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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 38 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: April round: Themes  (Read 4151 times)
Baxil
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« on: April 08, 2011, 10:13:25 PM »

Still haven't seen much talk about the new round of games, so here's a conversation starter.

February's entrants really were remarkable in their ... not similarity, exactly, but in the way that there seemed to be something unifying them - the wings and death blending together into a nice, smooth gradient.  I'm wondering what people think of April's games as a collective unit?

By my reckoning - and these summaries are horribly unfair - we have:

Her Son - High-fantasy bug fighting as a metaphor/coping mechanism for cruel reality.
Homage to Ninshubar - Struggle for empowerment while enslaved.
In Exile - Use your reputation and diplomacy to restore a deposed monarch.
Queen of Thorns - Pick up the burden of fantasy heroism in a suicidal stealth rescue attempt.
Beholden - Kick Don Quixote in the balls until you decide you liked being Dulcinea.
Brick and Mortar - Survive heartless corporatization in the disguise of a disaster movie.
Queens of Time and Space - Feed the desires of the powerful to prevent greater crises.
Camwhores - Attempt to derive maximum benefit from minimal objectification.
The Strongest Link - Compete against the other players for group leadership.
Shackled Self - Push one player through a journey to transcend attachment.
Tales of Lust - Overcome the desires that bind you into monstrous form.
Within My Clutches - Explore what supervillains sacrifice on their rise to power.
You Are My Destiny - I dunno, haven't been able to find the PDF yet.

The games, to me, have a sort of Buddhist vibe (well, Shackled Self, duh ... but in general).  I think that's unavoidable when such an overwhelming majority of games are themed around "chains" .. but but if I had to pick what seemed like the common thread this time, it would be the intersection between free will and desire.

Also, one thing that struck me this round is that an awful lot of games were circling around the sweet spot of 3-4 total players, and many games suggested a narrow range of allowed players.  I recall a wider spread last time.  Perhaps something about lust and bindings pushed us toward creating more intimate experiences?
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Thunder_God
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2011, 02:45:51 AM »

I submitted my game to 1km1kt but it didn't seem to go up, I'll try again
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Guy Shalev.

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CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Elizabeth
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2011, 04:41:11 AM »

It seems to me, from those descriptions, that most of the games dealt with power disparities and/or a power hierarchy.
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Ross Cowman
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2011, 09:44:33 AM »

"Also, one thing that struck me this round is that an awful lot of games were circling around the sweet spot of 3-4 total players, and many games suggested a narrow range of allowed players.  I recall a wider spread last time.  Perhaps something about lust and bindings pushed us toward creating more intimate experiences?"

An interesting question, I think my most satisfying gaming experiences happen with that number of players. 2 person games are fun, but you both really need to bring it.  more then 5 around a table and there is not enough spotlight (or chairs at my house!) to go around.

Not to say that one is better, that is just my go to #.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2011, 04:59:49 PM »

Hiya,

From the other end of the process, i.e., as I was making up the terms, this set turned out to punch the tension between empowerment and exploitation. Whether the exploitation was of oneself or of others, the terms left open. I also punched in a strong female vibe, or rather its potential, as well as the issue of lust which could be as narrow or as broad as one chose.

The original set was amazon, virgin, lust, queen. I decided it was too unified and the whole would be distracting, not permitting people to parse two-fer sets as easily as they might. I also thought virgin + lust was too simplistic, and I finally figured out that all four terms were potentially expressions of strength. When I realized that I knew why the two-sets seemed weak when I ran them through my mind; they had no tension in comparison to the four-term set.

So I knew "chains" would have to be put in, but at first it was hard to know what to switch out. The set very nearly lost "amazon," but on reflection, I decided I really liked how variable that term could be. For instance, I wondered whether someone might consider whatever actual tribe in the Amazon Basin (as it would be called) was encountered by Spaniards to prompt them to name it as such. My memory from long-ago readings says that the people they met had long hair, prompting the name, but I ought to look it up to see whether any better documentation exists. And it also plays up certain subcultural divisions within feminism, a topic of personal interest to me. But whatever, I had no expectations but wanted to see what people made of the term, especially since it has its own tropes right here in our own hobby.

I did try, then, chains + virgin + lust + queen, amazon + virgin + chains + queen, and amazon + virgin + lust + chains, all of which had their charms, but finally settled on the one I used because it seemed to spread the issues best across the two-term sets, especially in comparison to a hypothetical four-term inspiration in each case. At least that was the criterion I used, however successfully.

Given the final set, I'm not surprised that struggle is central to the entries, particularly struggle in which "winning" becomes more about identity and values than about grabbing a simple prize. I don't think they quite blend in the same way that the February round did, but that's not part of the Ronnies goals anyway, merely being an enjoyable curiosity from a particular round. They do have a certain shared vibe I haven't put my finger on yet, but I will see how that shapes up in my mind once the judging is over.

Best, Ron
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2011, 08:15:42 PM »

I haven't read them all yet.

One thing that surprised me is that, despite that we're using opposite terms (queen + chains, amazon + lust), Elizabeth and I wrote games which are basically thematically identical: from a position of weakness, how do you get what you want in a way that isn't about getting a position of strength?

yrs--
--Ben
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stefoid
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2011, 06:41:09 PM »

Elizabeth and I wrote games which are basically thematically identical: from a position of weakness, how do you get what you want in a way that isn't about getting a position of strength?


??? cam whores manipulate marks for cash.  They could could have got a job serving hamburgers or whatever, but they chose differently.  They did chose to take the position of strength over the other options.
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contracycle
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2011, 10:49:30 PM »

Turning yourself into a commodity isn't a position of strength.  It is not for nothing that we say that buyers exercise demand.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
stefoid
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2011, 12:51:22 AM »

Turning yourself into a commodity isn't a position of strength.  It is not for nothing that we say that buyers exercise demand.

I dont get it.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2011, 06:18:12 AM »

I'm certain everyone already realizes that any brand of prostitution raises issues of power imbalance in a specially ambiguous fashion - who has it, when, about what, et cetera. And I'm also certain it won't get resolved via one-liner replies back and forth. The topic is way too easily subverted into identity positioning festivals, and although I don't think the dialogue has reached this point, I'm alerting everyone to the fact that if and when I think it does, I'll stomp it.

That said, all substantial discussion of Camwhores' theme and related more general points is welcome.

Best, Ron
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Baxil
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2011, 09:26:02 AM »

Unrelated: Another thing that occurred to me, looking back through the list, is that there seems to be a lot of cruelty toward PCs in this round of games. 

I was going to say it was significant, but then I remembered SLOSK from February, which is kind of the gold standard there.  So more likely that we just have a good batch of games - strong narrative relies on adversity.

- Bax
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Baxil
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2011, 10:07:03 AM »

In hindsight, I'm surprised I didn't see this earlier: these are all relationship games.

There are a few that are thematically about (a) relationship(s), some that are about using relationships to get what you want, a bunch that have explicit relationship mechanics/statistics, and a few that pit desires against relationships.  (Most games fit in multiple categories here.)  But none that are agnostic on the issue.
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David Berg
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2011, 11:13:08 AM »

The terms Lust + Chains spoke very strongly to me.  In real life, I occasionally feel the urge to ditch the chains of my connections and responsibilities, forgo the lust for companionship and property, and go chill in a cave somewhere.  It's normally a pretty idle thought, and only gets dramatic enough to be interesting when my obligations get really taxing.  So, I instantly thought that designing that dynamic would be a worthy and coherent challenge. 

But yuck, I wouldn't want to play that.  It'd either be a soul-crushing experience, or a half-assed, ironically distant experience for the sake of not being soul-crushing.

That'll also keep me from playing a lot of this round's other entries.  That's not a criticism of them; just my own taste.

The solution I eventually found was to put the protagonists' taxing obligations in a context that provides the players some enthusiasm and exuberance, to counter the trapped desperation.  Basically, it's more fun to crash and burn if you can do it with flair.  Hence, supervillains. 

I admit a strong possibility, though, that the soul-crush-o-meter may remain a bit high for my tastes.  Lust + Chains, man.  I should probably check out Shackled Self for some balance.  Maybe Within My Clutches could build the attachments, and Shackled Self could break 'em.  Might make for a good two-shot.
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