thread: 2006-02-16 : Throwing It Open: Color

On 2006-02-18, Ben Lehman wrote:

I don't know if this is going to be helpful to anyone else, but it's how I think about it:  Color is grammar.

That seems pretty stupid at first blush:  Color is alive and breathing and fun and grammar is for old fuddy duddy high school English teachers.  What I really mean is: Color, for the gamer, is the same sort of concern as grammar is for the writer.

Let me make an example.  The first half-sentence of Polaris is

Once upon a time, as far north as north can go...

So we can take this sentence and rearrange the same information into a different grammar:

A long time ago at the north pole... which is pretty different, colorwise.  I'm tempted to call it "without color" but in fact it's just that the grammar is closer to what we use in modern, white, middle class, educated American discourse.  So we're all pretty used to it (even those of us who aren't modern, white, middle class, educated, or Americans, because of exposure to newspapers and television.)

But we could also say:

A long time back, way up north a' ways and wow, that's pretty different color too, much more "rustic down home" rather than fairy-tale ethereal.

In some ways, all of these sentence fragments are the same.  They contain the same information, they perform the same framing role in the sentence.  The substantial difference is the grammar.  (or, okay, if you still hate using grammar, you could say "style."  Potato potato.)

This is a very useful metaphor for me, in terms of color in gaming.  What we're doing is pretty much the same, but how we present it to our audience (in this case: ourselves) is dramatically different.  Check out the difference between:

"Okay, I point the gun in his face.  That's an 11 raise."


"I cock back the hammer, stop to wipe the sweat off my brow, and point the gun in his face.  The black barrel is searing hot in the noonday sun.  That's an 11 raise."

The factual stuff we did (the raise, the pointing the gun in the face) is identical.  But the two presentations have different color (which one is better, of course, is totally a matter of context.  More details are necessarily better.)



This makes BL go "About my example"
I use the Polaris text just 'cause I've got it on hand. I could have easily used Dogs, Nine Worlds, or Elfs, or any number of other books.

This makes CB go "Resonance!"
Thanks Ben, this explanation is very useful to me! - Christoph Boeckle

This makes MVH go "Sometimes, yes."
Well, you can say things that doesn't follow grammar rules, but nontheless are colorfull: "I exist the shadow!". What the hell does it means? But whatever it is, is colorfull. So I'll go with Style, :). PS: sorry for rising the dead.

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