Why don't I post to more threads, instead preferring to just snipe from my LJ?
I think it's partly because forum discussions have a way of getting out of hand as multiple people line up on each side of an issue. There are people I'd just as soon ignore which I can't, because their inane comments get picked up by the thread at large. And then there are people whom I'd just as soon not have on my side but I'd rather not waste time disowning.
On top of that, I often feel like the comments I have are, in a way, a threadjack. Not really on topic, but not worth starting a new thread over.
Anway, "So, what's deprotagonization anyway?"
is indeed worth a look, at least at this moment, mainly because of the contributions of Marco, Brand Robins, and walkerp.
What I find especially interesting is the connection between "genre" and the subjective experience of deprotagonization. Marco basically steps into the conversation with a set of descriptive definitions--what the word means as various people use it--while walkerp and Brand offer prescriptive or normative definitions. Marco's first and third defintions jibe with how walkerp and Brand use the term: deprotagonization is when you think you're the protagonist of one kind of story only to find that "what you can do as your character" is nothing to do with that kind of story.
E.g. (stolen from the thread), if you know you're in a zombie horror flick, it's not deprotagonizing to have your brain eaten. That's what you're there for, arguably, the sense of creeping doom. OTOH, if you expect to kick ass with a shotgun, cut off some heads with chainsaws, and then save the town, getting turned into a zombie halfway through the game is deprotagonizing.
That's basically the argument. I'm probably not doing it full justice and in any case it's easier to understand in terms of the cool super spy or muscle-y barbarian who fumbles (as Brand offers in his example).
But the funny thing is (yes, here's my gotcha), the concept here depends on supporting
genre expectations instead of challenging them. In those terms, is demanding protagonization a form of insisting on safe play? Possibly, although one could equally say that it's a form of focus, a way to get to interesting questions instead of being bogged down. E.g., if you are interested in playing out a PC's efforts to rescue his girlfriend from the villain, you could be honestly interested in whether he succeeds or not. Like, if you compare the comic-book and film versions of Spider-Man's conflict with the Green Goblin (comic book: Gwen Stacy dies
; film: Mary Jane lives): you can see that both work. Neither is "deprotagonizing". But it would be if it was a game where the player had no input into the outcome. Suppose the GM had already determined the result--here, really, there's no way the GM could legitimately argue about "realism" if the kidnapping was itself a result of GM discretion. Or if the kidnapping had been something that the player was given a fair chance to prevent, would it be "good GMing" to subsequently play out the bridge scene knowing that Gwen was dead (or going to die from whiplash)? Or would it just be jerking the player around? And furthermore how worthwhile would it be if the hero doesn't even make it to the big fight because of a traffic jam, a flat tire or something?
(Please don't tell me that Spidey wouldn't have to worry about traffic. Look beyond the crappiness of the example if you can. Thanks.)
Personally I do not know where I stand on all of this. I find the idea of the spy spilling a drink on himself while trying to be suave to be somewhat liberating, actually, because it means the game isn't bound to genre conventions. On the other hand, genre may often be necessary just to get the game off the ground. Not many people would engage in the endeavors of the typical PC, if they expected to encounter the sorts of things that the player
of that PC actually wants
to have happen, and then experience the realistic consequences of those things. Consciousness of genre is one thing that helps bridge the gap.