Rules as Audience

edited September 2008 in Story Games
Think about improv for a moment - actually, imagine that you're on the stage, in the middle of some really amazingly great long-form improv. Your troupe does "a serial story", and like any group, you take a lot of cues from the audience when you do it.

Now remove the audience, and replace that audience with a set of rules that does the same stuff, applies similar pressures to the group, rewards them at the same points.

What would those rules look like?

How would they look like tabletop RPG rules (traditional, novel, or outrageous games all apply)?

How would they look different from what we know?

Comments

  • edited September 2008
    This describes Poison'd pretty much exactly.

    Vincent says the rules are "watching over your shoulder" but the improv audience metaphor is just as apt.
  • Urrrr ... you mean "Remove the members of the audience that aren't also actors", right?

    Note: I'm not being nitpicky there. I believe this to be an important point.
  • Posted By: TonyLBUrrrr ... you mean "Remove the members of the audience that aren't also actors", right?
    Yes. Ish.

    That is, I dig on actor-actor feedback, even when one actor is offstage. In my metaphor, that's what most "fanmail" mechanisms work on - they try to empower actor-actor feedback as a replacement for audience-actor feedback.

    (Notably, "In my metaphor", means "the one in my head, and hopefully partly in yours, now".)
  • Posted By: John HarperThis describesPoison'dpretty much exactly.

    Vincent says the rules are "watching over your shoulder" but the improv audience metaphor is just as apt.
    Cool! Except that "Looks like Poison'd" is, um, too vague.

    What specific things does it do that act like that?
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenNow remove the audience, and replace that audience with a set of rules that does the same stuff, applies similar pressures to the group, rewards them at the same points.
    For those of us who haven't done any long-form improv - could you describe what the audience does?
  • Posted By: MatthijsFor those of us who haven't done any long-form improv - could you describe what the audience does?
    First, the regular audience stuff... they applaud, laugh, can be 'lost'; in short, they judge the whole thing as a piece. Even without pre-scripting, there's pressure for consistency, action now, and so on. More than anything, they can get bored; an audience pulls at you to feed their attention.

    Second, they make suggestions - sometimes when asked, sometimes in heckler form, but how they do so depends on the venue and the way the group has primed them. And the suggestions are often the opposite of the pull for continuity and sense (they're moment-to-moment stuff, often); the pressure to make sense of those suggestions and fit them in is entirely on the actors.

    Er, and a lot more stuff. Like, a LOT more.
  • One of the big things the audience-rules would do is reward reincorporation. In fact, reincorporation may be the prime mover of the game economy.
  • Posted By: Josh RobyOne of the big things the audience-rules would do is reward reincorporation. In fact, reincorporation may be the prime mover of the game economy.
    ...Huh. Yeah. Reincorporation is pretty big stuff. I can see that.

    Rewarding entry-with-purpose strikes me as a pretty strong line to run, too. Or maybe something more like "You can't get your teeth into the game economy unless you are acting with purpose."
  • edited September 2008
    Posted By: Levi KornelsenThat is, I dig on actor-actor feedback, even when one actor is offstage.In my metaphor, that's what most "fanmail" mechanisms work on - they try to empower actor-actor feedback as a replacement for audience-actor feedback.
    I don't think that the black-and-white distinction betewen actor and audience works for me.

    Audience is a role. Actor is a role. Someone up on stage will usually be taking on both of those roles.

    Saying that you want to use Actor-Actor feedback as a replacement for Audience-Actor feedback just doesn't jibe with the way I think of it as roles. People who are being actors don't need to replace the audience ... they can be the audience (while also being actors).
  • Posted By: TonyLBAudience is a role. Actor is a role. Someone up on stage will usually be taking on both of those roles.
    Certainly. But someone taking both roles will view them differently than someone taking only one - and, even more importantly, vey differently from a whole mass of people taking purely an audience role.

    Of course it's a fuzzy distinction. Black and White can be a fuzzy distinction, depending on the palette you choose.
  • Okay. I don't understand how you think "audience up on stage" is fundamentally different from "audience in the chairs", as a role.

    I'm not saying it's not, just that I don't yet understand the distinction you're drawing.

    If you can expand on that, I'll be listening with great interest.
  • Audience up on stage has a different perspective. They know the actor, they have some understanding on his method, personality and goals. And they have an agenda on their own. They worry about what the actor is doing, because it could potentially affect what they will do afterwards. (I suppose the equivalent of the metaphor would be related to "meta-gaming".)

    Audience in the chairs do not. They are there simply to observe and enjoy the acting. They have no agenda (other than witness and understand the play). Their actions will not be affected by anyone's acting (even if their feelings and/or thoughts are). In a way, they act as impartial judges that care about the final outcome, not about what the actors intended. (This is important even with non-improvisational theater, since most audiences do not know exactly what the script would say, but other actors do. So if someone makes a mistake or changes some dialogues, audience in the chairs will probably not notice it.)
  • Tristan: That's all about people's motives ... but what they do as audience (parsing events, responding, judging) seems very much the same.

    I'm still having trouble understanding the distinction that way, because it sounds like saying (to analogize) "When your brother, the cop, arrests you for disorderly conduct he's fulfilling a fundamentally different role than when some random beat cop busts you for disorderly conduct." Seems to me that they slap on the cuffs and read you your rights, pretty much the same way.
  • The thing is that from the outside it seems like the same, but those motives are a very important distinction. Because it really affects how people react and feel.

    In your example, people might argue that perhaps it is not the best if you arrest your brother, because there is conflict of interests. You might actually act on your brother's behalf more than in the "correct way", such as giving him some legal loophole so he can get out later. Or maybe you even decide you won't arrest him (or allow him to escape).

    Or maybe he didn't truly committed disorderly conduct, but you arrested him because of some weird family feud...

    So yes, from the outside it looks the same, but because he is involved, those parsing events, responding, judging and stuff are not the same. I'm not saying they have to be more or less worthy, or that they are wrong or right. All I'm saying is they are different.
  • Posted By: TonyLBTristan: That's all about people'smotives... but what they do as audience (parsing events, responding, judging) seems very much the same.
    I'm on stage with you and Josh. Tristan's in the audience.

    You 'go to the fridge', stage left. I miss that bit, and 'go to the fridge', stage right.

    ACTOR: Josh, an actor, knows that this is screwed. He give me feedback - he has his character walk over to stage right to get a beer, turn, and say "Dammit, Levi, how many times have I asked you to take those rollers off the fridge?"

    AUDIENCE: Tristan, in the audience, doesn't have a character. He expresses confusion over "what the hell?", but does not a single thing to fix it.

    In Improv, if you declared something, there's no meta-discussion, no-take-backs. Audience can say "you bombed that", but won't fix it. Actors fix things.
  • The audience never fills in inconsistencies or gaps in what they're viewing with created material?

    And yes, I'm thinking rather intently of the X-Files here ... but, honestly, I see this sort of natural interpolation happening everywhere.
  • Posted By: TonyLBThe audience never fills in inconsistencies or gaps in what they're viewing with created material?
    Not on stage.

    Hmmmm!

    I'm starting to think, here, that to actually do this thing, such a game would need fairly strict rules on "performing" - the idea being that when your character is onstage, you the player are "on" - no side talk of any kind, period.

    (Part of this exercise is, really, to imagine a mini-game-thing where players feel like onstage actors, where there's no "safe" step back into "let's pause and consult", and where there's good action and bad action. A serious "thrown into the deep end" kind of thing. And to see if that could be a good thing).
  • Uh, nevermind.
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