thread: 2014-07-18 : Non-Endstate Objects, Strategy & Style

On 2014-07-19, Jeremy wrote:

How does player skill & ability play into this?  What about when players bring a different object to the game than what the game assumes?

Like, at one extreme is the novice chess player who literally cannot see all the procedurally allowed moves, much less the strategically sound ones.  Their skill (or lack thereof) is effectively limiting their available moves and thus greatly inhibiting they're style.  At the opposite extreme in the same game, a master's ability to see the impact of a move 4-5 moves in advance greatly changes what she considers to be a strategically sound move. Thus her style is greatly affected by her ability.

Now take the example of the master playing chess against her precocious nephew.  The nephew's object might be "put my aunt's king in checkmate" but the master aunt's objective might be "teach my nephew how to play chess."  Her procedurally valid moves are unchanged (for the most part) but her strategically sound moves are fundamentally different, because her object is different than the stated object of the game.

Switching to RPGs, there are infinite (or close enough) procedurally sound moves at any given moment. Certain player qualities (memory, creativity, experience, charisma, real-world knowledge, visualization, adherence to formal procedure, etc.) unlock or preclude many of these procedurally valid options and greatly affect which of those options are perceived as strategically sound. And that greatly affects what stylistic decisions I am making.

Now suppose that I'm sitting down to play Human Contact with my friends who've all played it a bunch, and they play it to make SF in the world of the Academy, resolving situations into new situations.  But I've come from a long line of power-fantasy wish fullfillment RPGing, and I play with the object of "see my character come out on top of every situation."  I'm going to prioritize procedurally valid moves based on that object, changing my strategically sound options, and it'll probably look an awful lot like I'm just making different stylistic choices.  But I'm not.  My object is different than that which the game was designed for.

I'm not sure if all of this has a point. Maybe it's just an observation.  I don't think I disagree with you, Vincent, about any of your definitions (objects, procedures, strategy, style), but I think it's all a lot muddier than those definitions imply.


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