2009-05-29 : Live on the internet: Clyde and Me

The idea of LIVE on the internet is very strange to me, but it's apparently a thing and apparently I'm going to be doing it. Clyde Rhoer is going to interview me live tomorrow night (Saturday night, May 30 2009), starting at 9:30pm Eastern. The topic is creative agendas, and you'll be able to listen live and call in with questions.

Call in with questions! On the internet! Isn't that strange? And cool?

So if you're not doing anything else tomorrow night, listen and call in. I'll be here with the precise details - how to listen, how to call - as soon as Clyde tells me them.

1. On 2009-05-30, Simon C said:

That is a weird thing.  I suspect that'll be in the middle of the night for me, or maybe very early morning, but it sounds like a fun thing.


2. On 2009-05-30, Clyde L. Rhoer said:

Simon, it's 01:30 GMT. If I remember right you're in the UK right? So that would indeed be the middle of the night.

What folks need to do is register an account at, and download their shoephone client. Tehy also call it TalkshoePro. They have a Windows and Mac version. Then you join whatever the show is called... likely it will be found here: [www_talkshoe_com]

You can also follow radiofreeclyde on twitter or search for Clyde L. Rhoer on Facebook, and I'll announce the show starting at both those places.


3. On 2009-05-31, Vincent said:

It's happening now! Come to and find Clyde's call. You can chat in or call in.


4. On 2009-05-31, Vincent said:

...And it's over. It was a good time. Thanks to Joel and Tom for their questions.


5. On 2009-06-05, Robert Bohl said:

Listening to this I am reminded of my worst instance of play ever (the Hot Sauce story, for those of you in the know). I don't think these people were playing Right to Dream, Step on Up, or Story Now. They just wanted to do ludicrous, extreme things in fiction (which they weren't even doing that well), and make jokes to one another as players (which they were doing a lot of, but again, not well).

What about Right to Socialize? Step on Back? Story What?


6. On 2009-06-05, Vincent said:

"Worst instance of play ever" - what made it so bad? Ludicrous, extreme things in fiction and making jokes aren't automatically un-fun, so what made them un-fun in this situation? (I haven't heard the story.)

I'd suggest: if you'd had a solid working agreement about what you were there to do, and how you were going to do it, it would have been fun. Therefore, I bet you didn't have a solid working agreement; therefore, no creative agenda.

Whether as a group you had an identifiable NON-creative agenda, a social agenda best served by un-fun roleplaying, I have no idea.

Everybody: Rob, who was there, is the one saying it wasn't fun. I'm just taking his word for it AND SO SHOULD YOU.


7. On 2009-06-05, Judd said:


It isn't fair to take the total lame-ass shit-heelisms of the Hot Sauce Debacle and try to reconcile it to creative agendas, anymore than it would be fair to try to reconcile a bunch of people throwing shit at a wall and eating what splatters off and trying to figure out its creative agenda.


8. On 2009-06-05, Robert Bohl said:

Judd, you're breaking Vincent's rules!

(hoping he doesn't mention he was playing too)

Actually, you're wrong anyway. These guys were clearly, really enjoying themselves. They had some agenda that neither of us could fathom because twice they were full of joyful unanimity at two particular things that made both of us want to wretch. Vincent says: think of people you hate playing with, there's a different agenda there. I'm taking him at his word, not trying to win an argument.

Anyway, Vincent, I'm confused. It sounds like you're saying that if you don't have a prior discussion about what you want you don't have a creative agenda, but you also said that when you really really hate playing with a group, and often leave, they're probably playing with an agenda different from yours.

Is it then that there is a fourth, acreative agenda. An agenda that denies creativity and seeks only social interaction?


9. On 2009-06-05, Vincent said:

> It sounds like you're saying that if you don't have a prior
> discussion about what you want you don't have a creative
> agenda, but you also said that when you really really hate
> playing with a group, and often leave, they're probably
> playing with an agenda different from yours.

First part: oh no no no. You need a working agreement, not a prior discussion. You know how I hate prior discussions, I think prior discussions are terrible for creating working agreements.

(They're very good for making an inertial mess of hobbling compromises, that you then have to overcome in order to create your real working agreement, if you can.)

Second part: I didn't say that every single time roleplaying sucks it's because of legitimate but incompatible creative agendas. Intentional social sabotage, for instance, can (a) ruin the roleplaying but (b) be fun for the perpetrators. So can "we play together so that I won't feel left out, even though I hate roleplaying."

Intentional social sabotage and "we play together so that I won't feel left out, even though I hate roleplaying" aren't creative agendas, they're social agendas. Also "Vincent, mediate our dispute over the $40 Mitch owes me while we pretend to roleplay" and "guys, whatever on your game, can't you see that we're flirting here?". They aren't about having fun roleplaying. In fact, any give one of them, bad roleplaying - roleplaying that systematically denies fulfillment of any creative agenda - might be exactly what it demands.

It does not sound to me, again having not heard the story, that the people you're talking about were trying to have fun roleplaying. It sounds like they were trying to have fun doing something other than roleplaying, and whatever it was, bad roleplaying served it.


10. On 2009-06-05, Robert Bohl said:

I love telling this story, so I'll try to remember it for the next time we're together.

Maybe telling the story to someone would be a good excuse to record something for my show on my new Zoom H4n dingus. It's way too complicated and involved to hand-write out.


11. On 2009-06-07, Joel said:

Vincent, can you describe your model for "arriving at a working agreement without prior discussion"? All mky efforts toward building the agreement have been focused on a "prior discussion, but not TOO much" sort of model.


12. On 2009-06-08, Josh W said:

Very interesting! Didn't get to hear the cast (any recordings?), but I recognise something of my own experience in what you say about discussions before play:

Do I know what I like? More now than ever before, but I'm often surprised. Can I say what I like to other people so they understand it? Totally depends.

The thing is that "discussion about what kind of game we like" seems to be made of two things; examples and commentary. Sometimes you can't think of examples, other times you can't express the commentary. I wonder if there are ways to make that creation of examples and commentary into a game itself, or even into the beginning of the game. The commentary would be assisted by signalling mechanics, as well as direct text advice. Creating situations that work as examples is a little more tricky, although I can't help wondering if the principles we are creating about creative agenda and mechanical approach could be used to pick scenarios that scope out the differences. Maybe not all of them, but enough to set the dials right on the game in question and/or set people off in the direction of at least a few of the games they'd like.


13. On 2009-06-08, Vincent said:

Ha ha! Well, ask my friends, I'm also no good at it, whatever it is.

My favorite way is for one person to tell everybody else what to do, explaining as we go as needed, until 30 minutes or an hour later we're all just doing it.

In our group, almost all of our up-front discussion is "so we've finished Psi*Run, what game are we playing next?" We decide on a game, and then stop discussing.

Um, at least, that's what happens if I have my way. I don't always get my way, sometimes we keep discussing. Like our game Human Contact, Meg and J both credit the up-front discussions for helping make the game fun. Then I'm just the grumbly guy and they pat me on the head.


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