2005-07-27 : Roll the Bones

There is interesting, interesting stuff going on over at Erik Weissengruber's blog Roll the Bones. He's translating a German book about fantasy and play, and he's posting some pretty provocative quotes from it.

Check it out.

1. On 2005-07-27, ScottM said:

I read it, but don't really think I understood it.  It was clearly talking about small children & play; is there something that he's posted that inspires you about RPG design? Or is it more of a curiousity, not really mineable for our RPGs?


2. On 2005-07-27, John Harper said:

Wow. This is great stuff. I especially like how he analyzes the functional disconnect between "realistic" portrayal of a role and the more fluid socially-reinforced local instance of a role, which may not resemble anything based on reality. This is one of those things that we instinctively do very well, but many roleplayers unlearn it.

His comments about how constant dialog and reciprocity keep the fantasy going sound to me a lot like Dogs' advice about lots of table-talk and kibbitzing. All of that reinforcement and in-the-moment judgment of the fantasy keeps it vital and dynamic. Like children playing "superheroes", which consists mostly of the kids running around declaring who they are and reinforcing the declarations of the other kids. Saying "I'm Spiderman" once is not enough. It's a near constant litany of "I'm this" and "I'm that" reinforced in the moment by the other players.

The parallel to roleplaying is the technique of Author stance. A constant state of critique and judgment about the game as a participant, not "just" an imaginary persona, communicated to the other players and reinforced by their own Author communication.

Cool site. Thanks for the link, V.


3. On 2005-07-28, Ian Charvill said:

That's fascinating.  He's talking about the peak of childhood roleplaying as being 3-5 years but at the same time making quite complex statements about internal states.  You start to wonder about the methodology.  It can't be all observation and induction given the depth of the internal insights he's claiming, but at the same time how self-reflective are 3-5 year olds going to be?

Grrrr. Now I have something else to fit in between finding a house and planning a wedding.



4. On 2005-12-03, Erik said:

Thanks for all the comments.

Merkel plays a bit of a sly game: he uses the latest brain and behaviour research to support the Jungian assertion that we enter the world with a network of symbols hard-wired into us.

I think that the behavourist/Freudian assumptions about childhood are seriously flawed: we enter this world with complex schemas about handling the world, behaviour, and language inborn.  But that does not mean that Jung's theories of archetypes is thereby proven.

I tried to make Merkel work for adults, but I could not.
However, I see his take on "Homo Ludens" at work every day in my teaching.  A lot of the disfunctional behaviour I witness between parent and child could be blamed on the adult misunderstanding the game that the child is playing.


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