thread: 2013-10-02 : The GM: Holding the Object for the Group

On 2013-10-07, Gordon wrote:

I think I've been wrestling with the issue(s) raised by Dom and Rickard in quite a few of these threads over the last year-ish. For me, an important realization (thanks to Vincent's many clarifications, acknowledgments of complexity, and etc.) was that while in SOME sense "object of the game" is an OVER-simplification of what's happening in an RPG, in another sense it's just exactly the right clarification of an important part (still not the whole), especially if you're looking for a way to "quality-check" aspects of your design.

The design (as communicated by the text and whoever you're looking to as an authority) gives you an object for the game. That object may be clear, vague, easily grasped by some, elusive to others, and in all ways non-monolithic across designs or within a design. It's still an object, for the game, given by the design.

Characters (more generally, "fictional stuff") in the game will have goals, and there are complex interactions with the object of the game, positive and/or negative, supporting and/or undermining, and of course a designer should pay attention to that. But in no way does that change that the object of the game is a thing, and never have I seen Vincent say object of the game is all there is to design.

Human beings have reasons for even doing this social thing at all, and those reasons also interact, with the object of the game and fictional stuff and so much more. Still not something that "invalidates" the existence of the object of the game.

To me, "find out what these characters will make of their world," is potentially just as focusing as "achieve checkmate" and only unhelpfully transfers responsibility if the rest of the design fails to back that up. I can't speak from personal experience, but evidence seems pretty strong that for many AW players, focusing happens and unhelpful transfer doesn't. Might an object like "find out" devolve to unfulfilling exploration and/or fail to be meaningfully realized? Certainly. Does it help the design to have established that object? I've come to believe that's also certain. It is in SOME ways a different kind of object than "checkmate the opponent," but that doesn't mean it's not an object at all, nor diminish the usefulness of looking there to see how things (from design elements to in-play choices) are going. And durn, I really, REALLY want to see Vincent's ideas about precisely how having that object helps! Design especially, but play too.

Erm. As always, that's my understanding, not speaking for Vincent or anything. I agree that distinguishing "object of the game" from "goal of character" isn't a natural process for many RPers, but I'm coming to believe it's also real useful.

(Oh, and Rickard, when Dom said "support", I didn't take him to mean "the same", just that the various pieces do have to work together. So maybe no disagreement there.)


This makes rick go "tnx for clarification"

This makes...
short response
optional explanation (be brief!):

if you're human, not a spambot, type "human":