*edit : what I thought was SIS* Shared Imagination is impossible [solved

edited June 2019 in Game Design Help
It's striking that the *edit : words in the acronym * SIS imply an impossible model of communication : telepathy.
thesis - Nothing is shared in the Imagined Space. Organ-obstacle is a term that means how language helps communication but prevents perfect communication at the same time. The way the abstract gamestate is variously pictured by various players appears in murk, when it glitches, and in the diverse ease with which some enter and slip out of this or that stance, identifying diversely with the story, the character, the minis, the maps, the pictures. Of course no one constructs the same game state. Every player hearing all the words is hardly possible. A Shared Imagination is clearly an unicorn.

argument - I know what is the GameState. But how can I know what is the actual state of a game when 4 or 5 diverging interpretations compete with mine ? I mean, it's really cool to work this out when dealing with the real world.

pragmatic conclusion But when playing, I'd rather not discuss at length about who is where and I thought you were there, else I wouldn't have done that. Driving over the GameState with minimal bump is my design goal. Do you see why ?

incident thesis - Which leads me to this : the words uttered at the table : they all inform the game state, even if there are no rules explicitely operating on them. Like in literature, "the rules of the world apply by default" is implied. (I suspect this leads to 1° all the discussion on realism and verisimiltude in RPGs. Pragmatic confusion of two abstract things, rules and aesthetics (=agenda). And 2° the choice of fantastic settings where "the rules of the world apply by default" is specifically challenged.)

pragmatic argument - See how filming (or taking notes during) a session informs on what is the case in more detail than character sheets and maps.

counter argument to an objection - What if the RAW don't take a fictional detail into consideration ? If every word informs the game state, the specific orientation and line of sight of a character (for instance) is always part of the game state but is neglected in a game where the pain of tracking it isn't worth the benefit of knowing it. )


  • The SIS is nothing more than an aggregate of real communicative acts and like all communicative acts simply needs to be functional. It no more "implies telepathy" than any other type of communication does.
  • The SIS is an instrumental phenomenon. You can claim that it does not exist, but then the onus of explanation falls on you to tell us how it is possible for my character to move from the interior part of the room next to the window. (Something that people with rpg experience generally agree to be possible, and even routine.) The Big Model explanation for this is that the players successfully communicate an abstract mental model to each other, the way human language is capable of doing, and then use commonly agreed-upon operations on this shared mental model - the SIS - to change it around. My character gets to move from one point to another thanks to the players being able to jointly communicate an imaginary space, objects within that space, and their positioning. Telepathy isn't involved, just language, as far as we know.

    While formulating an alternate explanation for how I am able to move my character around, by all means compare what you come up with with SIS. I'll be interested if the result is somehow different.
  • Well, there are of course relations between what we say, what we hear and what we think. But look at the formulation : "shared imaginary". It is misleading. What is shared is "the public part of the gamestate".
    Understanding the SIS as an aggregate of communicative acts, and not "imagined things", makes it obvious : an important focus of game design and play is focusing on the functionalities of communication at the table.
  • a rare ten-hearter:
  • My current understanding of the Forge-ism "Shared Imagined Space" is that the term is basically identical to Common Ground (in the sense used by linguists), but with a more limited scope: just stuff relating to the diegesis.
  • Edited title and OP. I was mistaken about what SIS was, ie : nothing "imaginary" proper.
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