System matters, but system doesn’t control sympathy

Can you imagine the ‘give’ mechanic in dogs in the vineyard being called ‘#532’ instead? Imagine it was that way the first time you played.

Had this discussion with Tommi over at Cogito, ergo ludo.

Tommi said,

Callan

Giving is indeed a mechanical choice, but whether one gives or not is greatly influenced by narration; as some people in the linked thread mentioned, given a sufficiently emotionally powerful narration, they’ll give, even if the by the mechanics they could stay in the conflict or even win it.

Hence the narration matters a great deal as it affects the factual outcome of conflicts.

Likewise, take Capes. It is advantageous to push the buttons of other people, because that way they will oppose you, which will give you resources. Hence, some narration is simply more effective a move than narration other players care less about.

I responded with this…

Whether you give IS greatly influenced by narration? Or CAN be greatly influenced?

There’s nothing reaching out into the brain of the player and controlling his synapses, of course. I would say it is merely ‘can’.

Indeed, the default is not to be influenced by narration at all – giving or not giving are just two buttons, press one. That’s it. No further influence.

Being influenced by narration, I would say, is an aberration. In a good way, but aberration none the less. It’s an aberration of how things really are – that there is zero narration influence on whether you give, by default.

What I usually run into though is that gamers see zero narration influence as the aberration (abomination, usually), and being strongly influenced by the narration as the default of how things/reality really is.

as some people in the linked thread mentioned, given a sufficiently emotionally powerful narration, they’ll give, even if the by the mechanics they could stay in the conflict or even win it.

If they had two buttons in front of them, one marked ‘Give’ and one marked ‘Don’t give’, prove to me something physically stopped them from pressing ‘Don’t give’ and I’ll see the merit in your claim.

Tommi, there’s nothing there. There’s only the listeners decision to be sympathetic to the narration. Which is a wonderful thing! But that doesn’t mean he’s greatly influenced by narration. It means he chose to be greatly influenced. Very different. It’s a decision by a listener – it is not how roleplay games actually work by default.

 

Oh, just had a quick example pop to mind.

If you had a roleplay system where you replaced the buttons with abstract terms – like replace ‘give’ with ‘#532′

Okay, run the person through it with abstract terms. THAT’S how a roleplay game works by default. No sympathy, no soul at all. THAT is mechanics in play.

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46 thoughts on “System matters, but system doesn’t control sympathy

  1. Except that there is lots of evidence from psychology that the majority of our actions are planned and executed outside of our deliberative control. There is a strong parallel argument to be made the practical effect of emotion is to heavily predispose our decisions, in order that we can make more decisions faster using an optimal amount of mental resources.

    Coming at it from another direction (biolinguistics), language is precisely a tool developed to directly manipulate the minds of listeners. We speak and cause effects within the listener’s mind, and those effects set a complex set of reactions in motion. Some speech perceptions will be such that the reaction induced is nearly automatic (think of the most offensive thing someone can say to you—your reaction is going to be in large part outside of your conscious control). Such automatic reactions can even become inputs to our careful, thoughful decision-making processes.

    It gets even more complicated with game like DitV. In Dogs, there is little point in playing (as in, might as well play some other system) if there is no emotional impact or force to events. Hence, players who enjoy Dogs invest, and accept, emotional impact as a significant determinant of the fiction. Playing Dogs involves accepting a social contract that says “the soul must be the point; the mechanics are just tools to that end”.

  2. I’ll go ahead to say that analysing a game and excluding the impact of narration and other material not completely encoded by the rules makes for very limited analysis of roleplay, and, hence, I find it to not be very useful.

    In my opinion, one way to separate roleplaying games from others is the condition that fictional content actually matters in them, whereas in (most) other games it can be gleefully ignored without making the games meaningless. (Exceptions include some storytelling games, but I’d say this is a necessary condition for me to call something a roleplaying game, not a sufficient one.) So, I can’t say you are wrong, but I can say that your approach for analysing roleplay is, from my point of view, bizarre.

    If you want continue this discussion in a fruitful way, there’s options. The following are listed in the order of most interesting to least, as defined by me. (There are probably other options. These spring to mind.)

    First is to investigate what sorts of roleplaying games can be usefully analysed while ignoring the fiction. This is very much theoretical, and even meta-theoretical, so I don’t know if you are interested at all.

    The second way is to investigate or try to construct game theoretical framework for analysing the fiction along the rules. I don’t think I’m skilled enough to do this, not having read much proper formal game theory (only two books, one of which had plenty of handwaving and the other I did not understand very well at the point of reading).

    Third is a largely meaningless debate about freedom of choice and consciousness, where I’d be claiming that you can’t prove that there is or is not free will and that the distinction is possibly meaningless and hence the narration matters on fundamental level.

  3. Hi Tommi,

    “I’ll go ahead to say that analysing a game and excluding the impact of narration and other material not completely encoded by the rules makes for very limited analysis of roleplay, and, hence, I find it to not be very useful.”

    Tommi, my hypothesis here is about a real world fact. At the base default, narration doesn’t affect anything. It’s not excluding the impact of narration – it’s accepting it has no innate ability impact at all. It doesn’t matter if it’s useful – if the hypothesis is true, your stuck with it whether its useful or not.

    Do you take my point the system doesn’t force sympathetic reactions?

    “Third is a largely meaningless debate about freedom of choice and consciousness, where I’d be claiming that you can’t prove that there is or is not free will and that the distinction is possibly meaningless and hence the narration matters on fundamental level.”
    Are you raising this point?

    Matters how? If I can’t do anything about what I narrate, if I have no free will, how does it matter?

    Why do you bother analysing it on your blog if you can’t actually control anything about how you narrate?

    And if you can control how you narrate, then you can control whether you sympathise. Meaning narration by itself, does not matter.

    “The second way is to investigate or try to construct game theoretical framework for analysing the fiction along the rules.”
    I think you want to analyse the sympathy, if any is given, along the rules. It’s too fiction focused – fiction doesn’t matter if no one listens to it. It’s the listening that matters first.

  4. And if you can control how you narrate, then you can control whether you sympathise. Meaning narration by itself, does not matter.

    That’s rather black-and-white. There is a middle ground where there is some control, but not absolute control, over how one narrates and whether one sympathises.

    Consider a kayaker in rapids: Can they control where they go, or can’t they? Neither when considered as absolutes (they can’t paddle to, say, the Eiffel tower), and a little bit of both when they’re understood as ends of a spectrum. The currents take them unerringly down certain parts of the river, but they can—with skill—choose when and how they shift between currents.

  5. “There is a middle ground where there is some control, but not absolute control, over how one narrates and whether one sympathises.”
    Well, by what critical method would you prove your hypothesis that there’s a middle ground?

    For my assertion my critical method is that if there were two buttons, one for giving, one for not giving, nothing physically stops the hand moving between them.

    I think if one is dreaming one is open to ‘narration’ so to speak – one can even get outside words or sounds heard in the bedroom entering the dream, and interact with them as if they were real, without thinking.

    Are you suggesting you play as if slightly dreaming?

    I have to say though, in terms of even being asleep, I have some sort of awareness that I merely dream. I once crashed a car in a dream, then assured everyone around me that it’s alright, because it’s just a dream…without even thinking about what I said (and without thinking that if I dream, I’m just assuring figments of my imagination. Though if ‘they’ got upset, it would upset me as much as a nightmare might).

    (Note: I didn’t know I had comments to approve in my comments folder. Sorry to take awhile to approve your comments, D7. Welcome to the blog!)

  6. Callan, are you actually denying the validity of psychology as a field of study? If not, there’s your methodology. If yes, well, I have difficulty seeing how this discussion can be productive. Too different base assumptions. (I am no psychologist, so the details of whatever experiment you’d be satisfied with I leave to others more interested in them.)

    I’ll wait for you response on this before engaging other points you make.

  7. Ah, I see what you’re saying now. You’re defining freedom as physical possibility. The person could push either button as there is no physical impediment either way. The game has no power over this physical domain, you’re saying, so it’s the player making the choice, not the system.

    Is that right?

  8. Tommi, psychology as a field of study is not a specific critical method described. You’ll have to be more specific, unless your saying that the field of psychological study exists at all, proves this specific statement that narration control system use?

    d7, more specifically the games narration has no power over this physical domain of system use.

    Yeah, physical possiblity is a good way of putting it. It seems to sum up what I’m saying.

    But I suspect your about to ask about the mind that controls the hand, and don’t the words heard have a direct synaptic/nerve control over that hand.

    All I can say is I’ve seen lots of footage of people with arachnophobia having tarantulas walk over their bare hands. People can break their usual reflex.

    When the give and not give buttons are there, even if you have a reflex for one of them, you can go against reflex. And certainly I imagine the reflex wouldn’t be as strong as a phobia.

    One thing I wonder is if for (perhaps a large segment of roleplayers) going with reflex, always, is one of the main points of play?

  9. Shannon, I don’t remember staples? Sorry, wrong Callan (was it his first name? So rare to find a Callan…lots of Callum’s, very few Callan)

  10. Yes, his first name. Damn. I was so very pleased because I thought I had randomly found him on here. Would have fit for him and mister d7 there to get along. =D

    Ah well.

  11. Callan, I take it that you do accept the validity of psychological studies.

    I am not claiming that narration control anything. I am claiming it affects the choices one makes. Consider this experiment: One person, called, say, a game master, runs a short game for one person, called a player, at a time. The player, whom we are studying, is given a character, say a random one from a small set, or maybe are just told to play themselves. Scene: There is a snake slithering towards a baby. They have a gun and can shoot the snake or the baby, but they are too far to otherwise affect the scene. They have 5/6 chance of hitting and the gun is deadly upon hit. Which do they shoot, if they do so?

    Null hypothesis: Narration has no effect and the mechanical side of shooting the baby or the snake are identical, hence the distribution of people shooting either will follow binomial distribution with parameters (n, 1/2).

    Run the game for at least 50 people (but more is of course better). Now you have sufficient people to approximate the situation with a normal distribution. Do so, test the averages, notice they are markedly different, hence null hypothesis is false.

    Anyway, I don’t think you are claiming that narration has no effect. Maybe your actual claim is that narration has no effect on the possible mechanical choices one can make, assuming narration only works through sympathy. (Obviously it is possible to construct a roleplaying game such that narration limits mechanical choices; say, a game in which fire mages are unable to cast spells in rain and someone narrates “it rains”.)

    The following are responses to your responses to my first post on this blog.

    I am not raising the point of freedom of choice and other such matters.

    I am not particularly interested in analysing sympathy. I used it as a random example of narration affecting player choices and you focused on it.

  12. Yes, I was going to get into how fiction can impact the physical domain via a mediated link, which is a conscious mind. But that’s getting too far into trees to usefully discuss the forest.

    What it comes down to is that a the social contracts around tables the world over are different. Some place special weight on making choices based on things other than the mechanical compulsions. (Arguably, playing according to the mechanics at all is also an consensual thing and not compulsion, but I think you’ve written about that already.)

    One game in particular occurs to me, the great granddaddy of indie games: The Window. The mechanics as we would recognise them are minimal, but the non-mechanical Precepts of the system have more import for what happens in-game than the mechanics do. Does the character have a broken leg, or just ran a 6-minute mile? There are no mechanical compulsions to make that character less mechanically effective, but players are expected to make choices based on that fiction, up to an especially including impairing their character non-mechanically.

    But, it’s all consensual anyway. We’re just enculturated to give special weight to anything called a “mechanic”.

  13. Tommi,

    GM: You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back.
    Player: Do you make up these questions, GM? Or do they write ’em down for you?
    GM: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t. Not without your help. But you’re not helping.
    Player: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I’m not helping?
    GM: I mean you’re not helping! Why is that?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist the movie reference.

    In terms of your null hypothesis, its disproving something I haven’t said. I’ve said people can choose to sympathise. Your test neither proves nor disproves that they were forced by narration to sympathise. It seems quite plausible all 50 simply chose to be sympathetic.

    It might be interesting if they are told there is a ten percent chance of getting five dollars if they choose to shoot the baby. It’s only a small chance and a small sum – if narration controls sympathy, surely no one will take up that chance and shoot the baby?

    I’m pretty sure a majority would shoot the baby, seeing zero cost for a chance at real gain. Unless the GM acts as though he’ll give them a guilt trip, which is just biasing the test.

    “Obviously it is possible to construct a roleplaying game such that narration limits mechanical choices; say, a game in which fire mages are unable to cast spells in rain and someone narrates “it rains”.)”
    The narrator has two buttons in front of him, one marked ‘clear’ one marked ‘it rains’. It’s not narration limiting mechanical choices.

    D7,

    I think we basically agree, which is great! But….I think sympathising agreed to by social contract…it’s not entirely genuine. It makes me think of this post: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27048.0

    Quoting Ron “All of that speaks to my main design goal for Spione. My call is that if you ask people about certain things, they’ll repeat what they’ve been told, or say something they think will advertise themselves as a certain kind of person.”

    I think when you agree by social contract to sympathise, you’ll get a repeat of what they’ve been told, or how they want to advertise themselves. You’ll get a public face.

    I think if you genuinely allow a person to choose at any given moment whether they sympathise, you’ll get their private face. And that can’t be agreed to by social contract. You can only leave a space for it, where it might happen. If you want that, you have to set it free and all that sort of thing 🙂

  14. Callan; if your thesis is simply that rules don’t control the minds of players, than I agree. If your thesis is that narration has no meaningful effect on play, than I disagree. So, which one are you really advocating? From your initial response on my blog I figured number two, because number one is entirely irrelevant to what I was saying. Here you seem to be advocating number one, which I consider self-evident.

    The narrator has two buttons in front of him, one marked ‘clear’ one marked ‘it rains’. It’s not narration limiting mechanical choices.

    Okay, what do you mean by narration and mechanics? (Definitions would be nice, but they are also difficult to come up with, so other means of explanation might be preferable.)

  15. “So, which one are you really advocating?”
    Neither? I’ve said narration doesn’t control the minds of players (I didn’t get into rules and whether or not they control minds).

    “Okay, what do you mean by narration and mechanics?”
    The ‘it rains’ button is linked directly to the disabling of ‘casting fire spells’.

    If someone says it rains, but hits the ‘doesn’t rain’ button, the guy can still cast fire spells.

  16. Sorry, I’m using Forge terminology without defining it.

    By “social contract” I don’t mean some coercive document that players sign. The social contract of a group is an inevitable thing that arises out of normal human interactions.

    Here’s an example. DM says, “Want to play a gritty fantasy game in the Forgotten Realms?” and the players say “Yeah!”. Right there, the social contract has started to come into being. Parts of it are that there is a DM (with typical DM responsibilities) and players (with non-DM, player responsibilities); there is a shared understanding of the setting and the themes that might arise. Now, if the DM opens the game by saying, “After the Igor the Implacable built his Death Ray and crowned himself King of the North, the bio-mech barbarians of Icewind Dale marched on the Desert of Fallen Stars…”, the DM has broken the social contract.

    So, when I say that some groups have a social contract that gives power to the narrative, that’s just shorthand for saying that everyone at the table has sat down with the (implicit or explicit) agreement that they are going to play in a certain way. One that happens to give fictional facts more power to determine “what happens next” than mechanics.

  17. Hi D7,

    Yep, I get what you mean and their making agreements about things and sticking to agreements. I agree that fits what I’m saying about sympathy 🙂

    But I just can’t resist taking it a little further in terms of the idea. I think you can stop interacting in certain spots, and this leaves a little space there. And something quite different can show up there from a person than if you had interacted with them/made social contract.

    But I’m being fiddley. Yeah, your post talks about the same state of affairs as mine does. Common ground! Cool!

  18. So, I got myself twisted to some sort of intellectual knot. I reread the opening post and will respon to it solely, ignoring the remaining discussion and the discussion that was before.

    You wrote:

    Whether you give IS greatly influenced by narration? Or CAN be greatly influenced?

    There’s nothing reaching out into the brain of the player and controlling his synapses, of course. I would say it is merely ‘can’.

    Indeed, the default is not to be influenced by narration at all – giving or not giving are just two buttons, press one. That’s it. No further influence.

    I see no reason for influence to necessarily be deterministic. This is clearly true in the real world: If I need a little cash, having lost my wallet, say, I can go about asking people for it, and certainly that would increase the chance of me getting a few coins as opposed to not asking anyone. Playing an instrument of threatening people with a knife or a gun or selling my coat might be even better at generating some coins, though none of these actions would assure any euros.

    Or, let us take a game of D&D, and I describe a roughly humanoid monster three meters tall, muscled and brutish, looking at your characters as delicious breakfast. Or maybe I could say “It’s an ogre”. I’d say a party low on resources would be more likely to retreat, given the first option (if not, insert suitably impending narration). The rules are the same.

    Or the DitV situation. In none of these is anyone forced to act in a specific way, but I’d say that a certain behaviour is encouraged. Do you disagree?

    If you had a roleplay system where you replaced the buttons with abstract terms – like replace ‘give’ with ‘#532′

    Okay, run the person through it with abstract terms. THAT’S how a roleplay game works by default. No sympathy, no soul at all. THAT is mechanics in play.

    Your point here seems to be that roleplaying games “really” work as though there was nothing there but rules. I can see two options here. Either you are claiming that the fiction does not matter (from which it would follow that the fiction can be totally removed without changing anything), or you are claiming that on some fundamental level only the rules of rpgs matter. Am I, again, making a huge mistake of some sort? If not, which one is closer to your stance?

  19. How you put it

    “but whether one gives or not is greatly influenced by narration”

    I said

    “Whether you give IS greatly influenced by narration? Or CAN be greatly influenced?”

    You said

    “I see no reason for influence to necessarily be deterministic.”

    Were pretty much done – either I got my point across or you already shared a similar point already. There’s not much to it beyond these few words. The implications are many, but the seat of it is here.

    “Either you are claiming that the fiction does not matter (from which it would follow that the fiction can be totally removed without changing anything), or you are claiming that on some fundamental level only the rules of rpgs matter.”

    You’ve used the polarised word ‘matter’, which has two meanings in this context.

    I can’t tell you what you would sympathise with, I think we’d both agree. This also means I can’t tell you what you wont sympathise with – I can’t tell you something doesn’t matter to you.

    The second meaning is in whether it ‘matters’ in terms of having a physical, real world effect.

    I can’t tell you something doesn’t matter to you, but I can tell you that in the second sense, something doesn’t matter.

    This is the sort of thing I grasped at in ‘Is my respect your only proof?

  20. Were pretty much done – either I got my point across or you already shared a similar point already. There’s not much to it beyond these few words. The implications are many, but the seat of it is here.

    I’d very much appreciate if you explicitly told what you believe/claim. Right now, for example, I don’t really know if you agree or disagree with me, or if your claim is mostly orthogonal, or something else. (I could guess, but as above, it would probably not lead to anything useful.)

    The second meaning is in whether it ‘matters’ in terms of having a physical, real world effect.

    I can’t tell you something doesn’t matter to you, but I can tell you that in the second sense, something doesn’t matter.

    Do you think that only physical effects are real?

  21. “Do you think that only physical effects are real?”
    Well, I’ll put it this way – if the server crashed (a physical event), you’d be unable to pose that question to me. 🙂

  22. I would not.

    First I would have to define what reality means. Then I could go on testing if things qualify. “What being real means” is very much a philosophical (ontological, to be more precise) question, not an empiric one.

  23. Well, as much as you state what question it is (ontological) and what question it is not (emperic) without supporting evidence for either statement, I’ll just state that that what weve got to work with is what weve proven to exist. And in that sense, I tell you what matters to you doesn’t automatically matter in physical terms. Narration is detached from physical causality.

  24. To be a bit more exact with ontology: “What is real?” is a question that, to be answered, requires a definition of realness. For example, one definition might be “everything that can have a causal relation with the physical world”. Another one would be “everything I perceive and think about”. This decision can’t be made by experiments, because experiments can only test propositions (sentence that has truth value; can be true or not). Definitions don’t inherently have such; they are only names.

    After the definition has been chosen, the issue of what is real may or may not be within the domain of experiments. “Causal relation to physical world” would allow experiments and would lead to modern science, pretty much. “What I perceive” also allows testing, as I can look around and I could, say, try finding you in order to prove that you exist. “What is outside the Matrix” would be very hard to test, because assuming Matrix exists, we are in there, and hence can’t know what lies beyond.

    The paragraphs above are not necessarily very relevant to the discussion at hand, though. The two following claims are:

    1. Rules (of, say, chess) are detached from the physical causality in exactly the same way that narration is. They have exactly as much weight as one gives to them, in exactly the same way as narration.

    2. Emotional material has specific (chemical, biological) effects in brains. This has been shown by showing people pictures of obviously sad or happy people and measuring heat or electrical activity in their brains. I find it unlikely that narration with strong emotional content would not have similar effect (and building an experiment to test this is easy and probably has been done somewhere). This qualifies as a causal effect in the physical world.

  25. Those two claims aren’t relevant – you haven’t declared your decision on ‘what is real’. If I go to investigate them thinking the words in them represent some idea/structure of what you have decided is real, I’ll no doubt find latter on they do not and the conversation will repeat itself from this point, over and over, unless you declare you decision on ‘what is real’.

    I’m not going to go into a conversation where I have to guess what your base decisions on ‘what is real’ are, and then when I guess wrong it’s asserted as evidence against my point. No, my point isn’t wrong, it’s that those base decisions are being kept secret. If those base decisions are wildly different, like some spiritual thing involved, then that’s it, were wildly different – case closed. If your decision is actually the same as mine, then there’s a chance I’m right in terms of that shared base decision – but we’ll never get to either conclusion unless the base decision is disclosed.

  26. I’m interested in your views, I already knw mine. (Personally, I don’t have sufficient information to declare what is real.)

    The claims are about your views, as deduced in this discussion. I don’t know if they are right, nor do I know precisely what you consider real, but at least physical world seems to be there. I’d welcome a straightforward explanation of your views, too.

  27. Tommi,
    “I’ll go ahead to say that analysing a game and excluding the impact of narration and other material not completely encoded by the rules makes for very limited analysis of roleplay, and, hence, I find it to not be very useful.”

    Perhaps it’s a communication issue, but when someone wants to hear my views, then just as they say they want to hear them, they should just listen to them – not tell me after that that they don’t find them very useful/challenge my views. If you wanted to challenge my views, say it. If you just want to hear my views, then you politely listen and quietly absorb them.

    Your posts are littered with these challenges, right from the start with that sample, forward. No, you don’t strike me as being interested in my view for the sake of hearing them. Atleast not in this particular conversation. Perhaps its a communication issue.

  28. Attacking concepts is just my way of engaging and investigating them. It is not an indicator of derision or will to destroy them; I do it with mathematics all the time, and the chance of breaking math is close to zero, if not zero. This might qualify as misunderstanding.

    I’m also willing to listen, if you’d prefer that.

  29. I’m not raising the idea there’s derision. I’m saying if you’ve made different decisions at an ontological level than I have, then your not qualified to engage or investigate my ideas/concepts. You just work with some wacked out, crazy base that can’t handle it (or alternatively, I work under some wacked out, crazy base. w/e)

    If you want to hypothetically adopt my base decisions for the discussion and then investigate them from there, that could actually go somewhere. But you’d actually have to (temporarily) adopt it and stop investigating as if working from your normal base decisions.

  30. In terms of that, working with what we can prove as a base decision and in regard to your points above:

    1. Rules are essentially connected to causality, because it’s quite easy to see when you added +4 instead of +2. What you do about it (quit playing, accept their cheating/incompetence), who knows – but in causal terms, +4 is definately not +2.

    In terms of narration, people often use the very same words in very different ways. If your way goes against mine, I have no real proof mine is the right way to use the word and yours is the wrong way. While with +4 vs +2, it’s very easy to prove to myself your wrong.

    Without a way of proving someone wrong in their use, either I resort to cultural imperialism and damn well insist they use the word my way, or I accept essentially the words are meaningless and I need to sympathetically try and guess the meaning that the speaker was trying to convey.

    All in all, narration does not matter. It only matters if I bully someone into a certain use of the word, and that’s only because I’m actively bullying them. Otherwise I have to be sympathetic to what they meant by the narration – and thats me trying to guess what the words meant and then acting on that guess, not because I believe the words matter, but because I think that individual person matters. It isn’t the words themselves having an effect that matters.

    2. It doesn’t qualify as a causal effect unless it actually presses a ‘button’, the same button, each and every time. If they can still press a different button each time, no, no causal effect no matter how much brain activity you can read.

    Were talking causal effect in terms of actually using system/pressing the systems buttons. It doesn’t matter if the narration forces a laugh out of me…does it force me to use the same button over and over? Given that people with arachnophobia can have a ACTUAL tarantula walk over their hand, I conclude narration, mere words, do not force the use of the same button over and over. Perhaps if I was in some state of hypnosis a particular narration could make me press the same button each time, but I’d hardly call that a standard state of mind.

  31. I am willing to adopt your way ofthinking to as great a degree as possible. Now would be a good time to define words such as reality and causality, or at least tell what you mean by them.

  32. I don’t define them. Not for the sake of defining them, anyway. Think back to stone age times, when someone saw a sabre tooth tiger or whatever appear – did they start defining reality, or scream out a warning to others?

    A base decision I’m working from is that there’s a real world problem to begin with – perhaps not as clear cut as a sabre tooth tiger, but that’s beside the point. If I bother to define reality or causality, it’s part of my screaming out a warning to you. I don’t just define those words for their own sake or for fun.

    I’m screaming out that narration doesn’t matter. It’s okay to actively pretend it matters, like one might pretend WWF wrestling is real. But although we might indulge in the WWF illusion, we know its an illusion. The idea that narration really matters is an illusion. Feel free to indulge in the illusion, but understand it is just an illusion.

  33. I can’t really say anything useful (except by blind luck) unless you tell me what you mean by words. So: In what sense does narration not matter? In what sense is this a real world issue?

    I’d prefer getting answers to getting analogies, but that is, of course, up to you.

  34. It varies.

    Could you just please explain the basis from which you construct your claim that narration does not matter? Simple, clear, straightforward explanation. No analogies, no metaphors. Please?

  35. Narration can’t force someone to consistantly take the same option over and over. The snake/baby example, with a 10% chance of earning a dollar if they shoot the baby is its evidence.

  36. Assuming I understand your question, yes. I’m assuming your confirming a single detail here so as to be methodical. Otherwise I’m not sure what your asking.

  37. That is indeed what I was asking.

    Personally, I see big gap between (1) X does not force someone to take a option and (2) X does not matter. (In this case, X is narration.)

    Why do you not, or why there is no such difference?

  38. Remember the context I’m using ‘doesn’t matter’ in
    You: “Giving is indeed a mechanical choice, but whether one gives or not is greatly influenced by narration”
    Me: “Whether you give IS greatly influenced by narration? Or CAN be greatly influenced?”

    It CAN matter – if we decide to make it something that matters to us. But the base default is: narration doesn’t matter.

    We can decide something matters to each of us, individually. But in terms of the rest of humanity, no, by default it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t greatly influence everybody. It’s just matters to those individuals who decide it matters.

  39. Now I can pinpoint the source of my cognitive dissonance: You write “narration does not matter”, I understand that as “narration never matters”, while what you are saying is “narration does not necessarily matter” (with necessary understood as in modal logic).

    As far as I am concerned, that topic is done.

    Would you be interested in further discussion wrt (1) handling narration in game theory or (2) discussing what you mean by buttons, as used somewhere in the talk above?

  40. I haven’t read any of the previous posts, maybe in the future, but simply this:
    It can be seen that deciding based on mechanics is an aberration. It all depends how you view it:
    1. Game with story-fluff.
    2. Story narration with some mechanics, which often end up being simply Social Contract regulated “Fiat”.

    Or, the Holy Grail:
    3. Both, at the same time, influencing one another, but not detrimenting. The conflicts arise out of story, but you will choose what is mechanically best with it not only harming the story, but making it stronger.

    We look at it in a binary manner. You do, you called one half an “aberration”, because it is so hard to synthesise.
    But unless we’ll strive for it, we’ll never even have the possibility of reaching it. Unless we are lucky.

  41. Hello Guy,

    This thread actually ties in very closely to the “Impossible trait use before breakfast” thread ( https://brokenmarrow.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/234/ )

    I think the particular wording of the ‘after’ trait in that thread makes clear what was a logistical error.

    Basically the mechanics couldn’t influence the imagined space, if all mechanics use had to be in tune with previous narration/previously established SIS.

    There specifically has to be mechanics that are worded so A: Their application does not have to fit prior narration BUT at the same time B: All following narration and mechanics use has to fit this mechanics use

    EXCEPT – and this is the vital exception – this particular mechanic does not have to fit into its own previous uses. For example, if the mechanic controls whether the lake empties, and has been used, someone can still use it again latter “But the lake is already empty! You can’t use it!” But because of the exception, we can. Its use ignores prior narration or mechanics use.

    How you fit that into narration is something that will help stretch your imagination – perhaps there was a lake underneath the lake? Or some other mysterious thing?

    I’m certain much of the wonder of roleplays history has hinged on making sense of mechanics use that does not make sense. Even as many rush towards ‘realism’ because they think it preserves the wonder in RP, when indeed, it may shut it out.

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