A Very Deep Secret

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Wed May 16 21:22:49 EDT 2001

> Sorry Ven, I was mostly replying to Laurel and indirectly to Neil a 
> while back on synchronicity... and to myself a few years ago.

no problem
> Of course, playing CAN be serious, and I think that's part of my 
> point; the line that gets crossed when play turns into earnest is in 
> social terms a dangerous one, but makes for interesting discussion. 
> Play that isn't at some level in earnest is just trivia, but I think 
> most of the play I enjoy is simultaneously safe and in dead earnest 
> (certainly a lot of "let's pretend" like Fiona and Polly's at the 
> beginning of F&H has meaning to the kids involved).

Playing on the interface between fantasy and reality I think of  as 
walking a very thin line over a very deep valley. Its only when 
someone/thing makes you look down that vertigo sets in. During 
the British version`of Big Brother a guy who will forever more be 
known as "Nasty Nick" was caught cheating and got thrown out. 
"But it was only a game," he said "What does it matter?" "If it's 
only a game" I wanted to shout at the TV "Why bother to cheat?"  

I play in a long running RPG group. The way characters are created 
and interact continually blurs the lines. One way is how the game 
can sometimes focus conflicts between players. I like everyone I 
play with but I had a longstanding sociopolitical disagreement with 
one guy (it actually goes rather deep, for personal reasons on both 
sides, and involves our attitudes to crime and punishment but thats 
all I'm gonna say).  Sometimes our characters like each other but 
on two occasions they've clashed big style. The first time nobody's 
character liked anybody else's and the campaign more or less 
came to an end after half the characters had a fist fight at one end 
of a corridor whilst the others were under attack at the front. In 
terms of the game we were playing -- amassing experience ponts 
whilst not getting your character killed -- this was just stupid, 
something else was providing the momentum, I can only call it a 
kind of psychodrama.  The second time my character was an 
undercover assassin so I was playing someone who was 
pretending to be somebody else. And for all sorts of reasons he 
despised the other guy's character. Before long we really had the 
needle for each other and argued, in character, at least once a 
session and I kept asking my boss for permission to do him in. All 
the characters were in the army, I (oops I mean my character <g>) 
was spying for a particular political faction.  
The DM was asking all players of literate characters to turn in 
written reports of our activities. The cover identity of mine was 
illiterate, but he was turning in secret reports to his secret boss -- 
so the other players wouldn't know I'd hide them somewhere in the 
flat and tell the DM in a note. Eventually my rival did something 
rather stupid so I recomended him for demotion and he was 
stripped of his rank. Ho ho. But, lets face it, who was really getting 
at who? 

Hmm I digressed a bit there I think...............

> Fiction and play are similar in this regard... it feels like there's 
> probably a deep connection in there somewhere. Interesting idea to 
> parallel the kind of fantasy writing I was talking about to games: 
> are there any games in which what is being "played at" is itself 
> about games: rules-making, push-pull dynamics, competitive vs 
> cooperative play, etc.
> Hmmm. more food for thought.

Makes my brain hurt ................

If all the good people were clever,
And all clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever
We thought that it possibly could.

Dame Elizabeth Wordsworth, Good and Clever 1990
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