One thing potentially missing from the Big Model

  • 4 Replies
One thing potentially missing from the Big Model
« on: November 04, 2010, 08:17:05 PM »
Maybe this had been already discussed back in the day when the Big Model was being created, I don't know, I never read all the threads. Vincent, shoot me down if I'm flying in the wrong direction.

It's not a big deal, really, it doesn't change anything about the BM at all, it just another element to exploration. Or possibly more elements.

-Myself and
-People (aka real, live human nature)

Or does that fall under some other part of the Model? Cause to me, these sound like pretty legit elements of Exploration.

Many many years ago, when we were still teenagers, most of my friends were playing these super efficient cool dudes. You know, trenchcoats, glasses, katanas. That kind of thing. Me? I did that for a while, too.

And then I played a woman. And an old man. And a little girl. And an ugly fat bastard.

So, I guess you could say it was an exploration of Character, to a point. But I remember distinctly, that for me, a big part of it was to challenge myself "Can I play a female? How do I feel about that?". I dunno. Is it a legit element?

The other thing, people. You wrote about "live human nature" in your three insights, as part of design, but that happens in play, too, yeah? I'm not just talking about characters in the game (exploring "real" human nature through the interplay of situation and character etc.) but about exploring social dynamics, the people that we play with. If I do this, will they be shocked? How far can I go with this description? If I make this happen, will they think it's cool? And it's not just about the game and the way we play, and test all these little boundaries (set by Agenda?), it's also getting to know the people you play with. Realizing your friend is making the same character over and over and what does that mean? Figuring out what pushes someone's buttons?

You mentioned that in Dogs, too I think. Getting to know a side of your friends you didn't know before. Maybe Poison'd says a lot about people you play with, too? Or not?

A person playing out a specific fantasy is covered by Right to Dream. But getting to know that person, through that fantasy of his, that could be exploration? Or is it outside the scope?

Re: One thing potentially missing from the Big Model
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2010, 09:48:41 PM »
Hmmm, that's an interesting question.

I will proceed to speculate on it with no claims of especial insight :)

I have the gut reaction that those two elements of 'exploration' are not *exactly* within the realm of exploration as put forth in the big model. What I mean is that while, yeah, 'system' means everything involved in making the game happen, these seem like elements that aren't so much part of the game as they are products of reflection on the games you play.

What I mean is that you're going to figure out things about people and yourself by reading books, going to coffee shops, playing sports, getting a job, laying awake staring at the ceiling at night, dating, fighting, et cetera. You know, living. *Of course* roleplaying games tell you about those things, because everything you do does.

Now, that may seem like a cop out or dick answer. The reason I think it's separate from the big model, and from RPG theory in general, is because of the limits of the context of RPG play/design theory. Let's go with "Social Contract" as the largest layer of RPG theory, like the Big Model does. The foundation of the big model is "we all agree to play a game". It starts looking at it from the level of "what are the components of this agreement", and examines them in greater and greater detail.

Finding out things about yourself and your friends seems to me to be a product of reflection outside of and distinct from the things inside that agreement. Certainly there's interaction. I mean, if you want to find out what playing a female character says about you personally, and you sit down to do that, the other players might feel like you're violating some element of the social contract (Eek! No cross-playing!), and yes, that situation would tell you something about the friends you sat down with, but is that really part of "the game" even though the situation of the game produced it? My inkling is probably not, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on why I could be wrong.

Re: One thing potentially missing from the Big Model
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2010, 07:58:48 PM »
No, no, you're absolutely right. It's not part of roleplaying as such, but rather the wider spectrum of human activity. It didn't occur to me at first.

I do think, however that RPGs, as a sub specie of cultural activity, are potentially pretty great tools for doing this.

Done and done.

Re: One thing potentially missing from the Big Model
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2010, 11:48:32 AM »
My good friend Nathan Hook, an avid LARPer, has proposed to add at least two other dimensions onto the GNS model:

* Immersionism - to sensuously "immerse" oneself in a fictional world
* Attentionism - to get attention in real life via the game in a manner superfluous to the game world (i.e., "I'm trying to sleep with the GM," "I want to get to know him better.")

Questions I've caught before they exit your mouths:

How is immersionism different from Character/World Simulationism or the like?

Immersionism, from what I understand, centers on not only on the experience of psychologically embodying the character (character simulationism) or feeling part of a rich and exacting game world (world simulationism), but both simultaneously.  You've got to look like an elf, be surrounded by things that confirm you're an elf, and psychologically "be" the elf.  360-degree immersion is expected, and players' experiences are ruined when it is not fulfilled to some tangible degree.

How is attentionism any different from the meta-game intentionality inherent in the other GNS models?  I mean, aren't we all clamoring for a bit of attention?

This leads me back to the conversation above, in which motivations in the interpersonal sphere prove more than those relating to the game.  For those familiar with GNS theory, not only do characters automatically assume "Pawn Stance" in this mode, but these hapless pawns are then used to fulfill the extra-game objectives.

Here's an example:

Player1 (playing AW, obviously): So, we can have sex in this game?
Player2 (the target of Player1's affections): Yes...?
Player1: My character begins to affectionately touch your character.
Player2: Um... ew?

And so on. Unfortunately, this motivation does exist, and certain games (e.g., White Wolf, Amber, IAWA) tend to acknowledge it better than others, ergo accommodating it can be considered part of one's game objectives.


Re: One thing potentially missing from the Big Model
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2010, 06:07:41 PM »
Good questions!
To put it simply, immersionism has been discussed previously in a few places, and my opinion on it is that it's tangential to CA - CA's must be support-able by game mechanics in order to be part of the experience of the game.

If the game mechanics can't support it, or help make it happen, then "it" is not a Creative Agenda so much as, say, a social or personal agenda.

I think immersionism is a term we could apply to "this is *how* I like to go about Creative Agendas" - the various stances, for example, are a way of describing how a single person mentally relates to the events of play.

It is entirely possible that a given game design supports a particular mindset, or player-to-character&setting relationship. A lot of Jeepform games, for example (from my admittedly ignorant perspective), seem to focus on immersion; LARPs are another example of a game community that arguably focuses on one stance in particular - that of "actor", or "my perspective in this game is only that of my character. No meta-gaming allowed!"

But of course, there will be a little meta-gaming, no matter what. Choosing or falling into Actor Stance just means we try to hold very tightly to "in-game" knowledge and perspective, as we see it.
Incidentally, I think Actor stance comes from two very different historical trends in gaming - a sense of "fairness" in early Gamist-ish design, and a perhaps physically inevitable effect/goal of LARPing (i.e. my character's body is my body, therefore it is more difficult to become privy to "out of character" information in the first place).

As for "attentionism", I think that has nothing at all to do with how the game is designed - the focus of this proposed agenda is on things that are tangential to the activity of play and the interaction with mechanics; rather, they focus primarily or even exclusively on ONLY the social level of player interaction. So, if you can't design mechanics that help you fulfill a particular social agenda, then it can't be considered a Creative Agenda.

Both of these proposed agendas are 100% valid as play priorities. But that doesn't mean they're the same kind of thing as Stepping On Up, say.