How has Forge Language ruined YOUR life?

There have been numerous complaints over the past week that the specialized jargon at the Forge makes it difficult to participate in RPG discussions. I picture someone staring at his computer screen until his eyeballs begin to bleed. The gangsters told him they'd kill his daughter unless he memorized this list of ad hoc neologisms. He gazes desperately at the vacant heavens, and rends his clothes asunder. "O Lord!" he bellows, "why can't I understand 'Gnarliburr'?!?!?!"

And that is totally, completely, unfair of me. For all I know, people really have experienced distress trying to figure out the jargon on the Forge. And that's what I'm wondering about: for all our discussions about how jargon might serve as barrier to discussions for a potential newcomer, I'm wondering how big a problem it's been for actual newcomers. If that was you in the Gnarliburr example, like.

How has the jargon on RPG discussion sites negatively impacted YOU personally? It's one thing to say that having to learn a few silly words is a burden; I'm curious to know how big of a burden it truly is.

===My Own Case===
I started reading the Forge in late 2004. I usually avoided the GNS and Theory folders because I personally only wanted stuff I could touch. Every so often, out of boredom, I would read a GNS thread on RPG.Net, which was always a huge waste of time; I'd occasionally check out the Forge Glossary, which was a waste of time for different reasons.

I didn't understand any of the jargon. And it didn't matter a bit. I was on the Forge to learn about fun new games, and figure out how to be a better GM. And everything worked out fine for me. I didn't need the jargon, unless I needed to argue on the Internet with complete strangers over abstract nouns suited to analyze Dungeons & Dragons. It was no biggie.

Then I discovered Vincent Baker's Hardcore Role-Playing Theory Pages, which were (for me) utterly lucid and easy to understand. It took me, maybe, 30 minutes at most to understand these jargon terms. And I'm glad I learned the ideas, but it's not like I was suffering for not knowing them.

To me, the whole jargon thing strikes me as odd because it was never a huge part of my experience with these sites. To me, the jargon was (a) a non-issue, and (b) a trivial burden to overcome. Apparently this is not the case for others, and I'm curious to know if others have had far worse responses.
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Comments

  • My experience was very much like your's, James. The whole GNS thing never really lit up for me. I was at the Forge just because I was excited that there were people out there critically analyzing games. And not just designing them, but playing them.

    I never quite felt included at the Forge, because much of the jargon was beyond me, but at the same time I never felt excluded either. It was always quite clear to me that any time I asked, peeps there would jump up to explain what they were talking about 100 different ways.

    I just didn't ask very often.
  • I've tried understand The Theory at many times over the years and just get frustrated because:

    (a) it's not all written down at one place in an easy-to-understand way (maybe Vincent's page will help me, maybe not)
    (b) it uses terms in counterintuitive ways and many people don't have a clear grasp on what they all mean
    (c) people who have mastered (or thnk they've mastered) the jargon and theory sometimes have a bit of an attitude
    (d) many tend to prefer big honkin' Grand Unified Theories which means if you buy into one part of "theory" you're expected to buy into all of it
    (e) a lot of the jargon and discussions, even AP examples (took a while to figure out what that meant, even), seem very meta- or meta-meta-, to the point that the discussions (not necessarily the play) becomes so abstract that it's not an interesting tool for me to understand gaming
    (f) much of it is focused primarily on game design and not on game playing
    (g) there are very few "competing" theories introduced or tolerated, although the theory currently in vogue at any given time may change; this comes across as a form of groupthink bordering on the religious


    By (d), I mean that the intertwining of terminology with theory is very tight, or so it seems, such that there aren't really ways to discuss phenomena within games without adopting everything, or at least it feels that way. (I know some of you take iconoclastic positions but those seem less represented and rarely amount to a competing or a parallel theory.)

    For me, all of these factors (including Forge jargon prominently) make me reluctant to participate in Forge-style RPG Theory discussions, although I'd really love to talk in more detail about games and how they work ...

    ... in theory, at least.
  • I'm listening to episode 09 of The Game Master Show podcast. The hosts (who as I gather are pretty trad-heavy) discuss GNS based on the wikipedia entry for it. Its interesting to say the least since it isn't an "outside looking in" perspective, its more of an "in the lobby of the mall but looking in the curio shoppe window" perspective (they are gamers, not "normies"). I especially love how they mention Ron Edwards by name as if he's the diplomat for New Zealand or something.

    All in all, they make a few good points, but they really sound frustrated. I feel their pain. :)
  • Rich,

    What's "trad-heavy"?
  • I am always curious as to why this specific request is so upsetting to many people. I wonder why Kynn sees this issue automatically with an elitist, nonsensical motive, and why the negative, you're-not-using-plain-English assumption has to be used.

    But let's no go there on this thread.
  • (a) it's not all written down at one place in an easy-to-understand way (maybe Vincent's page will help me, maybe not)

    Check out Vincent's other theory topics too--the guy's a motherfucking gold mine. Learn all you can from him, because if he and I ever meet, he shall be crushed by an army of Lego mecha.
    (b) it uses terms in counterintuitive ways and many people don't have a clear grasp on what they all mean

    Granted. The counter-intuitive nature of the terms is a consequence of terms being invented ad hoc by people who didn't realize they were inventing terms. It just kind of stuck. I suppose someone could come along now and clean shit up--like, "The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast" is goofy, and Alex is right to prefer "Authority Paradox"--but that has its own problems.
    (c) people who have mastered (or thnk they've mastered) the jargon and theory sometimes have a bit of an attitude

    Sometimes, but in my experience that depends on the person and the site. For what it's worth, personally I've found folks on S-G, for example, to be pretty friendly, laid back, and knowledgeable. I have found certain of those qualities lacking in, say, RPG.Net discussions of the GNS stuff.
    (e) a lot of the jargon and discussions, even AP examples (took a while to figure out what that meant, even), seem very meta- or meta-meta-, to the point that the discussions (not necessarily the play) becomes so abstract that it's not an interesting tool for me to understand gaming

    That's very interesting--I haven't noticed that myself. Is there anything along those lines that you've seen recently on S-G?
    (f) much of it is focused primarily on game design and not on game playing

    From where I'm standing, that's a feature, not a bug, and is entirely on purpose. Why is this a bad thing, if the people who invented and use the jargon are mainly game designers?
    (g) there are very few "competing" theories introduced or tolerated

    I agree that there ought to be more competition out there, and we'd see which model leads to better play.
    although the theory currently in vogue at any given time may change; this comes across as a form of groupthink bordering on the religious

    This does not match my experiences--but maybe that validates your impression! Can you cite an example of this? I've found the ideas as I understand them, to be pretty well nailed down. But I haven't paid very rigorous attention.

    I usually see the term "groupthink" whenever a group of people are blind to an obvious flaw in their perceptions, or are doing something very inefficiently.

    Is there some aspect of play (or design) which you think the Big Model has either (a) completely missed, or (b) handles very inefficiently? That's a serious question--and answering it is the only way this stuff can move forward.
  • In every instance in my experience, GNS jargon and related terminology has been an impediment to clear communication, instead of an aid to it. It quite often leads people to think they are talking about the same things when they are not in fact doing so (as a specific example, I give you any discussion where "Push" and "Pull" are mentioned).


    And Kynn's points A, B, C and G ring very true to my experience.
  • edited May 2007
    What's "trad-heavy"?

    I've not seen that word used before, but I gather it means, "These guys play a bunch of mainstream RPG's, or lesser-known RPG's with similar kinds of rules & play styles." So, like, Vampire, D&D, Alternity, Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Earthdawn, Mutants & Masterminds, etc.
  • In every instance in my experience, GNS jargon and related terminology has been an impediment to clear communication, instead of an aid to it.

    That's not quite my question. My question is: granted that it impedes communication, how much, and how much does it matter to you?
    It quite often leads people to think they are talking about the same things when they are not in fact doing so (as a specific example, I give you any discussion where "Push" and "Pull" are mentioned).

    Oooh, Push & Pull are good ones, you're right, there's been some misunderstanding there. Again, I haven't really keenly felt the pangs of my own ignorance on this one. But I wish I had a bit more time tonight to see how hard it is to dope it out.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: James_Nostack===My Own Case===
    I started reading the Forge in late 2004. I usually avoided the GNS and Theory folders because I personally only wanted stuff I could touch. Every so often, out of boredom, I would read a GNS thread on RPG.Net, which was always a huge waste of time; I'd occasionally check out the Forge Glossary, which was a waste of time for different reasons.

    I didn't understand any of the jargon. And it didn't matter a bit.
    What sort of negative impact other than waste of time do you imagine that terminology might induce? Personally, I'd say that bad jargon from the Forge has negatively impacted me the same way it negatively impacted you -- by wasting my time.

    The difference is that I was involved in theoretical discussions, so it probably wasted rather more time for me than it did for you. Prior to the Forge, I'd been involved in RPG theory discussion and had a website with essays. Thus, on the Forge I hung out on the theory and GNS forums a lot. I did get various useful ideas from discussions there, but rarely from anything associated with the common jargon. (Like the discussions of myth and ritual and bricolage, Chris Lehrich's mystery ideas, Emily Care's coverage of concepts from dramatherapy, and others.)
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyI am always curious as to why this specific request is so upsetting to many people. I wonder why Kynn sees this issue automatically with an elitist, nonsensical motive, and why the negative, you're-not-using-plain-English assumption has to be used.

    But let's no go there on this thread.
    Play nice, everybody.
  • edited May 2007
    My apologies. I'd really hate for Story Games to become a well-poisoning contest.

    For my part, theory jargon has only been illuminating for me, and I have yet to hear anybody have an actual, specific complaint about how theory jargon had a negative impact on their gaming. I hear a lot of people being "frustrated" and I hear a lot of people trying to force it on their friends, but I never hear, "I tried to understand bangs, but I unintentionally shot my girlfriend in the face! Quel domage!"

    I'd love to hear something concrete about how theory jargon hurt somebody, since I hear the implication so often.
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyI'd love to hear something concrete about how theory hurt somebody, since I hear the implication so often.
    Topic check -- I thought we were talking about negative impacts of Forge-specific jargon, not about theory concepts in general.
  • You are correct, John. Post amended.
  • I'd say it's "hurt" me because it's made me not be able to participate in discussions which I might otherwise enjoy. It's turned me off to, for example, places like the Forge which could otherwise benefit me in my growth as a game designer, not to mention the important role of social networking in indie games.

    (In other words, a lot of the social networking that goes on involves heavy "theory" discussion, or forums which have such, and by being turned off to participation in those discussions I'm effectively shutting myself out of the network to some degree.)

    I tried The Forge, didn't like it, primarily got turned off by the lingo-plus-One-True-Theory sensibility, and moved on. I didn't even know that Story Games existed, or that the Forge had some sort of theory shutdown ("diaspora" references?) until I decided to do Game Chef this year, and I only remembered Game Chef because I'm still on some mailing list for 24h games, or maybe I read it on Fred's or Brand's or someone's LJ. So basically my dislike for the lingo and associated theory led to me cutting myself off from indie game design.

    Maybe I'm the only for whom this is true, though. I dunno. I do know that people for whom the lingo/Theory problem was enough of a barrier that they don't bother with indie games at all will probably not be responding to this thread. :)
  • When attempting to discuss the awesome ideas I had gleaned from theory discussion (much of it Forge-generated), my playing group made it very clear that they had no interest in doing so until I could put that shit in plain english. Doing so delayed the time it took for me to share those ideas, and see results, by upwards of four months.

    That's my "horror story" - not something bad, but a very notably delayed good.
  • Posted By: jhkimPosted By: Joshua BishopRobyI'd love to hear something concrete about how theory hurt somebody, since I hear the implication so often.
    Topic check -- I thought we were talking about negative impacts of Forge-specific jargon, not about theory concepts in general.

    I'd add that I view The Theory as different from theory. As I hinted in my first comment on this thread, I view that there is, at any given time, an accepted set of beliefs which, to varying degrees, are the "canon." This evolves over time, but there's a consistent enough lineage leading up to The Theory (of today).

    The Theory is tied in strongly with the lingo; we know that words (lingo) shape viewpoints (theory), so this is going to have some effect no matter the situation. But since there are rarely competing theories to The Theory, the lingo that evolves is heavily based on The Theory of the moment (notice how older terms are said to have fallen out of use).

    This conflict between The Theory (i.e. a specific, generally accepted theory) and theory (the body of knowledge and techniques for examining games) plays out in the lingo as well.

    PS: I'm not saying this to say that you all are groupthinking, but rather that it sounds like groupthinking from the outside. (This is another effect of strongly lingo-based theory discussions; they not only are hard to understand, they also convey the impression that everyone who understands also agrees with each other on the theory.)

    Does this make sense?
  • Posted By: James_Nostack
    Is there some aspect of play (or design) which you think the Big Model has either (a) completely missed, or (b) handles very inefficiently? That's a serious question--and answering it is the only way this stuff can move forward.
    James, not understanding fully either (a) what The Big Model is, or (b) what you think The Big Model means as you ask this question, I'm not sure if I can answer it.

    Not disagreeing that it's a serious question. I just don't know if it is even possible to define The Big Model in an unambiguous way right now that people can agree or disagree with it.

    Wikipedia has a page about it, should I consider that the authoritative definition? (Parts of it I just don't understand. And of course, why would anyone consider Wikipedia definitive for anything?)

    John has a definition which says:
    The Big Model
    Ron Edward's term for his general theory of role-playing interaction, incorporating his ideas on GNS and further describing role-play as nested subsets of Social Contract, Exploration, and Creative Agenda, respectively.
    But that's really a glossary entry, not a full definition.

    The definition links to a Nov 2003 by Edwards but I am (a) not sure what all he means by everything in there since it's jargon-heavy and assumes theory knowledge which I don't possess, and (b) not sure if this is even the summary of The Big Model that I should be using.

    So, I can't really answer this question. Is The Big Model sufficent? Heck if I know. I don't know what The Big Model is.
  • edited May 2007
    A case study in the Burden of Jargon:

    ===James Nostack vs. Push/Pull===
    0. Start at 7:13 PM.
    1. Google search under: push pull rpg theory
    2. Find Mo's original post
    3. Read Mo's original post, with comments.
    4. Provisional understanding achieved! when Brand said:
    Imagine the difference between: I do a conflict with you, I win. I tell you the woman seduces your character, and your wife finds out (Push) VS. I offer you a bribe if the soman seduces you and your wife finds out, but you get to decide if you take it or not (Pull).

    Relatively few Indie-Games make use of Pull techniques. The ones I'm aware of tend to be focused on player reward mechanics, but I suppose there could be Pull techniques for setting or system too. Sorcerer's Kicker is kind of a Pull. So are Keys from Shadow of Yesterday. So are Aspects from FATE. So are Bonds and the various Limitations in Nobilis. Come to think of it, maybe the Humanity definition of Sorcerer can be viewed as sort of a Pull technique, operating across several sessions of play: the GM is saying, "Look, in this particular campaign, I will give you more resources if you behave according to this definition of virtue." (I'm not 100% sure if the roll to lose Humanity counts as a Push.)

    Elapsed time: 25 minutes, 10 of which was spent thinking. Not bad; I think I'm ready to enter a discussion now.
  • Posted By: James_Nostack
    ===James Nostack vs. Push/Pull===
    0. Start at 7:13 PM.
    1. Google search under: push pull rpg theory
    2. Find Mo'soriginal post
    3. Read Mo's original post, with comments.
    4. Provisional understanding achieved! when Brand said:

    ...

    Elapsed time: 25 minutes, 10 of which was spent thinking. Not bad; I think I'm ready to enter a discussion now.
    But last month, Push/Pull was redefined, Brand admitted his understanding was wrong, and people are now using it in a totally different way. Mo's latest post reflects this.

    Actually, I just made that all up, but it's the kind of stuff which has happened before. A few years back, I got myself confused to the point of giving up trying to understand GNS, and now I come back and find you guys saying "oh yeah, we moved on from THAT."
  • How about we keep the discussion grounded in the actual, rather than the hypothetical?
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyHow about we keep the discussion grounded in the actual, rather than the hypothetical?
    I thought it was reasonably well grounded by James' initial question -- the question isn't how hypothetical people were negatively impacted by jargon, but by how you the poster were negatively impacted by certain jargon. I am an actual entity, and I talked about my own experiences with jargon.

    Some of the followup questions, like his question about what the Big Model doesn't handle, move into the hypothetical.
  • Hey, there's no need to fuss at each other. Kynn's answer, based on his own experiences, led me to ask a follow-up question about those experiences. It's all good.
  • edited May 2007
    Actaully, GNS theory, and the ideas set forth at the Forge didn't ruin my life at all. When I first discovered the GNS theory and read into it, in detail, I was elated that somebody had FINALLY taken the steps to produce a cant that put ideas about games into force. Rather than discuss things in circular Q&A sessions until all parties knew what each other were talking about, one could merely reference a phrase and it was understood.

    Does this mean that I adhere to GNS theory as the messiah of game-design: no, actually quite the opposite. I find the terminology very handy to discuss game designing amongst game designers, and that is all.

    I also find the ideas that the terminology is built from (and upon) to be very enlightening, but of little use to me personally. I think that the best thing the theory jargon has done is to give us a solid definition of things that go on during design and play. No longer do verteran gamers or game designers have to 'guess' what the other is talking about, we now have an archetypical phrase that references exactly what we are talking about.

    However, this excellent facet of the jargon has also led, at least somewhat, to its own undoing. I mean if you want a stoic and well-versed definition of a term, just go and look it up in the provisional glossary, but there have been too many references to an entire essay, a particularly verboose thread done some years ago, or a rally-cry from other debate that is now thrown in assuming that EVERYBODY has memorized each and every point ever made, defined, or debated.

    Not long ago something I was said when I was mentioning my self-defined 'cool factor' ,about some extremely abstract and non-quanitifiable characteristic that excellent games have in spite of their shortcomings, an entire volume of essay was referenced assuming that I had searched through each and every character of prose ever written and grappled with the author's concepts. Because my entire intent was pigeon-holed into terms already in place in the jargon, and very ill-fitting ones at that, my entire prose was debated on the content of the wording, not the idea, and definitely not the intent. And no, I have no hurt feelings about that; aggressive debate as such helps us all grow. If I cannot relate my points, in my own owrds or in jargon, then I need to add weight and clarity to them.

    Because the jargon grew out of such an elephantine volume of written text, this seems to have become an inherent character flaw within the jargon. Those that speak only in the jargon try to peg everything said into it without exception, and those who do not tend to not even chime in when the jargon tossers start throwing the jargon about.

    So I am resolute that the jargon spawned from the Forge and GNS has given us all a central terminology to reference. But I find the idea that ALL should only speak in this mystic code of jargon to be very prejorative. That's not the case here so much as it is other places, as everyone here, on both sides of the jargon or theory fence seems to have an excellent sense of "no feelings ever hurt" honor.

    For instance, if I wanted to pose a question to Jason Morningstar here, or to Levi, or others that speak the jargon fluently, I would use such phrases that are under my proficiency to better communicate with them. If I were talking design points to somebody that has barely even heard of GNS, I wouldn't be talking about pushing my pops, and pulling my bangs.

    If I'm speaking to everyone, I use my own words.

    My ultimate view is that the jargon is extremely handy to describe convuluted and complex things in a simple manner, but it shouldn't be used as the only means of debate and communication amongst us. English should be just as accepted as the Forgian Dialect, from both sides of the fence.

    After all, I always felt thast we should be discussing ideas, opinions, and points...not whether actor stance or character motivation are the correct phrases.
  • It's harmful to me only in that the Forge became about it, instead of about independent publication, which was its original purpose.
  • Uh, man. Push & Pull are not Forge theory jargon.

    Seriously, what?
  • Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorUh, man. Push & Pull are not Forge theory jargon.

    Seriously, what?
    Myself, I have no idea what jargon comes from where.

    One of the things I notice is that a lot of people seem to know not only what the terms mean, but also who said them (first), who refined them, and when/where (roughly) they were said.

    So for someone who knows all that, it's (apparently) clear that Push/Pull aren't "Forge theory jargon," but for those who aren't in the know, the source of a particular piece of jargon is never really clear.

    <Silly>This is why we should obviously start using XML-style namespaces on all jargon. Like forge:Narrativism or mo:Pull.</Silly>
  • Well, of course. Some people know more stuff than others. I just found that one surprising since Push/Pull is a) more recent and b) started by someone with no association with the Forge at all that I'm aware of. It did get discussed on S-G, somewhat infamously, but that seemed like all the more reason for people to know more about it and its origins.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: KynnWhat's "trad-heavy"?
    Posted By: James_Nostack
    I've not seen that word used before, but I gather it means, "These guys play a bunch of mainstream RPG's, or lesser-known RPG's with similar kinds of rules & play styles." So, like, Vampire, D&D, Alternity, Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, Earthdawn, Mutants & Masterminds, etc.

    James got it in one. Sorry for using an odd phrase there, didn't mean to muddy the waters.

    I was thinking "trad" = traditional RPGs like James said above + "heavy" as in most of their playing experience they've described on the show.
  • Brand's mention of the dreaded theory kill kinda reminded me how gaming theory ruined my life.

    My first remembered exposure to theory was over the gaming table, during actual play. I was in the middle of the instinctive rush that is roleplaying for me and suddenly we were being quoted chapter and verse from the book of Ron. And I had no idea who Ron was or what his point was, though it all sounded vaguely critical. We spiraled into explanations and the play died like we'd hit it with a nailgun. None of this was as fun (to me) as the game we were playing.

    So, on the surface, theory just totally fucked up this game I was playing. In retrospect, though, the theory kill was a symptom of a problem rather than the cause. I suspect that even in the parallel universe where the Forge never existed, this game wouldn't have satisfied all its participants, and the theory kill was just a botched but honest attempt to communicate that.

    I'm past all that now, I think, and I'm glad you guys are doing your incomprehensible thing.
  • Posted By: James_NostackAnd that istotally, completely, unfair of me. For all I know, people reallyhaveexperienced distress trying to figure out the jargon on the Forge. And that's what I'm wondering about: for all our discussions about how jargon might serve as barrier to discussions for apotentialnewcomer, I'm wondering how big a problem it's been foractualnewcomers. If that was you in the Gnarliburr example, like.

    How has the jargon on RPG discussion sites negatively impacted YOU personally? It's one thing to say that having to learn a few silly words is a burden; I'm curious to know how big of a burden it truly is.
    Quite simply, it has stood time and again as a barrier to making friends. It wasn't until I met folks face to face that I really felt like I got past the whole pile of jargon and rigor-of-discourse crap that so very deeply, even angrily, turned me off to the Forge as a place for having plain-speaking conversation about things I love. Folks use jargon a lot more in text, and a lot less in person, plus in person offers a lot of other stuff to leaven the jargon loaf, as it were.

    Yeah. Jargon's utility as a barrier definitely exists. I can see why you'd want a barrier. But some of those people that get kept out by it? They could be friends with you.

    This past year, where I've finally gotten IN PERSON with a lot of people, showed me who was on the other side of that barrier. It was really nice. I like making new friends.

    I wish I had been allowed to make them a lot sooner than I did.
  • In germany, jargon use has split parts of the online rpg community in ways that seem irredeemable. But here, the additional problem is that the jargon barrier is supplemented by a language barrier, which leads to even more misunderstandings and misconceptions about jargon and the theory behind it (on both sides).

    Me? I of course, understood it very well and now I am beyond having to use forge jargon [insert chin stroking smiley here if you're humor-challenged]. I never used jargon compulsively, but in some circles I'm known as an elitist forge dick just because I did use jargon at times. That didn't ruin my life though, it made sorting out the duds easier, after I recognized the pattern.

    But, as Fred just said, meeting people face-to-face helps solve maaany problems you might have with the (ab)use of jargon in online fora.
  • edited May 2007
    Fred, what kills me is that you are the one who admits to being angry, and blamed words, blamed jargon. Um, isn't that your problem, not the words? Words don't do anything. They're just symbols. And, your post doesn't indicate that anyone did things online to rightly upset you other than use the words. And, when you met them, you realized, hey, these word-guys are ok!

    Wish you had been allowed to make friends sooner? That was you not allowing yourself, viewing human beings angrily because they used a couple dozen words about a hobby.

    I'm all for finding more friends. People who are angry with me because I use words like "incoherent" or "de-protagonize"? I need more patient friends than that.

    The jargon barrier is not some supernatural thing that words themselves erect to prevent you from joining in on the secret club. It's people refusing to take the time to learn the words, sometimes even getting angry about it, and blaming anything but their own unwillingness. I think that's silly.
  • edited May 2007
    Matt: While I agree with you, there's a lot more moving parts than that. I hate to invoke this (it seems like the modern equivalent of the gaming Godwin Law), but it's paramount to the understanding:
    Posted By: Matt_SnyderWords don't do anything. They're just symbols.
    "Brain Damage".

    While I agree with the sentiment of "RPGs create artificial crutches to create story, that can end up hindering our story-creation processes in regards to roleplaying" ("Let's make a story. OK, let's start the story process by making characters." Bzzzzzzt, wrong), the above Forge Language (as thread title) was such a poorly chosen symbol.

    Words do things, otherwise we wouldn't have poetry, editorials, essays, and words wouldn't create reactions in people.
    And, your post doesn't indicate that anyone did things online to rightly upset you other than use the words. And, when you met them, you realized, hey, these word-guys are ok!
    "Brain Damage" made Fred want to smash people in the face. He wasn't the only one.

    And later he realized that the guys who said that stuff meant "the above" when they were saying "brain damage". Plus, they were cool guys, and shaking their hands, gaming with them made it so that he saw those guys as people, not BBS-posting robots. So he didn't want to put boot in face anymore.

    I can entirely sympathize.

    -Andy
  • Matt, was that a sly way to point out that our language is inexact at communicating to begin with?

    Anyway, for me jargon has been an impediement to understand and a time sink (as mentioned by others). I cannot think of a topic that would not have been helped by using plain english to describe what someone is saying TO ME (ie meant for me). Instead I see a handful of topics that come to a crashing halt (here and at the Forge) by using the word Sim. Now the conversation isn't about "How do I Drive Home the Sim in my Hero game" rather it's "what does Sim mean to me?" (and no, I am not going to spend even more time trawling through posts to find examples - lest I then add this post as a way jargon wasted my time). I would be amazed if someone could honestly say they have never seen that happen. I think it even happened during one of these jargon discussions. Even if I know what some term means someone else does not and my using it only muddies the discussion waters. It's not exacting, rather it's lazy. I understand what Joshua's trying to say but in many cases I don't think it's coming across to the people it's intended (unless one is only communicating with a few people that agree with their interpreation of the term). I find it's better to either hash out what you mean instead of using a term that your intended audience has differed opinions on or to link the term to some link that clearly states your use of the term.

    Again, not because I am unwilling to "got look it up" rather because I THINK I know what you mean but it may become obvious later that we're under different assumptions of it's meaning.

    A good example is the word "significant." A large majority of the population will read that word and say "I know what that means - important; meaningful; substantial." And they will use it again and again cause it's a cool word. They'll say "the number of people in the US using drugs is significant." And I will argue that "no way is the percentage of the population using drug greater than 95% (the statistical meaning of the word)." Or if I use significant in that way will someone even bat an eye at it's meaning. They just assume I am saying it's substantial and that is obviously underestimating the point.

    So that's my jargon AP with a little hypothetical non-gaming example.
  • edited May 2007
    Andy, I just don't see how that in any way refutes anything I'm saying at all. "Brain damage" are still just words. People either get mad at them or not. The words don't do a thing. Which is what I said.

    Every time people get tied into fits about the Forge, they furiously point at "Brain" and "damage" together like it was some kind of hate crime. You can get mad about it, or not. It's still not the words themselves doing a damn thing. Get mad at the people saying them, or take responsibility for not understanding them, or responsibilty for your own anger, or whatever it is you decide is just and fair. Deflecting that responsibility onto the words themselves as though they're some force of nature is phony.

    Furthermore, you'll note that I was responding the Fred, who used this phrase: "Jargon's utility as a barrier." (he also used the term "rigor-of-discourse crap"). He the went on to use the term "jargon" two more times. Yes, this thread is called "Forge language," but I was responding to Fred's use of "jargon." I think that was fair. Hope you do too. And, more importantly, I certainly hope Fred does.
  • It's also possible at times to encounter words or phrases which you don't know, and they might or might not be Forge Jargon (or whatever). Like, for example, this thread where I didn't know what a "goat-throw" is.

    Turns out it's a term for that little "devil sign" you make with your hands to show how metal you are (or something), but it could easily be a reference to, say, a famous gaming story where someone had to throw a goat to a dragon in order to escape, but he'd cleverly loaded up the goat with dynamite, so when the dragon ate it, its head blew off.

    The only way to know these things is to ask, but sometimes if you ask, people think you're stupid, or intentionally disruptional, or derailing the purity of the thread, or whatever, and then you end up looking and feeling stupid for not knowing Forge Lingo or real-world slang terms.

    (I suppose I could have gone and asked over in the Forge glossary discussion, but I've already seen some people saying "that's not a Forge theory term!!" and sometimes it's easier to ask on the main thread.)

    There's probably an argument that questions should be asked in whispers, but there's also an argument that if one person doesn't understand it, there are probably more as well who could benefit from an explanation.

    Thoughts?
  • James,

    The objective of this thread seems to be to get concrete examples of how Forge jargon has negatively impacted readers in a real way. Do you want counter examples cluttering up the thread? If not, I'll wait for a thread for that specific purpose and post to it.
  • Kynn, in general I have no problem with people asking as many questions as they like. However, in that particular thread I want to concentrate on fun gaming stories and not get derailed over vocabulary concerns. I hope that it's clear that I wasn't trying to chase you off, just in that particular thread vocabulary questions aren't appropriate. I would really like to hear some of your awesome gaming stories over there, because I like hearing about the fun other people have, and I like to share my own.
  • Posted By: GaerikDo you want counter examples cluttering up the thread?
    I'm curious about this, too, as my experience has been positive overall.
  • Unfortunately, I must second oliof's remark: same things happen in Russian rpg community. I mean, after understanding or not understanding the jargon (from each other's posts, not from the Forge articles), people tend to fall into one of the two groups: either assuming the eliticist i-know-more-about-role-playing-that-you-all-can-ever-dream-to point of view or the very defensive i-don't-need-this-shit-and-i'm-a-mighty-fine-role-player-anyway point of view, both equally unconstructive as you might guess. The worst part in this is communication breakdown: the two "clubs" don't understand each other and don't really want to explain themselves (RTFM being a universal answer).

    As for me personally, I am happy to say I always understood Forge Lingo just as good as I needed to. The level of my interest in game theory is limited, so is the level of fluency in the jargon. Definitely guilty of not being able to distinguish between namespaces (see Kynn's idea above) or to remember all stances after being waken up in the middle of the night.
  • Posted By: Radaghastor to remember all stances after being waken up in the middle of the night
    There's only one stance worth remembering:
    image
    SHAOLIN TIGER STANCE!

    (as an aside, I think that actor, director stance "jargon" helped me out a lot in figuring out what I wanted out of my gaming. I like those terms).

    Also, AWESOME! I didn't know we had Russian members! Unfortunately I'm incapable of spelling in Cyrillic anymore (though I can still read it), and the only real Russian I remember from school some 17 years ago is "Muy f kino. Navoka zhimi znakomui?" and "Pochimo tui na vui?". :-)

    If you have a chance, I would love to see you create a thread/discussion with an introductory description of a few original Russian RPGs that you might be able to recommend. Would you consider that?

    Thanks!
    -Andy
  • Forge Jargon ruins my life every time i come to story games and see a screen full of threads that I already know will not go anywhere. Maybe that's not a constructive viewpoint, but it's heartfelt.

    I am reminded of Graham's Theory Discussion generator.
  • GNS is my baby daddy and it won't pay child support.

    Honestly, I can't think of a time where Forge Moon Speak has ruined my life. I can, however, think of lots of times where I fucked up my own game with excessive use of it, or alienated players because I was talking weird.

    I blame Ron. He totally drugged me and forced me to speak that way.
  • My short answer to the Topic question is: it hasn't. (I wonder if that's OT)

    Especially the System Does Matter and Story Now articles made it possible to put into words what I wanted from roleplaying. To myself, I mean, less when speaking to others, but it's better than it was three years ago :) And it made me not give up roleplaying, which was a very close call.

    Per
  • Andy, now that's a stance I'll definitely remember next time someone wakes me up! And didn't we talk a couple of months ago here in chat? I think we did, and you were just as enthusiastic about it as you are now ;)

    As for the list of Russian RPGs... I'm in no way an expert in this (have been a happy D&D player for years, and still am, in a sense), but I guess I can try... Don't expect anything drastically different though, after all we do play the same kind of games you do ;)
  • edited May 2007
    "The only way to know these things is to ask, but sometimes if you ask, people think you're stupid, or intentionally disruptional, or derailing the purity of the thread, or whatever, and then you end up looking and feeling stupid for not knowing Forge Lingo or real-world slang terms."

    There is a small chain of steps I suggest you follow, should you find this occuring:

    1. Take a step back, and consider that, in fact the written post that you're reading may be transmitting to you a feeling that the poster did not intend. Many times they're just being lazy. I'm like that sometimes. Comes from posting too much.
    2. If you find that you were right, and the poster is being an ass thusly, then do one of the following.
    A. Berate the asshole within an inch of his life for his idoicy
    B. If you're not feeling confrontational, please inform me, so that I may berate said ass within an inch of his life.

    I have a personal bone to pick with anyone who thinks that they're smarter than somebody else, just because they've taken the time to learn something specific that the other has not. Knowledge is not Intelligence.

    It's not an acceptable behavior to me to berate somebody for not knowing something, nor to anyone else I can think of who have valued opinions about jargon or the theory behind it.

    If it's me, tell me. Say, "Mike, thou art being a fuckwit." How else am I gonna learn?


    Like, while I'm at it... Remi, did you intend your comments to Kynn to come off so harsh on the thread with the "goat-throw" reference? I was glad Kynn asked, because I sure as shootin had no idea what it meant.

    Mike
  • Posted By: Mike Holmes"The only way to know these things is to ask, but sometimes if you ask, people think you're stupid, or intentionally disruptional, or derailing the purity of the thread, or whatever, and then you end up looking and feeling stupid for not knowing Forge Lingo or real-world slang terms."
    There's also the perfectly reasonable suggestion Remi made, that you ask clarification in a whisper. I doubt anybody on this board would respond to a whisper for clarification negatively.
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyThere's also the perfectly reasonable suggestion Remi made, that you ask clarification in a whisper. I doubt anybody on this board would respond to a whisper for clarification negatively.
    Except, evidently, the person being asked to make it.

    Telling people with honest questions to make their questions invisible to others, lest they harsh the mellow, is maybe not the best way to make them feel that questions are welcomed by the community. Just sayin.
  • Forge Jargon ruins my life every time i come to story games and see a screen full of threads that I already know will not go anywhere. Maybe that's not a constructive viewpoint, but it's heartfelt.
    I agree with this sentiment 100%.

    Thank you Dave Younce.
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