Sunday, February 02, 2014

Further Thoughts on a Media Rubric for RPGs

My last blog dealt with Fairman Roger's development post about his definition for rpgs:
"A roleplaying game is an interactive, participatory artistic experience, similar to                      ."

I was really pleased with the civil and positive responses. There was no flames or trolls, which was, to be honest, a surprise. Even if someone did not agree, the poster was as least charitable.

Everyone felt that the phrase fell flat as a definition. Some people felt that the phrase would not explain rpgs to newbies. Others felt that the definition did not stringently meet necessary-and-sufficient standards for a definition. I agree on both accounts.

It's interesting how things develop. Especially when I am not as clear as I think I could have been, or people pursue their own agendas when responding to a post.

I'll repeat my disclaimer from the last post: I saw the phrase less as an over arching definition and more a rubric to help target play styles. Get everyone at the table on the same page for play.

Maybe the phrase as a useful tool for social contracts could be simply:
"A roleplaying game for me is an experience similar to ___________."

I have realized since writing the post that the rubric does little beyond describing what a player believes is a similar medium. I do see that as an important aspect of a table play social contract. It doesn't address genre, and some mediums do certain genres better than others. And various rpgs have mimicked different mediums successfully. I am now acknowledging that it might be far more useful to have this rubric as a part of rpgs:
"This roleplaying game attempts to mimic a medium experience similar to ______________."

It does far more for design and play for a game to set up specific expectations than to have each player define what medium the player believes rpgs mimic most often. Then at least a player who likes rpgs that are like, say for example, comics can then say that they are not in the mood to play a rpg mimicking movies.

It has left me pondering what kind of medium is the rpg, as compared to visual art, dance, literature, theater, or film.

Further dissection has lead me to realize how often medium, style, genre, and goals are actually differing viable rpg aspects that are in most cases lumped together under play style. It's leading to some interesting thoughts on rpg definitions and how best to further design and play of rpgs.

However! The responses to my last post that caught me off guard were those from people who did not believe rpgs are art. It's honestly jarring to me.

Fairman Roger used the term artistic with this in mind:
"(Roleplaying) is an act of imaginative creation of a non-practical aesthetic product."
 I might not use that definition though.

Before I come around to how I define rpgs as art, let's cover why I believe rpgs are art. And before I cover why, let me expose my own biases on art. Here is an attempt at an outline of where I am going with all this:

(I'll link these active as I finish writing them)

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