Rewards for roleplay!

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  • edited February 2015
    I still think I'm stuck in a lot of the GSFs. I have problems with people but I don't wanna be alone. :(
    I may, admittedly, be a special case. I'm used to being the weird one out, getting out, being alone and having to rebuild your social scene, on a big scale (I emigrated to another country to escape gender and religious discrimination, I also moved around the country several times for work related reasons). You could try making friends over things that aren't a part of your core identity. Have you got any Toastmasters clubs around you? This helps you get to know a lot of people, brush up on your public performance and organisation skills, and boosts your self esteem.
    "Label it so we don't double up" is also a lot less judgmental than "justify your preference" -- kinda slips the evaluation in there very subtly.
    Oh, I never thought about it that way (as a justification). Thank you. I can see why people would be reluctant to say anything if they perceived it that way.
    What kinds of things did your players say when awarding tokens? Did you have to nudge them at all, or did they pick up on useful explanations intuitively after your first demo?
    It was a couple years ago so I won't be able to quote. It was stuff like "this description made me shiver!" (to the gm), "oh yeah! *fist bump*" (after an outrageous, entertaining action), "of course you'd do that, you're in love with her!" (when acting in character), but I'm sure some were more specific.

    I ran a TBZ game (one-shot) three times.
    Group 1 consisted of experienced storygamers and game designers, mostly friends plus one random, on a con devoted to indie and storytelling games (Indiecon).
    Group 2 consisted of a half-storygamers-half-trads mix, all friends, at home
    Group 3 consisted of mostly trad (I'm guessing) randoms on a con where people usually run trad games (Conception).

    I listed the groups/games in a descending order in terms of player engagement, innovation, feedback, openness to other players, trust towards the GM, knowledge of source material (Japanese culture, anime) and general "spark".

    Storygamers, on average, picked up on things intuitively. They happily engaged in PvP (pregenerated characters were deliberately pointed at each other), gave feedback around the table, pushed their agendas. After the initial kickstart, tokens circulated around the table. They found the TBZ system had too much bookkeeping which was supposed to guide players towards what they'd do anyway. I think Hot War emerged as a better alternative.

    Trad gamers were more concentrated on interacting with the GM, I had to pull them into the story, give them a quest, and generally they were passive about pushing their character agendas. It was harder to get them to hand out tokens - some caught on, some didn't. Some didn't push the system's buttons as much and therefore didn't get the rewards. Some had great fun anyway, some didn't (in the same group). Unfortunately, it's the failures that stay with you, and I'm still racking my brains as to how I could have done it better. Maybe it's not always possible in a con one-shot with strangers.

    If a player already wanted to do drama and wasn't interested in BIG FIGHTS and mechanical conflicts, they found a lot of TBZ unnecessary. If a player wanted the resources for the BIG FIGHTS and to throw their weight around, TBZ would nicely guide them towards drama and encourage feedback. More than one game session was generally required for people to reliably catch up on the feedback loop. If a player simply expected to go for a ride and be entertained with the minimum interaction effort, essentially being a dead fish, TBZ had no bite.
    In BW and MG you hold a discussion at the end of the game
    You've gotten "roleplay feedback" info from this? I'm surprised. I mean, yeah, one player gets a "good roleplay" award for Embodiment, but that's one unit of feedback per session. The rest of the awards are for book-defined stuff or for Workhorse & MVP, which my groups always judged by character achievements rather than by how the players played.
    Okay, we're going into the dictionary territory. That depends on what you mean by "roleplay". For me roleplay means filling your character's role, and encompasses more than just the player's thespian abilities. Therefore if someone pushed for their character's goals, this definitely counts for me as roleplaying, even if they didn't have the most convincing voice acting, best jokes, most convincing arguments or whatever. I'm happy if a player talks about their PC in third person and describes the result of their conversation ("She comes up to the guards and attempts to convince them to let her talk to the queen"), as long as they actively do stuff that's in their beliefs, put their characters at risk etc.

    Also I have only ran BW as a GM, so I don't know what it's like from the player's perspective. (I'm one of those people with an instinct of "if you like something and nobody's doing it, do it yourself". I ran TBZ, BW, Chuubo's, but I only got the chance to play GSS, TBZ, and MG fairly recently).
  • What kinds of things did your players say when awarding tokens? Did you have to nudge them at all, or did they pick up on useful explanations intuitively after your first demo?
    It was a couple years ago so I won't be able to quote. It was stuff like "this description made me shiver!" (to the gm), "oh yeah! *fist bump*" (after an outrageous, entertaining action), "of course you'd do that, you're in love with her!" (when acting in character), but I'm sure some were more specific.
    Nice! Thanks for that, and the detailed account. Sounds like a good example of "hitting the in-betweeners". Some folks don't need the token system, some folks won't be helped by the token system, but some others are right in the middle where the token system is just the right nudge into an enjoyable but (initially, for them) counter-intuitive play style. Does that sound about right? Or do you think the TBZ token system also added a lot for the folks who didn't need it?
    For me roleplay means filling your character's role, and encompasses more than just the player's thespian abilities. Therefore if someone pushed for their character's goals, this definitely counts for me as roleplaying
    I definitely see how pursuing beliefs counts as roleplaying, I just meant that if the game rewards you for that objectively, it doesn't function as inter-player feedback. "Yes, you met this criteria" is a little bit subjective, I suppose, but it's never felt like personal feedback to me. Or maybe I'm forgetting what it was like when I first encountered it... maybe the folks in my group weren't all on the same page about what qualified from day one...
  • Is some of the resistance to rewards for "Good Roleplay" simply that nerds have an overwhelming fear of anything that smacks of being a popularity contest?

    (I really did try to think of a way to soften the language for that question, but decided casual but blunt was a better way to go).

    By way of comparison to another nerdy hobby, I seem to recall that Games Workshop used to run their miniatures wargame competitions in a way that scoring was based not just on wins/losses, but also things like hobby effort and general amiable behavior of the players, and that also produced a very vocal, negative reaction in a number of quarters.
  • edited February 2015
    Nice! Thanks for that, and the detailed account. Sounds like a good example of "hitting the in-betweeners". Some folks don't need the token system, some folks won't be helped by the token system, but some others are right in the middle where the token system is just the right nudge into an enjoyable but (initially, for them) counter-intuitive play style. Does that sound about right? Or do you think the TBZ token system also added a lot for the folks who didn't need it?
    Yes! Although I'm not sure if I'd call them inbetweeners. More like - it helps people who like actively engaging and fiddling with the system/crunch to generate a cool story as a byproduct. It seems aimed at players who like to *game* and *emote* instead of just *storytelling* if that makes sense.

    As for TBZ tokens and people who didn't need it. I think it encouraged people to explicitly signal and verbalise when they liked something and what they liked about it. Even when the players felt they didn't need it, I personally enjoyed the dynamic being more explicit. People didn't express dislike towards the tokens - rather, some didn't like the Fates (with the required upkeep) and some didn't like the combat resolution.
    I definitely see how pursuing beliefs counts as roleplaying, I just meant that if the game rewards you for that objectively, it doesn't function as inter-player feedback. "Yes, you met this criteria" is a little bit subjective, I suppose, but it's never felt like personal feedback to me. Or maybe I'm forgetting what it was like when I first encountered it... maybe the folks in my group weren't all on the same page about what qualified from day one...
    What it does is, it makes problems with engagement visible, and it's even nicer because you discuss these criteria as a group, and therefore the responsibility for ensuring everyone has fun is shared, it doesn't fall only on the GM (if you're not playing with dicks; rule 1 - don't play with dicks).

    If we find that a person didn't hit almost any of their beliefs, we can have a discussion as to why that happened, whether the beliefs need changing (if the person can't immediately say what next action will advance a belief, they need changing), whether other game participants can help (perhaps by rolling back their own drive for the spotlight, perhaps by including the other character in their own threads a bit more, perhaps by deliberately pushing against that character's beliefs). It's a chance to collaborate.

    For me as the GM, when I see the player didn't hit on their beliefs, it's a sign that I'm not giving them enough spotlight, or overwhelming the game with my ideas instead of engaging the player flags - in which case I need to brainstorm more, or the player is turtling and not biting in which case I need to check whether they're actually enjoying the game system or would prefer to switch.

    Then, I don't need this person to go out and tell me "I was bored", "I felt ignored", "I have no clue what my character would do" - their lack of Artha points tells me this.

  • Sounds like a good example of "hitting the in-betweeners". Some folks don't need the token system, some folks won't be helped by the token system, but some others are right in the middle where the token system is just the right nudge into an enjoyable but (initially, for them) counter-intuitive play style.
    For me, yes, this. Though I'd love to meet the saintly playgroup that doesn't need a little prompting to live their character a bit more.

    The tokenistic nature of the reward-acknowledgment is important here, I think. That we're passing round chits, dice or points underpins an understanding of implicit reward and behavioural conditioning that might quickly become a redundant currency to a seasoned group or be a reliable prompt to newbies. In the defence of reward, at least it's positive reinforcement.

    What would you say if I rewarded players for making interesting characters with lots of kicks (that drew them into role playing) rather than rewarding the roleplaying itself?
  • edited February 2015
    Is some of the resistance to rewards for "Good Roleplay" simply that nerds have an overwhelming fear of anything that smacks of being a popularity contest?

    (I really did try to think of a way to soften the language for that question, but decided casual but blunt was a better way to go).

    By way of comparison to another nerdy hobby, I seem to recall that Games Workshop used to run their miniatures wargame competitions in a way that scoring was based not just on wins/losses, but also things like hobby effort and general amiable behavior of the players, and that also produced a very vocal, negative reaction in a number of quarters.
    I think there are a couple different objections to role-play rewards that I've encountered. I had a player in my group who was opposed to things like giving Bennies for good RP or giving RP XP awards because he was concerned about fairness and felt GMs could never really be fair here, and would always reward the more socially adept player. I also know people who object to them because they dislike the notion of your character advancing in his gun skills because he was charming on an occasion or because he was being true to his personality.

    For the first objection I think that is something of a mindset issue. Me and the player in question debated the topic a lot on the point of fairness. I think a lot of it was shaped by our individual experiences in life. For me, I am fine with a human referee making judgment calls and striving for fairness, even if being 100% truly fair all the time is never going to happen. I also think it is wise to give points for effort here to encourage people who may be trying to role-play well, but just don't have the natural social skills of someone else at the table (because for me what matters most is the level of investment at the table). However my friend did make many good points for the opposing side. I just never felt "somewhere, someone will be unfairly evaluated" is a good reason for rejecting any attempt to be a fair arbiter of more subtle things in the game.

    I am more sympathetic to the argument that good role-play shouldn't translate into things like XP or bennies, because there is no real connection between those two things in the setting. There is always a bit of handwaving in any XP and progression system, because real life is a lot more complicated. But there is so much handwaving when you get better at attacking because you role played your gruff but sincere warrior at the tavern that one time. That said, I cut my teeth on 2E which had RP awards, and as long as their are fairly small, I don't mind them.
  • The only mainstream game advancement system that really ever made sense to me in a "You did it successfully, so there's a chance you get better at it" is the one in Call of Cthulhu.

    The thing is, I do understand some fear of unfairness when there's this much opinion involved.

    I guess it's the level of the reaction that surprises me a bit. But then, the level of reaction to GMs making on-the-spot judgment calls regularly surprises me as well.
  • Is some of the resistance to rewards for "Good Roleplay" simply that nerds have an overwhelming fear of anything that smacks of being a popularity contest?
    For me, yes. If we replace (or augment) "overwhelming fear" by "bad experiences".

  • I can live with that change.

    I mean, I realize this is some serious, broadstroke stereotyping, but nerds do seem to be folks who have some history of being the unpopular kid, so I could see anything that seems like judgment or peer review causing a nasty, reflexive backlash.
  • No need for stereotypes but speaking for myself, yes, I'm unpopular and I still haven't come to terms about that

  • 2097 and J_S are right; I've played in and organized probably close to 80 or 90 games of Fiasco and 2097's view of the light-colored dice is empirically correct.
    I stand corrected; I must either be misremembering, or possibly we just played it wrong, it's been a while, I just remember thinking "This seems sortof strange and arbitrary."
  • No need for stereotypes but speaking for myself, yes, I'm unpopular and I still haven't come to terms about that
    I've been in that mental space myself. It's no fun.

  • edited February 2015
    Is some of the resistance to rewards for "Good Roleplay" simply that nerds have an overwhelming fear of anything that smacks of being a popularity contest?
    That, and that people are getting judged so that participation can decrease.

    Above that, one of my biggest concern is that people start doing "good roleplay" for the reward, which means that they don't do it because of the fun of doing the task. Present instead situations where they can act out in character and see if they think it's fun in the first place. Why do you really feel the need to bribe them if they don't want to do it?

    The other one of my two biggest concerns is that other players can see through the tangible reward and see it for what it really is: acknowledgment for their effort. But if they don't care about the mechanical reward, why even have it in the first place? Just present more situations for them, or consequences of their actions, so they can act out in character even more. That's a reward related to the task, and it presents new situations that is solved by doing what they like: act out in character.

    To me, design-through-rewards is a combination of not knowing how tangible rewards work and laziness. For the latter, instead of designing a structure of play that enforces a type of behavior (example: situations where they can act out in character), you end up with giving out these mechanical rewards whenever the players' behavior is good.

    Design-through-rewards is easy. It's just "+1 XP if you break your oath". It conveys, in a clear way, what the players are supposed to do. Compare this to describe how the game master should create situations that goes against the character's oath. But to be able to do that, you need to attract the right audience that would enjoy playing characters that will break their oaths and, to do that, you need the right pitch for the game. That's a lot of work. Assuming that people will think the task becomes fun if you dress it up in a tangible reward like this is also lack of knowledge about how these kinds of rewards work.

    Summary:
    - some players will only do it for the reward.
    - rewards should be related to the task. XP for "good roleplay" is not.
    - create instead a structure of play that enforces one type of behavior
    - BUT you need people that want to do it in the first place
    - BECAUSE I personally don't see the point in making players do something they don't think is fun in itself.

    I can totally understand why people think in terms of design-through-rewards, because it's so wide spread in all kinds of games. Just take the loot system in any CRPG which are all based on the research of operant conditioning. How loot drop can sometimes wield a really useful item so killing the rats doesn't feel a waste of time.
  • edited February 2015
    Rickard, although I disagree with much of the broad-strokes anti-reward stuff you said earlier, I do agree with most of your last post. Generic rewards totally unrelated to the behavior they're rewarding, or "rewards" that do nothing but acknowledge what's already happened -- these underwhelm me too. And mechanical rewards instead of a proper structure of play that inspires and supports the desired behavior is just awful.

    I guess it depends on how we use the term "reward", but some usages include all sorts of feedback and consequence, not just appreciation tokens or character improvement points. The way horrific encounters drive down character Sanity scores has been described as the "reward system" of Cthulhu play, for example. In one sense, losing Sanity represents a bad thing that happened to you, but in another sense, losing Sanity removes barriers to how crazily you're allowed to react to the horror. Many players prefer such dynamic constraints, evolving in some relation to play, over simply deciding how much the horror is impacting their character. In that respect, we can view a good reward system as one that keeps our supporting/inspirational structure fresh!
  • edited February 2015
    Just out of curiosity, how do you folks feel about the "Banners" variant from 1st Quest, where you get XP by spotlighting someone else's issue?

    While I can still see how it could get messed up (because some people would still choose to give more spotlight to the more dramatic/popular player), I think having a mechanic that rewards helping someone else have fun avoids some of the pitfalls mentioned.

    (Also, out of curiosity, does anyone know where I could find a copy of 1st Quest? I've been kind of intrigued by it because of the above, but can't seem to track it down.)
  • edited February 2015
    it helps people who like actively engaging and fiddling with the system/crunch to generate a cool story as a byproduct. It seems aimed at players who like to *game* and *emote* instead of just *storytelling* if that makes sense.
    Conceptually this always looked awkward to me, almost like tricking people who like system exploration/optimization into also doing social/fiction/roleplay performances. But if it works, it works! And perhaps it's just as valid to view it as a gentle nudge toward something they mostly wanted to do anyway, as opposed to a trick.
    As for TBZ tokens and people who didn't need it. I think it encouraged people to explicitly signal and verbalise when they liked something and what they liked about it.
    Nice. I'm with you; that's value added in my book.
    If we find that a person didn't hit almost any of their beliefs, we can have a discussion as to why that happened . . . I don't need this person to go out and tell me "I was bored", "I felt ignored", "I have no clue what my character would do" - their lack of Artha points tells me this.
    Great points. "Good roleplay points" needn't be bestowed upon one player by others to reflect their judgment; they can also be earned directly by one's own actions, for everyone else's edification. Learn how to play from those who are racking up the Artha; see the Artha-poor and lend a helping hand. (The latter's never happened in my BW play, but the former was definitely key to my learning curve.)
  • What would you say if I rewarded players for making interesting characters with lots of kicks (that drew them into role playing) rather than rewarding the roleplaying itself?
    Huh! Well, if you actually knew what character features would play well in game, then I think that would be great! I don't trust my own clairvoyance enough to do that, though...

  • edited February 2015
    I guess it depends on how we use the term "reward", but some usages include all sorts of feedback and consequence, not just appreciation tokens or character improvement points.
    This is why I'm so careful in using "tangible" and "mechanical" to describe the type of rewards I'm against when it comes to mental or creative tasks in roleplaying games. Like I said before, tangible rewards works - according to several scientific studies - only if it's a competition, physical activity, or a boring task. In other cases they do nothing or can decrease the intrinsic motivation for doing the actual task (seeing through what the reward does, or doing the task only because of the reward).

    Rewards are also a subcategory to feedback, and feedback is a must to create an interaction. An interaction consist of two or more components that exchanges information. That information is feedback of each others' actions. Rewards I like are those that comes as natural responses to the players' action. Throwing in a treat is not.

    The way XP works in D&D is that you use mechanical things to get mechanical rewards. (Gygaxian D&D is, to me, also a competition with the game master as an adversary). I have nothing against that. It's just when the feedback - in this case mechanical reward for doing something creative (like expressing yourself) - doesn't have anything to do with the actual task, that I object.
  • In that vein, I'm curious how you'd view the fan points and story points in my game Within My Clutches. When someone is roleplaying, others at the table are encouraged to throw them tokens for stuff they like, in the context of what the game is (a celebration and exploration of comic book supervillainy). If you receive tokens while playing your character, they're Fan points. If you receive them while GMing or NPCing, they're Story points.

    Every player has a secret Master Plan that they don't have opportunities to show in the normal flow of play.

    When you get enough Fan points, you get a Master Plan scene for your character.

    When you get enough Story points, you get to set up a Master Plan scene for another player's character, imposing your own constraints about whether it progresses or derails or what.

    The idea is that the reward suits the accomplishment:
    - If everyone is digging your character, you win the opportunity to show more of them.
    - If everyone is digging your story-making, you win an opportunity to direct the spotlight more and set up more situations.
  • edited February 2015
    What would you say if I rewarded players for making interesting characters with lots of kicks (that drew them into role playing) rather than rewarding the roleplaying itself?
    Huh! Well, if you actually knew what character features would play well in game, then I think that would be great! I don't trust my own clairvoyance enough to do that, though...
    I feel like Mike may be suggesting something similar to what I came up with for DayTrippers, which supports Player-based kick-play without requiring clairvoyance. There are three parts to this subsystem, here's how it works:

    (1) "Progressive Character Generation" (allowing Players to spend character development points during play, not just during pre-play), (2) "LifeShaping Events" (personality-influencing events from the past which Players may create at any time, not just during pre-play) and (3) "Character Development Scenes" (a flashback scene showing us how you learned karate, for instance - perhaps we never knew your character knew karate - which can be used to buy yourself karate skill and place its acquisition in your character's past).

    You don't get XP for buying yourself a skill. But there is an XP reward if the Player makes a LifeShaper that causes problems for their character (such as "chemical dependence" or "wanted by police" etc). Then there's also an XP reward if the Player makes use of a LifeShaper or CharDev scene to solve a current problem (i.e. a problem in the current session/scene). This is not a reward for "roleplay" per se, rather it is a reward for making your imagined past actions meaningful in terms of today's story.

    Remember Kwai Chang Caine's flashback scenes in every episode of "Kung Fu"?
    That's kinda what I'm shooting for here.

    I'm curious what y'all think of this approach. Especially curious about @Rickard's opinion.

  • edited March 2015
    Conceptually this always looked awkward to me, almost like tricking people who like system exploration/optimization into also doing social/fiction/roleplay performances. But if it works, it works! And perhaps it's just as valid to view it as a gentle nudge toward something they mostly wanted to do anyway, as opposed to a trick.
    Well, the way I view it is that the story is an automatic by-product of system optimisation. If a person is uninterested in story generation, rather than actively opposed to it, they're not being tricked or forced into anything.

    There's also one more benefit of tying story and system together that hasn't been covered above. It solves the problem of playing with people of mixed preferences.

    Here's the problem:
    • in a game that requires system mastery and sacrificing some character-expressing options for the greater good of the party (this is my impression of Pathfinder), story-oriented people are going to feel restricted.
    • in a game that gives you great freedom in creating a story (this is my impression of Fiasco), system-oriented people are going to feel bored, or without the ability to meaningfully influence the events.
    However, in a game with a loop of system incentives for generating story:
    • story=>system part of the loop means that story-oriented players will generate valuable system resources for the system-oriented people to use (even though story-oriented players themselves don't care or need those resources, like my story-gamers didn't need TBZ tokens),
    • and system=>story part of the loop means that system-oriented players will generate a story for the story-oriented players to engage with (even though system-oriented players themselves don't care that much for the drama).
    Such a game would create a happy ecosystem, where both sides generate something the other side needs (almost like trees generate oxygen for mammals, mammals generate carbon dioxide for trees). You can view that as trickery, or you can view that as cooperation without having to sacrifice some of your fun for others' fun.
    Great points. "Good roleplay points" needn't be bestowed upon one player by others to reflect their judgment; they can also be earned directly by one's own actions, for everyone else's edification. Learn how to play from those who are racking up the Artha; see the Artha-poor and lend a helping hand. (The latter's never happened in my BW play, but the former was definitely key to my learning curve.)
    Sorry to hear that in your experience people didn't help the "poor performers". Makes me think that the GM has one more hat to wear: a good manager :)
  • edited March 2015
    Guess I can't be abstract any more so it's good to have examples to show what I mean.
    others at the table are encouraged to throw them tokens for stuff they like,/.../

    Every player has a secret Master Plan that they don't have opportunities to show in the normal flow of play.

    When you get enough Fan points, you get a Master Plan scene for your character.
    It seems like a pacing mechanism. If you ever get a game where people dish out points to someone to keep them get moving, then I feel the "encouragement" in those points will diminish. It has happened in some of these games I played, like Psychodrame or Shab-al-Hiri Roach, where shy or uninspired players got points just because they had so little points.

    I would myself create a structure for scene framing where each participant must show off the character in some way, probably through conflicts, and also require to involve other characters in their scenes. Each character can have one or more relations to each other to make it easier to involve them. The relations could also be the backdrop to what will happen in the scene, as well as a basic situation or problem.

    If you really want to have points, lets the relations grow stronger for each involvement in the scenes. When one relation (or the sum of them) got enough points, it will explode and present the spotlight moment (if you really need one). When the session is over, discuss why some characters got the least points and make sure to create new relations; or have other participants spend some of their points to create new ones. It's possible that the total sum of the points are shared by all characters and the ones with the most points must "give back" some points by buying or changing the other characters new relations.
  • Hey now—I don't recall anyone ending up especially Artha-poor in our BW game! One player had particularly poor dice luck, but he got a lot of Fate points at least, and probably Workhorse Persona as well.

    I like the oxygen / carbon dioxide metaphor. Some players, though, like me, are both sides of the ecosystem at once. I get bored if a game is all fighting with no meaning behind it; I also get a little bored if a game is all story without sufficient mechanical bells and whistles. Though, given the choice, I'll almost always go for a rules-light, but well-designed, story-game over a slaughterfest.
  • Matt, not sure which game you're thinking of, but I was thinking of Burning Empires, and I'm sure you recall the player.
  • Ohhhhh I was thinking of the BW game I ran, not BE (which I played in, not ran). Yeah, R never really bought into the premise of the game. Lack of Artha is also a good sign of that problem!
  • I definitely find that these reward mechanisms work well in a "be a fan of the players" environment. I would go so far as to say that it's a necessary preface for artha-like rewards to work, because then you care less about judging whether someone is truly worthy of those points, and more about provoking them to do awesome things.
  • edited March 2015
    I can't say I've had any really great gaming experiences with systems where points must be passed around based on what someone liked. RP rewards handed out by a GM are particularly bad in this case, I think: they don't seem to serve any purpose at all, and don't feed back into the game in any way.

    Fanmail seems to work best *after the fact*: you play a game with fanmail, and then you get used to the social reinforcing behaviour, so you start doing it even when the points aren't there any more. That feels great.

    I agree with Rickard about some of the research around rewarding behaviour (which is in itself fun).

    However, I have had great experiences with games which reward specific game actions, like Keys (in TSoY/Lady Blackbird), escalation in Dogs in the Vineyard, and similar devices.

    I'm not sure how those two things line up, but it's possible that we just haven't figured it out yet (the science in this field is still developing, it's very new!).

    For instance, I suspect it's possible that things like "point rewards" are very effective when we're dealing with a task we enjoy/want, but don't do (because of some limiting factors: shyness, limited time, limited willpower, forgetfulness, etc). Think of marketing techniques, social pressure, having a coach or buddy cheer you on at the gym, "rewards points" on shopping cards, and so forth. There's no question those thing *work* at some level.

    The pacing, acknowledgement, and tracking elements of many game rewards are very key, too, I think - their function as a reward is sometimes just one aspect of the role they play in that game's design.
  • I'm not sure how those two things line up,
    But I feel the same way. Keys as in TSoY and MHR read great and I would be glad to try a game with that feature.
    Rickard, when you spoke of "pudelpoäng" a few years back, my mind went not to dog treats and dog training, but to dog shows, dog judging. Don't like it
  • edited March 2015
    My personal experience with playing these sorts of games is that it usually takes a while for people to get over the "It's okay to show that I liked something by handing out one of these" fear(?), but that everyone I've tried these sorts of games with enjoyed the mechanic and that overall, people ended up with very similar amounts of "points."

    My experience with discussing these games on the internet is that people who don't like the idea tend to be the people who view them as "judgement" instead of as "compliments". Which I feel is a strange viewpoint to have, but it is clearly quite ingrained for some people.
  • I've been puttering around for a while with the idea of post-game, wrap-up rewards that have no in-game effect.

    This comes from having received such rewards and get a nice warm fuzzy feeling from the experience.

    Notably, both times it happened, I'd lost in-fiction.

    Purely theoretical, but my suspicion is that this sort of officialized post-game recognition, detached from any in-game reward, may aid in better, future group gaming cohesion (gelling) and experimentation in-fiction.

    ( Of course, I also have it that everyone gives and gets some of this sort of positive feedback, because I'm a dirty hippy that way)

    And I also agree with Airk: I'm pretty sure these sorts of mechanics are meant as compliments, not judgment.
  • K-Bob, I tried a post-game wrap-up non-mechanical rewards thing, and it was pleasant and all, but the group eventually deemed it not vital enough to spend play time on. So my suggestion is, if you're going to do it, either make it super fun or super fast.
  • Did it help initially? How was the reaction to it the first time you used it? How long did it take for them to come to feel it wasn't vital ( which is probably always true after a certain point...which is kind of he point I guess)
  • edited March 2015
    However, in a game with a loop of system incentives for generating story:
    • story=>system part of the loop means that story-oriented players will generate valuable system resources for the system-oriented people to use (even though story-oriented players themselves don't care or need those resources, like my story-gamers didn't need TBZ tokens),
    • and system=>story part of the loop means that system-oriented players will generate a story for the story-oriented players to engage with (even though system-oriented players themselves don't care that much for the drama).
    Such a game would create a happy ecosystem, where both sides generate something the other side needs
    Again, philosophically, this seems backwards to me -- why would I roleplay with people who I share no roleplay interests with, regardless of whether a system can make us useful to each other? -- but in practice, I think I get it. Few actual players are complete stereotypes with zero interest in story (or system, or whatever), and interests wax and wane over time, and a system which survives variations in mood and attendance with a strong symbiotic loop is useful. And, even if two players do have complete disinterest in each other's play, there can still be social or other reasons to wind up at the same table, so taking turns with the fun is at least equitable.
  • I've been in the situation where the quality of the contribution varied but we still rewarded the "bad" storytellers equally (especially after one of them was near tears after grasping for ideas). It became pointless.
  • edited March 2015
    Again, philosophically, this seems backwards to me -- why would I roleplay with people who I share no roleplay interests with, regardless of whether a system can make us useful to each other?
    Reasons include:
    • You've got a gaming group established before you realised you have different playing styles. Maybe before you realised there were different playing styles.
    • They're your friends and you enjoy spending your time with them, and roleplaying games provide something that you all enjoy, just from different angles.
    • You're shy, making yourself go out and meet new people takes A LONG TIME and is exhausting, and you haven't met any local groups with similar tastes yet.
    • You're logistically limited to a specific group of people (logistically includes stuff like time limitations, timezones, secluded locations, low budget limiting commute abilities and not enjoying playing rpg online).
    I'm sure there are more. In other words: yes, it's a crutch, and just like with a crutch, even if you don't need this tool, that doesn't mean nobody else does.
  • edited March 2015
    For instance, I suspect it's possible that things like "point rewards" are very effective when we're dealing with a task we enjoy/want, but don't do (because of some limiting factors: shyness, limited time, limited willpower, forgetfulness, etc).
    All I'm saying is that we can make this part of gameplay. What game designers need to realize is other kinds of acknowledgments not related to mechanical rewards; feedback related to the task; structures that makes people (game master or player) listen to, and use other contributions in their contributions.
    However, I have had great experiences with games which reward specific game actions, like Keys (in TSoY/Lady Blackbird), escalation in Dogs in the Vineyard, and similar devices.
    Don't mix up mechanical rewards with other kinds of feedback. The escalation mechanic is an example of what I'm talking about when I talk about gameplay or structure of play. It's a mechanic that leads to something else, where the sum of all mechanics interacting will create a certain outcome (in my interpretation for this specific example: dogs being assholes).
    Think of marketing techniques, social pressure, having a coach or buddy cheer you on at the gym, "rewards points" on shopping cards, and so forth. There's no question those thing *work* at some level.
    All these works under different kinds of psychology. Cheering is a social reward and does nothing or increase the intrinsic motivation. It's an extrinsic motivation that works, where the person working out can achieve up to 30% better result, if I recall correctly. Reward points follow this psychology. Marketing techniques got tons of tricks that they use, et c.

    The rewards above are as different as D&D is to Fiasco is to Nordic LARP, even though most non-gamers would think of them as "roleplaying games".
  • Rickard, I am no psychologist, so this is not an area I know well, but I am always wary when people take information from another, relatively involved and complicated field, and apply it to something like game design. Are you sure you understand these ideas fully, that you are not cherry picking, and that you are porting them in in a way that actually transfers well. I could see for example that these are all sounds ideas in psychology and might apply to the specific conditions of an office environment, but have to wonder how well they actually apply to dice rolling and roleplaying in a game. I am questioning your expertise, but I find myself wary (particularly since I have no background in the subject).
  • edited March 2015
    @3Jane, I hear ya. I answered myself later in my post -- "social or other reasons". Not hatin' on anyone's play group, just walking through the pros & cons out loud.

    If I were facilitating a group such as you describe, my hope would be to find something that everyone involved does have in common. But I realize that's not always possible -- there have been times in the past when I thought I'd found such an overlap, but then in play it didn't work out that way, and "different bits for different players" is what we wound up with.

    Whether I then appreciated the game for giving us something for everyone, or was pissed at the game for not getting us on the same page, has been a mixed bag.
  • edited March 2015
    Rickard, I am no psychologist, so this is not an area I know well, but I am always wary when people take information from another, relatively involved and complicated field, and apply it to something like game design.
    Game design is psychology. Search for happiness (flow), Theory of Fun, operant conditioning, and even theory in economy are all things from "outside" gaming that game theorists use a lot. Roger Caillios and Thomas M Malaby were, for example, sociologists but are now highly regarded in game design circles.

    But yeah, I do some cherry picking. Some experiments have shown no effect of the overjustification effect when it comes to adults (while others have, but the original study was based on children). Just like some have seen the bad stuff with XP as acknowledgement while others got other experiences. Don't, however, start believing that it will cast any shadow over any of the other things I said (because that's a common thing to do in the human psyche).

    If you don't want to believe what I say, then it's up to you. I can't do anything about it. All I can present are the facts from studies, and the similarities in games. Just as many game theorists done before me.
  • Rickard, I am no psychologist, so this is not an area I know well, but I am always wary when people take information from another, relatively involved and complicated field, and apply it to something like game design.
    Game design is psychology. But yeah, I do some cherry picking. Some experiments have shown no effect of the overjustification effect when it comes to adults (while others have, but the original study was based on children). Just like some have seen the bad stuff with XP as acknowledgement while others got other experiences. Don't, however, start believing that it will cast any shadow over any of the other things I said (because that's a common thing in the human psyche).

    If you don't want to believe what I say, then it's up to you. I can't do anything about it. All I can present is the facts from studies, and how it applies to games.


    It isn't a question of not wanting to believe, it is a question of being skeptical that these studies you are pointing to can really be applied to XP reward systems. Again, I am no expert in psychology, but these claims are raising some red flags for me.
  • edited March 2015
    I'm not sure how those two things line up,
    But I feel the same way. Keys as in TSoY and MHR read great and I would be glad to try a game with that feature.
    Rickard, when you spoke of "pudelpoäng" a few years back, my mind went not to dog treats and dog training, but to dog shows, dog judging. Don't like it
    You're thinking of pudelutställning, which is not the same thing. People keep on mixing those up. Also, it wasn't me, but the late Johan Rising, that coined those terms. His death five years ago was what drove me to start reading about game design.

  • Don't mix up mechanical rewards with other kinds of feedback. The escalation mechanic is an example of what I'm talking about when I talk about gameplay or structure of play. It's a mechanic that leads to something else, where the sum of all mechanics interacting will create a certain outcome (in my interpretation for this specific example: dogs being assholes).
    Ah! Then we're on the same page. I enjoy mechanical rewards best when they interact with and feed back into other game procedures in constructive ways. I thought you were making a much broader statement than you were!
  • You're thinking of pudelutställning, which is not the same thing. People keep on mixing those up. Also, it wasn't me, but the late Johan Rising, that coined those terms. His death five years ago was what drove me to start reading about game design.
    I see.
  • Again, philosophically, this seems backwards to me -- why would I roleplay with people who I share no roleplay interests with, regardless of whether a system can make us useful to each other? -- but in practice, I think I get it. Few actual players are complete stereotypes with zero interest in story (or system, or whatever), and interests wax and wane over time, and a system which survives variations in mood and attendance with a strong symbiotic loop is useful. And, even if two players do have complete disinterest in each other's play, there can still be social or other reasons to wind up at the same table, so taking turns with the fun is at least equitable.
    Yeah, if we were all living in a perfect world where we were running games for clones of ourselves, then we wouldn't need these kinds of things, but we're not; "Gamifying" RP can get people who really want a "game" to engage with...to engage with RP. And have fun doing it.

    It's also useful to build the reverse loop so that people who don't really have any interest in the mechanical side still contribute to it. In this way, all parties are served.

    Also, I tend to agree with Bedrockbrendan - I think psychology is one of those spaces where it's really dangerous to extend the findings of a study in any area that looks/seems like it's the same thing; Its very easy to discover that it's not the same and therefore everything you were looking at is wrong.

    After all, it's important to remember that these are GAMES, and games mean that people expect to follow rules to do things and get results. You're not "artificially" adding something to that by giving people something they can do that gets results.
  • Luke at RopeCon last year said "You can't gamify a game", don't know if true or not. The talk was RPGs Are Awesome.
  • I think this sort of thing (the Honest Trailer for Clash of Clans) is one reason I'm not keen on thinking of RPG rewards such as artha as "Skinner Box" material. The "endless cycle of upgrades" it talks about? Yeah, that's what a Skinner Box looks like.

    I can see the similarities, but I think there's a qualitative difference between even the weakest "rewards for roleplay" mechanism and what cheap Facebook games do.
  • Luke at RopeCon last year said "You can't gamify a game", don't know if true or not. The talk was RPGs Are Awesome.
    He said it again at PAX East just yesterday. ;)

    But if you can't gamify a game, then Rickard has nothing to worry about. ;)
  • Can I add more game to my game?

    When I tag you, you're "it." Now you need to tag me.

    ...But first count to ten... ...and this area is "home"... and you can't block people coming in or out of "home"... ...and you need to shout "You're it" when you tag someone...
  • edited March 2015
    Luke Crane is the perfect example of a design-through-(mechanical-)reward designer, but I dunno ... the lack of understanding of how games work, that you shown right here in the last five posts, will make me withdraw from this thread.
  • I find myself unsure who Rickard is even addressing here. I guess it's probably me. =/
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