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fang_langford [userpic]

If It Might be a Role-Playing Game, Would It...?

July 11th, 2007 (09:36 pm)

I've been considering the list of 'could be looked at as gaming' hobbies and thinking. I have to thank all the contributors to this list (see earlier post); I couldn't have gotten this far without your great input! Here's a recap (edited and organized for your consumption):

Role-Playing (from Abstracted to Verisimilar | from Independent to Interpersonal)
Constrained Writing - Letter Games, Lexicons
Computer Gaming
· Networked First Person Shooter
· Multi-Player CRPG
Role-Playing Games
· Tabletop
· Forum
· Post
· Email
· Internet Relay Chat
· VoIP / Teleconference
Live Action Role-Playing (LARP)
· Social
· Boffer
Parlour Games (e.g. Murder Mystery Kits)
Improv Games
Make Believe
· Cowboys & Native Americans
· Cops and Robbers
· House
Sex Games
Society for Creative Anachronism
Civil War Reenactment
Psychological / Corporate Training Role-Playing

You may have noticed commonalities with those that I listed. So did I. To look at something (like these) as if it were role-play gaming, I think it should:

1. Requires the live (even asynchronous) participation of more than one individual
2. Uses at least some fictional content that can be affected
3. Has explicit or implicit rituals that guide or limit

I found the implications of these simple ideas to be profound and difficult to understand. Here is some of the first things I've noticed:

Number One
One thing that happens here is a social framework is formed for both communication and coordination.

Number Two
And it's likely that there is some use of the imagination, but this may also occur in some very subtle and sophisticated ways.

Number Three
This suggests that there is something working above and beyond the usual rituals of the social intercourse implied in number one.

We might consider what these mean in pairs, too.

Numbers One and Two
Most often, social dominance leads to more creative control.

Numbers One and Three
It seems like group dynamics gives a stronger indication of how well things go then the design of the game.

Numbers Two and Three
I've noticed that the imposition of the practices of a game rarely support the type of fiction the game is intended to emulate, putting them in conflict both with each other as well as part number one.

How this is settled by either the people or the game becomes the unwritten centerpiece to each session. Do you, my dear readers, have any ideas how to discuss this amalgam within the 'not quite games' I listed above? I'm at a loss.