thread: 2006-01-24 : Still More Character Ownership

On 2006-01-24, Neel wrote:

Hi Vincent, here's my take:

The games I run and play in aren't stories. When we play, me make this gigantic tangled mass of narrative. There's too much stuff in them to be a story. We make stories out of them, by taking a particular point of view, and highlighting some bits of the mass as important, and sidelining other things.

When you take a point of view to get a slice of the game, you get a story—protagonists, antagonists, and supporting characters emerge. However, you can slice a game in multiple ways, and get multiple stories. And in each slice, who the protagonists are is different. All from the same play session.

My sensse is that this is one of the most amazing aesthetic features of rpg play. A movie like Rashomon is cutting-edge stuff because Kurosawa had to invest a huge amount of brilliance to make a movie that could present multiple perspectives on the "same" event—but when we game we do this automatically, with not the slightest hint of effort.

IMO, that's where the real artistic potential of rpgs lies:  in those places where we can do better than other narrative arts.


This makes JBR go "*agreement*"
Protagonism is only a matter of context, and context is a matter of selection. In roleplaying, everyone at the table is always working off a different selection of what is significant to them, so there are very literally always multiple stories being told. See "Ender's Shadow" for a literary example.

This makes BR go "More agreement"
For many of us telling a story isn't the point. Sim aside (where having an experience may be the point, which has little to nothing to do with story), there is a fundemental difference in the ways that you construct a story from events and the way you build a story from the ground up. To give an example: the way you make a story of your day is different than the way you write a novel. Many "story games" as is go about it in more of the story of your day mode, and construct story from parts of events. This, in many ways, is a more natural approach to story, especially in the modern context. Vincent, however, seems to be looking more towards the "building a novel" together angle.

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