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Author Topic: Virtual Experience  (Read 1391 times)
wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« on: May 22, 2011, 03:31:13 AM »

With regard to the discussion of John Kim's "Story and Narrative Paradigms in Role-Playing Games" 

     http://www.indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=8546.0

I wrote:

Quote
Kim's description of the "Virtual Experience" player fits me very well. I care about story, but the story I care about is the one I experience. I think that this may go beyond RPGs into the way people enjoy fiction. When I read I like to identify strongly with a character, and my suspension of disbelief can be broken if an author tries to "improve" the story by making that character choose unjustifiably stupid or arbitrary actions.

And Ron Edwards replied:

Quote
I suggest you open a thread in Actual Play to talk about that. I think you might be surprised at some of the local writings on the subject.

I started playing D&D in 1979, but hadn't played in recent years until I joined a friend's group a few weeks ago. I knew nothing of the GNS analysis until a few weeks ago, but since then I have read all the articles here and even followed the references to find other articles like John Kim's. There are more things I can say about my RPG background, and even a recent incident of actual play I can recount, but since neither are much related to my question above, I'll hold them for a follow-up post.

Please surprise me.

Dan Holdgreiwe

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Jeff B
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 01:16:38 PM »

Hi, Dan.

You and I started with RPG's in the same year, sounds like.  That year I discovered the "blue book" of D&D, which ran about 50 pages.  It was super-awesome (at the time).  :)

After reading the post and the linked post, I'm not sure what your question is.  Can you clarify as to the direction you want this post to go?

Jeff
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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 06:33:17 AM »

Did your Blue Book come with a set of dice like mine? I still have those dice, although their quality hasn't held up to the years.

I was "looking for discussion" because I didn't want to rehash things that have probably been beaten to death, and because I don't want to be an ignorant newbie throwing stones at years of hard work on Narrativist theory. Kim's model of "Virtual Experience" fits me not only as an RPG player, but also as a reader of fiction, which causes me to wonder how Virtual Experience as a Creative Agenda meshes with GNS theory? I regard simulation as a means rather than an end. The simulation has to be decent so that (1) suspension of disbelief is encouraged; and (2) character choices can be meaningful. We all stopped role playing as children because "Bang! Your dead!" "No, I'm not!" was not an adequate simulation, but making simulation a goal in itself seems to me to be absurd. On the other hand, what I have seen of Narrativism seems to me to be largely focused on Kim's "Collaborative Storytelling" model.

I guess my original question was something like "Can you show me where this stuff been talked about so I don't make a fool of myself (and offend people) asking stupid questions?"

Now I'll settle for "Does anyone have an opinion on where Virtual Experience seekers fit in the Narrativist world?
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Jeff B
Member

Posts: 35


« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 08:51:31 AM »


The link to the original essay is broken.  You included a quote from a discussion with yourself and Ron, but I don't see the thread that produced the quote.  Or maybe my brain is in remission again.

God, the low-impact dice...over the years, my d20 wore smooth enough to roll all over the table and the floor for quite a while before producing a result.  I still have a few of them hidden away, but using them would be like whipping out a walkie-talkie at a table of cell phone users.

If you can point me/us to the relevant essay or thread, I'd be interested to read.


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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2011, 09:16:46 AM »

http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/theory/narrative/paradigms.html
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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2011, 09:57:59 AM »

Virtual experience seeking exists at the technical level in the Big Model, which means that, orchestrated properly, it can perfectly well serve any given creative agenda. In principle, there are virtual experience story now games, virtual experience right to dream games, and virtual experience step on up games, no problem.

There are a bunch of historical facts of fad, insight and innovation that make it so that virtual experience isn't well-represented in story now games by Forge designers. That's just how it's happened to turn out, it's not a feature of either the creative agenda or the technical agenda*.

So, yes, the simulation has to be decent so that the thing holds together, whatever it is. Bad simulation can scupper story now play, right to dream play, or step on up play, all equally. What matters to creative agenda is what you're turning your simulation toward, not how good or bad it is.

I should illustrate! Let's see.

A couple of months ago I was playing Shock:Human Contact with my friends J and Rob. In Human Contact you play deep-space explorers making first contact with an alien civilization, and the fallout thereof. It's (a) as story now as games get, and (b) pretty damn rigorous hard sf.

In our game, the alien civilization had some kind of faster-than-light technology that we contactors didn't understand, and we players handwaved a rationale for. It was a bit of an uncomfortable element! As long as we could all make sense of it, the game held together: our characters' decisions meant something, and the ethical, social and philosophical fallout of our first contact mattered. You know what I mean? But at times that technology didn't make sense, and threatened to turn into just convenient magic. If it had gone too far in that direction, we would have been playing in a space-fantasy world instead, and the issues and subjects we were dealing with would have been irrelevant, retroactively invalid. Violating the simulation we'd set up would have also, just as you say, made our character's choices meaningless.

Now, Human Contact's simulation is interpersonal and intercommunal, not really physical, so I don't know if Human Contact would meet your virtual experience seeking needs. This is just an example of how violating believable in-game causality can violate narrativist play.

-Vincent

* "Technical agenda" isn't an official Big Model term, but I don't think there's much controversy about it. It's the component of creative agenda concerned with how we're going to pursue it, is all.
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Caldis
Member

Posts: 392


« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2011, 11:41:50 AM »

I think this thread is probably the closest to what you are looking for especially the second page where Lumpley (Vincent Baker) and Paul Czege describe RGFA Simulationism as a set of techniques and ephemera.  

http://indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=9104.0


I think most people like taking on the role of a character, feeling connected to a character and acting like that character would really act.  Getting to the point where you are acting as a character in any situation is much more complicated than just connecting with a character.   We need to know things about this character like what he's capable of, what he cares about, what is happening in his life, what outside people and things are important and influence his life, what is going on in the world around the character.  You cant create all those things from directly inside the character.  They have to come from somewhere and are created for some kind of purpose, GNS (creative agenda) is mostly about trying to understand that purpose.  Why we create characters, situations, settings and what we hope to use this specific formulation to achieve is agenda how we do that is a combination of techniques like Virtual reality that John was talking about.






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wholeridge
Member

Posts: 21


« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2011, 04:46:12 PM »

Sorry to have taken so long to reply. Partly it was the effort of absorbing that heavy thread full of references to still older discussions, and partly I've been down sick for a couple weeks.

For me, my best experiences playing in an RPG have very much like my best experiences reading a novel, and I see John Kim's essay as contrasting "like reading a novel" (Virtual Experience, Immersionist?) play with "like writing a novel" (Collaborative Storytelling, Fabulist?) play. Did John Kim never get the chance to compare Immersionist Narrativism with Fabulist Narrativism? (In this old thread, he was holding off, waiting for Ron Edward's "Story Now" essay to appear.)

Caldis wrote:

Quote
I think most people like taking on the role of a character, feeling connected to a character and acting like that character would really act.  Getting to the point where you are acting as a character in any situation is much more complicated than just connecting with a character.   We need to know things about this character like what he's capable of, what he cares about, what is happening in his life, what outside people and things are important and influence his life, what is going on in the world around the character.  You cant create all those things from directly inside the character.  They have to come from somewhere and are created for some kind of purpose, GNS (creative agenda) is mostly about trying to understand that purpose.  Why we create characters, situations, settings and what we hope to use this specific formulation to achieve is agenda how we do that is a combination of techniques like Virtual reality that John was talking about.

Isn't this made easier by division of labor? I can more fully focus on "what he cares about", "what is important to him", and "what he is capable of (morally)", if somebody else (or the system) is taking care of "what he is capable of (physically)" and "what is going on in the world around the character". (I can be that "somebody else" for other characters with less disruption than if I try to do it for my own character.) My purposes are the same as my purposes in reading a novel, to vicariously experience an interesting life other than my own. Does GNS (creative agenda) apply to the purposes of novels?

Lumpley wrote:

Quote
There are a bunch of historical facts of fad, insight and innovation that make it so that virtual experience isn't well-represented in story now games by Forge designers. That's just how it's happened to turn out, it's not a feature of either the creative agenda or the technical agenda*.

Can anyone recommend games in which virtual experience is particularly encouraged? Can anyone share their experiences of techniques which encourage it?

(And now for some Actual Play!)

After quite a few years of inactivity, I have begun playing with my housemate's gaming group. The system is 1st Edition AD&D, which a host of house rules that bestow modest spell-like abilities on every race and class. The house rules serve to increase the options available to each player, which makes play more interesting than straight AD&D, but they don't encourage story. The group as a whole seem to be social gamers for whom Creative Agenda is a very secondary concern, but they are also people who played 1st Edition AD&D when it was new and have unexamined attitudes from that period. I'm tempted to call them "pre-Simulationist", meaning that they still have the attitudes that were common before people started arguing about how RPGs ought to be played. All this is comfortably familiar to me, if not particularly stimulating. Our party might best be described as land-bound privateers. We assist the local army in resisting a humanoid invasion, but we pick our own targets (or side adventures) based on risk and potential reward.

Episode 1: The Epic Battle
We led a much larger group of army NPCs to a bugbear lair we had discovered. Exploration of the dungeon let to a large battle. What sticks in my mind, however, is the very unsatisfying image of little metal guys on a hex grid crowding against paperback books representing the walls of the corridor. I don't feel like "I" participated in that battle, although my character stood his ground and made his rolls. I want to remember a first person viewpoint of my character's experience, not a high-angle camera shot of (silly looking) metal armies. Am I the only one who finds that using miniatures erodes suspension of disbelief?

Episode 2: It Didn't Matter that It Didn't Matter
On the way out of the bugbear lair, the main part of the (very large) party got distracted by a magical trap. Those of us who weren't caught up in the trap discovered angry voices coming from beneath a trapdoor. My character gathered stones and piled them on the trap door. The monsters never tried to open the trapdoor, so my tactic had no effect. Nevertheless, I felt more satisfaction over that action than over anything else I had done in that session of play.

Episode 3: Step on Down
In my most recent foray, I took satisfaction in successfully arguing against entering into an encounter with gargoyles. We were back to just our core party, and I calculated that we didn't have enough magic weapons to take on a group of "+1 or better to hit" opponents. We got no experience and no treasure, but I felt that "I" had done good.

Looking at what I just wrote, I'm thinking that the old style play of this particular group is offering primarily Gamist satisfactions. I'll go further and guess that the GM is enjoying "testing" us with occasional challenges that exceed our probable capabilities, thus pushing us into the tactical gaming which was prominent in the pre-Simulationist era. Since there seems to be little Story, one might be tempted to call any non-Gamist element in this play "Simulationist", but that doesn't feel right to me. Our game hasn't reached the point of developing story, but we are developing situations and (to a lesser extent) characters. To me, we seem to be more like grade-schoolers taking clumsy first steps toward creative writing than like climate scientists running computer simulations.

Thanks for your feedback,
Dan Holdgreiwe


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