Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vocabulary: Play

I want to introduce a new way of talking about game texts and actual play.

See, the phrase "game of Ars Magica" can mean either the Ars Magica game text, a play session of Ars Magica, an ongoing Ars Magica chronicle, or the Ars Magica rules taken as a whole concept through time.

This is stupid, and gets actual play confused with game text, which are too things so radically different that I cannot explain if you don't get it. It's like confusing a videocamera with a movie.

Very frustrating for us theorists.

Thus, starting a week or so ago, I've decided I'm going to use new vocabulary.

Actual play of role-playing games will be not be called "a game," but rather "a play." Game rules sets and text I'm still calling "games."

As in "Vincent, Meg and Emily's on-going freeform Ars Magica play" or as in "good play last night, guys. Same time next week?" or "That Polaris play we did with Ben really sucked ass. He doesn't know how to play his own game."

Essentially, I'm just taking the active (to play) and participant (a player) words and extending them into a noun.

Much less confusing, and reasonably intuitive.


Blogger Brendan said...

Why not "session?"

11:19 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

"session" only refers to a specific unit of play.

Play, as a noun, is less specific. Talking about "Bob's L5R play" and it means his whole on-going thing.


11:24 PM  
Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

If you're going for decreased ambiguity, I'd highly suggest you stop using "game" altogether. Use "play" for an ongoing roleplaying experience, use "text" for the roleplaying book. Use "product line" for a roleplaying series through many supplements and editions. Use "game night" or something for the social experience of getting friends together to play. If you leave "game" anywhere, it will still be confused with the other meanings.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's like confusing a videocamera with a movie.

No, it's like confusing a script with a movie. Things like dice and cards would be the equivalents of videocameras.

1:29 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Hi, Adam.

It's a non-exact metaphor but, then again, so's your "script." I would say that the "script" of a play, if any, would be the character sheets and GM notes, not the rules text.


2:13 AM  
Blogger jhkim said...

I use "session" for one-time act of play, and "campaign" for the ongoing series -- but I'll also use "play" as a general term. i.e. "Ars Magica play tends to be focused on a static geographic area, as opposed to Torg play which features picaresque wandering."

But I'll say "Good session last night." to refer to a specific instance. I think all three have their uses.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm here with you, basically.

If role-playing is looked as a game, it has rules such as these:

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Forgot to sign)

- Markus

3:48 PM  

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