Nothing earth-shattering, just a really well-written article on the need to cooperate as participants in a shared endeavor.Communication Within the Gaming Group
(Note that the use of social contract
is completely independent of other usages in RPG theory, and actually a lot closer to the concept as used in political theory.)
This sentence however set off some bells, "There is usually very little debate on issues like the two examples given above: questions of procedure, rules application and rules interpretation are intimately related to the power structure created by the division of the group into the GM and the players, and gamers rarely disagree over who should be the one to make such decisions in a game."
I've been thinking a lot about power
in RPGs lately.
What intrigues me is the connection between power and communication, and how "social contract" (in any sense) doesn't fully account for the way power works. Related to this is the fact that power is quite different from "authority" as that term is often used in RPG theory.
Where I'm going with this is that RPGs are...or can entail...power structures to which the participants subordinate themselves, or at least pretend to. This self-subordination to imaginary constructs is closely tied to what I think of as immersion
. For my purposes it's worth noting that the power structures are trivially manipulable by the participants, yet nearly impossible to pin down completely. There may be consent, but "informed consent" is preferably held at arms length.
As often before, much of my thoughts are inspired by reading Chris Lehrich's writings on bricolage in RPGs, Markus Montola's invisible rules of role playing
(warning: PDF; also here
in a Forge thread), and Malcolm Sheppard (passim
). Also worth thinking about is the concept of "agency" and its limits, as Jonathan Walton described on the 20x20 room a while ago.