What is an RRG?

A new form of analog games is burgeoning in quiet spaces, in places that have little attention put onto them, but that are innovating in new and radical ways. This new type of games are called Roleplaying Reality Games (RRGs), and there have been exactly three of them run. What exactly an RRG is remains fluid at this point, remains a place for debate and discussion, but in this article I will discuss the characteristics of RRGs and what makes the genre distinct.

But first, let’s talk about why RRGs matter. RRGs draw inspiration from a large number of sources, ranging from choose-your-own-adventures to social deduction games to versions of Survivor and Big Brother run on forums. The core element of this DNA of design is that they are born in and adapted to the digital world. RRGs allow for a high degree of connection to the events of the narrative while also respecting the time of the participants.

How do RRGs achieve this effect? That comes down to their distinctive characteristics.

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Game Design Against Fascism: Generalized Intelligence

The concept of generalized intelligence is prominent throughout our society. We refer to people as “smart” or “intelligent,” or comparatively “dumb” or “stupid.” This usage is unconscious on the part of most who take part in it, but there are very problematic roots to these concepts, at least in how they are used today. What’s more, these concepts are echoed directly into their usage in games of all kinds.

In this essay, I will argue that generalized intelligence is an inherently racist, ableist, and fascist concept that should not be present in media that does not wish for a fascist audience.

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Your Game Should Have Social Mechanics

Games should have social mechanics. This seems like a self-evident statement to me, but as I spend more time on twitter, it becomes clear that there are those who disagree with me on this point. A statement that I’ve seen repeated is that formalizing social interactions into a mechanical form reduces social interactions to something artificial, in a way that can be off putting.

In this article, I will argue that not only are social mechanics necessary for every game, but that social mechanics can be useful in creating an experience that is accessible and more comfortable for everyone.

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The TFA Model: Part 1- Primer

There are many models for how to approach the concepts of game design and of narrative in general. All of these models are incomplete, because that is the nature of models, they abstract down and are forged from the bias and ignorance of their creator. This model is no different, and it will remain forever incomplete. Still, you might find it useful.

The TFA model suggests that interactive narratives emerge from the intersection of three different forces: thoughts, feelings, and actions. These three sometimes act in unison, sometimes in contrast, but through their interactions and intersections emerge the elements of play. A work that does not contain all three is, inherently, going to be a more experimental narrative and outside of the scope of this series.

Through the next several blog posts, I will speak at length about this model and how to implement it in game design. This post serves as an introduction and primer, a gateway to the ideas and the vocabulary to be explored at further length in the rest of the series.

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Social Capitalism (CW: Abuse, Sexual Assault)

The tabletop industry has been shook by the seismic reverberations of Zak S being revealed as a spousal abuser and sexual assaulter. I believe the accounts of the survivors of his abuse and respect their courage for speaking out, despite the pressure not to. Zak S is a known harasser in the industry and for a very long time, people in power seemed perfectly willing to ignore his vile actions. This refusal to honestly engage with Zak’s actions has made it more difficult for people like Mandy to come forward with their stories.

I don’t want to delve into the personal details of what has happened in this specific circumstance. It is not my place to tell that story. It is not my place to frame that narrative or speak to details I do not know for certain. Instead, I want to step back and look at the larger systems at work that allow for this kind of abuse and harassment to continue unabated. I want to understand why people continue to work with and hire people like Zak S despite their actions being known.

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Dialectic of Design

Political games are becoming increasingly visible and important. Games are a medium through which we can explore the world as players and express our feelings about the often complicated world we find ourselves in as designers. And, after all, everything is political in that it reflects the ideology of the creator, the audience, and the world in which both operate. Therefore, I believe that political games could use a deeper investigation.

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