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Realism and klokkverk

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Realism and klokkverk

Elsewhere, Dereel wrote:

I want to add a bit about Realism, as it is often lost in english translation and this muddles all discussions about Simulation. Klokwerk for instance, cares about ontological realism : that the fabric is "there", palpable, autonomously existent. Whereas a physics simulator wants to "feel" realistic, and it's totally OK if it's only make believe, if the feeling is right. I suspect that the near hegemony of aesthetic realism in US narrative production (and the near hegemony of US cinema in the world) makes it a "blind spot" to many. And don't start me on "gritty realistic" RPGs..

In philosophy, realism means that something is taken to actually exist. For example, Platon's theory of ideas is a realist theory, since the idea of, for example, a lion, would be taken to really exist. One should take note that a realist theory in this sense does not have to be realistic in any other sense of the word. I am using the word in the philosophical sense, here. It has nothing to do with calculating ballistics or having detailed rules or corresponding to reality or promoting immersion.

Here is my claim: Klokkverk is a realist philosophy of gaming, particularly with respect to the fiction.
On the other hand, no myth is an antirealist philosophy of gaming.

Klokkverk is realist because it takes the fiction as real, in the sense that it is meaningful to claim things about the fiction and they can be right or wrong; much as we can discuss the colour of Donald Duck's car. This does not mean that there has to be a parallel reality with elves and dragons and Donald Ducks (that would be an utter strawman); but still, reality in some sense. It has been a long time since I have read metaphysics or ontology, but at least I can mention that similar different levels of reality are present in Popper's three worlds: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popper's_three_worlds
Further than this, the players, and the referee to the extent possible, also treat the fiction as something really existing. It is bad form to do otherwise.

No myth is antirealist in the sense that it explicitly takes the fiction as something that is only there to the extent we see it. The players treat the fiction as something they manipulate and create at their immediate whims.

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exactly this

I can't say otherwise because I agree with that.

Only this :
You can start with "no myth" / unreal and build the myth at the table and then it's really "no info dump" X "élément of mythic play". That's what we do when we have a player chronicling a session : is only real what is said at the table. And what is said is usually true.

Or you keep it no myth / unreal, and only then is the term "whims" really appropriate : events happen, but it's all just water under the bridge, a dream inside a dream. In a way, that's what "pulp" means to me.

I am not making a point of these distinctions. I am using the concept of philosophical realism to demonstrate it's limits and usefulness. I find it clear and easy to use : what do you think ?

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Please offer a definition of "no-myth"

Hi Thanuir,

If you would be so kind, would you please offer a "working" definition of "no-myth" play. Given my strong entanglement with per-literate oral tradition myth I'm having all sorts of reactions to what you are saying. Rather than thrash at straw men a concise, or as concise as possible, definition of "no-myth" role-play would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Jay

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definition of No Myth

Not to speak for Thanuir if he has a different formulation in mind, but via Google I turned the following definitions that seemed fairly clear:

From the second link, the "myth" referred to "is the idea that things in the game world that the players don't know about have some kind of 'place' or 'existence' or 'identity.'" Based on the discussions on Story-Games we might also phrase it as "no hidden game state" or (using everyone's favourite technical term) "no blorb".

I don't think it is referring to myth or mythology in the anthropological or literary sense, except perhaps indirectly.

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Agreement

Or you keep it no myth / unreal, and only then is the term "whims" really appropriate : events happen, but it's all just water under the bridge, a dream inside a dream. In a way, that's what "pulp" means to me.

Certainly, in a longer game, the fictional reality starts accumulating and solidifying. The process is faster if the game takes place in a limited space (with respect to character, physical space, etc.) and slower if there is lots of travelling or a shifting caste of characters.

With respect to "no myth": As Bill wrote. Not really connected to Jay's mythic play or mythology.

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Setting or world

Can "philosophical realism" apply to game rules, and genre rules, too ? What would it mean to say that game rules exist in the fiction ? Some players like to have "associated rules", rules that "exist" in the fiction as they do at the table. I wonder if that's not philosophically unsound. I mean : a planet exists, but the law of gravity is true. It doesn't "exist". That's for a distinction I need between world (with objects and relations between objects) and setting (the objects only).

There are some other ways of being thought without being, like : the colour blue is seen, but does it exist ? Anyone knows of a clear concept that would cut through these ambiguities ? as a complement to philosophical realism, useful via analogy. That could be used to progress in the "associated rules" fog, for instance.

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Thank you!

Hello,

I just wanted to say, "Thank you," to both Billy for taking the time to research and Thanuir for confirming his intentions.

Best,

Jay

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I'm not sure the thesis buys us anything...

Hello Thanuir,

Though it may not appear so, I have been spending the last couple of days reading up on Fang's writings and just a tiny bit on Plato. I sucked at philosophy in college and apparently nothing has improved since then. I apologize in advance if I miss your point about "Realism" and Plato. I'm trying but I suspect I will fail in a truly spectacular fashion (Cue train wreck sounds).

On the most fundamental level we are engaged in a highly ritualized creative conversation of shared imaginings known as "role-playing" thus the whole hobby, by its very nature, is anti-realism. Whether one is playing Klockwerk or No-Myth or somewhere in between the whole process is fictional. Made up. It only exists as a process while players are engaged in the act. At the end of the ritual of role-play there may be memories but the evanescent action of role-play is no more. That being said I'm not seeing any difference between Klockwerk run games vs No-myth run games as both are members of the general imaginative activity called "role-play" (as described above). Point in fact for enjoyable play all modes of play require to the players to treat the fiction as if it were "real".

Even allowing that there is a difference between the two of many styles of play on a continuum (just for the sake of argument) I'm not sure it buys the hobby, play, theory or game design anything. That doesn't mean I'm closed to the idea, but that as it stands I'm just not seeing the difference as far as role-play and Realism is concerned. (To be sure, you are using the Platonic school, yes?)

Certainly, in a longer game, the fictional reality starts accumulating and solidifying. The process is faster if the game takes place in a limited space (with respect to character, physical space, etc.) and slower if there is lots of travelling or a shifting caste of characters.

The huge problem with this argument is that, at least according the Fang's writings, genre conventions are critical and have powerful implicit rules as to what is and is not physically in the world and what behaviors are allowed or not allowed. So while there are no printed rules there are huge amounts of implicit rules contained within the genre or the fictional universe (Star Wars FREX). In fact Fang drove home the point that the more developed the source "universe" the better. Thus the very title "No-myth" can be misleading as there are plenty of implicit rules and "objects of reality" contained within the world.

Actually given a conversation between Vincent Baker (lumpley) and Fang Langford (Le Joueur) (here is the other) it seems the point of "No-Myth" play was to play on the lumpley principle's primary statement that mechanics primary role is to determine who gets to say what. The consensus issue was a (very) distant second. Vincent explicitly stated that if mechanics absolutely had to be invoked to determine who got to say what then there was something wrong at the table. IOW a solid gaming group would only lightly, or maybe not at all, require recourse to mechanics to determine who got to say what. Vincent and Lang both felt that mechanics were best employed as a means to inspire players to creative actions. Fang's "No-myth" game style was an experiment on the role of mechanics and ultimately the lumpley principle which Vincent thought was pretty cool. Nowhere was the discussion of mechanics tied to "reality".

Best,

Jay

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That's a good point : using

That's a good point : using metaphysics AND analogies is a very un-pragmatic start. Maybe it doesn't "buy" anything. Thats why I have stated a possible pragmatic purpose for the tool, something we can validate with a test.

(I find Baker's original intent or Le Joueur's other writings interesting but irrelevant.)

I agree that "for enjoyable play all modes of play require to the players to treat the fiction as if it were "real"." I also think there's no scale of realism, and that Klokverk doesn't apply Realism to everything in the fiction. Only the usual : NPC, magic items, landscapes milieu. The question I have is : can we make meaningful differences based on what is the object of Realism : NPCs, geography, events, genre conventions, drowning rules, etc.
Like : " I think PbtA is really Realism applied to genre conventions" for instance. Maybe there is a simpler obvious way to say that.

This is my question but there are others as valid. ..

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Hi DeReel,

Hi DeReel,

As I have said I'm supremely awful philosopher and have a terrible time navigating ideas in this milieu. Basically I'm apologizing if I'm missing your point entirely at the beginning of my effort. If I understand what I've read about Platonic "Realism" is even somewhat near the mark Plato broke reality into 3 realms. The sensible world, for lack of a better term. The internal world of human consciousness and the Platonic ideals which can include what we now call abstractions such as "properties, types, propositions, meanings, numbers, sets, truth values, and so on". The highest and most perfect realm was that of the Ideals which is where "reality" truly dwelt - objective Truths. From these ideals the instantiations of the sensible are drawn but which are flawed and incomplete. In a way it could be argued that the more rules and mechanics a game has the more it functions in the lowest and most flawed realm. While a game that functions primarily in the mind (the SIS) with decisions based on concepts that are drawn directly from the same realm of the mind (the SIS) is closer to the ideal of Platonic Realism (functioning primarily at the higher level of the conscious mind) than the highly physical Klockwerk with all its physically printed mechanics and bookkeeping.

It would seem to me that an RPG that prioritizes functioning mostly in the mind is closer to the Platonic ideal of "Realism" than one that is runs so deeply in the sensible realm of physical instantiations like Klockwerk. Consider Klockwerk fundamental notion that if something doesn't exist in the physical realm then it cannot exist in the fictional realm which is precisely the opposite of Platonic "Realism". Also note the focus on the physical (pre-written notes on the world no improv creativity, volumes of resolution mechanics) as the true reality is in direct contradiction of Platonic "Realism" which places the realm of the Ideal as the highest level of Reality. Not just the highest form of "Reality" but the very realm from which the sensible world is instantiated from.

No-Myth which functions much more in the realm of concepts that exist at the level of the Ideals is actually closer to Platonic "Realism" than Klockwerk.

As far as using a school of philosophy as a guide to game design...why not?

As far as using a school of philosophy as a tool to approach role-play theory...why not? Again I'm not sure how the hobby benefits but then we won't know until someone makes the effort. There is nothing wrong theorizing for its own sake. Looking into how something works or just musing about it is perfectly valid. However, I am leery of declaring which classes of games as exemplars of school of philosophy (with subtle suggestions that a game style is better for matching said philosophy) in a few sentences ripe for abuse.

Best,

Jay

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This is one version

In Plato's version, Ideas are things that truly exist. I didn't think of associating SIS and platonic Ideas. What is the use of SIS ?

In Klokverk, magic mirrors are (some of the) things that truly exist. In many games, mechanics and random tables model laws of the world, so it seems that relations between objects also can be treated as Real. That's way ahead of Plato, so I propose we dump the old man.

I agree with you : Plato thinks ideas are better than matter, but that's just him. We don't need to rank games or play styles : I only want to see what they treat as Real, and see if that concept makes communication easier.

Many trad games insisted on having real Physics (among which, Magic), real Geography, real Characters, real Situations. Written material made sure they could not be changed. Klokverk is like making that, lasting in time.

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