D&D General Jargon Revisited: Why Jargon is Often Bad for Discussing RPGs

Aldarc

Legend
I doubt anyone I actually game with would know what you meant by player agency. But sure ... it's widely accepted, well known, not at all controversial except for dozens of pages trying to explain to you why it's not. Just declare that it's clear and it is!
This is a bit needlessly dismissive.

I do think that most people know what is meant by "player agency," including the people you game with, and I also bet that you do know what I mean. You even explained it perfectly yourself in the other thread: "it's what the player does."

This is also what I mean and how I am using it. The problem is that you apply your own definition inconsistently across TTRPGs and don't look outside of direct player control of the character in the fiction. It claims that things like invoking fate points in Fate aren't a form of player agency, but that's demonstrably false by your own definition because it's what the player can do when playing the game!

That's my issue. And that is hardly controversial, groundbreaking, or difficult to understand.
 
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Oofta

Legend
This is a bit needlessly dismissive.

I do think that most people know what is meant by "player agency," and I also bet that you do know what I mean. You even explained it perfectly yourself in the other thread: "it's what the player does."

This is also what I mean and how I am using it. The problem is that you apply your own definition inconsistently across TTRPGs and don't look outside of direct player control of the character in the fiction. It claims that things like invoking fate points in Fate, aren't a form of player agency, but that's demonstrably false by your own definition because it's what the player can do when playing the game!

That's my issue. And that is hardly controversial, groundbreaking, or difficult to understand.

I don't care if you believe me, although I'd appreciate if you didn't make up things like I'm somehow inconsistent. I may have a better understanding, or way of phrasing things, but I still and have never seen a need to break down agency into different categories because it just feels like a way of elevating preferred game mechanics.

We've already had this argument on the other thread. If you want to continue this line of thought take it over to that thread so I can ignore it there.
 


Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Except this is how I am using it. I am not talking about a "different expression of agency." I'm talking about all the ways that a player can exert agency through playing a game. In TTRPGs and video games that can include the character's thinking in the fiction, but it's also not exclusive to that, because we need to account for all the agency that a player has when playing a game: e.g., the player invoking Aspects in Fate.

And it is likewise a broadly known term IME. It's used this way in video games, which is an exceedingly larger hobby in terms of people, to describe the agency of players playing the game. I have also heard it used this way numerous times in TTRPG YouTube videos, including those for 5e D&D, OSR, old school games, narrative games, "Trindie games," etc. Describing player agency in terms of the agency of the actual players makes far more sense to many people IME because it frames agency in terms of the simplest and clearest frame of reference: i.e., them and what they can do! 😀

From what I can tell, I think that the term is far more broadly known and used in this way than you are giving it credit for. 🤷‍♂️


You mean like "player agency"? Because that is precisely what I mean in plain English: i.e., the agency of the game's player. ;)


I agree, but it's not like I can control whether people feel slighted by the idea of heliocentrism just because they may perceive an insult or judgment to their geocentric models. My own preference has been to move jargon or terms to more "neutral" ground and make them more consistent across broader contexts (e.g., video games, board games, etc.) so they are more accessible to a greater amount of people and with greater clarity: e.g., player agency, metagaming, etc.


Does that mean that you will stop calling yourself a "simulationist" and tell others that you hate "narrative" games or will you still continue to use that jargon for those purposes? Asking for a friend.
Again with the snark. I use those terms because the people I'm talking to know what I mean by them, and am happy to explain them if asked. That is, I believe, how jargon is supposed to be used, as shorthand. I also use the word verisimilitude frequently you'll note. Realistic tends to get challenged, so I've been trying to avoid it.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I use those terms because the people I'm talking to know what I mean by them, and am happy to explain them if asked. That is, I believe, how jargon is supposed to be used, as shorthand.
Do you think maybe that other people are using these terms from the Forge for similar reasons? :unsure:
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Do you think maybe that other people are using these terms from the Forge for similar reasons? :unsure:
The Forge has a clear anti-sim bias. Using its terms, especially if you're a proponent of narrative games, is very hard to separate from that bias. That's kind of what this thread is about.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I’d suggest the problem with most RPG theory and jargony definitions is that they aren’t actually tested. There’s no, I’d expect X, Y and Z based on these scenarios and when testing them I get X, Y and Z.

Instead it’s more here’s my jargony definition - it defines what happens in these scenarios as X, Y, Z therefore no matter any prior expectations that’s just the way it is.

That first step is where consensus is formed and it’s mostly just bypassed.

I just have to point out that's a property of the sciences, not jargon use in general. There's plenty of jargon in the arts and there's no real way to "test" those. They're just about description and binning.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I agree, but it's not like I can control whether people feel slighted by the idea of heliocentrism just because they may perceive an insult or judgment to their geocentric models. My own preference has been to move jargon or terms to more "neutral" ground and make them more consistent across broader contexts (e.g., video games, board games, etc.) so they are more accessible to a greater amount of people and with greater clarity: e.g., player agency, metagaming, etc.

Whether you can control it or not, it still has the semantic loading and still will tend to produce that result. That's just going to be the reality with anything that can be described as "presence" or "lack", and is appended to a term that is not strongly neutral, and the word "agency" isn't.

Basically the result here was entirely predictable.
 

gorice

Adventurer
@Aldarc mentioned videogames upthread, and I think it's instructive to look at them for comparison. Agency, sandbox, uncanny valley, skinner box, frag, lag, metroidvania, soulslike... Videogame discussions are filled with jargon, and no-one gets their nickers in a twist over it. The complete inability, or refusal, to agree on even basic terminology to describe play is specific to RPGs. It's not an internet problem, or a jargon problem, it's a hobby problem or an industry problem.
 

Pedantic

Legend
@Aldarc mentioned videogames upthread, and I think it's instructive to look at them for comparison. Agency, sandbox, uncanny valley, skinner box, frag, lag, metroidvania, soulslike... Videogame discussions are filled with jargon, and no-one gets their nickers in a twist over it. The complete inability, or refusal, to agree on even basic terminology to describe play is specific to RPGs. It's not an internet problem, or a jargon problem, it's a hobby problem or an industry problem.
Are you kidding? Videogame jargon is incredibly contentious! Metroidvania is a prime example, with a devoted crowd that still resists using any particular game as the basis of a genre, prefering to find some kind of gameplay loop descriptor instead, leading to endless articles about whether or not we should keep saying Soulslike or Soulsbourne. We're just starting to settle the question of what differentiates Roguelite from Roguelike.

Have you seen the debates playing out over the correct genre name for the games derived from Vampire Survivors and similar? So far we've got Survivors-like, Survivors games, bullet heaven and busted/broken build games just off the top of my head.

To say nothing of how fractious criticism can be in videogames! There was the whole "objective review" concept from a decade ago (which admittedly led to dogwhistling for misogyny and then just outright misogyny) to the contentious question of scoring.
 

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