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Your Character? Whose Character?

There's been an interesting progression on various RPG discussion sites over the last few months. A little while ago, the Hot Topic was Immersion, i.e. the ability of a player to submerge him or herself in their character and the imaginary situation that character occupies and the opportunities various RPGs offer/don't offer players to use this ability.

Recently, it's shifted into the more fertile (in my opinion) topic of Identification, i.e. the player's ability to identify with really need Immersion to have enjoyable play, but I can utterly understand the need to Identify with my character, because it helps me make consistent, sensible (in the context that they make sense, not that they're safe or not reckless) choices for it.

The discussions are also interesting because some of them point to a few of the games that I'd like to play, such as Primetime Adventures, whose shared narrative control approach to story-making has been accused of creating distance between player and character, making it harder for the former to identify with the latter.

(Personally, I am of the opinion - not backed up by actual play, mind, which is one of the reasons I'm hot to get some PtA play under my belt soon - that this is bollocks, or else we wouldn't be able to identify and empathise with the stars of our favourite TV shows, over whom we have no control whatsoever.)

But most recently, a couple of theory-heads and game designers (including Vincent Baker, writer of Dogs in the Vineyard) has suggested an interesting inversion of the recent drive at GM-less play - player-less play, a loosening of the control each player has over his or her character. Now, there's no practical way to discuss how this actually works yet, as (to my knowledge) a game based around this idea doesn't yet exist - but it's still interesting to read the suggestions and conversations, and watch the slow development of the games that will utilise playerless play.

I'm personally curious as to how those who prize Identification may feel that the resulting games are even less for them than Primetime Adventures.

Anyway, some posts:

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