Started by Simon C, March 18, 2010, 06:11:27 PM
Quote from: Eero Tuovinen on March 24, 2010, 02:22:10 AMA supposition about the idea of continuum between phatic and engaging themes: it seems to me that a theme that is worthy of the name is necessarily completely phatic - that is, internalized by the group and enforced in play. If the group allows breaking the theme as a matter of procedure (such as by allowing player characters to kill villains without being villains themselves), then the theme loses its authoritative structuring power over the process of play and actually turns into a premise: no longer is the point of play in Exploring this fiction, theme included, but rather a new choice is entered: the GM obviously allows and appreciates it if I break the theme, so should I? It's an important choice, and if the group considers it an interesting one, then the game is well on its way towards narrativism.The above might misunderstand something about Simon's idea, but assuming I got it correctly, I think that I'll have to disagree about the idea that there is a continuum from simulationistic thematic adherence to narrativistic creation of theme through play. At best we can say that there is a continuum in simulationistic play over how well-verbalized and abstracted a theme is; some games only have an implicit theme that emerges by correctly using the game mechanics (or setting), while others have clear mission statements posted in the game's introductory foreword. Similarly we might say that there is a continuum in narrativistic play from a focused universal premise pre-loaded into the game into a situation where the premise is only isolated through play and addressed organically. As an example of the latter, in Sorcerer you basically know in rought terms what the premise is and what you need to do to bring it to the fore, while in The Shadow of Yesterday you actually don't when the game begins; you'll only find it out through play, as players get into their roles.
Quote from: Simon C on March 24, 2010, 01:02:14 AMI'm hanging on to the idea that theme IS inherant to creative agenda, and that the concept of Right to Dream (and by extension Step on Up and Story Now) isn't a useful concept for describing play.
QuoteA theme can exist on a continuum between phatic and engaging. Some aspects of a theme can be engaging, and others not. Players can be more or less engaged by the theme. This, I think, encapsulates my experiences of this kind of play in a way that the "seperate and distinct" GNS categorisations do not.
QuoteWhat typically happens is that some genre conventions are up for grabs, and others aren't, sometimes it's ok to challenge the definitions of the characters or the setting, and sometimes it's not.
Quote from: Simon C on March 25, 2010, 01:37:01 AMAlso, I think it's fair to point out that I'm essentially arguing for a null hypothesis. GNS claims that there are (at least) three seperate and distinct creative agenda types, while I argue there are not. I think I've demonstrated effectively that creative agendas are broadly overlapping and similar, and the burden of proof is on GNS to demonstrate that that's not the case.
Quote from: Simon C on March 25, 2010, 01:37:01 AMHow robust a game's theme is to various character and player actions is a function of design largely, and theme partly, I'm thinking . . . Unquestioned aspects of the theme essentially become part of situation
Quote from: Simon C on March 25, 2010, 01:37:01 AMSmall moments of play, where your characters make choices like "kill the hostage or not" or moments of seeming colour, like the character humming the ballad, are given meaning by their reference to the overarching theme(s).
Quote from: Simon C on March 25, 2010, 04:31:34 PMWe could go back and forth with "I proved it" and "no you didn't", but I don't think we'd get anywhere. Read what I've written so far. If it seems like a compelling and useful way of understanding gaming, let's talk. If it doesn't, maybe we could just go our seperate ways?
QuoteI guess this is a "what is roleplaying really about" conversation, at the heart of it, though it's kind of a fatuous question. What I'm saying, I think, is that the core of a coherant game's creative agenda is one or more themes, which are explored through play, where "explored" can mean anything from "challenged, addressed and questioned" to "affirmed, celebrated and reinforced".
QuoteI think that "design" means both what game designers do, creating system and often "baked in" situation, and also the work GMs and players do, creating characters, positioning them in the setting, creating opposition and opportunities. For example, when you sit down to play Cyberpunk 2020 and you say "let's play a team of off-license paramedics scrambling for insurance money!" I think that's an act of design. And yes, when you as the GM or as a player choose to play out a particular scene rather than not, or choose to apply a particular rules subsystem or not, you're making an aesthetic judgement according to your sense of theme.
QuoteAn "overarching theme" is what turns the individual moments of play, the actions of the characters in the world, into a meanigful story. I mean "meaningful" in the most basic sense, as in "able to be understood". The events of play are no longer just "things happening" but rather events in a narrative.