Archive for April, 2011

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Walking Eye Podcast with Feminists

April 29, 2011

Walking Eye Podcast on Sexuality, Identity, and Ladygamers is probably the most excellent podcast I’ve listened to on roleplaying. Ever. (don’t read the comments unless you want a good example of male privilege backlash. Guh.)

They pretty much hit EVERYTHING and in a reasonable time frame.

I’ve spoken a lot about the issues of publishers and products and what they represent (or don’t represent), but not as much on the issues of self-censoring where and how you play because you expect people to be sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever.

One of the simplest things about gaming that people get into as adolescents is the fact that you can have a level of power fantasy – to have an idealized version of your self, doing awesome things. What gets missed out on this, though, is that a good number of us DON’T ever get that- we don’t get the opportunity to play a character like ourselves, because playing anything like ourselves opens it up for attack and fucked up behavior.

There’s more potential for bullshit when women play women characters. When anyone plays queer or bi characters. When a black player plays a black character.

The thing about kyriarchy, is that it doesn’t stop because we’re playing a game of the imagination. The thoughts and attitudes of the players creates the imaginary events- for good or for ill.

And if you’re running into people you don’t know, you don’t want to open the door for that bullshit.

So you self censor, so you can fucking enjoy the game without having to deal with a “Ha-ha, what if we sold you as a prostitute?” joke or the “Maybe we should put you in chains and say you’re a slave?” joke, all masked under “well, it’s the character” when no, actually, we didn’t decide to play a fantasy game to hear the same bullshit we can get outside.

One of my friends once asked I why I enjoy Legend of the Five Rings, despite the orientalist stuff poured all over it. “Because I can play an asian character and no one says anything or looks at me funny for it.”

I guess one of the simplest litmus tests to how your gaming goes, can everyone play characters like themselves without catching privileged bullshit microaggressions?

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Hiatus and Direction

April 27, 2011

I don’t like to do a lot of blogging about blogging. My posting rate has dropped drastically, and more than just being very busy, it has to do with reconsidering what and how I will be posting material in the future.

Over a month ago I came across Dominic Wasch’s “Gamemastering” published by Red Brick LLC. Within it includes chapters on “Flag Framing” and “Conflict Webs”, two things which, long time readers from my original blog, Deep in the Game, will recognize as things I wrote about in 2006.

I was never contacted and have never given permission for my work to be used. Within the book the only “credit” is a brief mention of “bankuei” in a list of thanks along with a lot of other folks. (Extra irony: the line of books is called “Pro-Indie”…)

I’ve contacted Redbrick and gotten the editor to agree to credit me in future printings, which is about all I can reasonable do without going to legal means, which I can’t afford nor do I really have the energy for. In my ideal world, there would simply be a court order demanding that they remove my work from their product.

That said, my main concern right now is how to prevent this sort of thing in the future and what methods are worth the time and energy and what that would look like.

The easiest method, and more appealing at this time, is simply to stop posting.

We’ll see.

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Same Page Tool Examples

April 19, 2011

Since the Walking Eye Podcast covered my Same Page Tool, I’ve been watching folks around the web talking about it, and sadly, missing the point by trying to use it as a quiz instead of an organizing tool as I explicitly point out:

DO NOT use this as a survey. DO NOT have people fill it out separately and try to “meet in the middle” or assess what kind of gamer they are. The point is to create a clear picture of what the game is, NOT attempt to mash together different playstyles – this has not worked very well over 30 years of the hobby.

So I guess it’s example time!

Mouse Guard

The two organizing principles of MG are that a) players are working as a team as part of the Mouse Guard, and b) The Mouse Guard is trying to help people.

Do you play to win?
b)Good play isn’t a win/lose kind of thing

Though MG is about a lot of challenges, it’s not like any given challenge is a win/lose condition for play- the real issues are “what you fight for”

Player characters are:
a)expected to work together; conflicts between them are mostly for show

The GM’s role is:
c)The GM has no plan – the GM simply plays the NPCs and has them act or react based on their motivations

Weather and environment is a “character” in MG. It’s motivation is to make life hard for mice.

The players’ roles are…
b)…to set goals for their characters, and pursue them proactively

As part of the Mouse Guard, you have a mission, and goals are specific choices you end up having to make as part of the mission- do we fix the town’s politics or go repair the scent border?

Doing the smartest thing for your character’s survival…
b)…sometimes isn’t as important as other choices

Sometimes you have to give up your life to save others. Pretty classic MG stuff.

The GM’s role to the rules is…
a)…follow them, come what may. (including following house rules)

After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy. This is…
b)…where the character becomes an NPC, right away or fairly soon.

The game revolves around characters in the Mouse Guard – when you stop being part of the Guard, you stop being part of the game.

Primetime Adventures

PTA’s flexibility around genre means you can have a lot of answers fit some of these questions. It also means that a group doing a good pitch session together will have answered a lot of these questions without necessarily formally thinking about the questions. If you’re pulling from Star Wars, there’s certain genre boundaries that will get everyone on the same page.

Do you play to win?
b)Good play isn’t a win/lose kind of thing

Player characters are:
** Special **

This one can go all around the board with PTA, depending on the concept of your campaign. For our Star Wars game, the idea was that PCs either only conflict for show or will be patched up, eventually. For our HK drama game, it was that the characters would patch up eventually. Darker games will have different answers!

The GM’s role is:
c)The GM has no plan – the GM simply plays the NPCs and has them act or react based on their motivations

The players’ roles are…
c)…to fling their characters into tough situations and make hard, sometimes, unwise choices

PTA is all about issues – to be sure, you have goals and things to achieve, but that’s in service to facing your issues. Either you dive straight into them or the GM brings them to your face, but issues are paramount.

Doing the smartest thing for your character’s survival…
c)…isn’t even a concern or focus for this game.

PTA doesn’t have death rules, or even damage rules, so it’s really not a focus for play. We had lots of fights and stuff in both games of PTA, but it wasn’t like we were checking for armor or weapons or tactical cover or anything.

The GM’s role to the rules is…
a)…follow them, come what may. (including following house rules)

A slick trick to PTA is that dealing with genre is already part of the rules in Stakes setting, which makes it very flexible.

After many sessions of play, during one session, a player decides to have her character side with an enemy. This is…
**Also Special**
This one also varies according to the game. In both of our games we had a lot of characters who were not clear cut antagonists or allies, so there was a lot of alliance making and breaking. I could easily see a Star Wars game where the heroes never ally with enemies if you want to cut closer to canon.

Notice though, in both the cases I’m showing, it’s not something where we poll around the group and have people fill out separate answers- before we play, we need to have the same answers, as much as before we play a game we better be in agreement whether we need to roll above or below a target number to succeed – having people on different pages means they’re coming with different ideas of what game they’re playing.

And that never leads to good places.