways of meeting player goals: top-down which involves focusing at the beginning on specific narrow set of goals and bottom-up which involves compromise and adaptation to a variety of goals, taking more time in the process.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lesson: Forge Theory - Scope Exercise

In present incarnation of the Forge theory there are four scopes or layers of RPGs. At the top is the Social Contract, narrowing to Exploration, then to Techniques, and finally Ephemera as the smallest scope for looking at RPGs.

Things that happen in RPGs can be seen in one or more of these scopes. If you're not somewhat familiar with these take a look at this lesson. Then try to figure out which scope or scopes the following things can be placed into:

An argument between players.

An argument between characters.

The resolution of a fictional conflict.

A player correcting something he just said.

A player correcting another player about a past event in play.

A shout from an excited player.

The positions of miniatures.

How dice are rolled and read.

Who holds the character sheets between sessions.

Who can look at character sheets during the game.

You might try writing down your answers and then looking over them later. Did you pick some scopes that you don't feel fit anymore? Did you miss some scopes that make more sense the second time around?