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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4284 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 167 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: A psychological model of role-playing  (Read 7506 times)
John Kim
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2005, 10:29:20 AM »

It might be time to strap on your boxing gloves.  Emotional connections are always a property of the person with emotions, not the object.  Perhaps you're confused by the word "connection" in here, but obviously these aren't real physical connections of ectoplasm or whatever.  You can love someone who doesn't love who back or possibly who doesn't even know that you exist.  Similarly, you can be "attached" to a non-living thing like a stuffed animal or blanket. 

Similarly, we don't love the teddy bear. Our mind has fooled us into thinking we do love the teddy bear, the thing. What we love is what WE imagine the teddy bear to be; we love the ideas the teddy bear has come to represent (friendly, comforting, etc.). The teddy bear is a bunch of cotton that feels soft. But, the teddy bear possesses nothing like the human contact we wish it to possess. So, we love the idea we created in the teddy bear, not the teddy bear itself.

And I would say that the same is true of every other kind of love.  Emotions aren't ectoplasmic things which reach out across space and time to touch the actual thing on the other side.  Emotions are inside our heads.  So when we love something, we always love what the idea is in our head of that thing.  The emotion always attaches to the idea inside our head -- it never stretches out and attaches to the thing itself. 
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- John
ewilen
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2005, 11:03:45 AM »

When I read what you're saying, John, I connect it to the classic problem of "How do we know that other people are conscious just like we are?" (Which is a subset of the problem, "How do we know there's anything out there at all?")

I can't answer that question. It might require a leap of faith. But if you accept that other people exist as conscious beings, I think it follows (though you might need a couple more leaps to get across the pond) that you can connect to them in ways that aren't possible with fictional characters or abstract constructs.

Or on the other hand I think a lot of us take it on faith that there are elements of "soul" or "spirit" external to ourselves not only in other people and animals but in plants, rocks, stories, etc. Also fundamentally unprovable either way, I think.

Clinton seems to be going with the second paragraph above; you're arguing for the third. (Or possibly rejecting that there's anything outside your head at all.)
« Last Edit: July 26, 2005, 11:05:26 AM by ewilen » Logged

Elliot Wilen, Berkeley, CA
Marco
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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2005, 11:04:30 AM »

I do want to (in a friendly manner, really) take you to task over "immersion as emotional connection." While it seems off-topic, it's not, really. I've been all over immersion recently, and I'm not going to let up. I think it's great and useful, but it's being made out as lots of things it's not. Fer instance, an emotional connection. With who? An imaginary character? One must remember they made up this character. I'll give that you can connect with yourself and understand yourself better than you did before, but I'm not certain that's what you meant. Or maybe you mean connect with others in a way you normally couldn't - but that's covered above, too. But if you mean connect with someone who isn't real, that's where you and I got to get out the boxing gloves.
John is dead on. Look at Psychodrama: the person playing a role isn't the real person (who may be dead, somewhere else entirely, etc. And the circumstances of the drama may be entirely fictitious) but the subject of the psychodrama certainly feels real emotions relavent to the physical standin (the actor). If this seems opaque to you, either look up psychodrama on the web or take my word for it (I've done it): emotional connections are established that are completely unrelated to the actual physical targets of them.

Why would you think this can't be done with an RPG character* in an imaginary situation?

-Marco
*Tthe core of the imagined character or situation that elicits the emotion is, of course, based on some real-life case of us actually feeling that emotion.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2005, 11:06:02 AM by Marco » Logged

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ethan_greer
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2005, 12:13:53 PM »

Like anything else, it's a question of frame of reference.

My view is that the characters in games actually do exist, within the frame of reference of their conception. They absolutely are as real as you and me.

And nothing anyone says here is going to change my mind about that. Do you expect me or anyone else here to change your mind? No? I didn't think so.

So why are we talking about this? I think we should stop.
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Larry L.
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aka Miskatonic


« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2005, 12:30:02 PM »

If by role-playing, I can understand even a little slice of how someone else thinks about the world, then that's really freakin' cool.
Hey, speaking of philosophical debates...!

So why are we talking about this? I think we should stop.
Agreed. This is totally worth discussing (somewhere), but I don't think it's directly relevant to Clinton's model.

Somebody do a game about subject/object emotional validity, I'll totally buy that.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2005, 04:51:06 PM »


We role-play for three reasons I have identified. There might be more, but these are the ones I know.

  • Social reinforcement...
  • Escapism...
  • Group therapy.

What about role-playing as a conscious act of creation? As in, X roleplays because he/she wants to create something entirely new that can only be done through the medium of the RPG.

Now, I'm of two minds about this - on the right, this could be said to be an inherent property of the RPG, and thus not really a "reason" to play as such. To the left, however, I think that taking advantage of the medium is its own reason. I mean, you can get social reinforcement, escapism and group therapy from other sources as well, but it is only be roleplaying that you can...do what we do when we roleplay.

Damn. We should have a word for that somewhere around here, right?

Anyway, what are your thoughts on that?
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Nathan P.
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2005, 06:35:38 PM »

On escapism... if this category is more general than it seems and is simply the desire to be an audience to fiction then I think I'm cool with it.  The collaborative nature of role-playing provides the value you get out of being an audience to fiction, which you don't necessarily get as a sole author.  It seems that an element of uncertainly is needed.  How and why this is I can't quite figure out, but uncertainty (tension) combined with identification with character seems to create an emotional response in the audience.  If you look at escapism as a "synthetic" emotion it applies to exhilaration from a power fantasy, fear from suspense, sadness from tragedy, hope from victory, and pretty much anything else.

Huh.  I guess that'd make escapism the result of a theme that manages to connect with the audience.

If the category is as such, then it probably shouldn't be called escapism.  You more have a parent behavior of escapism.  Would probably include voyeurism too...

Dunno.  I personally have trouble with psychological models.  Just thought I'd toss out some stray thoughts on the idea.
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- Cruciel
cognis
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2005, 01:45:27 AM »

Just for my 2 cents, I feel my main drive for roleplaying is being left out: Creative challenge. Granted, it is mostly as gamemaster, but nonetheless.

Basically, I roleplay because I like the challenge of having to fit strange concepts together in a believable context and communicate them meaningfully to others. As a gamemaster, I like having to make my worlds seem real and NPCs seem plausible under fictional circumstances. As a player, I like the challenge of having to understand a strange world and be able to act in it.

Granted, the links to escapism are there, but it is not so much the need to get away from the real world (although one could argue that it is to get away from the boredom of the real world, but isnt all entertainment?), since I love when weird parallels are drawn to it, or even to my own situation ("my god, except for the lasers and aliens, that could be me!"). It is about feeding my imaginative side and forcing the analytical part of me to incorporate it into something that I can mentally navigate.

Escapism is about leaving the world behind. Creative challenge is about expanding it into new contexts.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2005, 11:56:23 AM »

Hey Cognis, welcome to the Forge! Is Cognis your real name?

Anyway, I would definitely include Creative Challenge, as you term it, under the "what we do when we roleplay" that I was talking about above. It's definitely something that you can only really get in RPGs, as far as I know. It's certainly an important component. It's the dynamic of taking your creative product, consciously engaging it with that of everyone else at the table, and then taking that product and re-integrating it into the ongoing process that is totally awesome about RPGs, to me. 
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Nathan P.
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My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2005, 02:06:47 AM »

Whee!  All this psychology makes me want to talk to myself...

On escapism... if this category is more general than it seems and is simply the desire to be an audience to fiction then I think I'm cool with it.  The collaborative nature of role-playing provides the value you get out of being an audience to fiction, which you don't necessarily get as a sole author.  It seems that an element of uncertainly is needed.  How and why this is I can't quite figure out, but uncertainty (tension) combined with identification with character seems to create an emotional response in the audience.  If you look at escapism as a "synthetic" emotion it applies to exhilaration from a power fantasy, fear from suspense, sadness from tragedy, hope from victory, and pretty much anything else.

Upon further reflection, I don't think that the power fantasy and escapism are actually the same.  I've been thinking about it and I've seen them conflict.  For example, the person who hates challenging combat even if they are completely victorious without any loss to show for it.  Uncertainty is opposed to the power fantasy and identification with character seems completely unnecessary.

I'm inclined to think the power fantasy is like catharsis.

The Mrs. thinks it's more like playing Monopoly  in that you aren't actually playing because you want a challenge - Monopoly is strategic poop.  The point in Monopoly is to land on the good properties and take everyone's money.

Either way, it seems to have the same end result in that the need is best served by being better than anyone else in the room.  More spotlight, more bad-ass, more little colored cards, etc.  Escapism is served just as well, in fact better I think, by all the participants getting the most emotional return they can out of the experience.  The rollercoaster is more fun when everyone is enjoying it.  Whereas the power fantasy is best served by having the highest status in the group.  I wouldn't call the power fantasy competition either.  Having to compete to get the highest status is contrary as well.  It's just about an ego boost.
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- Cruciel
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