2012-11-14 : Emily on Fictional Positioning
Positioning series table of contents: Where were we...?
Here's Emily Care Boss, writing in 2006 about the reward cycles she sees in freeform play:
creativity: free form play, of whatever stripe, has as its primary reward the creation of in-game events, material etc. Think about how allocation of narrative rights have become a huge part of mechanical systems: people want to be able to be creative, and giving them the right to do so is a powerful reward. How this is allotted and allocated in free-form is not as regulated by reproducible procedures, though, instead it often comes down to things like the informal social networks that Christian [Griffen] points out. Because of:
reinforcement and mirroring: what is real in a game world is what gets played/with. If everyone else ignores or doesn't know about what you've made up, it may as well not exist. So, the people who are the most "powerful" creatively speaking in freeform, are the ones whose ideas get picked up on and incorporated into the play of others. Those whose actions affect others and who end up having them reverberate around the shared creation. This can be done via any channel depending on the type of play: character action, background creation, informal discussion out of character, or "gming" (which in free-form, means setting the parameters of play, use of props, dissemination of information, creation of guidelines and intervention/adjudication. damn, online gms can do a hell of alot, more even, than tabletop ones, in a way, because there may be so many more people involved. same with large larps).
positioning: this is a wierd one that seems to arise out of the way that narrative control is not parcelled out in a regulated way in freeform. Other folks may have had very different experiences, so take it with a grain of salt. Anyway, what it is is setting up in-game events and interpretations to support your following (character) actions. For example, if I want to shoot your character with a gun, I have to first establish that there is a gun present, that it is loaded etc. If I want to kill your character, I will have to establish, and get others to collaborate with me in establishing, that my character can keep yours from escaping, that mine has the ability to successfully shoot yours, that help will not arrive in time etc. Instead of a die roll, based on various things that represent all this stuff, it has to be negotiated, or simply spoken and accepted as "what has happened" in order for it to occur. So in freeform, you may be thinking (even unconsciously) three moves down the road, in order to back yourself up on future actions.
Well, that's a couple anyway. Sorry to go on. It is a big thing for me, though, that there are systems in there, even if they are unspoken and little understood.
(my emphasis; original here)
Here, Emily's talking about the player's position: what gameplay options do I, as a player, have available to me right now? Over the course of the game, my legitimate moves change; what are my legitimate moves at this moment of play?
In freeform games, Emily says, what determines your selection of available legitimate moves is the current state of the fictional stuff in the game. If there's a gun in your character's hand, that adds certain moves to the selection available to you, the player. If there's a gun in someone else's character's hand, that changes the likely outcomes of the moves you might make.
(For now, let's politely pretend that making a move in a roleplaying game means asserting something, like "my guy shoots yours," and subjecting it to the group's assent or dissent to determine its actual in-game veracity. I think this is not true, but it makes it easier for now.)
Contrast freeform with cue-mediation. The freeform rule at play here is "if you've established that your character is holding a gun, all other things being equal, it's a legitimate move to assert that your character fires it at someone." The equivalent cue-mediated rule would be "if you have a gun on your character sheet, all other things being equal, it's a legitimate move to assert that your character fires it at someone." See the difference? Playing freeform, we look into the fiction-as-established to determine whether a possible move is legitimate; playing with cues, we look over at the cue to determine whether it is.
Everybody with me so far?
For now, I'd like to answer questions about things you don't understand, not about things you don't agree with. There'll be time to disagree later, once I've said my whole piece. Hold off on disagreeing.
Oh, unless you're Emily! Emily, I'd love a quick thumbs-up-thumbs-down confirmation that I've read you right.
1. On 2012-11-14, Vincent said:
2. On 2012-11-14, Weeks said:
3. On 2012-11-14, Vincent said:
VB of For instance.
VB go "I've always been boggled..."*
EJS go "o_O"
*click in for more
4. On 2012-11-14, Evan said:
5. On 2012-11-14, Gordon said:
6. On 2012-11-15, Tim Ralphs said:
R go "It's weird that I have to "get players to invest" in that."*
TR go "Sure! But then..."*
R go "Which needs to be addressed on multiple fronts"*
*click in for more
7. On 2012-11-15, Emily said:
8. On 2012-11-15, Vincent said:
9. On 2012-11-15, Vincent said:
GcL go "On re-reading, your note 2 pointed that way"*
*click in for more