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what are the stakes? (stream of consciousness.)

Started by droqen, October 23, 2022, 08:19:29 PM

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enact a system. touch buttons for some reason? make the things go higher. make the things change.
watch as the world shatters.
embody yourself. what do you care? who do you care about?
what makes something important? fragile?

be careful. you're the only one at stake.
you're not the only one at stake...
how to externalize the stakes?
in single-player videogames the stakes are very personal. only you care.
only you care.
only you care.

geller's time loop nihilism says:
even if it matters to nobody else it matters to you.

i say:
it has to matter to somebody else.
no man is an island.
it has to matter to somebody else.
it has to matter to somebody else.

these games have to be local multiplayer but perhaps not in the traditional sense.

let's think positive thoughts.

1. i want to play with a system that matters. an "important" system.
2. i want to risk damaging or destroying such a system. an "important" system.
how can i do this in a way that doesn't hurt the individuals making the system "important"?
   a) make the risk fake
   b) make the risk very real, but also very rare
   c) ensure everyone opts in to the risk and expects it (i don't love this)
   d) make the pain short-lived (does this make the risk less real?)

think about The Well-Played Game again. we can play with stakes, if everyone opts in, if everyone is a good player.
does it make sense to let the players opt in to stakes later?
like, you play a "not for real" game, and then you play it for stakes, later, when you're ready.
that sounds reasonable.
consider how Space Alert has optional permadeath.
consider that.

consider that.

consider that.

tthe garden and the mountain. remember the garden and the mountain.
the garden is the bunny hill. what was the other name that i had for the garden?
i had another name i liked a little more but i can't remember it now.

what makes something important, anyway?

let us say that the system does not necessarily need to be the important system. suppose we have a system which REPRESENTS something important. we ask the player to think of it as important, not to BE the important system or SIMULATE its systemic functioning but instead the videogame, the metagame, the game, the player-machine cyborg, the play, that opt-in process that includes the player's brain simulates the important-NESS of the system.

how do i feel about that?

how do i feel about that?

how do i feel?

   about that.

we ask the player,
treat this system as if it is, has the scent of, the important thing that you mustn't play with, but which here we are in fact giving you license to play with it. this is a bank: steal from it. this is a bad person: overpower and kill them. this is a small animal: capture it and put it into a tiny ball.

this is perhaps irony. this leads to irony. this leads to an unwillingness to play with real systems: why play with real systems when we have these stand-in, false, systems which can be played with risk-free?

these stand-in systems are surrogates for real engagement with the world, the messy difficult world, the important world.

i'm right back where i started.

perhaps the impulse is wrong in the first place.

if i dare to call myself a genuine surmounter of obstacles then i must either be willing to choose genuine obstacles or give up on the act of genuine surmounting.

. . .

what are the stakes?


i  want  to  do  something  real.
i said to kelly i wanted a game that felt like "a real world where things really happen."
we're not so far away from that anymore are we?
the only difference is i'm no longer after the feeling, but the reality.
i want a game that is "a real world where things really happen."
i want to play with "a real world where things really happen."


an mmorpg designer laughed at me in a bar once for suggesting mechanisms which would cause the player to lose too much of their investment.
at the time i chalked it up to my own naivete that i couldn't understand; i dismissed some of my ideas; i would figure out what i had been doing or thinking wrong.

i say, now, that's the only thing that matters.
invite players to choose to put themselves at stake and play with their peers.
invite players to play with a real world where things really matter.

the problem is not the stakes: it is the players.
expect them to be good players.
teach them to be good players.
don't make the world not matter.
don't make the world not matter.


Quote from: The Well-Played Game, chapter 9. Playing for KeepsWe can experience excellence as we try to drive a bargain as hard as we possible can.[..]
[..]playing for money, for keeps[..]
   Playing for keeps means that when the game is over there will be real consequences in real life. To do it well, to play this kind of game well, it is essential to the community that the balance between the game and its consequences be maintained.
   To do this, we must first become sensitive to what, in fact, we are playing with. Our prime directive is to play well with each other. This directive takes precedence over anything else.[..] As long as we all know what we're playing with, we can play with anything.[..]
[..]We can play with serious things---things of consequence. We could play with silence, with fasting, with patience. We could play with anger, with fear.[..]
[..]There are other [stakes to play for..]--a moment of shared enlightenment, a vision of truth, a supernatural joy.[..]
  We can play for growth. For knowledge of the human condition. For therapy. We can play for release, for freedom. We can play for dignity, acceptance, tolerance. But, no matter what the stakes are, if we play for anything we can't afford to lose, we can no longer afford to play.



in a collaborative storytelling game, we can all be playing with, playing for, the same stakes: the shared value of the story we're telling together. but we have to be seeking the same thing in order to play well together, and to win together---for it to be fair to everyone involved, for it to make any sense at all as an activity.


supposing i want to become a better game designer, that is, a game designer more capable of designing games for other people, for as wide a spectrum of other people as i can, i need to be able to design for stakes i don't care about personally, but which other people do care about. i cannot design a game for myself, play a game as myself: i must embody this other player who values staking, who is willing to stake, something i would not, even something i would never.

imagine that. designing a game for a player who is willing to play for far lesser stakes than i am.

or far greater.


challenges for a game designer: design a game imagining a player who will be totally invested in staking..
[ ] their sense of self-worth on whether they solve a simple puzzle
[ ] their friendship on whether they can work well together
[ ] real money on whether they can outsmart a group of strangers
[ ] hours and hours of their time on random chance

mix and match. come up with strange combinations. what might be staked, on what institution of play, and why?


pingback: what are the *likely* stakes? what are the *unserved* stakes?

Quotewhat will people want to stake, and on what, that they currently aren't able to?