Is fiction the aim of it all?

edited January 2011 in Story Games
This is split off from "What is 'system'? thread.
Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: jhkimI don't agree that the fiction is the "aim of it all". A game has both fictional narrative and meta-game narrative. Both of these are part of the experience.
Yes, they are, but a role-playing game without any fiction would be quite aimless. The fiction is indeed the aim of "it all" (read that as "the game", if you like). People may have other goals in their gaming (getting laid, meeting friends, etc.), but that is outside the realm of the game, as such.

Please explain your "meta-game narrative", and how it may be said to be an aim ofthe game. I do realize that a designer want his game to be played in specific ways, and that may be a design-goal for him. Playing the game in a specific way is still not the aim of the game. The game is always directed towards the fiction;
- How do we produce it?
- What will it be?
- How will it engage us?
It is important to your understanding of role-playing games, jhkim, that you realize the fact that such games are reallyaimed at the fiction. There is no way around this. As an arrow seeks out its target, an rpg seeks out its fiction. It may miss, but that is besides the point. (lol)

Of course; we have to be open to the possibility that someone may want to design a game of purpose beyond the fiction. Say: you may want to design a game that gets all the players laid, for real. Someone would surely play it ... ;-)
I'm going to offer two hypothetical but common cases to compare:

1) The GM invokes her authority and narrates how a particular conflict goes down.

2) The players compete by a hand of cards in the meta-game, and the winner of this narrates how a particular conflict goes down.

In both of these hypothetical cases, the fictional result is identical. i.e. The exact same words are spoken with the same intonation to describe what happens in the game world. However, the meta-game experience is vastly different.

In general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but also how that fiction came about. There is a level of game-play beyond what is in the fiction - what I would call the "meta-game" (i.e. which player narrates this result) as opposed to the "out of game" (i.e. will I get laid after the game). I'll leave this at that for the moment.

Comments

  • Posted By: jhkimIn general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but alsohow that fiction came about. There is a level of game-play beyond what is in the fiction - what I would call the "meta-game" (i.e. which player narrates this result) as opposed to the "out of game" (i.e. will I get laid after the game). I'll leave this at that for the moment.
    I'd agree here. I mean, it's not about the story told in the end, it's about drinking beers and the process of the story coming together, step by step, through the exertion of my friends at the table.

    If the end fiction (step back and admire your story) was the only goal, I'd give up gaming and just watch Spartacus: Blood and Sand/Gods of the Arena over and over. Talk about a /story/. Damn!

    -Andy
  • I agree. For me there are three big things at the meta-game level (as you use the term here):
    1) Social interaction. Being with people is nice.
    2) The act of creation. Producing something is fun.
    3) The game. Bending the mechanics to your will is satisfying (or possibly excruciating if things don't go as you planned). Surprise may also be an element here.
  • The experience of play is the main thing. The fiction is important only because it heightens the experience, gives a common framework, an ebb and flow, characters to experience the fiction through. But to me, the cooperative magic flow of role-playing is what makes me tick.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: jhkimthe meta-game experience is vastly different.
    So we walk towards the goal in different shoes? Ok with me. That is part of the interaction. And the interaction is how we make the fiction.

    The goal is still the same; the fiction.

    The so called "meta game" is part of the interaction, which of course is experienced in its own right too. When you create feelings and moods to enhance/deepen/accentuate the fiction, those moods are also part of the fiction. "The fiction" is not limited to the words we use to describe the dealings of the characters. It also includes our full experience of said dealings, including the moods we create as we narrate them. The home of the fiction is our own body and soul.

    We may say that the fiction is the ephemeral fumes of interaction. They exist only there and then, as a product of that particular interaction, but the good games leave us with a lasting memory of what it felt like to be intoxicated by those fumes.

    Of course a player may come to the table to experience the interaction, and nothing more. That may very well be the goal of the player. But the game will always be directed at the fiction. That is the ultimate goal of any role-playing game.
  • edited January 2011
    Sidenote: your header for this thread is not related to what I am saying, of course. I am solely talking of the aim of the game. As far as I'm talking of "the aim of it all", its limited to the game.

    The aim of the players may vary. I long for the time when I had no awareness of either fiction or interaction, but was allowed to immerse myself in the magic of playing the game, experiencing it with no preconceptions. Those days are gone, as we all know, but I do believe that role-playing can be as fun again, as in those days. We only have to work out better principles of play, which will make us set aside our consciousness of the game as a technical procedure. We need games that brings us over the threshold of consciousness to experience the magic of old again, and again, and again ...

    I believe we got a good measure of such games already, and that we will se more of them. As we grow in knowledge of role-playing games, we need better games to tick, and we are indeed better equipped to make those games. Huzzah!
  • Tomas, please allow me a provocative question. If the aim is the fiction, why not writing a novel?
    It's easier to create fiction that way. The game's system (as in "the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play") would only make the process more clunky, if fiction were the aim.
    I'm with Matthjis in this topic.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: jhkimIn general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but also how that fiction came about.
    I'm down with this, too. I'm at the table because the process of participating in the game is fun. That these happen to be games which produce stories is almost negligible: the fact is, I can get better fiction elsewhere, faster and more easily. (Judging from the AP reports I've read, so can most people!)

    So to get my gaming dollar and four hours of my time every weekend, a game probably shouldn't be aimed exclusively at "the fiction." It should be aimed at being fun to participate in. If it happens to be a game about making up a story with my friends, that's fine; being good at that will certainly be a plus. That just can't be the ONLY thing the game does right, because a game that isn't fun but produces great stories simply isn't worth my time.
  • It's both.
    We are at the table because the process of creating fiction together is fun.

    If it wasn't for the fiction, we'd be playing a boardgame (which we often do), if it wasn't for the participation we'd watch a movie (which we also often do).
  • Posted By: SunaIf the aim is the fiction, why not writing a novel?
    Dastardly Tazio went forth with his sharp questionnaire! LOL

    If the aim is the fiction; why not make a movie, or a theatre. or a fairytale ...
    - my engagement in role-playing games is of course due to the very special way we produce fiction in them, and my competence in this particular narrative form. The role-playing game facilitate other kinds of fiction than what you find in a book.

    How could you even ask about this!?
  • Ahh so the way you produce fiction in roleplaying game is the point :)
  • Posted By: TomasHVMThe so called "meta game" is part of the interaction, which of course is experienced in its own right too. When you create feelings and moods to enhance/deepen/accentuate the fiction, those moods are also part of the fiction. "The fiction" is not limited to the words we use to describe the dealings of the characters. It also includes our full experience of said dealings, including the moods we create as we narrate them. The home of the fiction is our own body and soul.
    Well, now we're back to my point from the earlier thread. You're redefining "fiction" to include the metagame like players' moods and interactions - but that's not how most people understand the term. They would say that an interaction that affects players' moods but doesn't change anything about the characters or world is not part of the fiction.

    I think this just confuses your point, and you should consider alternate terms to communicate your point.
    Posted By: TomasHVMWe may say that the fiction isthe ephemeral fumesof interaction. They exist only there and then, as a product of that particular interaction, but the good games leave us with a lasting memory of what it felt like to be intoxicated by those fumes.

    Of course a player may come to the table to experience the interaction, and nothing more. That may very well be the goal of the player. Butthe gamewill always be directed at the fiction. That is the ultimate goal of any role-playing game.
    When you talk about the goals of an RPG separate from the players, what are you talking about? Are you talking about the goals of the designer(s)? (i.e. RPG designers are always directed at the fiction, not at other things.) Or are you saying that the RPG itself as an artifact has a goal separate from the intent of either the players or the designers?
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: jhkimYou're redefining "fiction" to include the metagame like players' moods and interactions
    Sorry, but this is only partially right.

    First of all; "meta-game" is a problematic term, but I'd rather not discuss it; would be a major derailment. And then:

    ---> Yes, I do reckon the emotions of the players as part of the fiction, as far as the emotions originates in the dealings of the characters, and are experienced to be in concord with them (i.o.w.: that I, the player, experience this emotion as enhancing the fiction). The point is that the kind of fiction we make in a role-playing game is much more of an internal than what you get from other sources. Much of the "narrative" is never narrated. It takes place in the head and body of the player. We have to recognize these qualities of the fiction, to fully understand how deeply a role-playing game can touch us.

    ---> No, I have not said the players interaction is part of the fiction.

    As for "how most people understand the term"; we have a tradition to be proud of, in role-playing games ranging from D&D to Until We Sink ..., but the traditional understanding of this form is, and will always be, a bit behind the understanding reached by designers, and others, ready to challenge their beliefs in what a role-playing game is, or could be.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: jhkimWhen you talk about the goals of an RPG separate from the players, what are you talking about?
    Am I?

    I am talking about the aim of the game, and included in the game are players to play it. I do not expect the game to play itself ... or, maybe that could be the next challenge, after the solitaire challenge; The No-Player Challenge! LOL!
    - But back to serious business: the goals of the players will vary, and must not be confused with those of the game. The game derives its goal from the vision of the designer(s); to create a certain kind of fiction. When players recognize this goal they may be able to go there, or not, depending on their abilities as players, but mostly depending on the tools of the game.

    Designers have goals for the interaction too, but these will be subordinate to the kind of fiction they want their game to create.
  • The so called "meta game" is part of the interaction, which of course is experienced in its own right too. When you create feelings and moods to enhance/deepen/accentuate the fiction, those moods are also part of the fiction. "The fiction" is not limited to the words we use to describe the dealings of the characters. It also includes our full experience of said dealings, including the moods we create as we narrate them. The home of the fiction is our own body and soul.

    This is a pretty weird way of looking at the problem and, I think, builds in an obfuscating synecdoche. When I read a book, the fiction induces moods in me. If you could include the mood in the fiction directly, that would mean that there would be no reason to produce the art at all. That's direct, memeless brain control.

    In an RPG, you have words (gestures, voices, maps...) that represent the fiction. They tell us what happens. (Procedures tell the fiction what happens, but that's not part of this discussion.) When we design a game and play it, we're looking to give each other analogous experiences of the fiction. We can't have a perfect shared vision because of the nature of the reality, enhanced by the description-based nature of the RPG medium. But we shoot for an analogous experience of imaginary things.

    What we don't assume is that we have the same emotional reaction to the events. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don't. I think a character is a psychopath, Rob thinks I'm mad at him because he was mean to my character once.

    Our interpretation, our emotional experience, of fictional elements is our own because that's what's fun.

    Now, I don't know about a game that effectively includes the players' emotions in the game, but I doubt it's impossible. You'd have to include it in the feedback loop somehow. I know that Misspent Youth requires you to do things that make you feel bad when you sell out your character, and if you poll your fellow players when you don't have an idea, you might find yourself sharing a fictional emotional state with everyone else at the table. But it's not complete (for good reason, I think), and it's the only game I know that does that.

    Thomas, I think I see what you're after: you're looking to expand "fiction" to mean "everything you sense about the game" the way the Forge expanded "system" to mean "everything you do to make the game happen," but "System" is subdivided into a bunch of neat subcategories: Techniques, Creative Agenda, & Social Agenda, off the top of my head. If you wanted to do that to "fiction", you need to a) determine where the distinctions are interesting, and b) believe that the Forge's particular system of terms is inherently valuable.

    I, for one, think that there's no reason to emulate the Forge's system of terminology. Use it? Sure. We've managed to cobble together some understanding using those terms. But better terms (and a better structure for the model) would have benefitted us all. No reason to keep using that infrastructure.

  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanWhen I read a book, the fiction induces moods in me. If you could include the mood in the fiction directly, that would mean that there would be no reason to produce the art at all.
    Well, in a role-playing game you are called upon to produce the fiction yourself. And so, in interaction, you induce yourself, and your fellow players, with emotions. All the more reason to do it!

    I feel obliged to say that I consider the fiction something else than the setting. The setting is merely a tool to inspire the fiction.

    In the same way; when we are said to "build a character" for the game, we are really building an abstract framework which we hope will inspire the real character. Your actual character is created in interaction with the other players, with their character-actions and relations, and your manipulations of the fictional universe.
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanNow, I don't know about a game that effectively includes the players' emotions in the game, but I doubt it's impossible.
    I did my first back in 1989; Muu. It is indeed built to make the players feel a certain way. It may be described as an interactive meditative fable. It creates harmony amongst the players, and this harmony is the basis of muu'ish existence.
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanThomas, I think I see what you're after: you're looking to expand "fiction" to mean "everything you sense about the game"
    Josua; I'm not looking to expand anything. I'm trying to open my eyes to what the fiction of a role-playing game really is. I've had experiences with role-playing games which are impossible in other media. The fiction of a role-playing game have the potential to be something completely different than what you get in a novel, a movie, or whatnot. There is reason players get a certain gleam in their eyes, talking of "a magical game-session". It's something filled with unique qualities. These unique qualities are present in all role-playing games, in different amounts, from Warhammer to Itras By to Stoke Birmingham 0-0. I'm talking of the special magic at work between the players in their interaction; the magic that creates a fiction filled with emotions and tension, and the joy of an unpredictable co-creation.

    I'm not expanding anything. Compared to the complexity of fiction created by a role-playing game, and the potential of this fiction to captivate, challenge and change us, I'm merely trying to hint at it.
  • Posted By: jhkimIn general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but alsohow that fiction came about.
    I can't find the quote now, but I once read something along the lines -

    We love our children far more than other people's children, and this is especially true when the children are ideas.

    (If anybody knows the original correct quote let me know; it's become kind of a mantra for me.)

    So, yeah - and this may be a failing in the human psyche - but when a GM says "And the orcs of this tribe love to crochet" I don't care, but when *I* say "And the orcs of this tribe love to crochet" it's gaming gold. And that's why I don't play D&D or Pathfinder anymore.

    I might, say, though, that while "creating good fiction" isn't why I do this, "the illusion of creating good fiction" is a huge part of why I do this. And games that empower me to contribute help create that illusion. But games that have mechanisms to help create actual good fiction work great too!
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: TomasHVMOf course a player may come to the table to experience the interaction, and nothing more. That may very well be the goal of the player. But the game will always be directed at the fiction. That is the ultimate goal of any role-playing game.
    Okay. Let's take an actual moment of play here:

    Me: You find a strange, shining rock, upon which you recognize the logo of the Brotherhood.

    Paul: I scream a curse at the Brotherhood and, figuring this rock to be a key to their power, begin to weave a voodoo hex upon it!

    So, I simultaneously experienced (a) a cool development in the fiction, and (b) the social high of "Paul likes my contribution and is interacting with it!"

    Now suppose all of the following are true:
    1) the game's cover says, "This is a game about appreciating each other's weird ideas! Feel like a creative genius, and help your friends feel the same!"
    2) the game's rules have been designed specifically to support that, with taste questionnaires, and other metagame procedures baked into the process of narrating fiction (he with most fanmail gets to narrate, e.g.)

    To look at that game and state that (a) and not (b) was "the point of the game"? I can't fathom when that could ever be clear, helpful or constructive. If you could answer that, I think we might better understand the utility of the distinction you're making.

    I'm with you on RPG fiction, and the experience of creating it, being a phenomenon unique to RPGs. Your response to Joshua might be a great answer to "Why play an RPG instead of a boardgame?"

    But the point of any individual RPG is not just "to be an RPG"; that's only one of its many aims, and not necessarily even priority #1.
  • edited January 2011
    David: your example is a good one. But still; the example-game is actually aiming at creating fiction, even though the game-designer seems to be focusing more on the interaction. The fact is that the interaction still is geared towards fiction. The promise that you will feel like a genius playing the game do not interfere with this. If the game-designer is right, you will be all the more happy with the fiction created. And if you're not, then we'll have to hope you still feel like a genius ...

    To embellish; neither the designer, nor the players, need to consider the fiction their #1 priority. It is still the final aim of every single role-playing game you may find out there. Without this aim the game would lack direction, and the interaction would be just something we did with no purpose to it. Abstract boardgames exist, but there is no such thing as an abstract role-playing game.

    But; in many cases this may be perceived as the road and the end of the road. The fiction is the end of the road, but the road may still be the big experience, in some games. I allow for that. ;-)

    That is absolutely not what I'm into, as a designer. The interaction is a road full of road-ends, to me, and the road is full of tools to get players into the best groove for fiction. I want them to unearth really compelling fiction in my games. In this I have succeeded, to some degree, and that makes me talk very eagerly of the fiction. That's the corner of the woods I'm coming from, so bear with me. :-)
  • Tomas, you use words in ways which are weird and peculiar to me. I speak specifically towards your use of the word "aim" here.

    Consider going to college. Your aim (or goal) could be get a good job. It could be to learn about science. It could be expose yourself to new and different perspectives. It could be to go to parties and get drunk. At the end though, no matter your goal, you get a degree (assuming you finish). The degree is like the fiction in RPGs. Sure, it's a product, but it's not necessarily the aim, or at least not the only aim.
  • Thomas, let's say I'm afraid of something that's going to happen to my character. I'm having this viscreral, fight-or-flight reaction to events. But my character doesn't know about these events. I can just see the implications of stuff that's happening in the fiction because of stuff other people are saying. How are my emotional reactions part of that fiction?

    There's a useful distinction there. There's every reason to not throw it out.

    (If my character is scared and I'm scared, that's a lovely coincidence that was probably engineered by players and/or system design. But that's bridging a gap, not an equivalency.)

  • edited January 2011
    With Tim. For the game to have an aim, it must be conscious, I think.

    So, I'm wondering if it's just that I'm not grokking Tomas' particular use of particular terms.
  • Tim & Chris: maybe goal is better? Not important to me.
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanThomas, let's say I'm afraid of something that's going to happen to my character. I'm having this viscreral, fight-or-flight reaction to events. But my character doesn't know about these events. I can just see the implications of stuff that's happening in the fiction because of stuff other people are saying. How are my emotional reactions part of that fiction?
    It may be part of the fiction, in the same way that characters in a novel don't always know what you, the reader, know.

    Or it may be part of the interaction only, possibly, and contributing to your game that way.

    If it helps you have a better game, then it's ok either way, I suppose.

    Sleep well! (nearing midnight here, in Oslo)
  • It may be part of the fiction, in the same way that characters in a novel don't always know what you, the reader, know.

    So... you're saying that, when I read a book, what I feel about the events in the book are fictional?

    If it helps you have a better game, then it's ok either way, I suppose.

    Of course it's OK. I'm saying, though, that you're making it harder to analyze a situation by reducing the number of specific terms we can use to describe it.

    The feelings I have when I read a book are real feelings. I am a real person, and I really have them. The events that induced those feelings might be fictional, including the fictional feelings of the characters. But this is a cause->effect relationship, not a these-things-are-the-same relationship.

    So, I'm wondering if it's just that I'm not grokking Tomas' particular use of particular terms.

    I think that's happening here a lot. Thomas, I think you're piling meanings onto existing words and obfuscating their distinctions.

    To go back to your OP:

    1) The GM invokes her authority and narrates how a particular conflict goes down.

    2) The players compete by a hand of cards in the meta-game, and the winner of this narrates how a particular conflict goes down.

    In both of these hypothetical cases, the fictional result is identical. i.e. The exact same words are spoken with the same intonation to describe what happens in the game world. However, the meta-game experience is vastly different.

    In general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but also how that fiction came about. There is a level of game-play beyond what is in the fiction - what I would call the "meta-game" (i.e. which player narrates this result) as opposed to the "out of game" (i.e. will I get laid after the game). I'll leave this at that for the moment.

    What you have just described is what we call in game design circles a very boring game. It's unlikely to generate tense moral decision points, interesting challenges, or vivid experiences.

    If the fiction is, indeed, the thing, we should start with examples that will generate interesting fiction. I'm gonna go write a thing. Back later.

  • edited January 2011
    Tomas, relative to most of my friends, I am extremely fiction-first in my RPG tastes. Perhaps we have a lot in common there! Nevertheless, I still don't see what you're trying to accomplish here. Could you describe what's to be gained by using the language you're using to talk about roleplaying? Please?
  • I think that it's true to say that "the aim of an RPG is to create fiction" in exactly the same way as it is to say "the aim of cooking is to create food" or "the aim of playing Monopoly is to produce a winner". Which is to say that at the end of any RPG session there will be a series of events which occurred in the imaginary space which can be called "fiction".

    However, the degree to which the fiction itself is the focus of the RPG will vary massively.
  • Posted By: TomasHVM
    ---> Yes, I do reckon the emotions of the players as part of the fiction, as far as the emotions originates in the dealings of the characters, and are experienced to be in concord with them (i.o.w.: that I, the player, experience this emotion as enhancing the fiction). The point is that the kind of fiction we make in a role-playing game is much more of an internal than what you get from other sources. Much of the "narrative" is never narrated. It takes place in the head and body of the player. We have to recognize these qualities of the fiction, to fully understand how deeply a role-playing game can touch us.

    ---> No, I have not said the players interaction is part of the fiction.
    This seems vague to me, so I'd hope for some clarification. I did give a specific example in the original post, so if you'd like to comment on that example it would be nice. Two other ones come to mind for me:

    1) I run a scenario once using a FATE variant, and I give the players each 10 Fate points at the start. I then run it again with a different group, but this time I only give 5 Fate points at the start. In the latter run, the play is much more exciting as the players are down to their last Fate points and on the edge of losing. Is this choice - how many Fate points to give at the start - part of the fiction?

    2) Another choice might be The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, where one feature is that there is a rule declaring one player the meta-game winner. Is the rule declaring who is the winner part of the fiction?
  • Thomas sez:

    We may say that the fiction is the ephemeral fumes of interaction. They exist only there and then, as a product of that particular interaction, but the good games leave us with a lasting memory of what it felt like to be intoxicated by those fumes.

    I actually find "ephemeral fumes" more evocative and precise than "aim." Indeed I've called fiction the "excreta" of gaming more than once.

    I'd say the fiction is something we all pay attention to in an RPG or we're not getting as much out of it as could be. It tends to be rather in-the-moment, of course, and rated against a deliberately written novel, or a movie, or whatever, it rarely stacks up well. But the memories that we enjoy and re-tell about our games indeed include considerations of the game elements, at least for all the gamers I know. I'd call that construction a story, quite literally in the oral tradition. It's not fiction though, not in the usual sense.

    How would it sit with you, Thomas, to say that the imagining is the aim of the game, where an eye to some possible fictional outcomes informs that imagining necessarily?

  • Posted By: GrymbokI think that it's true to say that "the aim of an RPG is to create fiction" in exactly the same way as it is to say "the aim of cooking is to create food" or "the aim of playing Monopoly is to produce a winner". Which is to say that at the end of any RPG session there will be a series of events which occurred in the imaginary space which can be called "fiction".

    However, the degree to which the fiction itself is the focus of the RPG will vary massively.
    I think product is an apt word, but not aim. Aim is fairly synonymous with goal. If the goal of Monopoly is to produce a winner, why not just spin a top, and whoever it points at is the winner? This is the same distinction as between Task and Intent in Burning Wheel. The Task of cooking does create food, but your Intent may be to impress someone.
  • I like playing in someone else's world, but seeing how we the group change it, make it our own. It is more about the shared experience. The fiction ultimately just encapsulates that shared experience.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanIt may be part of the fiction, in the same way that characters in a novel don't always know what you, the reader, know.

    So... you're saying that, when I read a book, what I feel about the events in the book are fictional?

    No, I'm talking about a kind of "omniscient narrator", which you often find in novels.
    Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanTo go back to your OP:1) The GM invokes her authority and narrates how a particular conflict goes down.2) The players compete by a hand of cards in the meta-game, and the winner of this narrates how a particular conflict goes down.In both of these hypothetical cases, the fictional result is identical. i.e. The exact same words are spoken with the same intonation to describe what happens in the game world. However, the meta-game experience is vastly different.In general, for players the experience of play is not just the fiction that results - but also how that fiction came about. There is a level of game-play beyond what is in the fiction - what I would call the "meta-game" (i.e. which player narrates this result) as opposed to the "out of game" (i.e. will I get laid after the game). I'll leave this at that for the moment.

    What you have just described is what we call in game design circles avery boring game.Eh ... you do know that what you are quoting here, is not MY post? It's written by "jhkim", so I hope you are directing your comment at him ...

    Posted By: jhkim1) I run a scenario once using a FATE variant, and I give the players each 10 Fate points at the start. I then run it again with a different group, but this time I only give 5 Fate points at the start. In the latter run, the play is much more exciting as the players are down to their last Fate points and on the edge of losing. Is this choice - how many Fate points to give at the start - part of the fiction?
    No, of course not. It is part of the method.

    However; the players being nervous for their mechanical resources, could lend force to the emotional content of their game-play. The nervousness could be connected to how the characters felt, or it could induce other feelings connected to the characters. Either way the nervousness would be a key to more acute fiction, as I imagine it really was too, in your game. Feelings which originates in the interaction, feeds back into it, making the whole experience even more heartfelt. The relationship between interaction and fiction is a dynamic one. Many elements of our game may be said to exist in both, and any "borders" between the two are always shifting. Keep that in mind.
    Posted By: jhkim2) Another choice might be The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, where one feature is that there is a rule declaring one player the meta-game winner. Is the rule declaring who is the winner part of the fiction?
    It is also part of the method.

    The fiction is not how we play. It is what we create when playing; the final product. But please keep in mind that this "creation" may feed back into our game-play, as in; great game-play in one player, may inspire great game-play in others. Interaction is all about playing into the hands of each other, in an uplifting spiral towards engaging fiction. Great games makes this simple for all players.

    I know having a new set of terms thrown at you may be confusing. That is how it is. Nothing I can do about that, except being as patient I can, trying to clarify. I am trying, but please; if you really want to understand; go back to the original thread, and read my post on the whle set of terms. They are used in relation to each other, to give a all-encompassing framework of though on role-playing games. Much clarity may be achieved by reading the whole set of terms, and contemplating them as such.
    Posted By: J B BellHow would it sit with you, Tomas, to say that the imagining is the aim of the game, where an eye to some possible fictional outcomes informs that imagining necessarily?
    It sits very well with me.
    Posted By: GrymbokI think that it's true to say that "the aim of an RPG is to create fiction" in exactly the same way as it is to say "the aim of cooking is to create food" or "the aim of playing Monopoly is to produce a winner". Which is to say that at the end of any RPG session there will be a series of events which occurred in the imaginary space which can be called "fiction".
    I'm with you on this. The analogy to Monopoly is a good one too, but the cooking is perhaps clearer.

    And sure; the events which occurred in the "imaginary space", including our emotions related to them, are indeed the product of play I call the fiction.
  • Posted By: merb101I like playing in someone else's world, but seeing how we the group change it, make it our own. It is more about the shared experience. The fiction ultimately just encapsulates that shared experience.
    You, and others, seems to be reducing the fiction to some sort of insignificant appendix of play. I can't see that you achieve anything by doing that. It does nothing to elevate the experience of the interaction.

    Seems to me you (and others) are under the misguided belief that we are trying to establish a hierarchy here. I am not. The point of having the fiction as the end-goal, is not to make it the only part of the role-playing game we can enjoy. All of us have had great experiences interacting with others. I would be happy to go into details on that; on how strong it can be, how rich and fulfilling, and joyful ...

    I would like to talk more of the vision too, and how a game-designer may rejoice in creating it, be challenged by it on both a personal and professional level, and how he may work to communicate his vision to his players ...

    - but alas; the fiction has stolen our attention.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: David BergTomas, relative to most of my friends, I am extremely fiction-first in my RPG tastes. Perhaps we have a lot in common there! Nevertheless, I still don't see what you're trying to accomplish here. Could you describewhat's to be gained by using the language you're usingto talk about roleplaying? Please?
    What I've gained is a lot more clarity.

    As a designer I've gained a simple map that shows the true direction when designing role-playing games. It helps a lot.

    The three-steps: vision - interaction - fiction ... makes is abundantly clear to me that ...
    - my work as a designer is in the vision-part
    - the players gaming takes place in the interaction-part (and thus interaction is at the heart of any role-playing game)
    - and the design has to be directed at the fiction-part in some way

    The use of method has made it clear a role-playing game is more than mechanics. The techniques (storytelling and dialogue) are a field worthy of design-endeavours (very important, and largely ignored by lots of designers). It is necessary to investigate how your game is played, in full, and to plan for, and "tool up", the full game-play, if your design is to be effective. If I want my game to be largely dependent on mechanical tools, or technical ones, it should be a conscious choice of design, not solely a deference to tradition.

    The use of setting, as a part of the game outside the fiction, has made it clear that the setting is a tool within the method, purposed to frame the interaction, and to inspire the content of fiction.

    The whole of it has provided me with a much sought after apparatus of thought, both clear and challenging in its simplicity. It has "tidied up my mind" on role-playing games, so to say. And I'm much happier for it!
  • I find it revealing that you are unable to use the word fiction in a sentence in the way that you are trying to define it.

    Examples:
    When you create feelings and moods to enhance/deepen/accentuate the fiction, those moods are also part of the fiction.

    I, the player, experience this emotion as enhancing the fiction

    Well, in a role-playing game you are called upon to produce the fiction yourself. And so, in interaction, you induce yourself, and your fellow players, with emotions. All the more reason to do it!

    Compared to the complexity of fiction created by a role-playing game, and the potential of this fiction to captivate, challenge and change us, I'm merely trying to hint at it.
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: timonkeyI find it revealing that you are unable to use the word fiction in a sentence in the way that you are trying to define it.
    I never said it was easy to be simple. :-)

    Tim: I hope you bear no grudge towards me for proposing terms to better our understanding of role-playing games? Only; your last post comes along as "now I'm gonna get him", kind of. I'd hate for that to be true.

    I am an odd-ball, of course, and stubborn as well, but I'm basically good-natured and positive of mind. I do not like to stir up things, and do not rejoice in people not getting my message. So I'm trying my best to patiently answer a lot of questions here (and in other threads), and to give considered comments on numerous examples given. I hope that show some good-will on my part.
  • edited January 2011
    i think the question is very muddy

    i'm thinking about things like

    "is the purpose of playing an rpg about making fiction?"

    "is the purpose of authoring an rpg about making fiction?"

    and then there is

    "the fiction the game creates"

    "the fiction created for the game"

    and I will add

    "is playing a game is about viewing or authoring fiction?

    "when does viewing become experiencing?
  • edited January 2011
    I like those questions, Tyler!

    "is the purpose of playing an rpg about making fiction?"
    No, the purpose of playing is just that; playing. The purpose of all play is play itself. What benefits we get from it is optional.

    "is the purpose of authoring an rpg about making fiction?"
    This one is strange, but I'll opt for saying that different designers have different purposes in designing a role-playing game. It may be just to design, or to improve on something perceived to be inadequate, or to shed light on a theme (to dramatize a conflict from real life, or something ...).

    "the fiction the game creates"
    Playing the game creates a fiction, yes?

    "the fiction created for the game"
    Eh ... the setting created for the game, you mean? I view the setting as something else than the fiction. The setting is created by the designer. The fiction is created by the players.

    "is playing a game is about viewing or authoring fiction?
    Yes, both, simultaneously.

    "when does viewing become experiencing?
    Immediately?
    Hmm ... in Norwegian we have two words for your word experience; "opplevelse" and "erfaring" (both of them translates into experience in English). The first word is solely aimed at having something happening to you. The second word is more indicative of how the happening changed you. So; if the first word; opplevelse, is the player "viewing" the game, and the second word; erfaring, is the player "experiencing" the game ...
    - then I would say that viewing the game becomes an experience the moment you realize that the game is engaging and changing you in some profound way. And it is you realizing it that is important here.

    My answer to the last question don't really explain much, but it's perhaps something to ponder ...
  • edited January 2011
    Language is fascinating.

    When does viewing become experiencing? I'm going to try and dig this deeper with more questions

    While playing an RPG when do you have the...

    Experience of viewing fiction?

    Experience of authoring fiction?

    Experience of simulated events?

    My answer would be,
    I view fiction when it is not my turn.
    I author fiction when I have narrative authority.
    I experience simulated events when I'm active in the game but do not have authority.

    So in traditional rpg the GM has the experience of authorship, and players alternate from viewing to experiencing simulated events.

    Story games often focus on authorship and viewing with very little simulation. many even have rules regarding audience participation and can have very satisfying audience/viewing experience.

    Most boardgames and miniatures games focus on simulated events and viewing.
  • Eh ... you do know that what you are quoting here, is not MY post? It's written by "jhkim", so I hope you are directing your comment at him ...

    Oh, whoops! I thought that was you. Now I have to reread and recontextualize.

  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: TomasHVMWhat I've gained is a lot more clarity.

    As a designer I've gained a simple map that shows the true direction when designing role-playing games. It helps a lot.

    The three-steps: vision - interaction - fiction... makes is abundantly clear to me that ...
    - my work as a designer is in the vision-part
    - the players gaming takes place in the interaction-part (and thus interaction is at the heart of any role-playing game)
    - and the design has to be directed at the fiction-part in some way
    Nice! Okay, well, clearly it works for you. So I don't see any reason to argue against it. The only negative I see is that it's confusing to discuss on the internet.

    I'd like to discuss what the knowledge that "the design has to be directed at the fiction-part in some way" means to you practically, in the process of design. I also wonder what previous confusion that cleared up for you. I guess that would be a new thread? Or maybe it would be good here, for a better view of where you're coming from.
    Posted By: TomasHVMThe use of method has made it clear a role-playing game is more than mechanics. The techniques(storytelling and dialogue) are a field worthy of design-endeavours (very important, and largely ignored by lots of designers). It is necessary to investigate how your game is played, in full, and to plan for, and "tool up", the full game-play, if your design is to be effective.
    Agreed. It's clear, though, that your fiction-emphasis isn't the only way to arrive at those particular conclusions. They're pretty much the point of the whole Forge "look, we redefined 'system'!" endeavor. And your takeaways about mechanics and setting seem to me to be logical extensions of that. Though I guess it's worth noting that I haven't seen those specific points verbalized a whole lot.
  • Posted By: TomasHVMTim & Chris: maybegoalis better?
    No. In this context, goal and aim are synonymous and wrong for the same reason -- a goal is something held by an intellect. People often make claims about the goals of evolution -- they are wrong in the same way.

    What I can't tell is if this is a silly side-point that's going to distract from the bigger picture (as so often happens on-line) or if it's a fundamental breakdown in your logic.

    As a designer, if you want to make a game that generates "good" fiction, how does your design differ from one where you wanted to make a game that gave friends a good excuse to get together?
  • edited January 2011
    Posted By: TomasHVM
    Tim: I hope you bear no grudge towards me for proposing terms to better our understanding of role-playing games? Only; your last post comes along as "now I'm gonna get him", kind of. I'd hate for that to be true.
    No, definitely not! I'm just being passionate and a bit provocative, especially as there were some points made that you seemed to either not understand or not acknowledge as correct. The main idea of what you're saying I'd probably give some credence to (I'd have to go back and look at it again). But I've become distracted by your (mis)use of certain words to include meanings that they don't have. It's like talking about trucks, but also meaning cars.

    It's going to lead to confusion. You say "fiction is the aim of it all" and then someone says "what about emotional response", to which you respond "that's part of fiction". Then they either look at you funny or say "no, it's not".
  • Posted By: timonkeyYou say "fiction is the aim of it all" and then someone says "what about emotional response", to which you respond "that's part of fiction". Then they either look at you funny or say "no, it's not".
    Well, they may look at me funny and say "No, it's not!" - and jump up and down like crazy ...
    - and still I'm right.

    To understand that, it may be prudent to ask yourself what kind of fiction a role-playing game produce. It is too simple to call it a narrative, actually, as long as we do not narrate to an audience. We are "narrating" to ourselves, and that means that we are able to include wordless content to our fiction; elements that may never be narrated, but which are indeed experienced as part of the fiction.

    An example of play:
    Mary plays a soldier. The army is attacking a village at night, burning and killing. The fight develops into a chaos, and the GM stresses the players by throwing a series of tough situations at them, demanding immediate choices, and giving immediate consequences of brutal nature. No die is rolled; this is game-play based totally on effective dialogue-tools (the methodic field of techniques). The churning chaos of scenes are designed to make Mary feel a simile to what a soldier in the field of such a battle may feel. And she do get a taste of fear and anger, and feels some kind of survival mode kicking in. When the battle is over, and the GM lets the players lean back in a reflective scene, the player Mary is mentally exhausted, but manages to make use of that to play through the silent despair after battle.

    Mari described her feelings and reactions to me after the game, both under the battle and after, and went on to tell me she did not know role-playing games could feel like that. She'd only played D&D before, with her group of friends.

    The emotional response is indeed part of the fiction; in this example the players (the other felt it too) managed to feel for themselves what the soldiers they played went through, emotionally. No feelings as such were "narrated", but they were induced and indeed felt, and they were very much a part of the fiction.

    Immersion is all about walking in the shoes of your character, in any way possible that is not damaging to you, the player. The latent potential for immersion in dialogue-based role-playing games is great. I believe we have only just begun to tap into it. Going further is only a matter of time ...

    And with that "bombshell" I conclude this debate for my part. Thank you very much for your efforts to understand, in spite of my alien viewpoints on our games.
  • edited January 2011
    I totally agree about your point on emotional response. The fiction is integral to having it. I also agree that some things in the fiction aren't said. It's more than just the Shared Imagined Space, it's also what we imagine in our own minds. We may have somewhat different fictions even though we're playing in the same game.

    But calling anything that isn't fictional "fiction" ... I want to say "is stupid", but I don't want to be insulting. I'm tempted to say something dramatic like: "will lead to the fall of civilization as we abandon the common meaning of words which allow us to operate as a civilized society". Perhaps I should resign myself to accept this as a lost cause.

    It's not your viewpoints that are alien, it's your terminology. Perhaps that is the issue, you are an alien to me (as in from another country).
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