2005-05-27 : This is My Blog - Social Agenda

Anybody's not following Ben Lehman's This Is My Blog, you really oughta. He's doing rock-solid rpg theory. Here are a couple posts to notice:

Social Agenda, wherein he adds the epynonymous to Creative Agenda and Technical Agenda. I think that'll turn out to be fruitful.

Here's the relationship between creative agenda and technical agenda, right, I think we all get it: none of the technical agendas go along strongly with any of the creative agendas; instead, your particular technical agenda will demand solution to its own set of problems when applied to your particular creative agenda. Whether your play fulfills or leaves unfulfilled your creative agenda depends, in other words, on the details of your technical implementation, not on your technical agenda broadly.

But the relationship between social agendas and creative agendas is going to turn out to be very different, I think. Especially, I think that some some social agendas, we'll find, are very closely tied to some creative agendas. Some social agendas, you'll be able to fulfill by any old play (like "establish my value in this social group"); others, you'll be able to fulfill only by play that also fulfills a certain creative agenda (like "know my own conscience better" and thematic play).

But, well, lots of nailing down and hashing out to be done first.

Also Loving the Minimax, wherein says noncontroversial but good things about how to play a well-designed game.

Good stuff. Read it if you haven't.

1. On 2005-05-27, Ben Lehman said:

Thanks for your nice words.

As for Social Agenda, well, I think that Creative Agenda and the rest of the Big Model only holds for exactly one social agenda—I want myself/others to enjoy playing the game.  (Note the purposefully ambiguous "enjoy," there.)  All other conceivable social agendas?  It is totally up in the air for me whether any part of Creative Agenda applies.



2. On 2005-05-31, pete_darby said:


I'd say the big model holds best when the social agenda is to achieve the "best game possible", much in the same way that Ron's preferred analogy of playing in a band works if the point of the band is to play as well as they can.

If the point of the band is just to hang out, or feed the ego of the band leader, or make money, then the analogy breaks down a bit, because the quality of play will be peripheral (maybe helpful, but not central) to the reasons for play.

But... is it synedoche to say that bands that aim just to play as well as they can are the kind of bands make the best music?

Moving back to games, this is why, while recognising that "making the best game" is not going to be the social agenda of all groups, for the purposes of looking at good games design and play, I'm wasting my time looking at groups who are using the game for the purposes of hanging out, or social dominance, or dysfunctional escapism (as in denial of real world problems).

Also, I think in any functional group, quality of play is going to be a pretty strong subordinate agenda at the very least; just as in a band out to make money, they'd better not be demonstrably incompetent in performance, or the leader out to feed his ego would find that difficult if the bass player can't even replicate the line from Simple Minds' "Waterfront".


3. On 2005-05-31, Ben Lehman said:


Word.  My point is that the theory-as-it-stands assumes a particular Social Agenda, and it would be foolish to charge right into using the lower-level parts of the theory to describe different upper-level parts.

Are there other social agenda?  Yes.
Can they produce better play?  Maybe, I don't know.
Does GNS theory apply to them?  Maybe, I don't know.



4. On 2005-06-01, pete_darby said:

Oh yeah, just like musical theory isn't going to help you sort out a dickwad of a singer, or negotiate a better deal with your record label. I get you.


5. On 2005-06-01, Vincent said:

Interesting. I was thinking of smaller-scale things as social agendas, maybe, or something. Cool.

We should talk about this stuff more.


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