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Author Topic: Defining roleplaying; an alternative approach  (Read 21120 times)
Merten
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« on: October 03, 2002, 01:48:12 AM »

Two Finnish fellows did a presentation about defining the roleplaying in local convention last summer. I missed the presentation (had to run a game), but here's some food for thought: the first draft of their paper about the subject:

http://personal.inet.fi/koti/henri.hakkarainen/meilahti/">http://personal.inet.fi/koti/henri.hakkarainen/meilahti/

I seem to notice that their definition of "simulation" is a bit different from the GNS essay - almost the opposite.
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2002, 08:59:04 AM »

Actually, their definition of Simulation is exactly what we use here. Simulationism, and Simulation are not one and the same, and in fact, thier association etymologically is in fact confusing rather than enlightening. Yet necessary as the model is a historical descendent of another. That said, there are many threads here that discuss the idea of changing the term Simulationism so as to avoid that problem.

In fact, the document seems to jibe with most of the theory here. Until page eight, that is, where the political bent of the publishers bias rears it's ugly head in a nasty form. Note how these individuals only quote sources that are from their school. This seems very problematic to me. What starts as a reasoned attempt to create a definition for role-playing activities ends up diminished by it's politics.

One point of personal interest, if one were to use their definition, Universalis would be considered Storytelling. That is because only GMs hold power in the game (no players, by their technical description). Since there is more than one GM, however, it would have to be a system for Collaborative Storytelling. Which we'd be satisfied with.

Mike
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Merten
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2002, 09:34:52 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Actually, their definition of Simulation is exactly what we use here. Simulationism, and Simulation are not one and the same, and in fact, thier association etymologically is in fact confusing rather than enlightening. Yet necessary as the model is a historical descendent of another. That said, there are many threads here that discuss the idea of changing the term Simulationism so as to avoid that problem.


Well, that's good then, and the mistake was done by yours truly. And yeah, the term "simulationism" feels a bit misleading, at least to me - I've usually assosicated (perhaps because of the term "simulation") it to heavy rules systems that try to simulate reality.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
In fact, the document seems to jibe with most of the theory here. Until page eight, that is, where the political bent of the publishers bias rears it's ugly head in a nasty form. Note how these individuals only quote sources that are from their school. This seems very problematic to me. What starts as a reasoned attempt to create a definition for role-playing activities ends up diminished by it's politics.


Now, you lost me for a moment, here. Political bent? You mean the second paragraph?

And what comes to quoting sources that come from their school - well, the school there is a bit misleading term, since that particular school consists of about two individuals - the ones who wrote it. The usage of term "school" around here probably (at least if you ask me) has something to do with the wicked sense of humor. When the Turku school (I don't know if they used the name with tongue in cheeck - probably did) announced their manifesto, we suddenly had one school per part of the city doing their manifestos (ranging from silly to outright funny, with few that actually contributed something). The one source mentioned in that page is an article from the live-roleplayers magazine from 1997 - years before we had any schools. I don't know if the person who wrote it has offered any insights on the paper itself.

When it comes to quoting from other sources - well, there aren't too many of them. I don't even know if they're aware of the GNS-model. Have to ask sometime.

Now, that became a lenghty answer. ;)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
One point of personal interest, if one were to use their definition, Universalis would be considered Storytelling. That is because only GMs hold power in the game (no players, by their technical description). Since there is more than one GM, however, it would have to be a system for Collaborative Storytelling. Which we'd be satisfied with.


Well, yeah - I actually did that (two GM game) with one of the writers not that long ago. Thought that was after they did that paper. So I suppose it sort of fits in their model.

Universalis? Unless you're meaning the computer game with same name (Europa Universalis), drop me a reference?
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2002, 10:15:31 AM »

Quote from: Merten
Well, that's good then, and the mistake was done by yours truly. And yeah, the term "simulationism" feels a bit misleading, at least to me - I've usually assosicated (perhaps because of the term "simulation") it to heavy rules systems that try to simulate reality.
Common error. But there are, for instance lots of "rules-lite" Sim games. No correllation at all.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Now, you lost me for a moment, here. Political bent? You mean the second paragraph?
I mean the point at which they go out of their way to point out how they feel that LARP has been marginalized, and their own biases against CRPGS. They actually drop out of the academic mode at that point to talk about how they "feel" about it. I think it's silly of them to say that LARP has been bashed, and should be looked at more closely in the name of gaming equality, and then in the very next paragraph bash CRPGs. And give no reasons why, other than feelings.

Quote
And what comes to quoting sources that come from their school - well, the school there is a bit misleading term, since that particular school consists of about two individuals - the ones who wrote it.
Yep, pretty incestuous. No theory can stand if it isn't exposed to a larger community of thought.

Quote
When it comes to quoting from other sources - well, there aren't too many of them. I don't even know if they're aware of the GNS-model. Have to ask sometime.
I'm sure that aren't aware. Or they don't care. Not that they must. But the paper had an actual academic tone to it that lent it a great bit of crdibility in my opinion. Until such point as it betrayed it's political nature, and belied it's ignorance of theory exterior to the community.

It might interest you to know that we've followed the Turku theory here. In fact, we formerly used a term for the sort of Immersion that you described that was a Finnish term so alien to the English mindset that we referred to it almost exclusively as the E-thing (Anyone remember the actual term?).

Quote
Well, yeah - I actually did that (two GM game) with one of the writers not that long ago. Thought that was after they did that paper. So I suppose it sort of fits in their model.
To be precise, in Universalis there are only GMs, and no players. At least by the definition of the essay (and by some phrasology here in describing it as GM-full). In the game text we refer to them as players, but they woudn't qualify as such by the essay.

Quote
Universalis? Unless you're meaning the computer game with same name (Europa Universalis), drop me a reference?
No, though I play EU, the French boardgame version from which the computer game was created. No, Universalis is a game created by Ralph Mazza and myself. You can find a forum and links for it on the Indie page here at the Forge.

Mike
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Emily Care
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« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2002, 10:39:39 AM »

Thanks for posting this, Merten.

It's interesting to see an academic paper on roleplaying.  Makes the mainstream roleplaying world look pretty uniform since this paper written by Finns is so similar to US rpg experience.
 
On Simulation vs. Simulationism
Simulation in this paper refers to methods/mechanics/words etc. that would substitute for real world action.  Simulation is used in this paper to describe table-top gaming vs. Live-action. In live-action rpg the player enacts in person as much of the action their character does as possible. Table-top has much more simulation.

Here's the def. of simulationism from Ron's article (available at: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/gns/gns_chapter2.html)

Quote
Simulationism is expressed by enhancing one or more of the listed elements in Set 1 above; in other
    words, Simulationism heightens and focuses Exploration as the priority of play. The players may be
    greatly concerned with the internal logic and experiential consistency of that Exploration.


My response to the paper:
I sent them some feedback. In their paper they attribute almost all narrative power, what they call diegesis, to the gm.  I pointed out that even if a gm-is required as they also state, it is quite possible for multiple participants to act as gm, and also for players to share greater diegetic (ie narrative) power. I referred them to Universalis and Before the Flood for the former, and various games including Sorcerer and DonJon for the latter case.

Mike, I think Universalis & BtF fall outside of their structure. They do not define what they mean by storytelling. Since each participant's diegetic power is constrained (in turn) by the other "gm"s, everyone also gets to be a "player" in both Universalis and BtF. (What examples of gm-full games am I missing, by the way? :)  


--Emily Care
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« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2002, 11:25:29 AM »

Hi Emily,

Quick side answer to your side question: one GM-full game that's often overlooked is Prince Valiant, in which may people take the GM role in a round-robin sort of way. Not quite as simultaneous as some of the play examples you, Vincent, and Meguey have told us about, but definitely more shared/full than traditional RPGs.

Prince Valiant was published in 1989. I'm not flashing, this minute anyway, on any games previous to that with explicit shared-GM structures, whether simultaneous or sequential. I probably need to turn over the memory banks a bit more though.

Best,
Ron
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Merten
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« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2002, 01:42:29 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Common error. But there are, for instance lots of "rules-lite" Sim games. No correllation at all.


Most probably. Though I wouldn't mind having a few pointers for the rules-lite simulation games - I don't doubt that they exists, and I might actually be quite intrested in seeing one.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I mean the point at which they go out of their way to point out how they feel that LARP has been marginalized, and their own biases against CRPGS. They actually drop out of the academic mode at that point to talk about how they "feel" about it. I think it's silly of them to say that LARP has been bashed, and should be looked at more closely in the name of gaming equality, and then in the very next paragraph bash CRPGs. And give no reasons why, other than feelings.


Possible, though I think you're now putting words to someone's mouth. Though I agree that backing the claims with more reasons would indeed be a good thing - perhaps something for the next version.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Yep, pretty incestuous. No theory can stand if it isn't exposed to a larger community of thought.


I might take this as a flamebait, but I'll take it as thoughtless comment.

How would you know to how large community or audience the thoughts behind the paper have been exposed? I know that it's been presented and  debated in one certain auditorium for several hours with something like hundred people, and discussed for longer time with smaller audiences.

Which is not to say that it couldn't and shouldn't be exposed to larger audience.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm sure that aren't aware. Or they don't care. Not that they must. But the paper had an actual academic tone to it that lent it a great bit of crdibility in my opinion. Until such point as it betrayed it's political nature, and belied it's ignorance of theory exterior to the community.


Again, how would you know? Both about being aware and caring - I'm quite sure that the first one might be true, since Forge doesen't have a public profile like, for example, the rpg.net, but your second pun is somewhat tastless.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
It might interest you to know that we've followed the Turku theory here. In fact, we formerly used a term for the sort of Immersion that you described that was a Finnish term so alien to the English mindset that we referred to it almost exclusively as the E-thing (Anyone remember the actual term?).


Eläytyjist - more than a bit ankward term, though I cannot come up with a good English equivlaent. The dictionary tries to suggest to put someone's soul into (something), but that's not the exact thing, either.

But I'm glad that you followed the theory, since most people seemed to pass it with a laugh - not suprising, since it was written in more than a bit provocative and tongue-in-cheeck-tone. But I do admit that I was a bit suprised how no one actually seemed to catch the meaning behind it all.

Of course, I didn't know about this place, back then.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
To be precise, in Universalis there are only GMs, and no players. At least by the definition of the essay (and by some phrasology here in describing it as GM-full). In the game text we refer to them as players, but they woudn't qualify as such by the essay.


So, a sort of collaborative storytelling, then? Can't tell without knowing the details (thanks for the Universalis tip, have to check it out), but it's not an unknown phenomenon here - there are several games with at least some resemblance around here(one in which I have played and one of the writers has played - and I hate putting words into someone's mouth like this, but bear with me. Jaakko can skin me alive later if he wants to). Can't say for sure if they are similar.
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Merten
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« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2002, 01:47:23 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
I sent them some feedback. In their paper they attribute almost all narrative power, what they call diegesis, to the gm.  I pointed out that even if a gm-is required as they also state, it is quite possible for multiple participants to act as gm, and also for players to share greater diegetic (ie narrative) power. I referred them to Universalis and Before the Flood for the former, and various games including Sorcerer and DonJon for the latter case.


I'm sure they appreciate it and might even drop by for some discussion. In which case I'll just pick some popcorns, take a comfy chair and fall back to watch the (possible) debate and the outcome, and hope to learn something.

Of course, it might just be that all the Finnish roleplaying theorists decide to drop by, in which case I'll cover my eyes and ears and just check the results. ;)
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2002, 02:05:33 PM »

Quote from: Merten
Most probably. Though I wouldn't mind having a few pointers for the rules-lite simulation games - I don't doubt that they exists, and I might actually be quite intrested in seeing one.
Well, there's also the problem of perception of what lite is. Try Zenobia. Not extrememly lite, but lighter than most Sim games.  (Note when I say Sim with a capital S that denotes Simulationist, not simulation)

I get the feeling from the paper, that you guys think that any attempt to simulate anything is "Rules Heavy". By that definition, there are probably few Tabletop Sim games that do qualify. Interestingly, however, the "Immerionist" style of LARP that you guys play would be considered Simulationist. Very Simulationist. So there's a good example of a bunch of lite Sim games. And that should give you an idea of just how different Simulationist and simulation are.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Possible, though I think you're now putting words to someone's mouth.
On the contrary, I was nearly quoting. I will do so if you like.

Quote
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Yep, pretty incestuous. No theory can stand if it isn't exposed to a larger community of thought.


I might take this as a flamebait, but I'll take it as thoughtless comment.

How would you know to how large community or audience the thoughts behind the paper have been exposed? I know that it's been presented and  debated in one certain auditorium for several hours with something like hundred people, and discussed for longer time with smaller audiences.
You misread me. The incestuous part (and I use that term in a it's broad non-sexual sense; don't get me wrong), is the idea of only referring to each other in their papers. I know that there are only a couple of people in the school because you told me above. They need to look at other theory, IMO, to give their own theory more credibility.

Quote
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I'm sure that aren't aware. Or they don't care. Not that they must. But the paper had an actual academic tone to it that lent it a great bit of crdibility in my opinion. Until such point as it betrayed it's political nature, and belied it's ignorance of theory exterior to the community.


Again, how would you know? Both about being aware and caring - I'm quite sure that the first one might be true, since Forge doesen't have a public profile like, for example, the rpg.net, but your second pun is somewhat tastless.
Because they only quote themselves, and the theory doesn't even attempt to address other concerns outside their own. If they had even taken the time to dismiss them, at least then we'd know that they care? How else am I to judge a paper than by what's in it?

Quote
So, a sort of collaborative storytelling, then? Can't tell without knowing the details (thanks for the Universalis tip, have to check it out), but it's not an unknown phenomenon here - there are several games with at least some resemblance around here(one in which I have played and one of the writers has played - and I hate putting words into someone's mouth like this, but bear with me. Jaakko can skin me alive later if he wants to). Can't say for sure if they are similar.
Yes, as I've said above, Collaborative Storytelling.

Can you get us any details on the game you mention?

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2002, 02:14:39 PM »

Quote from: Ron
Prince Valiant was published in 1989. I'm not flashing, this minute anyway, on any games previous to that with explicit shared-GM structures, whether simultaneous or sequential.

When's Ars Magica?  I bought the 2nd edition in '90, and it talks about trading off GM duties by region or storyline.  I believe.  I don't know what the 1st edition says.

Grog sharing's another kind of co-GMing, present in Ars Magica by then for sure.

Merten, it seems to me that you've got power flowing backward.  The article says that the GM is the authority, but releases some power to the players.  Really the players lend some of their power to the GM, but are themselves the final authority, as a group.

-Vincent
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Merten
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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2002, 02:43:06 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Well, there's also the problem of perception of what lite is. Try Zenobia. Not extrememly lite, but lighter than most Sim games.  (Note when I say Sim with a capital S that denotes Simulationist, not simulation)


Thanks, will do. After I'm done writing the stuff I should be writing now. :)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I get the feeling from the paper, that you guys think that any attempt to simulate anything is "Rules Heavy". By that definition, there are probably few Tabletop Sim games that do qualify. Interestingly, however, the "Immerionist" style of LARP that you guys play would be considered Simulationist. Very Simulationist. So there's a good example of a bunch of lite Sim games. And that should give you an idea of just how different Simulationist and simulation are.


Yeah, well, we lack the luxury of having defined Simulationism in the same way you guys have done. I can only speak for myself, but so far I've defined simulation (not Simulationist - that's a term I first met here) as a game which tries to model the real world through the rules.

Mind you, I think Simulationist might be a good term. I'll just have to get used to it.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Possible, though I think you're now putting words to someone's mouth.
On the contrary, I was nearly quoting. I will do so if you like.[/quote]

No need, I can (or at least think I can) see what you mean. The marginalization of LARP's might ring true, but your comment about bias against CRPG's doesen't sound that true to me. On the contrary, they emphasis that CRPG's are developing, but the technical limitations are too severe to provide framework for roleplaying. Of course, they should provide more background for that claim, but I wouldn't call it being biased.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You misread me. The incestuous part (and I use that term in a it's broad non-sexual sense; don't get me wrong),

;)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
is the idea of only referring to each other in their papers. I know that there are only a couple of people in the school because you told me above. They need to look at other theory, IMO, to give their own theory more credibility.


Well, there are five references on the end of the paper, one of them by either one of the authors - whom, as I said and to my knowledge, form the "Meilahti school". The authors of the four other articles aren't - so I sort of don't understand the bit about referencing just to each other. Unless you mean that because several of those people are being thanked in the introduction, makes them somehow part of the "school".

Naturally I agree that they should look for other theories as well. It's just that there aren't too many of them available (but they've been informed about GNS now, if they didn't know about it already, no need to worry about that).

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Yes, as I've said above, Collaborative Storytelling.


Yeah, I knew I heard that term recently...

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Can you get us any details on the game you mention?


Certainly, though it's a homebrewn game. I'll quote the GM about the system:

"Zone is something you just play. The dice are unnecessary, unless you really want something to be randomized. This makes railroading possible, yes. Besides, there are no rules the players could learn by heart and then start quibbling about them (driving the GM crazy). This is fully intentional and makes the GM the absolute sovereign. This doesn't mean I'm necessarily unfair while running the game, however (you can ask the players - I hope they agree). While playing, the players may define small details about the world around them (like "There's a ladder leaning towards the wall, I'll use it to climb over the fence"), but should be careful with more radical definitions ("In this world it's hip for men to wear skirts" just might do if the world in question isn't traditionally paternal, but saying "the species of man has been found to have originated from the galaxy of Andromeda" would be a bit too heavy). Sorry, but it's my world and you're the ones taking a tour. In Zone, the GM must be trusted, for she is your friend. Honestly..."

Not exactly theoretical text, but hopefully clear enough. No rules system, no randomization (unless someone really want's to use such), and letting players describe small details about the world - or universe, as it's a scifi-setting. I think those are the main points.

The collaborative storytelling also comes into play because the players frequently take roles of NPC's, especially in situtations where one character does something alone (not all alone, but without the other characters). One example of this would be an interrogation, where other players take the roles of interrogators, and as the target character changes, so do roles.

Not exactly collaborative storytelling with multiple GM's (and/or no players), but something similar.
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Merten
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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2002, 02:44:47 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Merten, it seems to me that you've got power flowing backward.  The article says that the GM is the authority, but releases some power to the players.  Really the players lend some of their power to the GM, but are themselves the final authority, as a group.


Possible - I'm not the author of that article, mind you, nor do I necessarily agree with everything it says. :)
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Jukka Koskelin | merten at iki dot fi
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2002, 06:05:33 PM »

Hi Merten,

Based on the paragraph you provided, Zone sounds very much like The Window, which is kind of a staple grassroots role-playing game; it's been around for over ten years now, I think. It's linked in the Forge Resource Library, I believe. Your statement about the Zone GM being the sovereign and so forth due to its high use of Drama (I'm paraphrasing into the terms of my essay) exactly parallels my play-experience of The Window.

Best,
Ron
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talysman
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« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2002, 08:28:47 PM »

about which game suggested trading off GMing duties first... depending on how you interpret that, I believe The Fantasy Trip: In The Labyrinth suggested having one GM play all the monsters and another play NPCs and act as a a neutral referee. ITL was published in 1980; the combat and magic rules systems were published seperately in 1978 and '79.

I'm pretty sure there may have been a suggestion of shared GMing based on regions mentioned even earlier than this in one of the gaming magazines or other resources.
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John Laviolette
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Jaakko
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2002, 03:47:13 AM »

Hi,

Merten posted the link to the "Meilahti School: Thoughts on Role-Playing" article  here a few days ago. As one of the authors of that model I shall try to clear up few misunderstandings.

Mike Holmes wrote:
"In fact, the document seems to jibe with most of
the theory here. Until page eight, that is, where
the political bent of the publishers bias rears
it's ugly head in a nasty form. Note how these
individuals only quote sources that are from their
school. This seems very problematic to me. What
starts as a reasoned attempt to create a
definition for role-playing activities ends up
diminished by it's politics.

"One point of personal interest, if one were to
use their definition, Universalis would be
considered Storytelling. That is because only
GMs hold power in the game (no players, by their
technical description). Since there is more than
one GM, however, it would have to be a system for
Collaborative Storytelling. Which we'd be
satisfied with."

I am not familiar with the discussions you have had on this site or the  papers you have published. I was referred to Mr. Edwards' GNS theory  by Merten. Though I do not consider it a theory, but a model, I found it interesting. Such a typology is usefull when looking at games from a functionalistic point of view.

However, what that typology failed to address is what roleplaying is. It is a nice map of what is out there, but it doesn't tell us what it is we are looking at. If you have discussed that, then I would love to  get all possible references.

This is what we have attempted with our model. We have atempted to create a definition of roleplaying that is:
a) descriptive, not normative
b) historical, not early 00's
c) concise, not too vague

Mr. Holmes points out that when we discuss forms of role-playing,
politics come into play. Perhaps I am blind to my own text, but
where do we get political?

We state that although the term role-pleying is most often used to
describe "the traditional method of playing, 'the tabletop game'",
we consider live-action role-playing to be a valid method of
role-playing as well and that the distiction between larps and
traditional is so vague that the term larp is not valid in any
theoretical sense, but only when communicating the gamemasters
expectations to the players.

Our definition or roleplaying as a process doesn't require dice,
character sheets, computers, props or anything like that. They
can be used, and indeed often are, but they are not what defines
a roleplaying game.

Then our attitude towards computer based roleplaying games...

There are some difficult questions regarding roleplaying, that
often pop up in theoretical discussions - at least here in the
Northern Europe.

1) Is is possible to play a roleplaying game alone? (This one
hails strongly from the radition of the Turku School)
2) Is it possible to have computer based roleplaying game? Can
a computer be a game master?
3) What separates child's play and makebelief from roleplaying?
What is the difference between improvisational theater and larping? What separates storytelling (in the sense that narratology uses  it, not White Wolf) and roleplaying?

According to our definition, it is not possible to roleplay alone,
roleplaying game is created in the intercation between players or
between playes and game master. What one does alone, we call
day dreaming. We do not want to belittle that activity, we just
do not consider it roleplaying.

We also do not consider those computer games that are advertised as roleplaying games to actually be roleplaying games. At the moment I am not aware a computer game that is per se a roleplaying game. There are a number of computer gamaes that can be played as  roleplaying games just like Monopoly or Risk can be played as  roleplaying games if proper characters are created and a GM is introduced. Those games we call computer assisted RPGs. Some computer games nowadays are created with this object in mind (Redemption, Neverwinter Nights).

The distiction between rolepaying and a child's play is the presence of a game master. The same goes for improvisational
theater and larping as well as storytelling and roleplaying. Also, if everyone can be considered a game master (as in improvisational theater from another point of view), then again, it stops being a roleplaying game by our definition. Thus a roleplaying game can have a number of gamemasters as long as not everyone is a gamemaster all the time.

(As a side note, I am aware of the patriarchical nature of the term gamemaster. We chose to use it instead of a more gender blind term such as game moderator as it nicely underlines the power used by the gamemaster. Feel free to read the term gamemistress if you like.)

I am not familiar with Universalis. If it has multiple gamemasters, then our model has no problem with it. If _everyone_ is a gamemaster _all the time_, then we do not recognice it as
a roleplaying game. Note that the model does allow for the
possibility that players can have a lot of power as well, just
not for the fact that anyone can have the final say on everything.

(Again, we are not trying to define the value of something, only
if it can be considered roleplaying.)

These are consicious choises we have made. In order for the term
"roleplaying game" to have any meaning it has to exclude something. Otherwise we end up in situation where someone says that life is not just a game but a roleplaying game and we all nod our heads in unison. This is how we have decided to draw the line. We have attempted to include as many activities that we recognize as roleplaying and still have a description that creates a clear distiction between roleplaying and similar pursuits.

Then Mr. Holmes points out that we only refer to ourselves or our
own school. Well, actually only one of our five references is
from someone in our school (even though having Stuart Hall, the
most well known reseacher in cultural studies in the world, as part
of Meilahti School is a nice idea). The text is rather short so
we do not refer to Costikyan, The Threefold Model or others just to
point out that we have actually read them.

That said, I am very interested in reading any material that
attempts to define roleplaying.

Emily Care commented:

"In their paper they attribute almost all narrative
power, what they call diegesis, to the gm. I
pointed out that even if a gm-is required as they
also state, it is quite possible for multiple
participants to act as gm, and also for players to
share greater diegetic (ie narrative) power. I
referred them to Universalis and Before the Flood
for the former, and various games including
Sorcerer and DonJon for the latter case.

"Mike, I think Universalis & BtF fall outside of
their structure. They do not define what they mean
by storytelling. Since each participant's diegetic
power is constrained (in turn) by the other "gm"s,
everyone also gets to be a "player" in both
Universalis and BtF. (What examples of gm-full
games am I missing, by the way? :)"

Actually, all the narrative power, determining what is true in the game, rests with the gamemaster, but in order for a roleplaying game to take place the gamemaster must surrender a part of that power to the players, as otherwise there will be no meaningful action. This doesn't mean that the game master is not still omnipotent within the diegetic frame.

And yes, there can be more than one GM. How the powers of gamemastering are divided between the various gamemasters (everyone has the same powers, someone is responsible for the NPCs and diegetic music, someone determines what succeeds and what doesn't etc.) is irrelevant form the point of view of the model. Not that that woudn't be very intereting in an antropological sense.

Many people react strongly to our view of the gamemaster as an absolute sovereign. On this forum Lumpley wrote: "The article says that the GM is the authority, but releases some power to the players. Really the players lend some of their power to the GM, but are themselves the final authority, as a group."

It can be argued, that there is a social agreement, that when a person joins a game, s/he surrenders the authority to the gamemaster. Still, during the game the Gm must have that power. The fact that the gamemaster has the power doesn't mean that s/he uses it that much. It is generally considered bad form to retcon, to change something retroactively. "Last time you were here, there was a mirror on the wall, I just forgot to tell you about it." The fact that this is bad form doesn't mean that the GM can not do it. The gamemaster always has final say on everything. If there is a dispute, can you hide behind a rock, does the door open, what is the blood type, whatever, it is the gamemaster's call in the end.

When Lumpley argues that the players, as a group, possess the authority, I do not really understand what he means.

Even if the gamemaster gives the players the possibility to define stuff in the gameworld and play some NPCs, as Merten mentiones things are done in Zone, even then the GM has final say.

Even whan it comes to the player charecters, the gamemaster can override the player's choises. "Actually, you can not shot him." Possibly this is because the character has gone through hypnosis and a post hypnotic command prevents her from shooting. Possibly the trigger is jammed. The players usually assume, that there is a reason behind the gamemasters rulings and overrulings, but the need not be. Of course, if the gamemaster has no coherence in anything s/he does, then the players can just quit the game.

Hopefully this clarifies the text a bit. I'll try to answer possible
further questions as well.

      -Jaakko

PS. Merten, you defined the name of the discussion as "Defining
roleplaying; an alternative approach". An alternative to what?
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