thread: 2014-07-25 : RPGs Have Objects, Q&A

On 2014-07-25, Joshua wrote:

I have a thing I want to say, and I want to say it here even though it was prompted by a comment [link]

Judson Lester said the following in response to Jesse Burneko's comment about choosing to play the game that matched the attitude or play style one wanted to play in. He used the phrase "right tool for the job"

Judson says:
"What you're saying parses, but I don't agree with some of your premise. I mean, when I set out to make a thing, I pick a toolset. That toolset is never a game. [...]"

So I disagree obliquely with Judson, (ie. only when that phrase is taken out of context like I'm doing now).

This reminds me of something I've wanted to say since you started this series.  I think it is very interesting that you've framed this discussion about RPGs by seeking principles that are demonstrably true of all games.  This has resulted in a lot of argument by analogy. Ie. looking at strategy & style in chess. BUT...

...but I really think RPGs are only ever going to partially fit into a category that includes other games. The definition of words like "object" as used in the context of chess, or hockey, become necessarily tortured when we try to apply them to The Quiet Year or Breaking the Ice, (see what I did there, yeah I'd hate me too!). 

I think virtually all RPGs are a form of creative expression, like painting, writing, drama, or music.  I think you can safely say that "creation" is an inherent object in every play session in a way it is not in any game that is not called an RPG. Once that is said however I think it ceases to be helpful for a game designer to use the language of "object of the game" to describe the tone, genre, style of play best supported by the rules and procedures. Instead I would suggest, this would be the point at which you could start to use language from the other domain. Use metaphors like, palette, instrument, 'tool' to explain how this particular game is going to be best at helping its players create a certain kind of art.

This is not my original idea of course. I first heard it from Ron Edward in chapter 1 of Sorcerer but I hesitate to give him all the credit since 'role players', social theatre actors, drama therapists, clowns, etc.  have known this for a long time.

So Vincent, that is my response to this project and your very stimulating and exciting line of reasoning.  Thanks.


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