Please bear with me here. I'm trying to analyze something I find a bit disturbing, that is present in most role-playing games, and game-groups, I know of.
Both violence and sex are controversial topics in the real world, but they seems to elicit quite different reactions when encountered in games, by role-players:
- Violence is fun!
- Sex is uncomfortable ...
Strange. Can there be a correlation between these two reactions?
Could it have something to do with a lot of us choosing an escapist stance in role-playing games, that includes an emotional distance that is not healthy? And by "emotional distance" I also include a distance to our fellow players; we wear masks, to mask the fact that we do not really trust each other in the game. It makes us enjoy killing living things, while we abhor the showing of emotions and giving comfort to each other ...
In my world (and fantasy) emotions are fun! I love playing fantasy-rpgs, but I do not find it very interesting to play around with emotionally empty elements. Conflicts are mostly about emotions to me, so emotional conflicts in rpgs are all the more engaging.
In another thread JasonT writes this:
In Nomine's rules are quite clear (though we didn't recall this at the time) that Seduction CANNOT be used against PCs; players always get the final say in what their characters feel or believe, as long as they have control of their own mind. Of course, you aren't always in control of your own mind. If this NPC had used a supernatural power to force the PC to fall in love with her (which she definitely could have done if the NPC had been built that way), the player would not have been mad about the loss of agency any more than he'd be upset about losing in a combat scene. My players are great about rolling with the punches whenever demons manipulate them, and roleplaying accordingly.
This is not an unusual principle of game design or gameplay: Apocalypse World is a great example of this being codified in the rules, as there are totally different versions of the Seduce and Manipulate skill as used on PCs versus NPCs, and the one for PCs lets players DECIDE whether they're persuaded/seduced/manipulated/whatever. Anybody can shoot or stab you without your permission, steal from you without permission, or spit in your food without permission, but nobody can definitely say "this is what you think/feel/believe."
I recognise this from a lot of other role-playing games too, of course. And I find it strange ...
So strange I have to ask; are games like these broken games?
Never allowing the PCs to be influenced by emotional stress, or lust, or mental shock, or insidious manipulations ...
- that sounds like a fiction too far removed from reality to be of any interest. It's sounds as interesting as a dolls house.
In my view Barbie dolls are dull, due to the fact that they reduce humanity to such a degree it seriously manipulates the way girls perceive a human (looks-looks-looks). These games does the same, in another manner; reducing humans into a kind of soft mechanic. Dull.
And potentially dangerous; I believe this seriously manipulates the way boys perceive a human. No wonder a lot of boys have problems building a wholesome identity in a world where games does this to them.
I know it may be a strange take on it, but seriously; let us try to explore this premise in this thread:- 1 - The popular myth is that you can play anything/anyone in a roleplaying game; "Everything is possible"
- 2 - But roleplaying games does little to simulate real world emotional influences; emotionally charged/engaged characters are a rarity
- 3 - So boys growing up with games as their primary field of human fiction are playing emotionally empty characters
- 4 - This has the potential of damaging their development into fully functional grown men
- 5 - They may end up emotionally stunted, partially due to the lack of emotions in the characters they play
When I see how much my two sons (9 and 13) go into their online games, with the same reductionist view on human nature, I find it doubly disturbing that this may be damaging to them.
So; what say you?