Theory review #3

  • – a research summary about an article on agency and video games, which distinguishes several different types of agency: actual, interpretive, fictional, and mechanical.
  • by Morten Greis Petersen. An old (from 2007) analysis of what ”story now” and ”story games” and ”indie games” seem to mean. I would personally the first as a creative agenda, the second as a cultural movement and the third via being creator-owned or as a cultural movement; the blog post goes a different way. The comments also have discussion about the lack of excitement curve in Forge games and what shape it usually takes in games.
  • by Mattias Lejbrink. Reflections and advice after building one floor, 107 rooms, of a megadungeon.
  • by Janne Kemppi. A look at GM-led adventure roleplaying game theory from the perspective of wider gaming theory. Illustrative of how theoretical work can express personal preferences, rather than aim for the generality of applying to all games everywhere.
  • – a video about how to be a good roleplayer. There is much generic advice (be present, know the rules) that amounts to general social skills and politeness, and then one bit about PvP, which makes all kinds of assumption about what roleplaying is for. This is typical of generic advice: if it does not make explicit assumptions about what kind of roleplaying it applies to, then it makes implicit ones.
  • by Ville Takanen. Some rules of thumb for using dice when designing a roleplaying game and a short note on why most roleplaying game writing is not design in certain sense of the word. Some of the rules of thumb do not apply always, as one expects: interpreting dice rolls can be fast and in that case having lots of them is fine and having them do nothing is fine, too.
  • by Ron Edwards and Simon Pettersson. Cold soldier and games like it, immersion, games that forge a personal connection. Comments on emotionally intense roleplay and games guaranteeing a good story.
  • by Michael Stensen Sollien and Nicolai Krogsrud-Strøm. The characterization of D&D 4 combats as charaterization opportunities is refreshing and in accord with my understanding.
  • – a nice description of various cultural traditions of play within roleplaying, mostly in terms of their associated styles of play but also with a historical perspective. The description of Nordic larp is not very good; larp means live action roleplaying and there are distinct traditions of art larp and more mainstream larps, some of which have adventure, some plot focus, some chilling around a campfire. Significant contact with the story games scene (not really the Forge scene) was a late thing, leading to the so-called structured freeform games.
  • by Vincent Baker. About how a Powered by the apocalypse game need not be about conflict; an interesting subject, I would say, given how so many roleplaying games focus squarely on conflict and ignore the less forceful, even if more important, parts of being a human.
  • by Matthew Colville. About player agency and railroading in the context of modern D&D. There is a lot of emphasis on the players not believing they have agency, and sometimes the dungeon master not giving them agency. This entire dance can be avoided by being very clear about the agency the players have and emphasizing it all the time; OSR has lots of advice for how to go about this, for example. But as long as a game master maintains the veil of mystery about agency, or keeps the power to give or not give agency, the problem remains.

Theory review #3


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