2010-08-14 : GenCon Conversations

Some conversations I super loved:

1. Driving with Graham and Drew, about: criticism, honesty, expertise, and maturity in one's craft.

2. With Clyde, about: unions and health care, then later about dice, clouds and arrows, and talking about design at last.

3. With that guy whose name I don't recall, a Hampshire grad, about: the Alice in Wonderland game he's working on. In fact, with a good half dozen different people throughout the con, about: the games they're working on.

4. With Anna, Elizabeth, Graham, and others less intensely, about: IPR.

5. With John and Elizabeth, about: our project.

6. With Luke, about: maturity in one's craft, ideas, talking about design at last, and distribution. If I don't get a good conversation with Luke at least once a year, I go nuts.

7. With Rob, and with several others dropping in and out, about: talking about design at last, coherent game design, GM- and player agendas, and some other stuff.

8. With 100+ people over 4 days, about: Apocalypse World.

9. More that I'm forgetting! Please remind me.

A few I missed out on:

1. With any rep, past or present, of IPR, about: IPR. I wish that'd happened.

2. With Ron and Elizabeth, about: the Black Panthers.

3. With Ron, Graham, and maybe a couple others, about: game criticism.

And many more, with many cool and excellent people. Next time!

1. On 2010-08-14, ShovelBoy said:

You demoed Apocalypse World for me—just a quick look at some of the mechanics—and sold me on, as much as sold me, the game. Talking with you about this game and your life in gaming was one of my favorite moments of my first Gen Con.

I've just finished 1: recovering from the Sickness of 30,000 Gamers Coursing Through My Body and 2: reading Apocalypse World.

I'm struck mostly by this—reading the book has been like Opening My Brain To The Psychic Maelstrom. (I rolled a 7.)


2. On 2010-08-15, Alex D. said:

I hate to be nosy, but this line jumped out at me!:
"2. With Ron and Elizabeth, about: the Black Panthers."

Do Ron and Elizabeth have some particular insight or opinion on the Black Panthers? It seems like a somewhat random topic to come up with. Just f'r curious, and I understand if it's personal business.


3. On 2010-08-15, Guy Shalev said:

You keep saying "design at last", do you mean, "Finally", or is there something specific you mean by it?


4. On 2010-08-15, Vincent said:

Ah! Talking about design, at last. Finally talking about design, instead of laying groundwork.

It's exciting. For a long time the conversation has been dominated by "roleplaying should be personally and socially fulfilling." Now for the past year or so, and getting stronger and more clear every day, we're finally talking about game design.


5. On 2010-08-15, Vincent said:

ShovelBoy: Thanks!

Alex: I understand that they do, or at least that they have serious interest in radical social action, with the Black Panthers as a touchstone example. I missed the conversation!


6. On 2010-08-15, Elizabeth said:

Alex: the Black Panthers has been a keen interest of mine since I was 10 years old or so, and I've been long considering a game that addresses the Panthers in the way that Dogs addresses Mormonism: people doing what good they can, even when that good looks terrible, while under the thumb of an oppressive government.

My game idea came up while Ron and I were complaining about the lack of truly genuine games about radical social action and rebellion. I should have realized that Ron would be as enthusiastic as I was, and didn't. It was a really fantastic conversation.

Vincent: the copy of Prisons, Protest and Politics I promised you has already shipped!


7. On 2010-08-16, Simon C said:

Talking about design:

I hear you. It feels like the theory has matured to a certain point, and games have mapped out enough territory, that there's enough shared vocabulary, and enough shared experience, that it's possible to have a sensible conversation about design.

Vincent, it would be interesting to see a list of what you think the key insights are that enable this conversation. Obviously "play should be fulfilling" is the start of it. What comes after that? Maybe "games manipulate social interactions?" Somewhere in there there's also "all games have conflict resolution, all games have task resolution." Oh! I keep coming back to your "three insights" post too. That's pretty good for enabling discussion of design, from my perspective.


8. On 2010-08-16, Josh W said:

I'm not sure it's just about insights, I think a portion of the design discussion has been like ships trying to attach to each other in the sea; manuvering to the point where we recognise the differences between the different things people are trying to design (and why) that we can bridge that difference and start talking about common insights.

If I don't know what Vincent is up to, and how he thinks about it, it's hard to even begin to take in what he knows, or to suggest my own stuff.


9. On 2010-08-16, Vincent said:

Simon: Oh, sure.

So it's:
- roleplaying should be personally and socially fulfilling (Creative Agenda);
- roleplaying is fundamentally collaborative (the looply pooply);
- a rpg's rules coordinate our interactions, real-world things, and made-up things (dice & clouds).

Given those, here's where I personally start talking about design:
- your three insights;
- Players' and GMs' jobs, responsibilities and tools (cont);
- color & currency.

And from here it's all about how your rules mesh with or don't mesh with your agenda/principles/moves.


10. On 2010-08-17, Simon C said:

Oh yup. That makes sense.

There's a thing that I've been thinking about recently which is whether it's useful to think about the experience of play vs. the fiction that's produced.

I'm thinking about things like how you feel about your character in Kill Puppies, or piloting in Bliss Stage, and maybe some other examples, where the emotional impact of play isn't really apparent in the fictional events that are happening, but more in how it feels when you're actually doing it. I dunno. It feels like there's a thing there that I can't quite grasp.


11. On 2010-08-29, Hans C-O said:

Ok Vincent, since we're finally talking about design:

Have you ever thought about writing a book on rpg design? I know in the interview with Clyde you said you're not a "statement-maker," but damn if you don't seem the best person to explain design to people who haven't been designing for 10 years.


12. On 2010-09-10, Colin B said:

Is the person in entry #3 a fellow named Dan Neff?  He was a year ahead of me and was working on an Alice and Wonderland game as part of his Div 3.


13. On 2010-09-22, Vincent said:

It's quite possible!


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