thread: 2009-06-08 : Restating: Fictional Causes and Realization

On 2009-06-09, Alex F wrote:

I'd like to add my tuppence on why this matters to me. I believe games that don't encourage diffusion of the head-stuff into the shared fiction do carry an associated risk of misunderstandings that can be insidious because they stay hidden and get invested in, rather than negotiated at an early opportunity.

To take the orphanage example, let's say it was my character that provoked yours into burning the orphanage. We never establish how, but you imagine - possibly backfilling in after the scene, as play is continuing on - that the encounter turned on the suspicion that the guys running it were exploitative in some way, and I was pushing you to act up and protect innocence the only way you could. Twisted, but kind of noble, fitting with your sense of your character. You might even play through the next few scenes with that kind of sense in your head, colouring your play in non-explicit ways.

The next scene we're in together, my character applauds yours for ridding this enemy land of another source of young soldiers. You see, this is what was edging around in my head and making sense as we went forward, colouring my play and giving me a sense of what the session was about.

What now? Possibly, we're a bit screwed. One of us needs to mentally reverse and erase what we've been doing, thinking and crafting. I may find it difficult to now justify the ways in which we've been behaving in the intermediate scenes, or you may be unprepared to accept that your character would have acted on that motivation.

Of course, different assumptions can be joined to create a new, unexpected thing: in the moment, that's the lifeblood of social gaming. But when these disconnects drag, and gather steam, they can lead to really unfulfilling moments.

Where this underdefinition is a standard feature of a game, players are encouraged to shy away from building on the richer (and hidden)parts of the story - as it can lead to conflict on the social level - and being less inclined to build on it, can become less involved in it altogether, preferring to deal with the surface "just the facts ma'm" plot events that are made explicit and so uncontroversial. So, Ralph, beyond your point about ratios, I wonder whether the total level of fictional content may be lower in the 90/10 case vs the 80/20.


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