Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Big Model +

This is what Vincent and I talked about this weekend, how the concepts of Social and Technical Agenda fit into the structure of Ron's Big Model. This is mostly for people who are into that sort of thing already -- it isn't intended as an explication or an introduction.

Just so we are all on the same page:

1) This is not an prescription, it is a description. We aren't saying "good play looks like this" but "all play looks like this.

2) This is a new structure, based on previous theory, and it might be wrong. We haven't discussed it or thought about it or anything.

3) This is strictly about tabletop games. LARP, as I discussed previously, is a separate but related concern.

Here's the structure.

Social Agenda | Creative Agenda | Technical Agenda
Social Contract| Exploration | Techniques
* E * P * H * E * M * E * R * A *

Things on the top row, we could call "agenda" or "goals." Things on the middle row we could call "system" or "rules." The last row is Ephemera, or the row of actual events in the course of actual play. I could have divided it up into the social, creative, and technical columns, but I really think each instance of play actually involves all three of these categories.

Now, check this out: Your social agenda is fulfilled (or not) by your social contract. Your creative agenda is fulfilled (or not) by your exploration. Your technical agenda is fulfilled (or not) by your techniques. So arrows of support go up, right?

Now, also, your social contract is fulfilled (or not) by your creative agenda. Your creative agenda is supported (or not) by both exploration and technical agenda. Your exploration is supported (or not) by your technical agenda. Everything in the model is supported, or not, by the events of play (Ephemera level.) So arrows of support also go diagonal down-left and, in one case, over.

Does that make sense to people?


Blogger Harlequin said...

Yes. Very solid. I'm with you just about all the way.

The last bit, with the intricate diagonal arrows and stuff, I'm less sure about. At this point I think it's basically down to the fact that in order to "score" points in any of the top row categories, it's capped by the score in the other two. A sufficiently satisfied technical agenda is a prerequisite for a well-satisfied creative one, and so forth. It's the arrows straight up which do all the heavy lifting, IMO.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about Technical Agenda since our conversation.

In my technical agenda post, uh here, I was very careful to say that a technical agenda is not something a person has, but something a ruleset - a body of techniques - has. This is what I meant when I said that technical agenda is at 90 degrees to creative agenda.

I don't think people have technical agendas to be fulfilled-or-not. I think that your game's technical agenda informs your play, through its techniques, which then fulfills or fails to fulfill your creative agenda.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Ron Edwards said...


Works for me, especially with Vincent's point that we aren't talking about either of these things:

a) stuff "outside" the actual interactions of the real people

b) stuff "inside" the heads of individual people in some kind of essentialist way

Instead, we're talking about what really is happening among the people.

So yeah, again, this works for me.


2:58 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Vincent -- Hmm...


Does a game text have a technical agenda, or does a rules set have a technical agenda. I am using "rules" apropos of your most recent post to include played textual rules and principled decisions and excluded textual rules not played.

'cause it seems to me that the rules is something that the group makes, and thus the group can be said to have a technical agenda?


3:29 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Eric -- The arrows, in my head, are in flux *as we speak*

Ron -- Yup, amongst people.

(sarcasm) I mean, we are talking about role-playing here, right? Not novel writing or music or something. Role-playing. Which is, if I recall it correctly, something that only happens amongst groups of people. (end of sarcasm)

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a game text, a ruleset. But it's definitely the ruleset, not its creator(s), that has the agenda.

Now that's not to say that the designer (be it me over here, or the group in action) doesn't have goals, preferences and tastes. But it's more like "I want this ruleset to be more roughshodist than it is, how do I make it so?" It's the rules that are roughshodist, not the person.

Kind of, um, kind of like how it's play that's Narrativist or Simulationist or Gamist, not people.

(And I shoulda been using the plural all along, here. Technical agendas aren't mutually exclusive.)

But is that really the important stuff? Say more about social agenda!

4:08 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Okay, but you know how we slip up sometimes and say "Narrativist" about a person? Can I do that with technical agenda?

The plural of is "agenda." The singular is "agendum."

What more about social agenda do you want me to say?

4:50 AM  
Blogger Ron Edwards said...

Long experience has taught me that if you aren't careful, people are going to project what should be all about us, interacting, into (a) some damn text or "the game" as an exterior concept, or (b) the weird pseudo-space inside people's heads, or worse, what they claim goes on in there, regardless of what they really did and said.

So, re: my post - I don't think the sarcasm is merited. I provided some context which really just echoed Vincent. I didn't see you giving him the sarcastic raspberry.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ron -- The goal was absolutely to be sarcastic to said people, and not to you. I'm familiar with that sort of mix-up (I even used to do it myself) so my goal was a gentle mockery of those people and my old self, not mockery of you for making sure about it.

Intention: Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to clarify the very simple basics all the damn time?

(Apparent) Effect: I'm mocking you and your stupidity, you big dorcus maximus!


FWIW, I think that pretty much my entire above post to Vincent has a sarcastic tone in it.

Wild west out here, in blogland. No blood, no foul?


10:11 AM  
Blogger Jasper McChesney said...

For me, a visual always helps, so I did one up (accurately I hope):

7:36 PM  

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