In what way is Passive, Reactive, Uncreative Play not inferior,

edited January 2009 in Story Games
Hey,

In an effort to not derail his original thread I brought this here, but in that thread someone goes about how the majority of people have something like Passive, Reactive, Uncreative Play and then goes on about how this is not a value judgement.

This pissed me off pretty much, because A> its an attitude that the op is certainly not alone in in my opinion B> I don't believe its true C> Its a value judgement in my opinion.

So please proove me wrong, how can Passive, Uncreative, Reactive Play be supierior to Active, Creative, play. If its not a vaule judgement the balance of good vs bad should go both ways, so please help me with my bad wrong think.

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  • If you have an issue with something one person posted, you might want to work it out in private (email offline, whispers, etc).

    -Andy
  • Of course passive, reactive and uncreative play is not "inferior". What would that even mean?

    Now, it might be that those qualities make that sort of play unuseful for a given purpose. Functionally the wrong choice, wrong tool for what you're trying to achieve. I don't see why I should need to prove that passive, reactive and uncreative play would be better for something specific, though - it's enough to analytically demonstrate that those are qualities of technique and not of goals, and therefore claiming anything but functional value for them is a category error. Therefore we can claim that play like that is nonfunctional for a purpose, but we can't claim that it is inferior.

    However, if you insist, here is an example of superior play: when we play Heroquest, that old boardgame, play that is passive, reactive and uncreative is superior compared to play that does not have one of these qualities. Passive play beats active because you don't want to activate more than one room of monsters at a time. Reactive play beats active because you don't want to play out of turn - you only act when the rules require you to, not whenever the mood strikes you. Uncreative play is better than creative - and this is actually a crucial practical point in my experience - because playing Heroquest "creatively" seems to always lead to the game morphing into some sort of semi-roleplaying and resultant rules arguments. Better to just follow the rules and not think about it too hard, as that sort of outright drift doesn't lead to anything satisfactory.

    But really, those are just matters of technique. If your goal in the game is to have players who don't act too unexpectedly, it seems like a fine idea to instruct them to act passively, reactively and in uncreative manner. I've met several GMs through the years for whom these are the best players they could hope for. It's not at all far-fetched.
  • It should be noted that not everyone in the group can be passive and reactive - someone has to take the lead in putting things out there. A GM can fulfill that role, or another situation generator. And note that "passive" and "reactive" are opposites - groups are not passive to the extent that they react more enthusedly, creatively, etc. to situations and elements of the game. For the most part, in that other thread, the passivity came in the creation of a situation, not in the participation in that situation, which can be very passionate and creative within its bounds.

    And note that stories with passive/reactive elements are quite popular - superhero comics, detective fiction, and so on.
  • edited January 2009
    If you're talking about me, I never said passive, reactive or uncreative.

    I have played in groups that were like that. In fact, it was key to my gaming up until I took up with my current group and it took me a good three or four sessions to get used to not having stuff rammed down my throat but instead having to put stuff into the game. Interestingly enough, I sat in on a game with my old group and since I left it has gotten even more passive and uncreative. In fact, there's this hideous culture whereby the GM tells you what your character feels and vetoes any actions he thinks are 'out of character'. He also has a big hand in deciding what you should and should not play. My thinking on the matter is that the GM in question should take up writing short fiction.

    In many ways I'm more of a traditionalist than many when it comes to GM power but I really do draw the line at being told "but your character woudn't do that".

    As for passive and reactive play, I think it's what people are used to. I know for ages it didn't occur to me that I could say "actually we're not going to do that. We're getting on a plane to Ibiza and checking out the clubs" and for a while after that it struck me as a player being a dick and wanting to derrail the game in order to make it about what he wants it to be about. It's like inverse railroading.

    Also worth bearing in mind is the role played by a desire to be non-confrontational. I know in America people are raised in a therapy-friendly culture where you're constantly compelled to "talk about it" and "get it out, it's eating you alive" but in truth a lot of people are a lot happier not 'talking about it' and as long as the game is just entertaining enough, they'll keep coming back.

    As for uncreative, I'm not sure what that means. Lots of people run epic fantasy which is recycled shit based on recycled shit based on recycled shit based on Tolkien. I'd call that pretty uncreative.

    And regarding something being inferior I think that's stacking the deck. Getting a blowjob is superior to yawning your way through a dungeon crawl with a bunch of retards you barely like but it's not as though people get up in the morning and say "shall I get a blowjob or go back to that Dragonlance game?" A lot of factors influence how people think about their gaming or any other kind of leisure activity and I think that it's reductive to go "X is better than Y, why would you not want to play X?"
  • Well, "passive" and "uncreative" are pretty perjorative on their own. "Reactive" less so, but still. I can think of several contexts in which this sort of play -- rephrased with hopefully positive and not perjorative language -- is better:

    * Strongly GM-led play with a clear vision being delivered by an auteur type GM works very well with players who want to go along on the GM's ride. Trying to bring too much player-level authorship into the game will interfere with this vision so is therefore an inferior style of play.

    * Tactically minded players often prefer to react to challenges, rather than actively pursuing a plan of action.

    * There's a whole realm of tourism-style play that's as far away from story-gaming as SGing is from trad RPing. That is probably the pinnacle of reactive-slash-passive, uncreative play. I mean, yeah, there's some baseline creativity required to visualize the tour the GM is taking you on, but it's not active imagination. It's more like TV without the CRT.

    p.
  • here is an example of the transition from passive to active. One of my players totally lit up when he realized that he could intersect his character into a scene without me the GM inviting him in. This didn't mean he had no-fun, or badwrongfun before I distributed this little bit of narrative control. It just meant that he trusted me to ensure that he would get his spotlight time. In many ways passive here was stronger than active because it involved a level of trust, from him to me. He, as a player, had to give this to me. Just like I had to learn to give this to him, for him to take the step from active to passive.

    It changed our way of gaming. It changed our way of having fun. It didn't change the fact that we had fun. Thus the lack of value judgement.It is just two different ways of having fun. Now we alternate between the two ways depending on where the ficiton is going and what we kind of gaming we are playing.

    Same with reactive. Reactive is I create a situation, the players react. I then have the game world react to what their characters did and we have the whole react -react-react cycle going until that local situation is resolved. nothing negative about that. At the same time we may have one or two players being proactive (active) in that they themselves create or provoke situations for their characters or the group. One player in my group was an expert at doing this inconspiciously. Again no value judgement in that word. Again an exchange of trust.

    I can see uncreative as a word ruffle some feathers. Again it is all about a playstyle where you as the player for instance sin't expected to intorduce NPCs or other setting elements. Where your participation is limited to your characters actions/reactions. Sounds harsher than it really is.
  • Yeah..."uncreative" is still not exactly right, because you can be extremely creative within the boundaries set, sometimes very tight boundaries. Improvisation never works without boundaries at all, so...I think "reactive" is really better.
  • Yeah, I think there's two kinds of "reactive" (though I'm loathe to create new terms myself to separate them, at least awareness of them is helpful).

    One is the kind of Reactive that Kaare and JD and others are talking about, which is basically the GM sets up something and the players react to it - Often explosively! So while they might not go out of their way to Create Situation themselves or take the reigns in steering the core events of the story, as soon as the GM (or another player) presents something to them, like an obstacle, it's like BAM! Roleplay Squad Roll Out! - Creating plans, getting into character, creating enough character content to basically carry the entire rest of the session, even.

    This is opposed to Active, which is where the GM maybe steps back with forceful plots, and expects the players to jump in and create situations which drive the rest of the session.

    The other kind of Reactive is when you have a kind of unresponsive single player (or more) who enjoy the game they are playing, but they don't seem to do Anything At All. In other words, in the above Reactive situation, where all the other players explode into action to react to that situation, there's still the one guy (or more?) who still doesn't move that much. If their character is addressed, they'll reply. If they're forced into a situation, they'll do just enough to get out of it. But beyond that, they can be corpselike.
    (this isn't just about people, mind: Sometimes depending on mood, tiredness etc any player can fall into this for a single session and the like). I've been in a few games with people like this, and it can be really hard to pull them into the game, which is where the fun is for me, as a player.
    *note: This might be what's referred to as "Turtling", but I'm not entirely sure.

    Hope that makes sense, this idea of the "two kinds of uses for 'Reactive' here in gaming". Still not quite formed in my head, tho.

    -Andy
  • In the same way that hammers are very bad cameras, "reactive" play is very bad "active" play.

    They're just not the same thing at all. There really should be a better terminology (I tend to go with labeling the two relationships to the imagined content as "creator" and "fan", but that has its own problems and likely speaks more to my own background and obsessions on this topic than anything).

    It's important to keep in mind that players in the so-called "passive" mode may be very actively engaged and doing creative stuff - they're just doing it within tightly bounded, fairly scripted social expectations. They color in the GM's drawing.

    Do you want to experience the fiction, or do you want to make the fiction?

    Advantages of "Fan" play include:

    1. Immersion-facilitating
    2. You can coast if you want to or you're low energy - the GM will take up the slack
    3. Single coherent vision - fewer "bumps" in resolution
    4. System (sort of) Doesn't Matter - except with regard to technical preferences
    5. Less vulnerability - players are not expected to expose their own creations/ideas to potential criticism or ridicule
    6. Accessibility - much easier to just jump in and participate... just follow your prompts!
    7. Very popular - easy to find compatible players/groups

    Disadvantages of "Creator" play include:

    1. Clash/mis-synch of creative visions
    2. High commitment, high demand of engagement at all times
    3. More likely to interfere with immersion for many players
    4. You will be judged
    5. Minority taste - harder to find compatible groups/games
  • edited January 2009
    Fan/Creator is a nice split and defines the gamers/their phases-moods I know pretty well.

    On Fan #4, I think system does matter more than technically. Some distributed authority games "push you to create" and while you can still have "less innovative, more riffing off others" folks at table if you have only one of them the games don't deliver (Universalis, IAWA, Find Annalise). Likewise, there's a trend in such games to have Creator #1 issue addressed frankly up front (tenets phase etc.).

    Rob

    PS in terms of inferiority etc., what I have found is that running a game for Fans as GM works fine as long as there is a Creator or two among them (consistently or they have phases). Recently life pressures have made everyone I game with Fans and I have felt the pressure on me increase with some negative consequences (I get ranty at them more often).
  • I like fan/creator, but it still has too much of a dichotomy for me. In plenty of reactive games that I've run, for example, players are expected to come up with a backstory for their character, sometimes quite detailed ones with lots of new elements in it. It's a sliding scale. Feng Shui, for example, urges all players to insert relatively minor physical details into scenes in order to promote crazy fight scenes, but any big changes that fully change the situation are still the province of the GM.
  • JD,

    The Feng Shui note is a good one. Of course, in most games there are also all sorts of rules about what, or how, the GM creates new things too.

    I mean, if I say your character is walking down the street and its a lovely day and I ask what you're doing and you say "getting flowers" and I say "Oh, well since you didn't dodge the Dragon eats you" you may well ask "what fucking dragon" and I'm not going to really be justified in saying "The dragon that I just created."

    In every RPG there are social, procedural, genre, and mechanical rules about who can say what, when, and how much of it sticks. Just because some games slide the part that players can say down to a narrower channel doesn't mean that they're inherently wrong, or uncreative. It just means that the creative aspect of the game is focused to specific types at specific moments.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: AndyThe other kind of Reactive is when you have a kind of unresponsive single player (or more) who enjoy the game they are playing, but they don't seem to do Anything At All.
    I don't mean to be a pedant here, but there's already a word for that kind of reactive: passive.
  • edited January 2009
    I find this quite interesting.

    Like Jason (Corley), I don't see this is as a dichotomy. Rather, I see it as a pie chart.

    To create a fictional story, series of events, or narrative dialogue (or whatever you want to call it), someone has to talk. Blah blah blah blah -- there is the story. Whether the individual blahs are "I forgive her" and "the dragon enters the city" or "I move my token one step forward" and "I choose to take the Full Defense option", there is a series of events taking place. All together, they make up the game and/or the story you're making together.

    Someone has to provide each "blah": open their mouth, make a decision, do something. But we can break that up however we like. We can say one person does all the talking, the others just listen. That's Bob telling a story to his friends--passive, from our perspective. We can say we each provide one "blah", an equal slice of the pie--we're all active and creative now. We can say that Bob talks, but he can also prompt one of us when he wants us to say something. That's reactive, from our perspective.

    For different styles of gaming, we'll break up that total pie in different ways. Maybe the GM is telling 60% of the story, and we each get 10%. Or maybe we each get equal parts.

    I think it doesn't matter whether the way we slice the pie is "you talk for five minutes, I talk for five minutes" or "I handle the actions of three monsters, and you get three actions per round for you Warrior Princess".

    So, each person is talking a certain portion of the time. And I think that, as long as no one is being mislead, any way you want to slice that pie is OK.

    I wouldn't call "listen to Bob tell his story" roleplaying any more than I would call "let's play Chess, but I play for my side AND for your side" playing a game, but, maybe, if you get even one move now and then, and you're happy with that, everyone can have a good time.
  • Posted By: Logos7So please proove me wrong, how can Passive, Uncreative, Reactive Play be supierior to Active, Creative, play. If its not a vaule judgement the balance of good vs bad should go both ways, so please help me with my bad wrong think.
    Who is having more fun?

    I, personally, have more fun being active and creative. I also like poutine.

    Others might think differently, and may also eat things like sushi. Yuck!
  • Sushi is objectively bad and wrong.

    Anyone who eats it is a horrible person.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Levi-Who-Babbles.I also like poutine.
    image
  • In order for "passive, reactive, and uncreative" to be inferior to "active and creative," you need a standard by which you judge the the value of the two sets.

    You present no standard, and no standard has been employed in the original thread.

    Therefore neither is inferior, because there is no standard by which to judge value.

    ---

    It is quite possible that you value creativity and proactive participation. That's fine, but realize that that's your thing, and you would be importing your standards into the discussion without recognizing that you are doing so. If that is the case, perhaps what you need is a thread more to the tune of, "Proactive creativity is the best thing ever, huh?" or something similar.
  • Logos Seven is referring directly to my analysis of Sim in my thread. I have whispered him my contact information if he wants to pick a fight or just talk like an adult with me about it. We might turn this thread into something positive. Really, I have no problem publicly defending what I said over there, and I really wasn't being disingenuous with what I posted. Read the blog post I linked in the other thread for more of my views on the issue of the "entertain me" crowd. In short, it's not my thing, but I totally understand why people enjoy it and I think it's awesome.

    To use an analogy, I don't want to direct movies. I want to go to movies and eat popcorn and have a good time. My fun is no less awesome than the director's fun.

    Reading Logos' post, it seems to me that he's misunderstanding me horribly, though. I said it's not inferior. That is not the same as me saying that it is inferior. I think they're equal (though obviously not equal to all people). Maybe that will clear things up.
  • As I read more of the responses, I get the feeling that some of you haven't read (or recently reread) what I actually said over there. To whit:
    Posted By: Adam DrayMy thesis is that a large majority of gamers aren't playing Sim, Nar, or Gam because their essential gaming experience is passive and reactive, and not actively creative.
    First and foremost, the word "uncreative" was never used by anyone in that entire thread. "Not actively creative" was more an echo of my use of "reactive": The GM creates the setting and situation and the players show how their characters react. Yes, there's creativity there, but it's not the same as "driving with Bangs" or "aggressive scene framing" or a lot of the other techniques that a lot of "trad" gamers seem to hate.
  • Mark gets what I'm talking about, with his fan/creator split. Yeah, it's also really imperfect, but it seems to get the point across better without using loaded terms that piss people off. My bad there.

    Josh Roby gets it, too. I don't know how anyone can make a value judgment on someone else's fun if they're actually having fun. It's really presumptuous.

    So it's clear: I'm saying that "entertain me" fun is no worse and no better than "let's tell stories together" fun.
  • I think there is something very interesting to be said about the idea that all games divvy up creative responsibility to some extent already, even if we don't always recognize it as such.

    There is a tendency for people to say "my game is like a traditional game, but it hands out some of the creative responsibility to the players" as if a trad game didn't put any creative powers in the hands of the players, where in fact you can't design a character, or write a backstory, or even describe your character's actions, without a lot of creative responsibility already. In many games in fact I suspect that having control over narrative plot-arc sort of things is really less creative input than is normally required to describe talking to an NPC or going shopping in the city.
  • In a lot of games that are played with the "creator GM, reactive player" model in mind, the game text prescribes a minimum amount of work - much of it pre-play - that a player needs to do to make the game function. If players come to the table with a legal character, and the GM comes with a bare-bones adventure, the game will work. It won't generate much color, or many twists, but it will function. Creativity is a value-add, and it generally has specified places where it's supposed to be allowed and not allowed.

    This is one of the criticisms that's repeatedly leveled at games under the "rollplay" umbrella, but I actually feel that a game that is playable and fun in the stereotypical zero-creativity "rollplay" mode as one that's probably GREAT for "fan" play - because it demands little, but permits much.

    It's also worth talking about where creativity happens. A lot of creativity in "fan" play is color. You can add color all you like, but don't touch the resolution of events. "Roleplaying" (the shorthand a lot of players use for this outside-the-formal-rules creativity on the part of players) is what happens in between the conflicts that drive changes in situation.
  • I find it really interesting the effort to seperate uncreative from not actively creative and other simular distinctions.

    I also find rather disingenious to suggest that because neither the original thread or I put in some sort objective standard that none apply. If anything we are swimming in objective standards in life, where passive, reactive, and Not actively creative are disvalued.

    If you are a member of a group where people are passive , reactive and not actively creative in the work sphere your likely to be miffed at those people, and for pretty good reason, I don't see how this is terribly different in gaming. Indeed if you want to start the analogy in the realm of art and literature, your likely to find lots of people who judge things bad, derrogatory or down for simply those reasons, Don't Play the piece, Feel the peice.

    So people rather than saying, there are no objective standards, tell me about your objective standards. (if you want you can qualify a whole lot with post modernism, but im not terribly impressed with that either. ).

    As to the fun people (ie if its fun for you) wouldn't you agree that active, active, and creative play is genreally funner. Exercise is fun, even if its an emotional or mental exercise, and that requires doing stuff. When the list includes not doing things, only doing things when things are done at me, and only doing things that are not actively creative, shouldn't this impringe on the fun for more or less everyone (and lets ignore the corner cases of people who really enjoy sitting arround doing nothing, Like monks or people who derive their enjoyment from other factors, the social scene, meeting friends, hanging out with SO etc, because its not the meat of the issue I really think.)
  • Okay, so this thread is about how YOU judge players who are "passive, reactive, and not actively creative." That's fine. Don't make it about me.

    Posted By: Logos7As to the fun people (ie if its fun for you) wouldn't you agree that active, active, and creative play is genreally funner.
    No. Not for all people. Not for all activities for me. I do not actively create while watching a movie, and that's the way I like it. When I role-play, I prefer to have a creative role, but I know role-players who do not, and I liken them to the movie-goers who want to be entertained, and I think that's just fine.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayI do not actively create while watching a movie
    Ha. Reader-response would beg to differ. Is your experience watching something the same as mine? Can you watch the same movie twice and get the exact same experience? No, of course not. All media experience is at least partially mediated by the creative input of the participant; it's just a question of degree, really. Which is another reason why the "inferior" thing is silly. Is watching a movie "inferior" to acting in a movie? Of course not; they are completely different experiences that can't be compared with just a "<" or ">" symbol.
  • Fully reactive play can be the best kind of play there is. It's not watching a movie, it's everyone learning to draw out everyone else. You don't so much create as reflect.

    It's engaging, amplifies your thoughts and emotional responses, and the result can be hilarious or deeply intimate. And it's so very engaging, because real people are far more interesting than the collaborative fiction they might produce.


    From another perspective this question seems like "why is Pull not inferior to Push?" But perhaps I shouldn't go there...


    - Mendel S.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonHa. Reader-response would beg to differ. Is your experience watching something the same as mine? Can you watch the same movie twice and get the exact same experience? No, of course not.
    Okay, fine. I think this is a semantic argument though. You're not creating the same way the director is. You're not sharing your creation with other audience members, either, and communication is an essential part of a role-playing game experience.
    All media experience is at least partially mediated by the creative input of the participant; it's just a question of degree, really. Which is another reason why the "inferior" thing is silly. Is watching a movie "inferior" to acting in a movie? Of course not; they are completely different experiences that can't be compared with just a "<" or ">" symbol.
    Right. My point exactly. It's all "creative" in this way, but it isn't "actively creative" in the sense I used it, where I really mean that the player is steering the story the same way the (probably Participationist or Illusionist) GM is.
  • So I've played a bunch of indie games and such, and helped a couple people who were writing theirs etc. This has certainly influenced how I play, and I look at my older play in a different light it's true.

    But here's the thing. I hate hate hate being forced to be actively creative. I don't want to be forced by the rules of the game to set up the scenes and make up the NPCs or make up the mysteries I'm supposed to solve. Games that force that on me are actively un-fun. They are stressful and I get too caught up in having to do the rest of that crap to be able to have the fun I want - which is to be my character, react to the world, the NPCs, the situations, solve the mysteries, overcome the obstacles, etc. Maybe fall in love with another PC or NPC. Have rivalries and camaraderie among the party. Use the situation and the world as a vehicle to drive my character around in. I like engaging the GM and helping their story move along. I like overcoming the challenges they set for me, and being surprised by them and surprising them in turn. That's my fun.

    Sure I like being able to suggest where to go next, or frame a scene or two when the mood strikes me. And I'm not super keen on having to ask if there's a stick I can find in the forest. But force 'active creativity' on me and I will be a cranky bear.

    -C-
  • stryck, thanks for chiming in!

    What do you think of the various labels we've tossed out? "Entertain-me" players, or "fan" players?

    Do the "passive" and "reactive" labels make you recoil, or do you identify with them?
  • Word of caution: let's don't conflate games that require active creative input from players with games that flirt with Czege Principle violations (same person is author and resolver of their own adversity). While I believe that there's fruitful fun games that violate the Principle, it's not a bad rule for the vast majority of play ever, even fully engaged active-creator stuff.

    What we're really talking about here is Authorities - what does each player have authority over, and how much responsibility are they given to use that authority to author anything beyond color?
  • I'm not really swayed by labels either way, I tend to take the good parts of them when they apply to me, so long as they're not being obviously used in a deriding fashion. ;)

    I certainly can't think of better ones yet, but I'll let you know if I do.

    I should say that I think "passive" and "reactive" apply much more than "uncreative" which just doesn't sound right at all.
    I'm not sure "entertain me" or "fan" really /gets/ my play style though, because while I totally look to the GM to provide cool things for me to interact with, I feel that I and the other players are providing entertainment as well through how we react to things and the conversations, ideas, and plans that they inspire.

    There are times that I'm passive due to mood, tiredness, etc, but I generally feel like an active participant in the story, even though it's in a reactive manner.

    maybe that's the (fake) word that should be the label: participationist. We are part of the story. We influence its direction by being in it. What we do impacts the world around us, because it is our story and it's told through our eyes. Sometimes we are swept up in events that are bigger than us and it's all we can do to hang on and see where the ride takes us, with little more than a paddle to push off the rocks with, but we are part of the story, and it would not live without us.

    -C-
  • Mark - I gave that as an example, but my feeling is the same for the other parts I mentioned which I have found in other games. (scene framing, creating the world and NPCs, narrating consequences or outcomes of actions without a clear knowledge of what they ought to be.)
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Mark Wit demands little, but permits much
    Ah, Mark, I like that. Consider it swiped. ;)
    Posted By: Logos7As to the fun people (ie if its fun for you) wouldn't you agree that active, active, and creative play is genreally funner. Exercise is fun, even if its an emotional or mental exercise, and that requires doing stuff. When the list includes not doing things, only doing things when things are done at me, and only doing things that are not actively creative, shouldn't this impringe on the fun for more or less everyone
    One word, man: blowjobs.
  • Yeah. Josh is kind of right about that.

    And this:

    I have, on a couple of occasions, observed people playing LARPS. (I have played them, too. But here I mean being outside the game and watching.)

    And on occasion I have observed specific people who seem to be doing NOTHING. Not initiating action. Not even talking much. But, post game, when I asked them what happened during the game, they run off this incredibly rich list of all things they observed, decisions they made, changes and emotions that occurred to their character.

    Were they being passive? Honestly, do we have a metric for this discussion? Really?

    I know, though, that SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING FOR THAT PERSON. They were engaged. They were, in fact, doing something. (Though, again, how to measure it or compare it, I have no idea.)

    I know this sort of thing -- on a sliding scale!!! MIND YOU!!! from very "passive"* to often "animated"* -- happens all the time at table top RPGs. The game is happening, the players are engaged, they are doing something. They are roaming, as I have done in many cases, I'm sure, over a landscape of reaction and thoughts and internal life via the character they find very, very engaging.

    Keeping in mind that -- contra internet practices -- I'm not creating two exclusionary poles here, am I insulting one group toward one end of the scale by noting this behavior? I am not. They're just doing what they're doing.

    "It demands little, but permits much" indeed.
  • Christopher,

    There certainly is something to be said for play which is active and creative in radically different ways. For example, each of GNS deals with active and creative contributions to the fiction. Less so to the social contract or underlying texture of play, But if that priority is changed then what may appear from a fiction-centric perspective as uncreative and reactive may simply by the spare effort a player has to engage with a tangential area of their interest in the game.

    I've been one of those players you're talking about. It's not how I like to play all the time, but it is very fun, and very much active and creative, just in a very different way.

    - Mendel S.
  • edited January 2009
    Right. I think I said that. I used the word "engaged." You used creative and active. My point is that there's all sorts of creativity and activity going on inside the Player's head. They are taking elements offered by the GM and Players and mixing it up and doing things. They are also adding details to play. It might seem smaller, than say, grabbing the narration wheel in a game of Primetime Adventures. But I have no idea how to assume what or what is not happening in their imaginations. Nor do I presume to.

    But I want to be clear about this: I'm not siding with Logos7, nor am I siding against him. He set up a false conflict. Nor am I in agreement with the crankier members on this thread (Hi, Filip!) I'm speaking as me; not as some multi-headed member of a committee.

    My post was all about getting around a bit of nonsense. I can't claim to know when someone is being "creative" or mentally "active." Nor am I in any position to declare if it's inferior or not if one player meets a GM almost toe-to-toe as opposed who is more reticent in play.

    This thread was started, as far as I can tell, because someone was offended. I'm not quite clear what was supposed to come out of it.

    (Besides, I never get into argument with people who have android names. They never win, but they never stop, either.)
  • So, Logos7, are you yet satisfied that "passive, reactive, uncreative play" is not inferior?

    p.
  • The suspense is killing me.

    What could the answer possibly be?
  • edited January 2009
    It seems obvious to me that having a passive and uncreative stance in a role-playing game is a bit inferior to having an active, creative one. * The simple reason is that if all players around the table take the passive stance, nothing will happen.

    Each and every player share the responsibility to act and interact in a role-playing game. There are a lot of ways to do this; flamboyant, calm and matter of fact'ly, enthusiastic, with few words and small gestures, in full flow with the actions of others, etc. There are different ways, but all players have to share in the responsibility of playing along. People sitting back and feeding on the creativity of others, not contributing on their own, is leeching energy from the game.
    Posted By: Christopher KubasikMy point is that there's all sorts of creativity and activity going on inside the Player's head. They are taking elements offered by the GM and Players and mixing it up anddoingthings. They are also adding details to play
    No, not everyone is doing that. I've played with enough players of the variety that adds nothing at all to the interaction; the truly passive players. Those players are not only inferior as gamers, but they fail to recognize a vital point in human interaction too; we act in accordance with unsaid agreements. The unsaid agreement in a role-playing game is to contribute in the weaving of a drama.

    There is no way around it. However nice we want to be to those not at level with the social demands of the situation, they are in fact better off if they can be helped to participate on even grounds with the rest of the players. It is not "nice" to let them believe their practice of non-committed dead-meat'ness is a valid stance in a game. Wake them up and drag them into the interaction, and if they can't be persuaded; kick them out (or find something else to do together with them).

    * - I believe the "passive" and "reactive" of the title is a bit mismatched. To be passive equals non-initiating and unresponsive. To be reactive equals not initiating anything on your own accord, but to be responsive. To fill the spectrum of possible general stances; interactive is initiating and responding, and beyond interactive we have active, which is full of initiative, but never listening to others, and the domineering; which is aggressively trying to occupy the spotlight (THE most horrendous stance in role-playing games, of course). There is no doubt that interactive is the better stance, with active and reactive coming second. The two other stances are bad for play.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: TomasHVMNo, not everyone is doing that.
    Of course not.

    Not everyone is doing anything.

    But we are lacking context. We are not talking about actual people in actual circumstances. You pull out your examples. I pul out mine. They contradict each other. So what?

    This whole thread is a boondogle.... another example of someone pulling words and being offended because that's what people do.

    We're sitting around defining and redefining words. Not to be nice, but because we have lots of examples and experiences that contradict each other. And to what end? Logos7 is upset about something. As far as I can tell he was expecting an apology. Either that, or he started a thread to say, "I'm upset." at which point everyone should have let the matter drop. Because there's nothing to do with that.

    Thomas, apparently you've had "energy-leeches" at your table. I assume I have too, but I don't know for sure, so I stopped playing with them. it wasn't a good fit. But I assume those people might be a good fit for other people.

    If a community of gamers get off on doing something I don't like and it works for them... whatever. It's not about being "nice" -- it's about facing reality. Who am I to tell them they're not having a good time. I've had players tell me with of their games, with great enthusiasm, but as I listen, all I can think is, "The GM was just telling you a story. How is this fun?" Except, clearly, it was fun for the playing who is smiling and telling me all about it.

    I think your last paragraph sums up what I'm trying to get all -- all "stances" as you call it can have negative implication for any group, depending on the mix at the group. Unless we find the perfect stance -- the way of being that works for all game for all people. Which is an insane goal, of course.

    I gave examples of how someone might be seen as passive, but to be quite engaged imaginatively. You offer counter examples. Hurrah!

    But really, Nothing is happening of value here. Now we know that there are many ways of playing games, which some people find annoying and others enjoy.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: TomasHVMNo, not everyone is doing that. I've played with enough players of the variety that adds nothing at all to the interaction; the trulypassiveplayers. Those players are not only inferior as gamers, but they fail to recognize a vital point in human interaction too; we act in accordance with unsaid agreements. The unsaid agreement in a role-playing game is to contribute in the weaving of a drama.
    It's your unsaid agreement. I believe theirs is simply to be there, or something like that. While I prefer yours, I understand theirs. And sometimes, due to various circumstances, I was utterly passive, and still I enjoyed the game.
    Posted By: TomasHVMThere is no way around it. However nice we want to be to those not at level with the social demands of the situation, they are in fact better off if they can be helped to participate on even grounds with the rest of the players. It is not "nice" to let them believe their practice of non-committed dead-meat'ness is a valid stance in a game. Wake them up and drag them into the interaction, and if they can't be persuaded; kick them out (or find something else to do together with them).
    I've been there, I've fought (not alone) to make passive player more active and hence, happier, helped them to be so. They discovered the active-player attitude from the inside. They didn't like what they discovered. They did not enjoy themselves at first.. and never did as active players. We, pro-active players, killed their fun :( And it was difficult to lower the social pressure to get them back to enjoying the game. So, as long as passive player aren't a drag on the game (ie: on the active players enjoyment), we let them be passive and they let us be active. Yes, they need us while we kind of don't need them, but we appreciate them nonetheless, as a kind of audience and playing lower-key roles.
  • I've rewritten my "stances":

    Passive equals non-initiating and unresponsive.
    Reactive equals not initiating anything on your own accord, but to be responsive.
    Interactive equals initiating and responding.
    Active equals full of initiative, but not listening to others.
    Domineering equals aggressively trying to occupy the spotligh.

    There is no doubt that interactive is the ideal stance, and the stance called for in players (henceforth the "unsaid agreement"). Failing to be interactive in a role-playing game makes you more or less of a limp limb in the game.
    Posted By: Ajax Aldwyneas long as passive player aren't a drag on the game (ie: on the active players enjoyment), we let them be passive and they let us be active. Yes, they need us while we kind of don't need them, but we appreciate them nonetheless, as a kind of audience and playing lower-key roles.
    What you are describing is reactive players. They are tolerable in a game. Passive players are too much of a drag. They will leech off energy from the interaction, and make it harder to achieve anything.

    The best games will arise with a full group of interactive players.

    I do see the need of being a bit mellow in our approach to our co-players. If playing with friends it is not very friendly to kick out someone because he is a bit less engaged in the game than us (or a bit too engaged in himself). But if said friend is really passive (smothering the joy) or domineering (killing the joy), then you are better off finding something to socialize around that all of you can enjoy on equal terms. You don't have to play a role-playing game.

    Going from a need to take care of your friends, to the idea that all stances are equal in a role-playing game ... that is a long step in the wrong direction.

    Have nice day!
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Ajax AldwyneI've been there, I've fought (not alone) to make passive player more active and hence, happier, helped them to be so. They discovered the active-player attitude from the inside. They didn't like what they discovered. They did not enjoy themselves at first.. and never did as active players.
    Change hurt. Change leads to frustration. Opening up and actively participating makes you vulnerable. etc. etc.

    I never said it was easy to reform another human. In most cases I would recommend not doing it. Find something else to do with them ...

    My experience is that the reactive and active players may be enticed/dragged/coached into interactive mode. The right game or a good GM may do this, or the right group of co-players. Passive and domineering players give me less hope.
  • Tomas, what exactly do you mean by initiating? Interactive you say is the ideal stance (for whom though?), and that is differentiated from reactive by the player also initiating. What need I do as a player in a game in order to be initiating in your view? If I do not add content to the game world other than through the agency of my character, am I necessarily simply reactive or can I initiate via the vehicle of my character also?
  • Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: Ajax AldwyneI've been there, I've fought (not alone) to make passive player more active and hence, happier, helped them to be so. They discovered the active-player attitude from the inside. They didn't like what they discovered. They did not enjoy themselves at first.. and never did as active players.
    Change hurt. Change leads to frustration. Opening up and actively participating makes you vulnerable. etc. etc.

    I never said it was easy to reform another human. In most cases I would recommend not doing it. Find something else to do with them ...

    My experience is that thereactiveandactiveplayers may be enticed/dragged/coached into interactive mode. The right game or a good GM may do this, or the right group of co-players. Passive and domineering players give me less hope.

    What gives us the right to force someone to cease acting in a way they enjoy and instead act in a way we prefer or think they would prefer?

    Hell, what gives us the right to think someone requires reforming because their play preferences differ to our own?

    This all seems a bit one-true-wayist to me to be honest.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: Ajax Aldwyneas long as passive player aren't a drag on the game (ie: on the active players enjoyment), we let them be passive and they let us be active. Yes, they need us while we kind of don't need them, but we appreciate them nonetheless, as a kind of audience and playing lower-key roles.
    What you are describing isreactiveplayers. They are tolerable in a game.Passiveplayers are too much of a drag. They will leech off energy from the interaction, and make it harder to achieve anything.Well, in addition to our fellow human players, we also play with chairs and a table, or at least with couches and armchairs. They are all utterly passive but, believe me if you wish, I find them to be a good addition to our games. (Of course, dice, which are more reactive, are also quite appreciated.) <g>

    More seriously, it seems to me that you define passive as "people ruining my fun". So, of course, passive people are "inferior" in your opinion.

    Also, I wonder if passive people aren't more easily/quickly toxic in gamist or narrativist CA. (No, I am not sure I use these terms properly. I've continued reading printed "essential" Forge threads… still 1,500 printed pages to go [not joking] and I am not sure I got the right ones.)
  • Posted By: Ajax Aldwyne
    Also, I wonder if passive people aren't more easily/quickly toxic in gamist or narrativist CA. (No, I am not sure I use these terms properly. I've continued reading printed "essential" Forge threads… still 1,500 printed pages to go [not joking] and I am not sure I got the right ones.)
    Many indie games also devolve more power to the players and so are more reliant upon player input. I would suggest that the annoyance caused by passive players is proportionate to the amount the game weakens the creative power of the GM. Similarly, I remember once sitting in on a Dragonlance game and it being made VERY clear to me that I was not to set the game off at tangents or 'reinterpret' my character. That game was all about the GM telling a story with the players only really providing tactical input and as such being proactive and creative was seen as anti-social.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: Balbinuswhat gives us the right to think someone requires reforming because their play preferences differ to our own?
    Freedom of thought?
    Posted By: BalbinusThis all seems a bit one-true-wayist to me to be honest.
    Max: there is some truth out there. Not everything is equally sound or true.
    Posted By: Ajax Aldwyneit seems to me that you define passive as "people ruining my fun"
    This is my definition:
    Passive equals non-initiating and unresponsive.

    In a role-playing game this mode of behavior is not ideal (and hardly in any other social interaction). If there is enough interactive players in the group it will still be fun. A single passive player will not ruin our fun completely, but the fun is generally greater when all contribute with their imaginative powers. Two passive players out of four will seriously hamper game-play.
    Posted By: Ajax AldwyneSo, of course, passive people are "inferior" in your opinion.
    Why do you have to invest me with opinions I do not have? Please try to argue a bit more on your own grounds.

    I do see that people without social antennas and abilities need to socialize too. and I accept that they participate in role-playing games. They are not less worthy as humans for being socially inept. But don't lull yourself or them into believing that being passive is as good for a game as anything else. It is not.
  • edited January 2009
    Posted By: TomasHVMA single passive player will not ruin our fun completely, but the fun is generally greater when all contribute with their imaginative powers.
    If I accept your "my fun first, my fun only" philosophy for a moment, I am lead to ask: will the fun be always and automatically be greater if they are kicked from the game (even assuming the kicking out leaves absolutely no tension, regret or hard feelings in the remaining players)?
    Posted By: TomasHVMTwo passive players out of four will seriously hamper game-play.
    That is not my experience. And I know passive players. We have one who, because of his permanent passivity, we nicknamed "the piece of furniture". We call him that in his face (is this correct English? is this understandable?) and he still doesn't react. He lost his last two jobs because of his lack of initiative. But he is still a good player and our games are better with him.
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