thread: 2006-01-24 : Still More Character Ownership

On 2006-01-28, Charles wrote:


Here is what I wrote over on Brand’s blog:

Brand, this may be irrelevant to your central point (and I’d post it over on Anyway instead if that thread weren’t on hiatus), but I think you are mistaken on what Vincent was proposing. I think that Vincent is proposing story creation within a fully experiential mode, just working to incorporate better methods of creating story. Note, for instance, that Vincent is talking about shared ownership of each person’s character, not equally shared ownership of all of the characters. He envisions something in which you still have an I-guy to experience the game world through, but that that I-guy no longer needs to be the protagonist to be interesting, because the player has methods other than their I-guy of staying fully participatory. This makes a better story, as there are very few good stories that have a half dozen protagonists. Likewise, I don’t think that the alternate paths of participating in the story that Vincent envisions are top-down literary techniques (or, no more so than already exist in games like DitV). Vincent advocated the idea of playing where you don’t know if your character is the protagonist, the antagonist or supporting cast until it happens in play. That is actually further from current top-down techniques in the direction of experiential mode.

Shared-cast, literary-mode games already exist. It seems to me that Vincent is proposing incorporating the techniques that those games reveal back into experiential mode games (just as DitV incorporates the lessons of GMless/ful games back into a GM’d structure). Anyway, that is how I read him.

This last bit is probably totally irrelevant to your post, but I think that it is actually this hybridization that Vincent proposed that draws the stronger negative response. People who are comfortable with the idea of Capes or Universalis, where fully shared character ownership is a given, may still find it threatening or confusing to hear it suggested that the character they own in an “each player has a character” game is not actually their character, but is everyone’s to mess with, and that furthermore, they will have no promise that their character will be important to the story. I think it is easier to step outside the box of character ownership altogether than it is to keep the concept of character ownership, but radically adjust what it means.

Fred, does that sound right to you? You reacted fairly negatively to Vincent’s ideas, but have commented here (and elsewhere) that you find Capes cool, so I think your position matches the response I’m describing.


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