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[A GNS STORY] The liberals

Started by Ron Edwards, December 01, 2005, 05:15:07 PM

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Ron Edwards

First in a series. I don't know how many yet.

So I'm in the foxhole, up to my mid-shins in muddy water. It's been a rough day, not so much due to enemy fire as to the routines of trench life.

In times of relative quiet, I can expect a visit from the nice lady from the Save the Poor Sensitive Sims Society. She wears a print dress and has obviously chosen a suitable hat for her visit out here, which I appreciate. The nice lady is also worried; she always is. What concerns her are the children.

"Have you seen the children?" she asks. "It's terrible. They are without food and shelter, and they labor in factories, or beg on the streets. I've come to see whether you've come to your senses about them. You've been very insensitive, you know. The more you fight, the more they suffer!"

"Ma'am," I tell her, "there isn't much I can do about the children under the 'care' of the enemy. I've told you before that we aren't going to intervene or invade. My concern is holding the ground we've got already, and the families who are already here, or who have decided to come here recently. We have schools, clinics, and food, and so they're welcome. Those children you're talking about, if they come over, will be welcome here too."

"But there are no Xboxes here!" she says, even more worried. "My children have Xboxes. Don't you think the poor, starving, scab-ridden children should have Xboxes too?"

"Uh," I say. I look over at Vincent in his foxhole. He's feeding a whole lot of children strong, nourishing gruel. "No. I'm not really all that interested in the Xbox issue. In fact, I kind of think your children don't really need theirs either."

The worried lady now becomes the angry lady. "You just don't care about the children!" she says. "Any of them!"

Bang! Our conversation is cut short, because the shooting's started again.The nice lady (because worried and/or angry, she is fundamentally nice) does an admirable dive into the foxhole with me, and after I fire off a few shots and hunker down again, we huddle together. She asks, "Actually, I have a few radiation sores myself. May I please have some medicine? It's so scarce over there," and I give her some.

I can hear Vincent leading a sing-along to keep up the childrens' spirits. They tend to cluster around him rather than me; my stories and scars frighten them. Paul's war-cry rings out from elsewhere in the shell-torn night, and Luke's answers, in confirmation. I'm happy now; with those two guys on it, nothing bad's getting through. I pat the lady's shoulder and tell her so, and she says, to herself, "If only you-all would stop this terrible fighting ..."

Eero Tuovinen

Hah hah hah, that's funny.

On behalf of us children, I never knew what's the big deal with an X-Box anyway. The games are all dull and repetitive, without any imagination or color. At least I've played a couple of Gamecube games to conclusion, but the X-Box is just a glorified dvd-player for me.

Hmm... the art of non sequitur lives and prospers, apparently. For the record, this is a pure appreciation post.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Mike Holmes

You cro-mags. As a neanderthal throwback, apparently I don't have the ability to understand metaphor properly. All I know is that I'm not the lady, damnit!

This sort of warstory is what the boys back in psyops groups in the military would call propaganda. Just saying. I think we're waiting for more to see where this goes.

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John Harper

"Yep, that's where the bullet hit. Went clean through. I was off the line for a month. Some folks tell me, shot like that, musta come from Edwards himself. Or Baker. Don't much matter to me now. All I know is, that bullet changed my life. Once I got my feet back under me, I realized I just didn't believe in the cause any more. So I crossed the DMZ and surrendered. Lt. Nixon processed me through and I've been here ever since, trying to do my part. So... what'll it be? Beans or hash?"
Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!

Eero Tuovinen

No no, Mike, it's only propaganda if you direct it at non-believers. We call it agitation when you use rhetorical devices to raise spirits among the troops.


Now that I think about it, I don't think agitation as a word has any better sound for Americans... Oh well, the truth remains that speaking about ideology and values is a good idea among a society like this. An informed cro-magnon can certainly differentiate between rhetorical devices applied for pleasure or poetic function and the ideas contained within. Historically, agitation (or sermonizing, as it's know in religious circles) is an invaluable social tool for all ideologies.

But now I'm starting to sound defensive, and it's not even my column series. Better quit while I'm ahead.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

The lady is a behavior, not a person. And yeah, Mike, you've worn that dress a couple of times.


Robert Bohl

Is it humble or assholic of me to say that I don't get it?
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG


This rubs me the wrong way. I'm not here to be a part of anyone's ideological movement or metaphorical war. I'm here to learn more about a hobby I care deeply about.

Not that I expect anyone to care - especially not you, Ron, and I'm not saying you should. But I'm saying this so it doesn't seem like everyone's happily embracing the war metaphor here.

Arturo G.

mattheis said:
QuoteThis rubs me the wrong way. I'm not here to be a part of anyone's ideological movement or metaphorical war. I'm here to learn more about a hobby I care deeply about.

Who knows. Perhaps we don't know but we may be part of it. Just because we want to learn, just because we care deeply about.

I think I will stop talking, and I will better write a game.


Eero Tuovinen

´But then, is there any particular need to embrace the metaphor? I'd think that anybody who takes this kind of thing too seriously needs to take a deep breath. However pleasing a metaphor, ultimately they do nothing for the real world. So anybody who's considering getting offended: I prefer you wouldn't. I find it a rare treat when Ron and others speak ideology in any form, so I very much hope this doesn't incite a negative reaction. Although I imagine this stuff to make the rounds at RPGnet sooner or later anyway...
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Eero, you're contradicting yourself. Agitation is an invaluable social tool, while the metaphor does nothing for the real world? Metaphors are powerful; they stir up emotion by leading people to think that one concept can inherit all the traits of another, unrelated one. There's a reason Ron isn't writing these stories about: A tower of magical scholars; a monastery; people selling used cars; politicians; kindergarten employees...

The war metaphor says: What we stand for is under attack! It gets the heart pumping. And it's easy to forget to ask questions like:

- Who's this "we"?
- Do I stand for the same thing you do?
- Who, exactly, is attacking? In what way?

Ron Edwards

Hi Matthijs,

While I applaud your distrust of fiery-wartime metaphors (especially when written by an American), this one does, in this case, have a very specific meaning. In fact, every single detail I've presented in the three stories has a direct corollary in the real world.

You can probably figure out the metaphor and the "we" by checking out the other stories, especially the one in the Publishing forum. Or if you want it spoon-fed to you, see my reply in John Kim's Stroll thread.



Ron, you're right - the fact that you're an American writing tough tales of war added to my discomfort. (I live in a tiny, oil-rich social democrat country - I'm sure people can understand why U. S. foreign policy scares me a bit). However, I'm glad you're willing to explain your metaphors; now I'm not that troubled with the stories.

They do, of course, serve to draw a distinction between those who are self-publishing and those who aren't - but that's just as it should be on this site. (Speaking as one who isn't self-publishing. [Yet?]).

Ron Edwards

Actually, as I just mentioned to someone by PM, the war is an abomination. It should not have to be fought. The fact that we are squirrelly, trigger-happy, trophy-taking hill-fighters and trench-soldiers should not be an entirely positive fantasy-image.

Remember what I've been saying since way back when: actual play is the backbone, or if you will in my stories, the society. Publishing should be a relatively simple, fruitful outcome of actual play, and commerce of publications should be a simple, fruitful outcome of publishing. Since that has not been the case, and since actual play had become a radioactive wasteland, the only solution was to take to the hills.

(I realize that my hills and trenches are militarily incompatible. Mea culpa.)

Judd is the real hero of these stories. Not me, not Clinton, not Vincent, etc. And we are really a positive presence only when we remember that we fight (publish) in the context of our actual play. Without the community of play, and dialogue about it, and refinement of it, publishing RPGs is meaningless.

The romanticization of soldiery is the absolute worst interpretation of my stories. Again, look to Judd or to Jesse Burneko, or to Lisa Padol. Or look to the publishers only in terms of them actually playing as well. That's what keeps us from entirely becoming whackos off in the brush.



Quote from: Ron Edwards on December 02, 2005, 02:30:04 PM
And we are really a positive presence only when we remember that we fight (publish) in the context of our actual play. Without the community of play, and dialogue about it, and refinement of it, publishing RPGs is meaningless.

Just to piggyback on this for a moment....

Recently I've actually been posting in the theory fora, talking about constructive denial.  (No, I don't want to bring that discussion into this thread.)  However, there is a specific reason for my doing so.  My wife has a very different approach to roleplaying than the rest of my group, and I've been working on understanding her concerns and how the group can adjust its play to harmonize with her desires as well as ours.  I think that this theory discussion has been quite helpful in assisting me to put together some better approaches for our group in the future.  As a result, I would hope to see improved play and therefore greater enjoyment from all participants in the game, including my wife.

I just wanted to reinforce Ron's point in the context of RPG theory.  Without the context of actual play (and the real people that it affects), the work that goes on here doesn't really amount to much.

However, in the context of actual play, I've seen great improvement in both my play and others through the work of the Forge.  So, Ron, all your efforts are greatly appreciated by me.
Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown