I hope many more people read this Von, it’s very insightful. I felt excited reading it, like you’ve noticed something that no-one has ever noticed before. I certainly hadn’t thought along those lines before; that the game as a whole (not examined for its merits as a game) is important mostly because it facilitates adult use of imagination in a socially sanctioned way.
Where do we go from here?
You know what would be interesting? Start playing an RPG without any rules and see at which points people get uncomfortable with things not having a mechanic. then you’d know precisely what a system actually needs.
Rob Kuntz said…
The perfect set of rules would be a mere one or two pages. At least OD&D was sparse by comparison to today’s continued bloat. But that is what one can expect if they blindly support the game-as-consumer market that won out a long time ago and created a marketed-to generation who will “define” what RPG is all about. Cash, not creativity. Purchases, not personal power. Girth but not growth.
For example, traditional roleplaying systems have focused heavily on conflict mechanics. In their best known form, two or more individuals come into conflict (the GM and PC(s)) for the purposes of resolving a fictional situation.
Fiction is often suspended while procedure is discussed (who is involved in the conflict, who is taking what agency, what action, in what order, and how we should proceed). Individuals call on rights and privileges (what they are legitimately allowed to bring to the conflict based on the rules of the game and the stats on their character sheet). The participants defer their conflict to an external system of resolution that is separate from all participants and aims to ensure fairness in resolution (a dice roll). The participants return to the fiction and incorporate the judgement into play.
This sequence exhibits obvious justice orientation, and that’s not surprising given that the origins of the hobby were predominately male and strongly informed by other predominantly based male hobbies (e.g. war gaming). People generally and understandably build the systems they are best equipped to build, and which serve their needs to the best extent.
However, today, woman are (in many RPG communities) a pervasive part of the hobby. What can this mean to her relationship to the system, the game, the experience, the people she plays with and the hobby at large? And while women seem to exhibit preference for care mediation, there are male care-mediators too. What does this mean for them?
This is what I’ve been thinking about recently.
This is what I’ve come up with, as a start.
It’s by no means ‘done’ and it certainly doesn’t do the traditional ‘what is a role playing game’ thing (which I’d probably do with examples of play) but it’s two pages of rules, one page of tips and one page of justificatory essay. I reckon, with an example of play and a page of world/character building tips and a page of soft skills tips, it’d be about ready. And then I’d use it for everything unless someone presented me with a very compelling reason to do otherwise.