Rules Aren't Important

I edited my last reply, as a non-english speaker I forgot about the different meanings of "play" and "game".
Improv is definitely playing (not a game though). Telling a story is different than playing without rules. One has interactions, the other not. Playing is not defined by rules, I will die on that hill. Its defined by having interactions and by beeing free of real life consequence. A literal playground. Games are structured, so with the English definition, I agree. In German playing and game are the same word, so my bad, I argumented on the behalf of my German background.
I'm a English Speaker with some issues that get in the way of communicating. The written word is hard work
 

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pemerton

Legend
Successful cooking definitely doesnt need rules, it needs knowledge about how ingredients react in combination with heat and other ingredients. New dishes are made from experimentation, if the dish is good, we define the steps how we did get there as a recipe so other less knowing/talented can get to the same result more easily.

Playing games doesnt need rules. Just watch some children on the playground. They are playing dinosaurs. Suddenly they are now a family. Now they are building a sand castle in which the dinosaurs live. Than they flood the castle. There are no rules. Often rules emerge, because specific behaviours in games seem to be most fun/engaging. Also I would agree rules are needed for competitions. So if to a game a competitive factor gets added, then rules will emerge really quick. But they emerge from the game, not the different way around.
I would argue games only need some sort of interaction and a safe space, meaning no real life consequence. When I kill you in game, I do not kill you in real life, to have a drastic example.

edit: I just realized something. I am not an english native speaker. In Germany, where I come from, play and game are the same word. I just realized in English "game" has a slightly different meaning than "play", it is - according to wikipedia "a structured form of play". My argumentation was based on my German experience. With the english definition its pretty much defined that rules are needed. My bad
It's quite common for native English speakers to use "game" just as you have - eg my daughter, who is a native English speaker, calls the sort of play you describe "imagination games".

I think there are features of RPGs, as a special case of imagination game, that make rules more important than for children's play.

RPGs typically involve asymmetric roles: at a typical moment of play, one participant is framing a situation which poses some sort of challenge or adversity to an imaginary character; and another character has the role of deciding how that imaginary character responds, and their "moves" in the game are typically connected in some fashion (spatial, causal, relationally, etc) to that character.

This allocation of roles can change from moment to moment, although it need not (in D&D, for instance, it is often fairly static). But for it to work it does rely on rules that allocate authority to the participant roles - roughly, how does the person playing the "GM" role go about framing adversity? and what counts as a permissible move for the person in the "player" role?

This is why the same sorts of reasons that apply in the case of competition - that you mentioned in your post - also apply in RPGs, even though RPGs are not typically competitive in their play.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Well yeah. Because they remember Meal X needs 2 portions of A and 3 portions of B. Which is essentially a recipe or rules in effect.
That's not how cooking works. In cooking, your past experiences inform what your doing but not because you are remembering prior recipes. It's far more art than that.

This of course applies to running an rpg as well.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That's not how cooking works. In cooking, your past experiences inform what your doing but not because you are remembering prior recipes. It's far more art than that.

This of course applies to running an rpg as well.
Sure, but games operate by rules. My past experiences inform what I am doing when I play poker, but to say that we are playing poker requires that we play in some semblance to the core rules of poker (or some variant thereof) rather than simply relying on vague notions of past experiences. This is one reason why, IMHO, the cooking analogy doesn't really work. Cooking isn't a game. At the end of the day, we are talking about playing games, which are shaped by the rules.
 

Windrunner

Explorer
Another thought occurred to me: I am NOT my character! My character has worldviews, skills, and knowledge I lack. I don't always know to ask all the right questions and miss things in the environment that my character would not. And that is what makes fantasy great! We can play is someone completely different from ourselves.

I was talking to a fellow player yesterday that quit the group I am a player in about his frustration with the DM and it was not worth his limited time to play in the group. It highlighted a frustration I had with an adventure in a tunnel. The story-driven arc resulted in a major negative impact on the party and we were told that "we simply did not notice anything". The description at the table was "you walk down this long tunnel to the end." As I was thinking about how I could have DM'ed differently, I quickly realized the dwarf with stone cunning, would have had a chance to notice something that would have changed the play. It's his nature, not the player's knowledge base that is important. As a DM, I would have changed the wording I used to describe the situation and used the rules to give him a skill check to notice something the players at the table did not notice. Instead, the dwarf player in our group felt frustrated that he had chosen to play a dwarf and then the DM ignored the rules and didn't let his character use his skills and knowledge to figure out a problem.

Finally, my fellow player said lack of consistency annoyed him. He wasn't saying the exact letter of every rule must be followed. Every table has house rulings. But once we understand the rules, they are applied consistently and fairly. When those are not, we no longer try to figure out what we want our players to do, we simply guess what the DM would accept best fits the story.

Sorry to helicopter in; I still am in finals mode. But I wanted to share this thought with you.
 


That's not how cooking works. In cooking, your past experiences inform what your doing but not because you are remembering prior recipes. It's far more art than that.

This of course applies to running an rpg as well.
Pretty sure a few recipe books have been over the years ( 100x more than any RPG??). So successful cooking has "rules*"

*Other words are available
 
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RivetGeekWil

Lead developer Tribes in the Dark
That implies that all food not made to a recipe tastes like ass. That’s obviously false. Anyone who’s cooked regularly can whip up a tasty meal without a recipe in hand.
Most likely they started from recipes an internalized them or, more rarely, just developed internal unwritten recipes. That doesn't reduce the importance of recipes in cooking. The same way that going seat of your pants are: rules means someone likely already has a lot of rules experience. Rules matter even if after playing for 30 years of playing you've developed an instinct for when to apply them or not. Just like in my line of work, I've developed an instinct about whether I need to check a database table's indexes stats or just update them or rebuild the index. A junior engineer who only learned about databases in a 200-level class? I'm having them go through a checklist first.
 

MGibster

Legend
That implies that all food not made to a recipe tastes like ass. That’s obviously false. Anyone who’s cooked regularly can whip up a tasty meal without a recipe in hand.
Humans have been cooking food for at least 400,000 years and perhaps as far back as 1,800,000 years depending on who you ask. For the overwhelming majority of our cooking, we have not had access to any written language and therefore no recipe could be "in hand." However, I would wager that most people had an idea of how to prepare food in a manner that was tasty. The recipes they had were in their head. Hey, if we use sea water to boil these root vegetables they taste a lot better! Even today, a chef who whips something together is typically following some sort of recipe in their head. At the very least, they're following some basic culinary rules rather than just randomly scrambling a bunch of ingredients together and hoping for the best.

And games are the same way. Did you read the rules to tag or dodge ball when you were a kid? Probably not. You may very well have played tag before you were literate.
 

That implies that all food not made to a recipe tastes like ass. That’s obviously false. Anyone who’s cooked regularly can whip up a tasty meal without a recipe in hand.
That's usually because they've memorized some recipes. Or because they've internalized principles and are writing the recipe on the fly. It is easy to metaphy between cooking and TRPGs but this is not a particularly strong way in which to do so.

GMs operate best with thorough knowledge of the rules which allows them to pick and choose among the various rules available to them or to make up a rule if none of those fits. The ability to pick and choose or make something up doesn't mean or in my opinion even imply that rules aren't important.
 

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