Saturday, March 10, 2018

Research

Regarding the document from my last post; we can start with the structure and content section, requirements:
The projecting of the structure and content of training ... [for] the presence of significant problem from the view point of its research and creative nature that require integrated knowledge, research for its solution.

In English:  we want to identify what we need to know, for the purpose of relaying that information, about the research behind and the creative nature of role-playing.  We want an identifiable, single body of knowledge, so that we will be able to improve that knowledge, as a solution for further study and the creation of competence in dungeon mastering, or if you prefer, game mastering.

And ... wow.  Impossible, right?  No one agrees with anyone else, there's a concerted propaganda to argue that there is "no right way" and anyone who dares propose that there might be is condemned for inflexibility and being entitled.  The problem is further complicated by the "research" being 80 different significant game rule designs, all of which are integrated to some degree, as they share concepts, but not philosophies.  The first identifier everyone in role-playing uses is to reach for a tribal definition: I play 3rd edition, or I play Pathfinder, or I play [insert game title/genre here].  And that tribalism further subdivides into what rules group A plays versus group B.

Worse, the "research" itself produces uncertain, inconsistent results.  If we were talking about some other study, an evidentiary body of consistent results tends to emerge, which steadily drives the knowledge of that study in a particular, agreed-upon direction.  As more and more data piles up, one scientist after another begins to agree that something is clearly going on with the climate ... even as the issue itself is debated and/or ridiculed.  Role-playing games, which lack evidentiary support for anything about the game, as they suffer from a lack of meaningful studies, seems to point in no direction, a proposition which is embraced by a great many practitioners who don't want too close an investigation to be made into their practices.

So we're fucked.  The most anyone can offer for "knowledge" is to say, "I do it this way," or "Try this and it will work," which no effort of any kind is being made to say, "This worked" or "This didn't."  The ordinary RPG pundit on youtube is safe in proposing anything that sounds like it has potential, without the least concern that a great many people will respond with one voice, if the proposal is a farce.

But for all the proof or verification that exists for such advice, we might just as well tell DMs that they should kill a cat at midnight in an unkempt cemetery near an abandoned church at five minutes after midnight of the Spring Equinox ~ just 11 days left to obtain a cat and locate your site.  Maybe you can go to your local games store and get a group to go do it as an event.  Don't forget to Youtube it.

The alternative to the nihilism that pervades the role-playing community is, however, as the quote above says.  Research.  Investigation.  Not just supposition, but hypothesis, with a clear agenda that the hypothesis will then be tested in a lab, to determine what results, and what results can be repeated over and over with further experimentation.  That is, the same process that has united the rest of human knowledge into a forward, non-faith-based direction.

Rather than another scattered opinion-fest surrounding the importance of use and importance of armor or weapons, or how game design might be implemented to possibly bring about a change, which can then only ever be tried on one group of people by any one particular DM, how about we just stop until the data comes in?

This is what my online campaign blog was supposed to offer: evidence that my particular approach to D&D was not just a collection of words, but that it could be seen to work in the speech and actions of players who were actually responding to my philosophy.  Yet each time, in the recent debate, that I proclaimed that my combat system, as it stood, was working spectacularly well, with evidence to prove it, this evidence was flat out ignored.  When I said that the error in the campaign was my own, and not the combat system, because I should have gone ahead and killed the party, because they insisted on putting on their armor, that was also ignored.  Instead, the discussion devolved into pure, unsubstantiated opinion, that some rule change might have caused the party to feel less desiring to put on their armor first, thus [I conjecture] saving me the need to kill the party.

We, as a community, fall into this trap again and again. We don't acknowledge the evidence.  Instead, we turn to our prejudices about a particular element of the game [and combat is the worst!], and then argue again and again, in a circle, around those prejudices, without evidence, without rigorous investigation, without experimentation.  We jump right to a conclusion as though, in some way, because we feel a particular way because of our supposed experience, all that falderol with hypothesis, research, testing and proof just isn't necessary.

But the thing is, all that is necessary!  Because we are getting nowhere.  We're just wasting our time with this.

For people who claim they haven't time to waste building a campaign or to find the time to play more than once a fortnight, that's absurd.  The game deserves better.


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