Friday, January 20, 2017

My disagreement against RPG Theory organization efforts

Reposting my responses Against RPG Theory which is really a RPG Hypothesis since it hasn't been tested. At the end is a moderators comment in red.
Quote Originally Posted by kwickham View Post
This thread is confusing, detached, and abstract.

Anyone that experienced the 90s knows some practical reasons why players stopped playing RPGs to the degree that affected the sales of RPGs. Erickson calls it a stage where 'intimacy and isolation' become more important than games played in youth. In other words, those individuals that flocked to escape into fantasy worlds of teenage life in the 80s 'grew out of book RPGs' as relationships developed and families were started. And the workforce became more important than gaming with friends who no longer were gaming in book form.

In addition, competition from new mediums such as video game systems with 'save spots' and memory cards in RPG adventures such as super nintendo ('91), playstation ('95), and nintendo 64 ('96) also helped contribute. My former gaming friends were then playing video game console RPGs rather than spending time purchasing vast tombs of books needed to experience group pen & paper RPGs. I could either spend $50 to buy a RPG such as FF VII or Diablo and receive a somewhat similar experience of having gone through an adventure.

Online RPG games of the late 90s helped bring back the social experience that lacked in earlier 90s console games. Everquest, World of Warcraft, Lineage, etc. All for a monthly subscription.

If anything, the RPG community became behind the times. Maybe because of stuff like these theory arguments where designers were blaming the system rules and content - not understanding fully the psycho-social and demographic shifts. Products have life cycles. If there was a 'Dark Age of RPG', I know I helped contribute to after leaving RPGs of book form literally in my apartment dumpster.

I tried to look at some of this theory-crap, which seems about as useless as the stuff that the theories tried to call crap. I judge any theory by how practical and results oriented that resulted from those theories. I'm not impressed with any of the products that are listed resulting and are attributed to followers of the theory. I don't see anything that has lasted down to today from the list that I saw. So I judge all of the theories impractical and will not lead to any noticeable fruits of adherence. For any theory to be true, after testing the theory, the results of such theory must be repeatedly confirmed. If not, it is wrong and should be changed. In science, people that make claims that do not work and are pseudo-scientific are called quacks.

Coming back to gaming after 25 years, I was just looking for a system that fulfilled most of my gaming needs for my own setting. I was told at least twice that the setting and the game were integral which could not be detached. I strongly disagree. As long as the gaming mechanics emphasize the most important elements I'm seeking for my style of play.

RPG theory seems like any cult following that will promise gold, wealth, and happiness that instead leads to a waste of time and focus.

Quote Originally Posted by kwickham View Post
I think that any timeline of evolving quality of game is fake and has been constructed to fit quackery theory. The theory tries to qualify game systems, which is fake in itself.

example: 1) Here are these qualities of a well-made and highly effective game which we've decided on which fits the games that we enjoy. 2) These games don't have these, so they suck. 3) These new games from our adherents have those qualities, so they don't suck.

The real bar to measure games is commercial success. One of these 'well-made' games, if they don't succeed commercially aren't really 'well made'.

The idea of 'well-designed' is fake and false. The real ideal is what 'sells' and 'what doesn't sell'. And there is no formula or principles that can accurately predict those factors in any form of entertainment. It's more 'lucky' vs 'unlucky'.

Even if we look at something that seems like it could be accurate such as 'playtesting' I'd like to see the numbers showing success rates resulting from X# playtesting hours vs games that lack playtesting success rates. In the articles that I read, I saw a lot about preaching the need for playtesting to fix flaws and rules that don't fit the purpose of the system. I've been a part of playtesting a few games the last few years. In those playtesting groups, suggestions and problematic areas vary greatly. Playtesting, in my opinion can lead games down the wrong path and away from their initial ideas. Playtesting isn't a good method to create a game. It can only find small bugs and help edit already existing concepts.

Magic the gathering, video games, and even smartphone apps are direct competition with traditional RPG games. Traditional RPG games should be very afraid of Pokemon GO and Minecraft. Because that brings almost the same experience to these younger players, using a new medium. If I were a RPG gaming developer of any kind, I would be trying to transport my RPG rules into a 3D smartphone app. Because the next gen of teens is going to expect it. If not, they will be left out once again. And sit around wondering 'is it because the system isn't well written'?

The second wave of interest in RPGs, I attribute to the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter movies. These things brought back teens to fantasy books and reading adventures. It's not that they were written any better.

Quote Originally Posted by kwickham View Post
It doesn't pay to be great, if no one buys your stuff.

Okay, a film analogy.
The film critics and film students are wrong.

The problem is that film critics and students are taught what was great in the past. They mistakenly assume that what sold back then, will sell today. Demographics and tastes change.

Paramount and Dreamworks got lucky with Transformers in that several series were nearing their end, and people were ready for something else. The Matrix III, Resident Evil Extinction, Sam Raimi's Spiderman III, Xmen III Last Stand, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer heralding the end or near end of other Scifi series. Transformers 4 has been critically been chastised as being awful. Yet had they not made that movie - had it been stuck in pre-production, they wouldn't have made 1.104 billion.

But had they looked towards that failed movie cartoon in the past, they may not have even done the movie.

Transformers the Movie (1986) budget 6 mil, box office sales 5.8 mil (failed to recuperate profits), Hasbro lost 10 mil in total costs including advertisement.

They would have failed to see that there is still public interest in "Transformers".

However the tastes have changed recently. The scifi demographics have shifted from Transformers to Star Wars. People are ready for something new.

Bringing this back to rpg games, the gaming consumers are the ones that define what is good or good enough. Like it or not, the most important games are the ones on top of the sales list, despite anyone's artistic or design subjective principles.

Good art and design does not exist outside of society and culture. They are relative, subjective, and changing. Art and design don't matter. I said that subjective quality doesn't matter, rather it is a little inspriational luck, timing, and sales.

But people don't like hearing how little control that they have and how chaotic results may be. They would rather follow quackery and 10-steps to success formulas knowing that they followed the formula despite the outcome.

Why is it that successful game makers are not the ones creating these 'great game' definitions?

Who defines quality and what will remain and endure? Certainly not the critics and students. 'Quality' is consumer defined. It's 'they' who decides to buy the products. Creators need a little inspiration, luck, and timing - not quackery principles created by critics. Otherwise all or most film students would be creating a constant stream of commercial successful films.

But they don't... Why not?

The critic is flawed, wrong, and maybe emotionally too attached to wrong principles. The consumers are right. Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Scrabble, and Monopoly are 'the top five boardgames' until tastes change.

If it's 'terrible' and 'unfun' then that is subjective rather than social-culturally defined. And the social-cultural defined tastes always trumps individually defined 'quality' with their money spent.

Quote Originally Posted by kwickham View Post
RPG critic theory is in no way in the same league as culinary science. I would never equate culinary cooking science with quack RPG theories. Cooking techniques have been refined over thousands of years through trial and error. There are proven track records to back up the various techniques and processes. RPGs are nowhere in that league of knowledge. Almost nothing in RPG theory is proven. I'd compare it to a closer time frame product that is more recent such as video games or cellphone apps.

And as for the chef analogy, if a chef can't bring in people to eat his or her own creative foods and increase sales progressively to compete in the local market, then for sure they will be headed towards working at McDonalds. A chef has to look at their bottom line or fold no matter how creative or ingenious that they think they are.

Maybe many in the industry have been lulled into comfort because they don't depend on RPG sales for their primary income.

I cite Occam's Razor: Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Judging a game by sales is the method with the fewest assumptions.

I use different 'P' words - pragmatic or practical at best.

Earlier, I did mention that people dislike chaos, chance, and hoping for right timing.

The illusion and lure of of promising steady, constant, and reliable criteria from a cult of personality is needy, weak, and deceptive at a minimum. I don't know, maybe it is comforting to hear during a time of low sales. "At least my game is critically acclaimed". However, someone who writes 'critically acclaimed game' is trying to do what? Sell more games.

Theories are just there to try controlling critique, in hopes of increasing sales and decreasing sales of stuff that is actually selling well. It's more of a jealousy thing and a coping method to avoid self-esteem pain.

Just look what is happening outside of RPG gaming to see that there is more than principles influencing consumer desire to buy games - something besides these fake quack theories of 'well made' games.

I just don't understand the need to create an artificial and arbitrary (autocratic or bureaucratic) subjective model of ideal structures and processes. And then see in the next few years a stream of crappy 'artsy' RPGs that thought they are making gold nuggets.

If any one game defies any model in any way, the entire model is incorrect. That's science. Anything else is pseudo-science.

Don't feed the quack wanna-be theorists who are just out to set their own standard quality for their own games.

What these walls of text amount to is "this thread is bad and other posters should not be having this discussion." You've basically made 1,228 words of threadcraps. Please don't post in this thread again.

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