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Social contracts - Qualified Perceptions
Social contracts
Happy role-playing angst, SJC ruling "The answer is No" that creating civil unions isn't sufficient, hot chocolate in the morning, weather no longer bitterly cold. Life is good.

The combination of a game-master round table discussion coming up on Sunday, and sporadically unhappy players in Oath has caused me to think about the intrinsic social contract between player and GM. The thing is, it's unstated, and to a large extent not clearly defined even in the heads of the people involved. And, also, very different for different people. Some players want victories. Others want angst. Some want puzzles they can easily solve, others want to be challenged with the near-impossible. Some hate being doomed, others glory in it. Some want to interact principally with the world, others with the other characters. How would we have a contract that gives everyone what they want? For that matter, how do we even manage to have a game try to give everyone what they want? It would have to be a very waffly contract. "We reserve the right to give you some doom, and to not guarantee all victories." And if we wrote into our contract "We require that you play well with others" - well, it's not like anyone goes in intending to not play well. Is the idea of the contract pointless?

Of course, then I started thinking about social contracts in general. That's even less one-size-fits-all than in games. There are people who I both require more of, and consider myself more required of, if that makes sense. And, in any individual relationship, I generally consider myself to be held to a stricter/higher requirement than I require of the other person (I think that's the only way we keep from killing each other). But then how do you contemplate those people who don't seem to hold themselves to what you require of them? Is it because they think they're in a different, more minimal, relation? Or because they have their requirements set lower in general? (I find people who require nothing of others and consider themselves to have nothing required of them, somewhat alien, but I try not to spend too much time disapproving. But it does cause the occasional clash of philosophy if I find myself expecting something which the other person doesn't feel they're under any obligation for...)

I want more social quantification tools.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

3 comments or Leave a comment
merastra From: merastra Date: February 4th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
i'd like some social quantification tools too. sign me up!
mijven From: mijven Date: February 5th, 2004 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)

gm-ing and overdue cocoa

How about players who want all of the above? Not necessarily all at the same time. (Okay, interaction with feuding other players is somewhat low on my priority list. :) Maybe I'm more grateful now that my being in my runs being so rare, but what I want is some escapism (pschlims so I don't always play myself) and to have fun. Oh, and good quotes. (I still start laughing everytime I remember my last run where the annoyingly pragmatic warrior, upon being asked how to save the two party members just teleported into the past, calmly replied: "He's immortal and she's a dragon. They'll catch up to us eventually.")

Thanks for being such a fabulous GM. Sorry if I ever complained when I should have been worshiping you with tithes of cookies and cocoa! Enjoy the symposium!
dpolicar From: dpolicar Date: February 6th, 2004 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah, I'm with you on wanting more quantification.

Actually, I'd settle for more categories, even if they were merely qualitative. It'd be nice if the language (as spoken by typical native speakers) had words for the hundreds of distinct types of relationships we're always struggling around the terms for. "Friend" means dozens of different things -- and as you say, the expectations differ.

Ah well.

3 comments or Leave a comment