On 2005-03-10, Vincent wrote:
Jason, no, not every set of formal rules is going to be better than any set of informal rules.
But the best formal rules are going to be for certain better than the best informal rules, for my one precise objective: maintaining intense in-game conflict of interest, without hurting the real-world relationships.
It's a matter of permission and expectation. If we treat play as an extension of our usual interactions, our real-world commitment to agreeing and willingness to work together will become, naturally, agreeable and not-very-contested events in the game. It takes an unnatural structure - the right formal rules - to create in-game conflict out of our real-world collaboration.
Somehow we have to grin together and cheer each other, enthusiastically embrace, while you're dedicated wholly to hurting my character and hurting her until she's transformed by grief and pain. This doesn't come instinctively to us! We won't just fall into it by treating the game as a natural conversation. To accomplish it, we need a well-designed, formal, unnatural structure.