Introspection ~ Epiphany

So, there are a lot of playstyles that I find incomprehensible. There was a time when I considered them pathological, but I think I'm over that now. I think I figured out my mental block! But they still make me nervous.

See, the way I see it, roleplaying games consist of three important components, in a strict hierarchy. There is a game system which induces roleplay, which consists of tiny stories which describe imaginary experiences. Importantly, each layer controls and constrains the layer inside it; the system shapes the stories shape the imaginary situation.

I strongly feel that the best play, for me, is play where this structure is acknowledged, understood, and used. That means that all play begins and ends at system; if I primarily want to play with an interesting system, then the stories and imagined events take a backseat. If I want to tell stories of a particular form, then I obtain a system that induces that form. If I want to imagine particular experiences, then I get a system that induces stories that evoke those experiences.

Styles of play where upper layers get thrown out of balance severely disorient me. Jonathan's recent discussions of low system-impact play and the related discussions of immersion set me floundering, because this is play that, by its very nature, cannot adhere to the hierarchy as I have set it out; as I understand it, these playstyles ultimately seek to discard overt system, in favor of either stories or experiences (which, I might add, are doubly disorienting because they are fictional and it appears to be a related goal of immersion to ignore this).

Because of the design potential of highly covert system, I still find design for these styles intriguing; I can steal from them to serve my own ends.

But that's not going to make me less nervous around them.


Anonymous Jere said...

I think everyone needs to move to a model which 1) Accepts that system is larger than mechanics and 2) Understands that a successful game play can take any one aspect of System and elevate it to a prime role and be successful.

I think if you do that you'll see that your strict hierarchy apples very well to immersion or ay oter type of successful gaming. These styles just put different things in prmacy for system than mechanics.

7:07 am  
Blogger Shreyas said...

This is a value of "need" with which I am unfamiliar.

Or, less snarkily, I'm not in this to buy/respect/understand/design for other play styles. I am interested in designing games, and although non-game-like structures intrigue me, fundamentally they are not where my primary interest lies.

11:12 am  
Blogger Jonathan Walton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:19 pm  
Blogger Jonathan Walton said...

Shreyas, I am super happy that I managed to help you see what's interesting about this stuff, even though it's not your thing. It's exciting when this "communication" thing actually works.

P.S. No edits in Blogger! Teh suck!

8:20 pm  

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