Power Gaming

From: martin (102541.3423@compuserve.com)
Date: Fri 23 Feb 1996 - 21:25:51 EET


Sandy P commented on something I said.

Martin Laurie
>> This used to baffle me because I could never understand how anyone
>> playing couldn't and wouldn't use everything in the world to their
>> advantage if they could. After all who doesn't in real life?

Sandy:
>No one does. Real life is more complicated than a game and
>for almost _everything_ you do, there is a penalty and a value
>decision to be made.

Economists call this Opportunity Cost ie, the cost of any action is the next
best alternative forgone. The reason why we make such choices is scarsity of
resources and limits on consumption.

>Is it better to have kids, or not? Is it better
>to be married or stay single? Since being a game designer is more
>fun than being an accountant, why are there still accountants? Why
>do I eat food that costs more than the bare minimum? I would be just
>as well-fed on fish-sticks and cheese sandwiches as I am on oyster
>stew and Mu Shu pork. Certainly many _characters_ try to get by with
>only buying the cheapest type of food in the game. Why should I
>waste a good chunk of my life playing RPGs or posting rantings about
>an imaginary subject (i.e., Glorantha) on the net? Why the hell did
>I read that biography of Cardinal Richelieu? I'm never going to
>meet him. Why don't I have sex with every woman I lust after?
>Because I believe it would harm my soul (and hers!), and because my
>wife trusts me. All three are reasons that wouldn't matter in a
>minimaxing campaigns -- the character has no soul (he's just a PC),
>the woman doesn't matter (she's an NPC), and in which characters are
>almost never married.

This is of course the problem with bad roleplay, it rarely reflects these
choices. I think the problem here lies in saying "what is to my advantage" and
that is the basis of what I said.

In game terms, eating expensive food may be dum finacially but it is in the real
world. What you have to ask yourself is: "Do I get more enjoyment out of eating
great food or seeing more money in my bank account?" If you make a choice
between one or the other then whichever way it happens, its to your benefit. If
you eat nicer food, you derive benefit from it.

The reason why the choices in roleplay seem much less complex is simple:

In a roleplaying world, you have no physical sensation of what you are doing.
Its easy to take the choice as a Humakti of leaping in front of your boss to
take a Sword blow because you dn't _really_ feel the fear and stress of the
actual moment. Try doing that when your life is really on the line.

Its the same thing for all things in roleplay. Why eat expensive food, when you
can't actually _taste_ it?

My solution is to play a character as if you were there and use your own
experiences to simulate your feelings in those situations. I firmly believe
that to roleplay well, especially in a combat situation frex, a player should at
least try a martial art, fencing, SCA etc to get a feel for what they are doing.
Lets face it, how many fantasy authors write out combat without any knowledge of
what the feelings really are - answer, lots. Depressing.

Martin Laurie

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