Lost rules.

So over the weekend I had coffee-and-talk with Jason from Genesis of Legend, and among the meandering and many-many-lots recommendations shared[1], I had some thoughts that were turning into a post on the difference between video games and tabletop RPGs.

Then there was a Windows Update and a reboot.

(The gist of it, roughly, was that you expect to have everything necessary to play a video game, but you are expected to bring additional knowledge to the worldbuilding of an RPG–sometimes obvious, sometimes specific–and therefore they require a greater effort.)

There was also something about the difference between games (with rules) and toys (without them), which was basically a clumsy exploration of ideas expressed in one of Chris DeLeon’s essays on the topic, which are honestly very worth reading.

[1] If anyone out there has not read Strong Female Protagonist, may I sing its praises? Right then. Carry on.

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Walking Dead: No Going Back

(Yes, well, it’s the holidays. I can’t use the mouse too much, but games which are heavily or primarily keyboard-accessible? I am all over those.)

So, I finished Walking Dead: Season 2–the story game, not the TV show, definitely not the Walking Dead™: Survival Instinct game which from what I’ve heard is absolutely terrible–and it was good. (I generally find the Telltale Games stuff to be really good; the only work of theirs I haven’t picked up is the Game of Thrones one, and if they ever do a 100 Bullets game I will probably go missing for several hours at regularly spaced intervals. I find they don’t branch as much as the Choice of Games narrative fiction, but they are very good at inspiring an emotional connection with the characters.)

Anyway, the game’s been out for a year or for four months (depending on whether you count from the first or last episode), but I realize some people may not have played it yet, so I’m putting the rest behind a cut. Continue reading “Walking Dead: No Going Back”

Yellow and blue.

Look, happy polygons!
Look, happy polygons!

There’s a nifty post going around, The Parable of the Polygons. It’s a study of how small preferences within a society end up producing larger divisive trends within a society, explained through cute little flash games with yellow triangles and blue squares. They’re nice triangles and squares! And you drag them and drop them and move them around, until they’re happy or at least not unhappy. (They can end up “meh”, too.)

What gets me particularly is about the eighth game (anything with a “reset” button under it can be played; it’s just the larger boards, with the dark backgrounds, that look most like games. So: the eighth game, or the fourth big game) is that it shows what happens when you get people without bias in an already segregated society.

What happens? Nothing.

See what doesn’t happen? No change. No mixing back together. In a world where bias ever existed, being unbiased isn’t enough! We’re gonna need active measures.

I am trying to remember this. Because this is not a world with zero bias, and it is useful to remember that correction of existing divisions is not something that happens just because you aren’t actively bad.

You need to be good. You need– I need to be better. I need to actively work to put stuff I’m not used to seeing in the tiny slice of the world that I have curated for placement in front of my nose.

Because it isn’t going to happen by itself.