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Author Topic: The Forge as a community (Thread #5 of 5)  (Read 22164 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: December 02, 2002, 12:29:27 PM »

Hello,

This is thread #5 of the Infamous Five, a related set of threads that I've been instigating over the last few weeks. Each one has spawned a bevy of secondary threads as well, as intended. Here are the links to date:

#1: PUBLISHING
Mainstream: a revision
Production value
Promotion
Active vs. passive entertainment
The Store
What would make a non-role-player buy your game?
The game that would sell to non-role-players
The importance of play
Accessible? To whom?

#2: ACTUAL PLAY
Actual play in the stores
Mainstream media

#3: RPG THEORY
Social Context
Gay culture / Gamer culture
Self-image
Christian gamers and self-esteem
What does role-playing gaming accomplish?
Sexism and gaming

#4: GNS MODEL DISCUSSION
Vanilla and Pervy
Pervy in my head
Combat systems
Cannot stand cutsiepoo terms
Pervy Sim, points of contact, accessibility

This one is about the Forge itself, in terms of what it bloody is: (1) to any particular role-player, (2) to a person who's designing and possibly publishing a game, and (3) to the hobby of role-playing overall.

Let me allay certain fears immediately. I am profoundly uninterested in (a) expanding the "industry" in terms of there being more games, more stores, and more money involved; (b) improving (or changing in any way) attitudes of society or non-role-players toward the hobby; or (c) making role-playing games be designed in a particular way for any particular purpose. Many responses in the threads listed above have been either premature enthusiasm for such goals, or defensive reactions against them - all those responses are fundamentally irrelevant. To me, such things may (or may not) be outcomes; they are not goals.

I am not making a call for specific action or activism. Instead, these five threads are a call for each of us to learn where he or she stands in regard to real, actual issues, and most importantly, to understand one another in these terms. Here are the issues I'm talking about.

1) Much of role-playing content mirrors the content of books, movies, theater, and any other mode of imaginative expression, basically throughout human history. This content is apparently well-regarded by most people who enjoy imaginative expression. A sub-point, which only to a fervent role-player seems like a big deal, is that D&D fantasy is a fringe concern in comparison to the content I'm talking about.

2) The current economic structure of "the industry" is, in the main, incapable of providing the social play-experience and promotion that matches people who like role-playing, or might like it, to games that they might enjoy.

3) Role-playing is most consistently enjoyable when it is carried out by people who like one another, who socialize together, and who can construct varying Social Contracts without breaking down. The common notion of defining a social group by the shared interest in role-playing, and putting "liking one another," for instance, as secondary, is dysfunctional.

4) Most role-playing rules content has acquired so many Points of Contact, distributed in incoherent ways, through imitation and habit, that "rules" have come to be a barrier to enjoyment in many cases.

These concepts are all related. D&D fantasy + tons of irrelevant Points of Contact + store-driven commerce and non-play + inside-out social boxes = way no fun. The cumulative effect encourages a "loser culture," which is to say, people who perform Activity X without enjoying it much, who huddle together rather than socialize together, and who feel bad about the whole thing.

Now, I think nearly any leisure activity includes some people who fit this profile (cue chorus from fellow martial artists: "[/i]Tell[/i] me about it") - but I also think that this hobby, role-playing, isn't necessarily doomed to including only those people, and that it does not include only those people.

Here are the relevant personal questions about these issues, I think. Please, they're intended to be internal - don't post your answers enthusiastically here.

Where do I play? Whom do I play with? How does my hobby interact with the rest of my life? What habits of play or game design merely habits, rather than preferences? Am I happy or unhappy about any of these things? What do I do to reinforce this profile? Should I change any of these behaviors?

Clearly, if anyone's internal answers come up, "Hey, all is well in Me-ville. I'm very happy with the whole schmeer," then that is nifty. That person may pass Go and collect one fruity Starburst.

For the rest of us, to a very great extent, I think that thrashing about is a normal part of the process of dealing with these questions. When I first posted "System Does Matter" at the Gaming Outpost, I thought it would be a burp, a moment of "Okay," for a given reader, which permitted us to move on and discuss all manner of things (like Currency in particular). Instead, it turned out that a specific process of thrashing around and coping with the concepts was necessary - not in order to be "converted," but simply to understand what was up and to be able to refute or to support in a coherent way. I think this current set of material is far, far more loaded and emotionally-difficult than a piddly couple of points about rules-construction, and I anticipate a much higher degree of misunderstanding and protest than I've ever received for GNS /etc.

But what about this thread? What's it doing in Site Discussion? What does any of this have to do with the Forge?

Simple. The Forge just cracked the 1000-member mark, and even allowing for a substantial number of signers-on who are no longer (or were never) active here, that's a lot of people. It's also a very diverse site, as far as on-line role-playing discussions are concerned. We aren't united by the interest in a given game or system; we aren't united by any external definition (e.g. look at the range of religious orientation here! Yow!); and even the creator-ownership agenda of the site is secondary, enforced only in the Indie Design forum. A year ago, Clinton and I had no idea that the site would be what it's become, and we have even less of an idea of what it'll be a year from now.

Is the Forge membership defined only in those "loser" terms? Are we here only because we all like role-playing, such that we huddle here rather than any other internet-spot? I suggest that the answers are "No." The Forge does share a distinctive social identity. It is, itself, a level of social interaction somewhere between Social Context and Society - it's a community.

A healthy community is easy to understand: it exists when individual members can speak up and be confident that they will be heard, not only in terms of the immediate points and comments, but in terms of themselves as individuals. As individuals, we have particular preferences in play, particular stances regarding publishing, particular stances regarding consumerism, particular services to offer, and particular temperaments and histories as contributors here and elsewhere. Being recognized and appreciated as such, even in the course of disagreement, is what keeps a person committed to the community as well as to his or her personal point-at-issue in discussion.

I'm not really sure whether a diverse group of role-players has ever had such a community at its disposal, unlinked to a particular group or company. There are bigger forums/boards on the internet, but they are more like a sea of individuals rather than a community such as I'm describing, and discussions tend to be isolated and abandoned rather than treated as an archive.

What are the standards that define this community, then? So far, the key element has been a willingness to abide by rules of discourse in discussing (a) creator-owned role-playing design and publishing, and (b) principles underlying the activity. It's been a pretty powerful key element, not without a few failures here and there (some of our old threads embarass the hell of out of me, referring to my own postings), but largely successful.

I think it's time to think a tad larger than just (a) and (b) above, though. Let's assume, just for a minute, that every person who posts here or regularly visits has a nice sit-down and examines those questions that I listed above. Some end up saying, "Hey! I'm miserable!" and some end up saying, "I'm Mr./Ms. Happy Person already." Fine. But now, we're all situated relative to the same array of variables and issues. We can explain to one another, in terms that both understand, just where a given source of dissatisfaction is coming from. We can explain to one another how a given game design/proposal is intended to be targeted, and not get all wound up in knots about whether it's "right" to target "them" or not.

So, in conclusion, here's my proposal for what the Forge is for: it is a social means by which we improve our enjoyment of role-playing. I've said this before, but now, in the context of the Infamous Four So Far, the topic of "role-playing" has moved a bit outwards from, say, Fortune-in-the-Middle and its relation to Narrativist play. It's moved into issues of people, relationships, self-image, and groups - or rather, I've pointed out that these issues must be addressed in order to discuss such things as the funky rules and theory stuff. If the Forge is to achieve the goal of aiding people's enjoyment of their hobby, then identifying the source of one's own unhappiness becomes a serious issue.

My final point: the reason I posted these five concepts across five threads, instead of writing an essay, is that I have no immediate answers, and in many cases I don't even think I perceive the possible range of the questions. Already, tons of material and concepts have been introduced that I never would have anticipated or seen for myself. So I hope people can do the same with this one: what is the Forge, as a community? Is there value in getting a better idea of how each of us, personally, relates to the hobby? Is there value in generating some terms to deal with these issues in discussion? Are there standards for how to discuss this stuff without the newcomer being shocked at such things? I'm interested in what everyone thinks.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2002, 01:31:05 PM »

Ahh, here it is. Infamous Number 5. What was all the hub-bub about? Heck, this is almost much right in line with what I was thinking already -- in terms of the Forge as community, and I know I'm not alone in that. It's all got that Seinfeld quality "About nothing." And yet something ... ;)

Quote from: Ron Edwards

3) Role-playing is most consistently enjoyable when it is carried out by people who like one another, who socialize together, and who can construct varying Social Contracts without breaking down. The common notion of defining a social group by the shared interest in role-playing, and putting "liking one another," for instance, as secondary, is dysfunctional.


Eureka! Ok, Ron, I may be reading this wrong as I so often do, but one thing that always hung me up about the GNS essay was that it effectively said "If your group is dysfunctional (i.e. has divergent GNS tastes), then find another group." But I really couldn't jive with that suggestion because my social contract was such that we're friends (heck, even family) first, gamers second. In other words, finding another group is out of the question because we get together precisely because we like the members of the group. And yet, we had GNS issues, so we had to have a Come to Jesus moment and get everyone on the same page (and that took more than one or two such moments).

So, am I misreading (or even just misremembering) that advice on finding another gaming group? Or, if I'm remembering that advice rightly, how does it jive with the above?

Quote from: Ron Edwards

My final point: the reason I posted these five concepts across five threads, instead of writing an essay, is that I have no immediate answers, and in many cases I don't even think I perceive the possible range of the questions. Already, tons of material and concepts have been introduced that I never would have anticipated or seen for myself. So I hope people can do the same with this one: what is the Forge, as a community? Is there value in getting a better idea of how each of us, personally, relates to the hobby? Is there value in generating some terms to deal with these issues in discussion? Are there standards for how to discuss this stuff without the newcomer being shocked at such things? I'm interested in what everyone thinks.


Here's a suggestion for a first step, Ron. I recommend we do a kind of "Profiling" thead that really lets everyone air where they stand (aka, the Airing of Greivances ;) ). It'd be kind of fun, and certainly community-building. For example, we could have everyone list how often they game, with whom, etc. I'd gladly start, but I think it's worth some preliminary discussion to see what we should be posting in this "Social Profiling" thread, cool? In other words, what are the specifics to reply to? Also, we should also do it regularly, like profiling -- quarterly perhaps?

EDIT

Shooting from the hip, social profiling could include questions like:

How often are you playing RPGs?

How many groups are you playing RPGs with?

How large is/are your group(s)?

What is your relationship to your fellow players?

What games are you playing right now?

How often do you change the games you play?

How many different games do you play?

Who acts as GM? Does this change?

How much time in a given week do you devote to your RPG hobby?

Do you regularly implement "house rules"? Can you share some highlights?

These could stand some editing, but it's a start. Do you think the community would share this info? Would they care? Am I going about this all wrong -- other questions more suitable useful?
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Matt Snyder
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2002, 01:46:23 PM »

Another I'd like to add to Matt's list is the demographics of the group. Who are you gaming with? How diverse is the group? Are they your age/sex/race/nationality?
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Ziriel
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2002, 02:42:04 PM »

I'm all for community here at the Forge. (Which may seem quite odd seeing as I am a new member.)  I think it would really enrich all the discussions here.

I really like Matt Snyders idea about profiling (and itsmrwilson's demographics addition).  What a cool resource this could become!  Not only would we learn more about each other but it would provide some insight into the roleplaying community as a whole.

Just one more note:    I've noticed some social tension as of late here since we have been addressing some sensitive subjects.  (Sexual orientation, religion, sexism... Heck, add politics and we've hit all the big no-no's for polite conversation.  Not that I disapprove in any way.  I think these things are important to talk about.)  In the aftermath I'd like to appeal to everyone to take a deep breath, exhale, see that some of us are coming from different places and hence have different opinions, and then try to be glad of those differences.  If we were all the same what good would it be to get other perspectives?  I in no way want this to sound preachy; it's just some food for thought.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2002, 02:54:03 PM »

I thought that the point was that we already have a community here. We need to do something more to be more community oriented? What's the profiling thing going to do? Didn't we do that in the other thread?

I think that I'd personally prefer to focus on the ideal of making RPGs more fun for people. That's the part that caught my eye.

That said, I'm not sure how that's any different than what we do now.

Mike
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2002, 03:33:06 PM »

I like the profiling idea...simply fascinating.

If the can of worms Ron opened with the Social Context thread is any indication it might be worth it to split 'Gaming Sociology' into its own forum (instead of being in Actual Play/GNS Model/RPG Theory), especially if you want to do this profiling thing.  It might be too much clutter, or simply a fad, but I think it's worth considering.

I think part of what keeps your Forge-Brand-Social-Contract (TM) enforced is the barrier to entry (high overhead) on discussion.  Many terms, abstract concepts, and references to indie games systems most people haven't heard of (I don't think the proposed glossary would hurt this, it's a good idea no matter what).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2002, 09:07:39 PM »

Hello my fellow spunky monkeys,

Boy, lots to talk about already. What a surprise - and ample justification for the thread, I think.

Matt, it's interesting that you'd say a thread is "about nothing" because you were already thinking along the same lines. I think it might be a bit unrealistic to expect me to wow you with each and every post, dont'cha think?

But more substantively, yes, you are misremembering my advice. I have always placed the Social Contract at the top of the Functional Gaming concept hierarchy, or, as I usually model it visually, as the "biggest box." Check out the early part of the Exploration section of my essay, as well as the final section in its entirety. You'll see it right there.

Therefore I'd never advise someone to "get a new group" if being with that group is his or her top priority. That'd be silly. What I do say is twofold: (a) if GNS differences are strong, then the actual role-playing (which exists inside the social contract) will suffer; and (b) if the quality of the actual role-playing takes top priority, then find a new group. The corollary of course is that if (a) is acceptable and if (b) therefore doesn't apply, then don't find a new group. Pretty easy.

Now for the ogre-ish part of this post. Folks, at this point, the social-profiling thread is a horrible idea. The main problem is that the fundamental issues are internal, and the possibility of having a big ol' love-the-pain bitch session is very, very high. There are a lot of those at other forums, and I don't think they're productive in Forge terms.

Here's my suggestion, though. I think that most people here have not actually tried to work through the questions of my Social Context thread, for instance, which is far and away the most trenchant issue we face as individual role-players. If someone wants to start a new thread in the Theory forum based on those questions, then go for it. We can work out some sort of profiling version, perhaps based on Matt's questions, after some discourse gets going about the basics.

Best,
Ron
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2002, 10:56:40 PM »

I'm intrigued Ron,

So let's take this 'line by lineĻ.'

Quote from: Ron Edwards
What is the Forge, as a community?

Is it a group of (mostly) self-policing peers, sharing experience?  Nah; reads more like a support group for people with design fever.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Is there value in getting a better idea of how each of us, personally, relates to the hobby?

Not if you do it demographically or with some kind of '3 most, 3 least, and 3 best' thread.  C'mon, we're category/model developers; how about a model of 'relationships with the hobby/industry.'

I'll go first.  I'm a 'design for the fictional audience' master with definite, but not terribly defensible, opinions on who they are; I loathe the idea of business ownership, but think carefully in terms of product design.  I offer advice in fields I've considered but that usually turns into a plug for 'the great American game' (like 'the great American novel' some people are forever writing) that is generally considered an unreachable goal.≤

Let's make a model guys!

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Is there value in generating some terms to deal with these issues in discussion?

Let's amp up the 'what does it do' calls (most commonly written, and thus bad for newcomers, "What's the Premise?") to include 'who it's for,' 'how does that relate to the rest of the hobby and to the (newly refurbished term:) mainstream,' 'how does it attach/relate to/interact with/amplify or subjugate the normal social contract,' and 'how does it get to its audience beyond the three-tier system.'

Maybe even create a thread of 'what to ask of a new design' taking in all this new perspective.  Such could be referenced when asking, and would put forth a 'new era' persona on this community.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Are there standards for how to discuss this stuff without the newcomer being shocked at such things?

Nope.  Just another 'read the essay' kinda thing (when we get this into a new essay); can't be helped.  Sometimes a little shock is necessary to 'get outside of the box' when it comes to habitual game design (vis a vis the 'incoherent points of contact').

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I'm interested in what everyone thinks.

I'm not.  Thinking that is; it's too late in the evening/year/my life for something like that.

All good and fun, these Infamous Five Threads, does this illustrate how the forum needs to evolve in terms of 'hardware?'  I think it does.

G'night.

Fang Langford

Ļ Since I'm not actually attacking anything, while I break this paragraph down into individual statements, it doesn't qualify as a 'line by line' reactionary response...right?

≤ She's a formally-trained, fine artist with an incredible, intuitive grasp of game theory components of a game, a phenomenal ability to read players and run Illusionist games, and an abiding interest in all things pokťmon.

They fight crime!

Edited in: p. s. Where's my "fruity Starburst?"
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Rich Forest
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« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2002, 11:22:05 PM »

Hi Ron,

Wow, this is, for me, a challenging thread to respond to because it just is so big that I donít know where to start.  In fact, as more of a lurker than a poster, I've mostly been following the preceding threads with interest but without posting.  For now, Iím going to really focus on one of your questions.  I may address some of the others in the process, but Iíll put off dealing with them seriously until later.  This is the one Iím most interested in because I've spent a lot of time thinking about it:

 
Quote
What is the Forge, as a community?


My own answer to this question is that the Forge is a ďdiscourse community.Ē  Now before I get into what I mean by that, Iíd like to note that I am not trying to classify the Forge in an exclusionary way.  That is, I do not mean that the Forge "a discourse community rather than some other kind of community."  Instead, I am saying that it is "a discourse community, among other things."  One aspect of the Forgeís identity as a community is its existence as a discourse community, and it is this aspect that shapes how I view the Forge and interact with it.    

So what is a discourse community, and how is the Forge one?  Iíll use established definitions because the concept is not mine.  Particularly, I'm drawing from John Swales' (1990) work in Genre Analysis.  He identifies a discourse community by six criteria.  I'll describe them by applying them to the Forge.

For me, it's something like this:

1) The Forge is a community with identifiable public goals, some of which are formal and others more implicit, which include support of independent roleplaying game development and improving our enjoyment of our hobby.  I think this thread, and this series of threads, is contributing to the further definition of these public goals and our individual relationships to these goals.  By extension, this thread is contributing to the definition of our relationship to the Forge community.

2) The Forge is a community that, by its very nature as an internet forum, has a clear medium for communication between community members, and...

3) that uses this medium primarily to share information and feedback.  It is only in doing so that it supports its public goals as a community.  Following this reasoning, the actual, functional, primary goal of the Forge is to create a discourse.  It's identifiable public goals can only exist secondarily in relationship to its main goal of creating a community based on communication.  I think this is a tenable position, but in practice when we talk about the purpose of the Forge, we are really talking about its public goals rather than its discourse function.

4) The Forge is a community with a set of expectations about how language is used to get things done within the community, which includes the assumption that members of the community will talk about ideas in a reasonable, respectful manner.  And, closely related to this, the Forge is...

 5) a community with its own vocabulary.  This fact is the source of a lot of discussion on the Forge itself as well as other boards.  Concerns about it show up regularly, as new and experienced Forge members communicate their comfort or discomfort with the language of the community.  It is often the language of the community that is most starkly criticized, but at the same time it is this common vocabulary that keeps the Forge a close community.  Furthermore, the Forge is not the only discourse community with a specialized lexis.  In fact, other boards also have a specialized lexis when compared to the broader society.  The Forge shares this lexis but also has another level of specialized vocabulary that remains primarily useful within the community.  

Finally, and for me this one is very important:

6) The Forge is a community that has enough expert members to help integrate new members into the community.  See, the Forge, like any other community, has borders.  In the case of the Forge, these borders are primarily established through language, but these borders can be crossed because there are insiders who will help novices enter.  The willingness of the expert members to help others enter and become part of the community is what keeps the discourse community alive and vital.

Now, I donít know how much Iíve addressed your questions Ron, or how much Iíve worked at tangential but hopefully useful purposes.  I havenít said half as much as Iíd like, but I need more time to digest things before I can address some of your other questions.  

Rich Forest
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2002, 12:01:50 AM »

And so, big 5 isn't as shocking as people think...until they realize that the small wave covers the entire seaboard and is just the forerunner to the tsunami...

So to start it off, I think its absolutely fitting that we're addressing community and social contract, especially with the thread hijacking and bits of personal tension discourse going on, and similar issues popping up over at RPG.net.

What the Forge has done that I have not seen elsewhere, is twofold:  
First, and most importantly, the Forge has managed to maintain the basic social contract of intelligent conversation, based on reason rather than emotional issues and personal attacks.  This has allowed folks to really look at and examine roleplaying in all of its aspects without getting caught up in "D20 rulez/sux!" type stuff or the personal arguments that derail threads so quickly.  This has allowed folks to really go into some deep and innovative ideas without getting lost or being afraid of getting attacked for something new or different.

Second, folks are willing to stop, examine, and dissect roleplaying, whether design, publishing, distribution, or actual play into its component parts and then look at what is possible within the range of parts.  This analysis has given us a wide range of terminology, which, perhaps arcane at first, is quite clear and exact once you got the grasp of it.  Instead of spending months failing to communicate ideas based on "game balance", "story", or "good roleplaying" which are all undefined, and probably are used in so many ways as to be speaking different dialects anyway, we can actually examine examples and ideas and make reasoned statements about them.

I'd say that these two features are part of what defines the Forge as a community.  Unfortunately, we've got enough terminology that I think many ideas will go over folks heads, especially when they aren't used to dealing with specific defined terms, or even the idea that a board is used for discussion as opposed to opinion battles.  The only thing that I think can aid the Forge in helping newcomers is the ever-so-demanded lexicon or glossary.  

Finally, I think its about time we started dissecting the bigger social issues boxes the same way we do GNS.  Folks confuse social contract issues with design issues, design issues with in play drift, etc.   After all, gaming is a social activity and it seems way more issues pop up over social contract or personal interaction issues than design problems anyway.

Just my two cents,

Chris
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2002, 07:13:55 AM »

Seems like Chris is reinforcing Rich's point. Which seems interesting at first. But, Rich, I'm not familiar with the "discourse community" idea (and I'll bet others are in the dark as well). Could you enlighten us further?

Most importantly, which you left out, is this a "good thing"? We seem to fit the bill, but what does that mean?

Mike
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2002, 07:18:51 AM »

Dear Orge-ish one,

What is this thread about -- infact, what is the Infamous Five about? It's now clear as mud to me.  Just when I thought I had it ...

Firstly, my "about nothing" remark was mostly facetious (mostly, see below), as I thought was obvious. It was a pop culture reference for good-natured humor. I sure as hell don't expect you to wow me with every post, Ron. I'm teasing you a bit there, and elsewhere for that matter. No offense meant in any case. The remarks are teasing you, but in fact address wrong-headed assumptions (about the Cult of Ron, the nature of the Forge, etc.). My humor seems to go largely unnoticed, and yet still I jibe. I'm goofy that way.

I suggested the profiling thread only as a first step. I can understand why you'd prefer not to go that route (though I don't necessarily agree that it will devolve into Yet Another Bitch Fest). I have at least replied to and thought about the questions presented in Social Context, and I think that thread does answer a lot of what I suggested for Profiling.

I guess my problem is that, like I'm sure several others, I'm thinking, "Yeah, so?!?" I'm quite comfortable with my hobby, as you've suggested is quite probable for many other Forge folks. So, I guess I'm saying this thread is unclear to me for this reason . THIS is why I said it was "about nothing" -- because I see nothing remarkable here at all FOR ME.  There is nothing apparently actionable here.

I, and others -- including Valamir and Holmes, that dastardly duo -- have already said as much. We shrug, say so what, and move on to another thread. Or not. (The "or not" is the part that scares me, and perhaps should scare you, too.)

And yet, clearly someone (Ron) who is also comfortable with his hobby is spending a whole lot of energy and attention on it. Is this just for the "other" folks? This is also an individual who has made me and others think twice about things we've taken for granted for years, so I don't hastily dismiss his remarks as "been there, done that."

I'm just not sure what it is folks like me should contribute to this discussion. I see issues, that have been raised before in other threads (again, by Valamir, for example) -- I have no motivation to "do" anything, except perhaps bolster the community (which might be enough, no?). Why devote time to this discussion, if my own "local" social contract is comfortably strengthened by years of experience and friendship? Is it because of altruism and the interest in sharing "my experience and insight"? I see that as highly dubious because I have come to believe my own social experieneces as they relate to gaming are highly individual and largely unuseful (and uninteresting -- which is partly why I understand your reluctance to do a Social Profiling thread) to others. I'm missing any "common thread" where my experience might be diluted into something useful for others.

And, yes, Ron, I know you're not saying "Go do this." You've said as much quite clearly, repeatedly throughout the Infamous Five. So, to restate my confusion, I'm hearing "Don't do anything. Whaddya think?" Well, nothing. I don't know what to think at all, and therefore FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME (or maybe just ignorant ol' me), the point is lost.

Thrashing about,
Matt
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2002, 08:22:48 AM »

Hello everybody.

Thanks for all the responses so far. Hmm, where to start ...

1) Rich, that's a neat set of points about a "discourse community," and I guess I echo Mike's question - given all that, what is a discourse community good for? So far, in terms of design and publishing, and at least a few instances of actual play, it's been real good, in my view.

2) Matt, man, I'm teasing you back. Humor goes both ways, right? Yet another limitation of the internet medium, I suppose.

Actually, more substantively, I had a personal news flash last night when thinking about your post. Do you think that some role-players might be laboring under a perceived dichotomy that Having Fun with Friends and Enjoying the Role-playing are two incompatible ideals? That you can have one but not both? That energy spent on the one will automatically diminish the other?

That would describe at least a few people's outlooks, I think. It might be an analogue to the broken dichotomy of "roll vs. role" playing, which a person clings to with great fervor yet must be abandoned for GNS/etc to make any sense at all.

3) Fang, I agree. It's model time. The part I see so far is my little "boxes" thing, in which Liking Others is the biggest, Socializing with Them is the next one in, and Role-playing with Them is the inmost box.

I'm staying away from the Whole Market and Society model territory, partly because a lot of information and perspectives aren't available to everyone here, and partly because it's kind of a big question.

Best,
Ron
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Matt Snyder
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2002, 09:09:18 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hello everybody.

2) Matt, man, I'm teasing you back. Humor goes both ways, right? Yet another limitation of the internet medium, I suppose.

Actually, more substantively, I had a personal news flash last night when thinking about your post. Do you think that some role-players might be laboring under a perceived dichotomy that Having Fun with Friends and Enjoying the Role-playing are two incompatible ideals? That you can have one but not both? That energy spent on the one will automatically diminish the other?

That would describe at least a few people's outlooks, I think. It might be an analogue to the broken dichotomy of "roll vs. role" playing, which a person clings to with great fervor yet must be abandoned for GNS/etc to make any sense at all.



Heh, fair enough, Ron. Maybe we should be less subtle. How 'bout this: Two guys from the Midwest walk into a bar ... oh, nevermind ...

On to the substance!

Yes, I think you might be on to something here, wherein people divorce in their thinking their hobby and their social interaction. The hobby by definition IS social interaction. This is, for me, it's primary draw. The ability to share in the creative, imaginative process with other people. Obviously, from that viewpoint, enjoying RPGs and enjoying social contacts are not in an inverse relationship, they're in a DIRECT relationship. I'm not even sure they're in relationship. They're pretty much the same thing! Divorcing them in one's mind is, in my view, highly dysfunctional.

I'm going to chew on your thoughts that it might be analagous to the whole "role vs. roll" thing, but I think this is something that helps clarify some of the issues you / we are wrestling with. It's more specific an issue, and therefore more "actionable" to me, even if the action is simply thought and discussion.
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Matt Snyder
www.chimera.info

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra
Maurice Forrester
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2002, 09:25:03 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Do you think that some role-players might be laboring under a perceived dichotomy that Having Fun with Friends and Enjoying the Role-playing are two incompatible ideals? That you can have one but not both? That energy spent on the one will automatically diminish the other?


I'm not sure about that last question, but I don't see any reason why someone couldn't see Having Fun with Friends and Enjoying the Role-playing as two different goals.  Those goals become incompatible if the members of one group do not share the same values or social contract as the members of the other group.

Ron has used the analogy of a gaming group as a band, but there's no reason why members of a band have to all be friends.  A particular musician may get together with the rest of the band to enjoy making music together without thinking of that as having fun with friends.  Of course, there still has to be some sort of social contract that governs the interaction within the band but that does not necessarily equal friendship.
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Maurice Forrester
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