2005-03-15 : Definition: Engaged
I was talking to Emily last night and I need to ditch my use of the word "collaborative." "Collaborative Role-playing" has been in use as a term since the late 90's, Emily tells me, referring to ... Ian Millington's Ergo? Correct me, Em.
So I'm going to switch here to "engaged."
Engaged play is play in which everyone's meaningful participation is explicit, assured and unabridged. "Meaningful participation" means that you're contributing to what matters (whether you are or are not contributing to what doesn't matter, doesn't matter).
Non-engaged play, then, is play where your meaningful participation is blocked, undercut, problematic, or uncertain. It may be that your participation is limited to meaningless stuff, take it or leave it - picture gears spinning fruitlessly, non-engaged. It may instead be that to secure your ability to participate you have to resort to real-world manipulative tactics like cheating, bullying, playing favorites, kissing up, pulling rank, crap like that - picture gears grinding.
As always, this is something that happens between the real human beings at the table, not in a rulebook. Formal rules can make engaged play easier or harder, more or less reliable, depending on the particulars of the ruleset.
Especially note that I don't mean that the players are emotionally engaged. They may be even if they're just spinning their wheels. I mean that they're creatively engaged.
Oh and in keeping with my new style guide: only engaged play is worth the time, to play or to design.
edit: When I posted this I used "up-front" for engaged, and "contested" for non-engaged. The first couple of comments reflect this.
1. On 2005-03-15, Chris said:
2. On 2005-03-15, Vincent said:
3. On 2005-03-15, Vincent said:
4. On 2005-03-15, Vincent said:
5. On 2005-03-15, luke said:
6. On 2005-03-15, Chris said:
7. On 2005-03-15, Ben Lehman said:
8. On 2005-03-15, Tom said:
9. On 2005-03-15, Judd said:
10. On 2005-03-16, Chris said:
11. On 2005-03-16, John Kim said:
12. On 2005-03-16, Tom said: