Saturday, 6 October 2018

Considering firing up the blog for a longer post

Bear with me and have a read of this essay on RPG theory in the mean time.

4 comments:

patchworkZombie said...

It is interest to contrast his focus on a Scientific theory of games with David Chapman's account of how design theories are utterly difference from science. And how you can really fuck up if you get them confused. meaningness.com/metablog/artificial-intelligence-progress

I believe that since you're a game designer you're probably interested in design theory rather than critical theory. In talking about the uselessness of academic theory, zak doesn't seem to make the distinction between the different purposes of different kinds of theory.
Design theory doesn't focus on testable predictions (because you're trying to make a game not predict it) but on providing a guide for reaching interesting territory. A theory is like a style; it is good if it assists you in making interesting games. It does not need to guide in making EVERY kind of interesting game, because the existence of one theory doesn't deny the possibly of others.

Basically he prefaces his article by explaining why these people are bad and an existential threat to good games, but if their theories and discourse style truly are terrible, I think that his best response would be to ignore their existence while he and his colleagues work within his own school of theory.

Zak Sabbath said...

@patchworkZombie

"Design theory doesn't focus on testable predictions'

If true, there is no good reason for that.

And, especially, worse than no good reasons to make statements presented as fact that aren't fact.

Even if you draw a distinction between "design theory" and "scientific theory" if you say "X can't happen in the world" and it can, you have done harm to every single person who had to read that.

So you're totally wrong.

" if their theories and discourse style truly are terrible, I think that his best response would be to ignore their existence while he and his colleagues work within his own school of theory."

This is objectively terrible advice.

It's also a good example of bad theory:

You're saying "If you want x result, you should do y thing" Well: people DID y thing (ignore bad theory) for years, and it made the RPG community worse. Good projects were getting shot down , bad things were being promoted, bad social practices were being promoted, harassment campaigns were started in the name of the Owlbear Fallacy

(
1. I like (say) owlbears.
2. Most people like owlbears.
3. Owlbears are therefore the popular choice.
4. Owlbears are therefore the moneymaking choice.
5. Refusing to include owlbears in your game is therefore a bad business decision.
6. Refusing to include owlbears in your game is therefore an act of arrogance or ignorance.
7. Refusing to include owlbears in your game is failing to listen to the wise and deserving people in your fanbase or company.
8. Refusing to include owlbears in your game is therefore morally wrong.
)

So, no:

Saying things that aren't true as if they were isn't a morally neutral thing, and the best thing to do with evil is not ignore it.

There's extensive proof of this.

patchworkZombie said...

OK, I think we might be talking past eachother. I'm part of the roguelike community but not part of the RPG community, so when you talk about the Owlbear Fallacy I don't know the events that you're referring to. When you say ''if you say "X can't happen in the world"'' I don't know the events you're referring to.

An example of a design theory is Timmy Johnny and Spike in magic the gathering https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/timmy-johnny-and-spike-2013-12-03

You can see that it doesn't matter that scientifically this theory is radically incomplete because there are innumerable people who enjoy or would enjoy MtG in different ways. This purpose of this design theory to ensure that a particular part of the design space gets adequately explored.
The way to criticize a design theory is by the quality of games it produces compared to other theories.
The way to criticize a non design theory being applied to design is "This will not lead to a better game"

Harassment campaigns are a separate issue from
1) a theory being inapplicable to RPG
2) a scientific theory making false claims
and because they are a separate issue they would demand a different response.

Zak Sabbath said...

@patchworkzombie

No. Harassment campaigns are a predictable result of the belief system you're proposing.

This is what has happened, repeatedly:

If a given course of action is believed to be _morally wrong_ then people feel licensed to take aggressive action against that course of action.

If that course of action is, actually, not morally wrong (it's just, for instance, a bunch of Timmys not realizing designing for Spike is ok) then the

misinformation

that

there is no reason

to design for Spike

other than a

morally questionable

one


is responsible for that harassment.

As is, partially, the false claim you just made in your first comment that the best way to deal with bad theory is to ignore it.

People have followed the

exact

course of cation you proposed and it lead to bad outcomes. So: it's a bad theory and you should not have said it. And it's very very good that I am here to point that out, lest someone uncritically

1) Read your advice
2) Follow it
3) and thereby allow more bad outcomes