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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Eh.

    even if your right (which I'm not sure of), that makes it sound that postmodernism doesn't really seem all that useful? Mostly because it just seems to be a long form way of saying "we still need to correct for self-bias" when we just haven't found all the biases yet. that seems to be something that science and everyone else is well aware of already, so I don't see the point of it either way. regardless, I'm not a big fan of "everything is subjective!!" philosophies anyways simply because they are used more to shut down discussion by saying that you can't criticize what doesn't have objective value or shut down a specific viewpoint by pointing out that its a viewpoint than to actually help anyone, its not something I can trust, rely on or buy into, because regardless of reality, people need to be able to clearly sort out what to believe in themselves psychologically speaking to be healthy, you muddy the waters too much by saying nothing has a value you can assign then it makes doing that very murky and difficult.

    because people have things they value, and if you go around making it all too subjective, all that value starts to feel fake, in my experience. and feeling as if things don't have value generally leads down dark roads that I don't want to travel down. gazing into the abyss and all that.
    Eh. Depends on what you're doing. It's useful to remind you your tools are just that, tools. (It also gets a lot of use in the social sciences where...well, it's sometimes important to remember "Easy to measure" is not the same as "important."

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    We do tell stories to ourselves, but the stories we tell ourselves have flaws that blind us to certain things, and often have underlying reasons why we tell ourselves them.
    ...This contention is fundamentally all that postmodernism is. You can complain about any number of silly leaps postmodernists have taken, or how flabby and lazy any philosophical tradition can get, but real, useful things have been derived from postmodernist critiques.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Mendicant View Post
    ...This contention is fundamentally all that postmodernism is. You can complain about any number of silly leaps postmodernists have taken, or how flabby and lazy any philosophical tradition can get, but real, useful things have been derived from postmodernist critiques.
    Exactly my point. I just said an entire philosophy much shorter and more reasonably while cutting out all the ridiculous parts without even realizing it. Its not needed.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Exactly my point. I just said an entire philosophy much shorter and more reasonably while cutting out all the ridiculous parts without even realizing it. Its not needed.
    Except that the usefulness, like the devil, are in the details. Postmodernism is usually best used as a lens of critique about specific things.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    Yeah, pretty much. All communication that includes giving accounts of events. And that's not even counting all the stories we tell ourselves in our own minds every time we reflect on series of events that we've experienced.
    And that's where we're never going to agree, and never come to a "stipulated definition", and never come to terms, because that "we" is presumptuous, and some people worry far more about digging out the facts than dealing in narratives. Some people get very frustrated when they see narrative trumping empirical examination.

    Why do you think some people find at least as much satisfaction in worldbuilding as they do in writing a story, in putting together the city for a Vampire campaign as they do in running the campaign, etc? In part, because "digging up" the facts of the fictional setting scratches at least as deep an itch for them as "storytelling" in that setting does.

    Feh. The problem with most psychological theories is that they're more belief systems than science, and they presume a universality of their beliefs that's completely unjustified in the face of human variation.


    (E: for the settings I'm working on for use in actual fiction, I sometimes get so lost in the worldbuilding that I forget I'm doing it for the story... and I fully subscribe to the "iceberg theory" of worldbuilding that asserts that for every 1 part the reader sees, there should be 9 parts supporting it; whereas others prefer the "hollow world" approach where only what the reader or viewer or player can see is important to develop in full.)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-02 at 10:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by flond View Post
    Except that the usefulness, like the devil, are in the details. Postmodernism is usually best used as a lens of critique about specific things.
    and I don't care enough to find out or learn more, because it all sounds like murky nonsense I can't rely on to me, and I find it tiresome and annoying to argue semantics myself, which I sense is not far off in the conversation about whether or not I actually believe in postmodernism or not, because whether I do or do not, the fact that I dislike everything being subjective is what makes the most sense to me, and while I have that belief about narratives I stated above I still think what Max says makes sense to me.

    Yes I can hold both beliefs and find they both make sense to me without contradiction. I don't care if it actually does or not. because again I'm not going to argue semantics, and there am getting out of this conversation before that starts happening to me.
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    furious Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Whenever someone drops the line "RPGs are about collaborative storytelling" I sets me off on a rant. For a simple reason. It's a meaningless phrase.

    The vast majority of people saying this, when asked what they mean, will come back with a variation on "sitting around with other people, doing stuff with our characters and having stuff happen". Which is otherwise known as "playing an RPG". In other words, they're using a circular definition. Playing an RPG is playing an RPG. It's a meaningless phrase.
    I'm jumping into this late so forgive me if I double-tap any points that have already been made and take this from the top.

    OP: An inability to understand the fundamentals of grammar is your own problem. Don't make your problems other people's problems.

    To "Collaborate" is to "Work jointly on an activity or project." Insofar as any single component or group of components comprising said activity involves both story-telling and people, plural, then "Collaborative Story-telling" can be said to have occurred.

    From the perspective of an observer "Playing an RPG" will result in the creation of an "Emergent Narrative" therefore "Collaborative Story-Telling," which; while only one facet of "Playing an RPG" is in fact inherent to the act of "Playing an RPG." Therefore it is entirely valid for someone to assert that "RPGs are about Collaborative Story-Telling" insofar as they place significant value on that facet of the activity.

    I could go on but I worry that the result would become abusive.

    Instead I think me and the rest of the kids are going to go have more of our bad fun wrong.
    Last edited by jojo; 2018-01-02 at 10:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    and I don't care enough to find out or learn more, because it all sounds like murky nonsense I can't rely on to me, and I find it tiresome and annoying to argue semantics myself, which I sense is not far off in the conversation about whether or not I actually believe in postmodernism or not, because whether I do or do not, the fact that I dislike everything being subjective is what makes the most sense to me, and while I have that belief about narratives I stated above I still think what Max says makes sense to me.

    Yes I can hold both beliefs and find they both make sense to me without contradiction. I don't care if it actually does or not. because again I'm not going to argue semantics, and there am getting out of this conversation before that starts happening to me.
    Eh. Fair enough. I'm mostly vexed about people arguing it's useless trash. If you don't find it a useful tool well...I don't actually...have an issue with that? (I won't try to bait you in or anything I was mostly just...IDK, trying to defend it as something that's gotten people decent results?)

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Why do you think some people find at least as much satisfaction in worldbuilding as they do in writing a story, in putting together the city for a Vampire campaign as they do in running the campaign, etc? In part, because "digging up" the facts of the fictional setting scratches at least as deep an itch for them as "storytelling" in that setting does.
    Ok, as much as I think your arguments are completely misinterpreting what people are trying to say... I can totally agree with you here.

    I enjoy worldbuilding more than actually playing a RPG. I like character development and NPC development better. I like building cities and cultures. I love drawing maps.

    This is why I have been playing RPGs for the last 30 some odd years. This is why I have built more games than I have actually played... actually I also like deconstructing rules mechanics more than playing too... I have read all sorts of game systems that I haven't played. Just to see how they handle the mechanics of gameplaying.

    So, the "story" isn't the draw for me with RPGs. But I do acknowledge that when I am actually playing a RPG, I am communicating with people about a series of events, and as such we are telling a story. That might not be why we are playing, and it might not be our purpose, but it is the product of our actions.

    The adventuring PCs save the village from the invading goblins. - STORY

    The stealthy PC climbs the fence, skirts past security and sneaks into the building through the basement window - STORY

    etc

    When we were playing the game, we weren't thinking "I should do X. That would make a good story". We were thinking "What would my character realistically do when in this scenario". Even so, a story was created as a by-product of playing the game. AND since we were talking around the table to each other, actively telling each other what our characters were doing. I can say that not only was a story created, but storytelling was taking place.
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-01-03 at 12:18 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #250
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    No strawman, I've responded to exactly the words that he wrote in his posts on that matter, and if he's pulled back from those words in any significant way, I've not seen it. If he would like to pull back from the words I quoted a few posts ago, I welcome it and I will adjust my response accordingly.

    Furthermore, if your position is in fact that storytelling is inevitable in any RPG, then it can only be true if it starts from the position that any sequence of events -- and thus everything, but nothing is static -- is "a story". It's not enough for that position to be true for any account of events to be "a story", because it is not an "account of events" simply to make in-character decisions and play the game.
    I think I've pulled back in the sense that I feel like I understand better that this is really just a complaint that people are abusing language which makes what they are saying technically wrong.

    I still feel like you and Tanarii are just way overboard and unnecessarily offended by this. The people you're upset with are only technically wrong, but you're fine with the essential point they're trying to make.

    On the point about making In-Character decisions: when making such decisions, you take into account Character motivations, which are based in no small part on their Back-Story and HiStory. You could play a character who has no functional backstory and neglect to take any of the character's past into account, but it will diminish the breadth and the scope of what this kind of playing can call, "Roleplay."

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    if everything is relative and subjective and equivalently valid narratives, then it's relative all the way down, and they can't escape that to ever establish the accuracy of their own position.
    The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Just because everything is subjective doesn't mean it can't also happen to be accurate, it just means we can never be absolutely certain if it is or isn't. Of course, if it seems to be reliably true, then it can still be a Useful Approximation without having to be Absolutely Accurate. Essentially, we don't need it to be Absolutely Accurate to be Reliable. We only need it to be Accurate to Within Tolerances to be Useful, but that doesn't mean it won't still turn out to be Inaccurate.

    You seem to be conflating Accuracy as a Sliding Scale of Degree with the Accuracy as a Boolean Value (which is where the Sliding Scale often falls out of Tolerances). Postmodernism, if it does anything, proves that no one can truly establish Absolute Accuracy, generally partial degrees of Accuracy are still quite attainable.

    Postmodernism doesn't really preclude the existence of objective fact, it reminds us that there is an exceedingly strong likelihood that our subjective perceptions of objective fact are so intrinsically flawed and limited that our they may never be capable of perfectly imagining whatever the actual objective reality is.

    I like to run with the example of Classical Mechanics (as I think a few of you have already heard me talk about, but I'll say again in case someone else reading this hasn't). We know for fact that it's wrong and that Quantum Mechanics must be closer to matching our Subjective Perceptions with Objective Reality. Classical Mechanics is still widely taught at universities, however, because it is still a powerfully useful approximation for applications in the daily life of humans. Quantum Mechanics could be used for all the same applications and produce more accurate results, but the amount of extra work required to do so far outweighs the minimal improvement in accuracy we'd get for doing it.

    It's a less accurate model that is more useful in application to human life and society than the model that is more accurate on the cosmic scale.

    Postmodernism isn't saying, "nothing is true." That statement misleads us into thinking that it's saying, "everything is meaningless" (I believe that would be Nihilism, so let's not conflate the terms). That is not what it's saying. It's saying, "everything has the potential for some unknown degree of inaccuracy that could be discovered at any moment." It's using the Sliding Scale Accuracy rather than the Boolean Value.

    It's saying, "never take objective truth for granted, because the best we can ever have are useful approximations." Not, "nothing can be trusted," but "nothing should be trusted blindly, even things we thought we had already established as true."

    How to determine if something is useful? Test it and see if it works. We'll refine the answers later. But when we start getting too comfortable with these approximations always being right, it can begin to make us biased against ever revising or replacing that approximation to increase its accuracy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Eh.

    even if your right (which I'm not sure of), that makes it sound that postmodernism doesn't really seem all that useful? Mostly because it just seems to be a long form way of saying "we still need to correct for self-bias" when we just haven't found all the biases yet. that seems to be something that science and everyone else is well aware of already, so I don't see the point of it either way. regardless, I'm not a big fan of "everything is subjective!!" philosophies anyways simply because they are used more to shut down discussion by saying that you can't criticize what doesn't have objective value or shut down a specific viewpoint by pointing out that its a viewpoint than to actually help anyone, its not something I can trust, rely on or buy into, because regardless of reality, people need to be able to clearly sort out what to believe in themselves psychologically speaking to be healthy, you muddy the waters too much by saying nothing has a value you can assign then it makes doing that very murky and difficult.

    because people have things they value, and if you go around making it all too subjective, all that value starts to feel fake, in my experience. and feeling as if things don't have value generally leads down dark roads that I don't want to travel down. gazing into the abyss and all that.
    Yes, I agree this is a dangerous and blatant abuse of Postmodernism. Postmodernism should be used to remind us to question everything, almost especially things that we feel comfortable taking for granted (because that is most likely where we are being the most blind and thoughtless about things). It should never be used to throw anything out into the garbage, it is intended to help us take Subjective Perspectives off of the pedestal of Objective Reality by reminding us how unlikely it is that our Subjective Representation of that Objective Reality is to be accurate (I'm talking about the sliding scale accuracy rather than the boolean value).

    I am just as leery of trusting authoritative arguments that I know are far less certain about things than they claim to be, with proofs that are far less rigorous than they believe, purporting themselves to be above questioning (because "it's obvious").

    Postmodernism is correct when it reminds us that we often conflate our perception of reality with reality itself, that often our perception of reality is inaccurate (if often only partly incorrect), and that we have a tendency to get emotionally defensive of our inaccurate ideas on a subconscious level.

    I feel it is taken too far when it is used to start nuking every useful approximation we've been relying on up to this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    People seem to be getting excessively worked up over having a different definition of "story". That's really what this entire argument boils down to.
    Sure, but if reconciling this difference helps one side feel more comfortable with story elements in their RPGs or the other side more comfortable with less story based RPGs, then I think we'll have gained something valuable from the discussion.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Let's try a different angle. I think a lot comes down to what expectations people have that playing and RPG should deliver, how that leads to different sources of "fun" and how that will give different meanings to the term "story".

    When playing Pathfinder, I prefer to play in a pre-defined campaign that will ultimately lead to a complete story being told - "This is the story of how we defeated the Storm King and stopped the giant invasion". For this, I only need enough agency and the tools to participate with my character in a game that will generate this outcome (That's also why I don't have a big problem with the d20 rules being "broken", because I don't use any that deal with anything outside the task at hand).

    When playing L5R, I am the one in control of what drama elements I want to have my character participate in, massively influencing what shape the "emergent story" will have and forcing the gm to react to my wishes. Here I can actively collaborate with my fellow players to set the tone and feel that the game will have - "My Scorpion Bushi will betray his clan and together with a Lion Bushi seek protection of the emerald magistracy". For this, I need two kinds of agency, the one I have during actual play, the other in the form of the tools I need to influence the "story" to be told.

    In contrast, doing an old-school hex crawl sandbox will have "story" as a byproduct, mostly in the form of "history", so the linear string of events that happened. The goal is the interplay of setting own goal and discovery of the world, needing a high level of agency during the actual game, but next to nothing concerning tools besides being able to formulate goals.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Okay, okay, so this is just a massive argument about whether a word with two definitions only means one of them or only means the other of them, right?

    And either way, it doesn't impact the fact that "Collaborative storytelling" is quite clearly a phrase which means "Storytelling which is collaborative" and therefore has a meaning?"

    Right, glad we sorted that out. Linguistic descriptivism saves the day again!
    It only has meaning in so far as they're using storytelling to mean something, as opposed to "events". Lots of things cause events in RPGs. Storytelling can be one of them. So it's no accurate no helpful nor meaningful to define it as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Feh. The problem with most psychological theories is that they're more belief systems than science, and they presume a universality of their beliefs that's completely unjustified in the face of human variation.
    I got a good laugh out of this, because before I got in this thread again this morning, I was just thinking about the current Cult of Science, wherein the lay members take the pronouncements handed down from on high without really understanding. And said pronouncements often being either simplifications / lies to children, or straight out self perpetuating belief in BS. As typified by NdGT. Or for BS, parallel universes.

    Quote Originally Posted by jojo View Post
    From the perspective of an observer "Playing an RPG" will result in the creation of an "Emergent Narrative" therefore "Collaborative Story-Telling," which; while only one facet of "Playing an RPG" is in fact inherent to the act of "Playing an RPG." Therefore it is entirely valid for someone to assert that "RPGs are about Collaborative Story-Telling" insofar as they place significant value on that facet of the activity.
    See the entire rest of the thread. But in summary:
    - placing value on how you lay an RPG doesn't make it universally true. That's a universal statement.
    - not all playing an RPG is storytelling. That is a phrase often used in an extended version of its definition of "an account of events", instead broadened to "events happen in the game". This makes it meaningless, since lots of things make events happen in the game.
    - not all RPG playing is emergent storytelling. Like the phrase "storytelling", this is a term often used outside its original definition, to mean "events happened in the game" (past tense). Likewise making it meaningless.

  13. - Top - End - #253
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    It only has meaning in so far as they're using storytelling to mean something, as opposed to "events". Lots of things cause events in RPGs. Storytelling can be one of them. So it's no accurate no helpful nor meaningful to define it as such.
    Why does it have to mean something opposed to a series of events? You ever hear of a synonym?

    Besides, we can narrow it down a bit if you want. Lets look at a dictionary.

    Merriam-Webster "an account of incidents or events"
    Oxford "An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment."
    Cambridge "a description, either true or imagined, of a connected series of events"

    And to further help, lets look at the definition of an "account"
    - "A report or description of an event or experience"


    So, the dictionary seems to imply that a story must be "told" to actually be a story. If we want to stick with the literal denotation of the word, then the answer is "No" to the question "if a series of events is never recorded or recounted, is it a story?"

    That makes a difference with some of the philosophical musings on this thread, but it makes no difference in deciding if specifically playing an RPG is storytelling.

    When you play an RPG you are 100% working with others to jointly create "a description, either true or imagined, of a connected series of events". When you play an RPG, the players and GM are jointly describing a connected series of events to each other. How can you possibly play an RPG and not do that?
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-01-03 at 12:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Anyone else notice how a discussion about the meanings of the term "collaborative storytelling" has devolved to arguments about whether postmodernism, psychology and "the cult of science" are BS?

    It almost seems as though some folks are so hell-bent on arriving at their own predetermined conclusions and invalidating any other perspective that they feel the need to dismantle the whole of human knowledge to get there.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Ok, as much as I think your arguments are completely misinterpreting what people are trying to say... I can totally agree with you here.

    I enjoy worldbuilding more than actually playing a RPG. I like character development and NPC development better. I like building cities and cultures. I love drawing maps.

    This is why I have been playing RPGs for the last 30 some odd years. This is why I have built more games than I have actually played... actually I also like deconstructing rules mechanics more than playing too... I have read all sorts of game systems that I haven't played. Just to see how they handle the mechanics of gameplaying.

    So, the "story" isn't the draw for me with RPGs. But I do acknowledge that when I am actually playing a RPG, I am communicating with people about a series of events, and as such we are telling a story. That might not be why we are playing, and it might not be our purpose, but it is the product of our actions.
    The adventuring PCs save the village from the invading goblins. - STORY

    The stealthy PC climbs the fence, skirts past security and sneaks into the building through the basement window - STORY

    etc

    When we were playing the game, we weren't thinking "I should do X. That would make a good story". We were thinking "What would my character realistically do when in this scenario". Even so, a story was created as a by-product of playing the game. AND since we were talking around the table to each other, actively telling each other what our characters were doing. I can say that not only was a story created, but storytelling was taking place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I think I've pulled back in the sense that I feel like I understand better that this is really just a complaint that people are abusing language which makes what they are saying technically wrong.

    I still feel like you and Tanarii are just way overboard and unnecessarily offended by this. The people you're upset with are only technically wrong, but you're fine with the essential point they're trying to make.

    On the point about making In-Character decisions: when making such decisions, you take into account Character motivations, which are based in no small part on their Back-Story and HiStory. You could play a character who has no functional backstory and neglect to take any of the character's past into account, but it will diminish the breadth and the scope of what this kind of playing can call, "Roleplay."
    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Let's try a different angle. I think a lot comes down to what expectations people have that playing and RPG should deliver, how that leads to different sources of "fun" and how that will give different meanings to the term "story".

    When playing Pathfinder, I prefer to play in a pre-defined campaign that will ultimately lead to a complete story being told - "This is the story of how we defeated the Storm King and stopped the giant invasion". For this, I only need enough agency and the tools to participate with my character in a game that will generate this outcome (That's also why I don't have a big problem with the d20 rules being "broken", because I don't use any that deal with anything outside the task at hand).

    When playing L5R, I am the one in control of what drama elements I want to have my character participate in, massively influencing what shape the "emergent story" will have and forcing the gm to react to my wishes. Here I can actively collaborate with my fellow players to set the tone and feel that the game will have - "My Scorpion Bushi will betray his clan and together with a Lion Bushi seek protection of the emerald magistracy". For this, I need two kinds of agency, the one I have during actual play, the other in the form of the tools I need to influence the "story" to be told.

    In contrast, doing an old-school hex crawl sandbox will have "story" as a byproduct, mostly in the form of "history", so the linear string of events that happened. The goal is the interplay of setting own goal and discovery of the world, needing a high level of agency during the actual game, but next to nothing concerning tools besides being able to formulate goals.
    Specifically in the context of RPGs, does defining "story" as "any sequence of events" or "any account of a sequence of events" really provide any utility whatsoever? Does seeking to claim all throught and communication as "storytelling" really do anything for us? What does it actually accomplish?

    Does it help us analyze or discuss why people play RPGs, how people play RPGs, or what people focus on in the course of playing an RPG?

    Does it help us understand what will make RPGs better or worse for players with different preferences?

    No. It doesn't.

    Instead, it serves to conflate very different gaming preferences into a lump, as part of a false dichotomy between "rules" and "story". It creates confusion. It helps foster the false narrative (heh) that character-focus and setting-focus are the "property" of story-structure-focus, without leaving straightfoward terms to differentiate between character-focus and story-focus (narrow sense of story as structural and intentional). It makes it hard to communicate by eliminating differentiation.

    It's a "victory" for pedantry at best, and a victory for the Edwardian holdouts seeking to claim "all good roleplaying" as their own exclusive domain at worst.

    If we're robbed of the narrow meaning of "story" (as structural, and intentional), and everything is lumped together, and it's all "story"... then how do we distinguish between:

    1) the needs of those gamers who love the elements of character, and setting, and thrive on verisimilutude and immersion, but whose experiences are impacted very negatively by structural story elements and various rules or approaches that fosters them

    2) the needs of those gamers who thrive on structural story elements and/or genre story elements to such an extent that they'll happily sacrifice close connection to a particular PC, immersion, verisimilitude, and/or other elements, to embrace what are sometimes called "narrative mechanics", encoding genre expecations in the rules, etc.

    The history of gaming discussion is rife with instances of those two very different focuses being conflated in the debates over what RPGs "should be". See for example how often anyone who doesn't embrace "narrative rules" games, or rules-light games, or whatever someone's personal preference is, is told to "go back to D&D, then"... it's as if every "new" idea in gaming sets itself up as opposed to D&D, and you're either with them or against them. Or see how often someone who is very heavily in the (1) category above will be assumed to be in the (2) category simply because another person believes that there's no difference between character-driven and story-driven gaming.

    When a gamer says they're "with" character-driven gaming, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're also "with" story-driven gaming. When they say that they're "not with" story-driven gaming, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're "with" heavily Gamist gaming.

    And no, this isn't about identity, or labels, as such. It's about avoiding presumptions and clearly communicating ideas without writing page-long treatises to avoid all the baggage every time these things come up.


    So really, honestly, I'm going to continue rejecting the "any account of events" usage of "story", especially in the context of gaming, because it makes things worse, not better, and it leads to untrue conclusions, and bad assumptions, and unclear communication.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    Anyone else notice how a discussion about the meanings of the term "collaborative storytelling" has devolved to arguments about whether postmodernism, psychology and "the cult of science" are BS?
    I kinda cringed at the phrase "cult of science", but I think it refers to the people who blindly go about acting as if they believe "If Neil deGrasse Tyson said it, it must be true, he's so smart!", and thus ironically miss the point of empirical inquiry and the scientific approach in the first place.

    Ever notice how long unfalsifiable or even falsified "schools" of psychology stick around and maintain groups of slavish adherents? Freud and Jung were doing nothing more than projecting their own internal issues onto the entirety of the human species, and yet there are still Freudian and Jungian psychologists offering "therapy" for good money and taken quite seriously. Skinner's approach is like insisting that only the ripples are real, and not the fish, simply because the surface of the pond is hard to see through (I went to a college with a deeply deeply behaviorist Psych department, and the contortions they'd go through to avoid any exploration of an internal mind underlying the observable behaviors were comical at times).

    As for postmodernism, when the basic scientific method is being called a "Eurocentric patriarchal tool of oppression and exploitation, that ruthlessly and systematically quashes other equally valid ways of understanding that threaten its dominance", that should maybe tell us something about the philosophy behind that sort of nonsense proclamation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    It almost seems as though some folks are so hell-bent on arriving at their own predetermined conclusions and invalidating any other perspective that they feel the need to dismantle the whole of human knowledge to get there.
    Yes... the observable evidence makes that appear to have been the approach taken by those who started with the belief that all gaming is "storytelling", and then worked backwards until they found a definition of "story" that made their belief pedantically "true".
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Specifically in the context of RPGs, does defining "story" as "any sequence of events" or "any account of a sequence of events" really provide any utility whatsoever? Does seeking to claim all throught and communication as "storytelling" really do anything for us? What does it actually accomplish?
    It accomplishes communicating effectively by using a word as it is intended to be used... rather than giving it a new narrower definition to bolster an unnecessary argument.

    Does it help us analyze or discuss why people play RPGs, how people play RPGs, or what people focus on in the course of playing an RPG?
    That is not the purpose of the word. The word "story" is under no obligation to help with that analysis.

    Does it help us understand what will make RPGs better or worse for players with different preferences?
    If that is your end goal... if the whole purpose of this debate is to break gaming into different preferential styles... then use existing words with their existing meanings to describe these gaming styles, rather than confuse us all by distorting a word to mean something other than its intended use.

    Your concern seems to be with the focus of the gameplay, or maybe the priority, or something like that.

    Games that focus on making "storytelling" the priority are not your cup of tea.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    To me, the conflation of "story-driven" and "character-driven" seems to arise from still having no solid definition of "story" as its own, independent thing. I would argue that the best stories tend to be describable as "character-driven stories." That is, between the environment and the characters, the story arises naturally as characters are themselves, pursuing their own goals individually, jointly, and in opposition or alliance with the other characters. Man v Man, Man v Nature, Man v Self, and Man v Monster all, essentially, have Man - i.e., a character - as an essential element.

    The best I can do in constructing "story-driven" as a concept independent of "character-driven" is the notion of a sequence of events happening with actors performing actions to make it so, but which any "character" can be inserted into because the only characterization needed is "they could and would do this thing the plot needs done when it needs it done." I think that's a subset of "just-so" stories?

    I suspect that my definition is wrong, though, because it inevitably seems to be the kind of storytelling that, when it occurs, most annoys fans. "Why did anybody do what I just saw them doing?" they may ask. Heck, Gundam seems to suffer greatly from this phenomenon. (Moon Princess and the Earth aristocracy in Turn A were...WEIRD...in how they interacted in order to make sure Moon Princess was where she needed to be for certain plot elements.)

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    It accomplishes communicating effectively by using a word as it is intended to be used... rather than giving it a new narrower definition to bolster an unnecessary argument.

    That is not the purpose of the word. The word "story" is under no obligation to help with that analysis.

    If that is your end goal... if the whole purpose of this debate is to break gaming into different preferential styles... then use existing words with their existing meanings to describe these gaming styles, rather than confuse us all by distorting a word to mean something other than its intended use.
    Quite. The part of this conversation which is confusing me is that I view things as going collaborative storytelling -> RPGs -> D&D where each component is a subsection of the previous one. Tanarii and Senior Killjoy seem to be going RPGs -> D&D -> collaborative storytelling utilizing a different definition of story which I am unfamiliar with.

    You can't say that collaborative storytelling is a useless way to describe RPGs or D&D because it is too broad any more than you could say that red is a useless way to describe a cherry because there are too many things which are red.
    Last edited by Tinkerer; 2018-01-03 at 03:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    It accomplishes communicating effectively by using a word as it is intended to be used... rather than giving it a new narrower definition to bolster an unnecessary argument.
    The uselessly broad definition ("any account of events") would appear to be the one that's bolstering an unnecessary argument.


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    That is not the purpose of the word. The word "story" is under no obligation to help with that analysis.
    Then the supposed purity of the word is more important than clear communication and constructive dialogue?


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    If that is your end goal... if the whole purpose of this debate is to break gaming into different preferential styles... then use existing words with their existing meanings to describe these gaming styles, rather than confuse us all by distorting a word to mean something other than its intended use.
    Not to break gaming into different preferential styles -- to avoid conflating already-different thought processes, approaches, etc, and to have useful terms (that don't require a page-long explanation every time they're used) for discussing different approaches and processes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Your concern seems to be with the focus of the gameplay, or maybe the priority, or something like that.

    Games that focus on making "storytelling" the priority are not your cup of tea.
    If the position that all roleplaying is "storytelling" is true, then I only have a choice between what amounts a "leveled up" board game, or a "storytelling" game, and I can't have anything to do with character, setting, consistency, etc, without focusing on "storytelling". If it's true, then there's no other approach to gaming, just varying intersections of "rules" and "story".

    "All gaming is storytelling" literally and directly dismisses as non-existent all approaches to gaming other than "gamist" and "story".
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    Quite. The part of this conversation which is confusing me is that I view things as going collaborative storytelling -> RPGs -> D&D where each component is a subsection of the previous one. Tanarii and Senior Killjoy seem to be going RPGs -> D&D -> collaborative storytelling utilizing a different definition of story which I am unfamiliar with.

    You can't say that collaborative storytelling is a useless way to describe RPGs or D&D because it is too broad any more than you could say that red is a useless way to describe a cherry because there are too many things which are red.
    For me, this has nothing to do with D&D. I washed my hands of D&D/d20 over two decades ago.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    If the position that all roleplaying is "storytelling" is true, then I only have a choice between what amounts a "leveled up" board game, or a "storytelling" game, and I can't have anything to do with character, setting, consistency, etc, without focusing on "storytelling". If it's true, then there's no other approach to gaming, just varying intersections of "rules" and "story".

    "All gaming is storytelling" literally and directly dismisses as non-existent all approaches to gaming other than "gamist" and "story".
    Real quick question here. How did you create your character's personality? You spoke previously on how you put yourself into your character's mindset so how did you create that?

    EDIT
    For me, this has nothing to do with D&D. I washed my hands of D&D/d20 over two decades ago.
    I was simply using that as an example. Feel free to replace with your system of choice.
    Last edited by Tinkerer; 2018-01-03 at 03:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    To me, the conflation of "story-driven" and "character-driven" seems to arise from still having no solid definition of "story" as its own, independent thing. I would argue that the best stories tend to be describable as "character-driven stories." That is, between the environment and the characters, the story arises naturally as characters are themselves, pursuing their own goals individually, jointly, and in opposition or alliance with the other characters. Man v Man, Man v Nature, Man v Self, and Man v Monster all, essentially, have Man - i.e., a character - as an essential element.

    The best I can do in constructing "story-driven" as a concept independent of "character-driven" is the notion of a sequence of events happening with actors performing actions to make it so, but which any "character" can be inserted into because the only characterization needed is "they could and would do this thing the plot needs done when it needs it done." I think that's a subset of "just-so" stories?

    I suspect that my definition is wrong, though, because it inevitably seems to be the kind of storytelling that, when it occurs, most annoys fans. "Why did anybody do what I just saw them doing?" they may ask. Heck, Gundam seems to suffer greatly from this phenomenon. (Moon Princess and the Earth aristocracy in Turn A were...WEIRD...in how they interacted in order to make sure Moon Princess was where she needed to be for certain plot elements.)

    I tried to lay it out like this:

    1) the needs of those gamers who love the elements of character, and setting, and thrive on verisimilitude and immersion, but whose experiences are impacted very negatively by structural story elements and various rules or approaches that foster those structural elements.

    2) the needs of those gamers who thrive on structural story elements and/or genre story elements to such an extent that they'll happily sacrifice close connection to a particular PC, immersion, verisimilitude, and/or other elements, to instead embrace what are sometimes called "narrative mechanics", encoding genre expectations in the rules, etc.

    It's the difference between looking at the character as a person-who-could-exist interacting with other people-who-could-exist in a world-that-could-exist... or looking at the character as fulfilling an archetype or narrative role and selecting the character one plays based on the sort of story one wants to tell.

    There was an assertion earlier in this thread that the character one decides to play DOES reveal what sort of story one wants to tell -- not CAN, not MIGHT, but rather DOES.

    It's that attitude that I'm fighting back against, the attitude that gaming IS storytelling, rather than CAN BE storytelling; the attitude that denies and dismisses even the possibility that some players DO NOT CARE what sort of story might emerge, don't make choices based on telling any sort of story, and whose choice of character has nothing to do with story.

    And if we can't use "story" because it supposedly means something too broad to make the critical distinction here, and we can't use "narrative" both because of its baggage from The Forge and because of other uses in gaming... then exactly what word do we use to distinguish the intentional and structural and archetypal and genre elements of storytelling that some gamers have NO use for, from the character and setting elements that they thrive on?
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    Real quick question here. How did you create your character's personality? You spoke previously on how you put yourself into your character's mindset so how did you create that?

    * Interest in what sort of character (as person-who-could-exist) I want to explore and get inside the mind of.
    * Sufficient compatibility with my own mental quirks that they're not impossible to play enjoyably.
    * Appropriateness to the setting (could this person come from this place) and campaign (would this person get involved in these situations).
    * Compatibility with group-based gameplay (don't make characters that are repeatedly a struggle to get involved).
    * Minimum required competence (don't make characters who can't at least carry their own bags, metaphorically speaking).


    I'm not looking at their narrative role, their archetype, what sort of story they "work" for, or anything of the sort.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Max_Killjoy, I'm still not understanding how you're defining "story" here. Your definitions focus on "the needs" of various kinds of players, rather than on what "story" is by your narrower, theoretically more useful definition. I'm really not arguing with you, as I don't disagree necessarily with what you've said, but I'm having a hard time discussing it intelligently while avoiding stepping into pedantic definitional arguments because I still don't get what you're defining "story" as.

    Can you at the least give examples of what would constitute "story-driven" tales that are not "character-driven," possibly by citing extant famous works? Preferably generally well-regarded ones, so we avoid any scoffing that "story-driven" is inherently negative as a trait. Unless you mean it to be inherently negative, in which case I fear I misunderstand more of what you've been saying than I thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The uselessly broad definition ("any account of events") would appear to be the one that's bolstering an unnecessary argument.
    Well... it is useful for all of us, and it is useful for Oxford, and Cambridge... so the fact that you personally find it useless is your problem rather than ours.

    Then the supposed purity of the word is more important than clear communication and constructive dialogue?
    Pshaw. It has nothing to do with purity. For me (and I'm assuming others), when I hear "story", something along the lines of "an account of a sequence of events" is what naturally comes to mind. As such, when I communicate with someone, that is what I mean when I say story.

    When this debate came up, you (and others) seemed to have a different understanding of the meaning of "story". So I thought "maybe my understanding of the word is wrong", and I looked it up. When I saw that my understanding of the word matched that of many others on this board, and matched the dictionary... I didn't see any reason to change how I use the word.

    It has nothing to do with "purity". I personally don't care if you use a different definition, as long as you make it clear what your definition is, so we can understand one another. But when you tell me that my definition is wrong, with nothing to back that up rather than your need to segregate a gaming style... then there is a problem.


    Not to break gaming into different preferential styles -- to avoid conflating already-different thought processes, approaches, etc, and to have useful terms (that don't require a page-long explanation every time they're used) for discussing different approaches and processes.
    But your use of the word DOES need a page long definition. It has taken dozens of posts on this thread before we had any idea what you were even talking about in the first place. And if you look at the post above from Segev, we still don't really know what you mean. So if you think your use of the word adds clarity, then you are very mistaken.

    If the position that all roleplaying is "storytelling" is true, then I only have a choice between what amounts a "leveled up" board game, or a "storytelling" game, and I can't have anything to do with character, setting, consistency, etc, without focusing on "storytelling". If it's true, then there's no other approach to gaming, just varying intersections of "rules" and "story".

    "All gaming is storytelling" literally and directly dismisses as non-existent all approaches to gaming other than "gamist" and "story".
    That is an utterly ridiculous argument. Once again you are drawing absurd conclusions. Nobody has said that the focus has to be storytelling, and nobody said you can't focus on character, setting, consistency etc.

    You can quite easily focus on other things and have "storytelling" be an inconsequential by-product of roleplaying.

    If I were to say that "everyone communicates while playing an RPG with others", would you go into a rant and say:
    "If the position that all roleplaying is 'communicating' is true, then I only have a choice between what amounts a 'solitaire' game, or a 'communicating' game, and I can't have anything to do with character, setting, consistency, etc, without focusing on 'communicating' "
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-01-03 at 04:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    * Interest in what sort of character (as person-who-could-exist) I want to explore and get inside the mind of.
    * Sufficient compatibility with my own mental quirks that they're not impossible to play enjoyably.
    * Appropriateness to the setting (could this person come from this place) and campaign (would this person get involved in these situations).
    * Compatibility with group-based gameplay (don't make characters that are repeatedly a struggle to get involved).
    * Minimum required competence (don't make characters who can't at least carry their own bags, metaphorically speaking).


    I'm not looking at their narrative role, their archetype, what sort of story they "work" for, or anything of the sort.
    And what do you do with those attributes when you have them? Do you write a back... wait, apparently that is a dirty word. Do you write a character history?
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Max_Killjoy, I'm still not understanding how you're defining "story" here. Your definitions focus on "the needs" of various kinds of players, rather than on what "story" is by your narrower, theoretically more useful definition. I'm really not arguing with you, as I don't disagree necessarily with what you've said, but I'm having a hard time discussing it intelligently while avoiding stepping into pedantic definitional arguments because I still don't get what you're defining "story" as.
    For the purposes of RPGs: structural elements such as arcs and curves and "try-fail cycles", conceptual elements such as themes and meaning, archetypes and narrative roles, genre expectations, etc. The sort of things that come with intentional storytelling as opposed to unintended but potential emergent story; things that separate an actual story from just a sequence of events.


    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Can you at the least give examples of what would constitute "story-driven" tales that are not "character-driven," possibly by citing extant famous works? Preferably generally well-regarded ones, so we avoid any scoffing that "story-driven" is inherently negative as a trait. Unless you mean it to be inherently negative, in which case I fear I misunderstand more of what you've been saying than I thought.
    I don't think taking examples from authorial fiction would be very illustrative. This is one of those spots where an RPG, even if approached as "fiction", is not the same as authorial fiction, which actually is all storytelling. The distinctions between different sorts of authorial fiction -- tales -- are not the same as the distinctions between different approaches to RPG gaming.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinkerer View Post
    And what do you do with those attributes when you have them? Do you write a back... wait, apparently that is a dirty word. Do you write a character history?
    There's nothing wrong with the word "backstory", it has plenty of utility. If someone really wants to call the character's life up to that point their "story", it's not worth arguing over or a horrible usage of the word.

    It's the assertion that the character's decisions, actions, and interactions in an RPG context going forward are inherently "a story" that I reject in total.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-03 at 04:55 PM.
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    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    Well... it is useful for all of us, and it is useful for Oxford, and Cambridge... so the fact that you personally find it useless is your problem rather than ours.

    Pshaw. It has nothing to do with purity. For me (and I'm assuming others), when I hear "story", something along the lines of "an account of a sequence of events" is what naturally comes to mind. As such, when I communicate with someone, that is what I mean when I say story.
    Dictionaries have the potential pitfall of trying so hard to accommodate all usages that they broaden a word to slop. This is one such case.

    If I tell my auto mechanic how my car was damaged, in straightforward factual terms -- "some idiot ran a red light and cut me off, I swerved to avoid him, then I hit the curb really hard" -- with no emotional content or intent other than to convey information, I'd never consider that a story, it's just a recounted set of facts with a chronological sequence. Even the idiot part isn't really a story or a fictional element... the guy ran a red light, he's an idiot, simple fact.


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    When this debate came up, you (and others) seemed to have a different understanding of the meaning of "story". So I thought "maybe my understanding of the word is wrong", and I looked it up. When I saw that my understanding of the word matched that of many others on this board, and matched the dictionary... I didn't see any reason to change how I use the word.

    It has nothing to do with "purity". I personally don't care if you use a different definition, as long as you make it clear what your definition is, so we can understand one another. But when you tell me that my definition is wrong, with nothing to back that up rather than your need to segregate a gaming style... then there is a problem.

    But your use of the word DOES need a page long definition. It has taken dozens of posts on this thread before we had any idea what you were even talking about in the first place. And if you look at the post above from Segev, we still don't really know what you mean. So if you think your use of the word adds clarity, then you are very mistaken.
    Before this debate came up, I'd never had people seriously insist that all RPG gaming is literally storytelling, or that all communication is storytelling, or that all thinking is storytelling, or that in some sense all of existence is "a story".

    The only people I've ever previously seen so determined to establish such a broad and all-encompassing meaning of "story" and "storytelling" and insist so steadfastly that all RPG gaming is "story" were people with a self-serving and fervent agenda to establish a line between their own specific style of gaming (what they called "narrative") and everything else, which was according to them badwrongfun, and might even cause brain damage...


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    That is an utterly ridiculous argument. Once again you are drawing absurd conclusions. Nobody has said that the focus has to be storytelling, and nobody said you can't focus on character, setting, consistency etc.

    You can quite easily focus on other things and have "storytelling" be an inconsequential by-product of roleplaying.
    So no one here has said that all RPG gaming is unavoidably and inevitably "storytelling"?

    No one has insisted that avoiding "story" is impossible unless you're, what was it, only rolling dice and killing stuff in a purely mechanical set of setpieces?


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    If I were to say that "everyone communicates while playing an RPG with others", would you go into a rant and say:
    "If the position that all roleplaying is 'communicating' is true, then I only have a choice between what amounts a 'solitaire' game, or a 'communicating' game, and I can't have anything to do with character, setting, consistency, etc, without focusing on 'communicating' "
    No.

    But thank you for once again demonstrating your willingness to resort to insulting little fallacies such as this false equivalency you've just attempted. It's hard to play a group game without any sort of communication, and the only way that communication is "storytelling" is if you fall back on the blithering nonsense of all communication being storytelling.


    ~~~~

    Honestly, this thread makes me miss gaming less than I used to, if this is the sort of garbage I'd run into if I tried to find another group.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-03 at 05:01 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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