thread: 2008-09-29 : Creative Tension

On 2008-10-01, Callan wrote:

It took awhile to gestate this post...

In chess, a pawn can take a carelessly placed queen. No one thinks to influence that through body language if they happen to think, you know, a lowly pawn taking a queen doesn't seem right. They do tend to respond to it with body language (a groan, usually!), but not with the intent of influencing. Indeed, taking a small, polite amount of delight in their pain is typically accepted as part of the reward structure of the game/part of the system.

You just don't tend to see this in roleplay culture. Instead a majority think any and all moves need to be run past them for clearance through the body language system (or just direct arguement). When something isn't cool for them, it's a matter of 'What's going to be done about that?' rather than accepting it just happened and just feeling whatever the move makes them feel.

However, there's something else that's like the chess/gamist example where enjoying your opponents pain is part of the reward structure. In a story making game, other peoples emotional responce to certain moves can be part of not just the reward structure, but the palette available for story writing. Like in the chess example, I'm talking about showing an emotional responce not to influence play, but just genuinely feeling something because of the move made. In story making games, the moves might produce a range of emotions, which grants the person who made the move (within the mechanical framework), a wide palette to work from in his authorship, should he care (dare?) to use it.

Using body language to influence play undercuts this process, I'd hypothesize (it undercuts the palettes formation). As much as were all used to doing it - after about the third session where my early GM's inserted/forced a NPC into the party (who then betrayed us, by default) or a preditor in all it's glory, yeah, I groaned along with everyone else and have kept influencing like this since then. However, I think the game systems did grant the GM the ability to play the one note (the betrayal, the preditor, or in Markus' thread, the Bobba Fett dad), over and over again. It reminds me of "Number 9, number 9, number 9...". It does make you feel something, but it gets mind numbing very quickly. It's a question to ask about any particular game - without players trying to influence each other via body language (which, I suggest, undercuts the authorship process), does it succumb to Number 9 syndrome?


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