thread: 2006-01-17 : Hurt and Abandonment

On 2006-01-18, TonyLB wrote:

Well, here's the thing.  Designers need (to my mind) to look beyond just the first-order effects of what they write.

So:  You say "This game requires that Nobody Get Hurt."

First Order Effect:  If somebody says "That would hurt me" then people don't do it.

Second Order Effect:  People pay a great deal of attention to what might hurt people, so they can avoid it in advance, because stopping the game for it is a pain.  How considerate!

Third Order Effect:  People notice that any time they express discomfort, they get a disproportionate response.  They realize that expressing discomfort is something that will have an effect on other people's behavior.  They feel secure and safe.  Rockin'!

Fourth Order Effect:  There are many feelings that we have which we know don't deserve to influence other people's behavior.  If I roll a 1 when I was hoping for a 6 then I feel a twinge of sadness.  But I don't want anybody to change what they're doing because of that.  So, given the third-order effect above ... I have to hide that feeling.  Uh ... not so rockin'.

If the designer doesn't do something to break that sequence then NGH leads to "People hide their true feelings."  If you say "This is a game about expressing your feelings" and at the same time design the game such that people won't express their feelings ... that seems like dodgy design work to me.

I'm not sure that you can really break the sequence between the third and fourth step, but I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts.


This makes LBK go "Breaking that sequence."
In the case you're showing, breaking that sequence should be relatively easy, comparatively, with just a few words of well-hit advice.

This makes TLB go "Please ..."
Go right ahead. What's the advice?

This makes LBK go "You show them."
Okay, this is more than a few words. But you show them these efects, just as you've laid out here, and present the case you've just presented, saying, "You can distinguish between these things, and make the right call, right? Great. Do so."

This makes TLB go "I don't think it's that easy"
I know about all these effects. I know -really- well. All that means is that if you put me in a "Nobody Gets Hurt" game then I'll jump straight to fourth-order thinking without needing a period to realize it. Because I know that, yeah, it's stupid that we're all hiding our emotions from each other, but even stupider would be for us all to honestly express every single unhappiness that springs into our heads, and have each of them require that everyone stop playing the game and go into full soothing mode. A compulsive "fixer" drives people to hide the problems they don't want fixed ... in RPGs, in families, in the workplace ... everywhere.

This makes LBK go "Okay, so you tell me."
Where do we *start* looking, when it comes to breaking the sequence? You've clearly got stuff there, in your head, that relates; can you put it out where we can look for that break?

This makes TLB go "I have no freakin' clue"

This makes LBK go "Oh. Damn."

This makes...
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