Monday, May 16, 2011

If There Must Be A Cheeto, Use The Cheeto

Attitude one:

Like pre-modern art, the game is like a window into another world. Just as brushstrokes and picture frames are considered necessary but distracting elements in a traditional painting, dice, rules, Cheetos are necessary but distracting elements in the game. Whatever can be done to limit their hold of the mind of the player and promote pure immersion is appreciated.

Attitude two:

Like modern and postmodern art, the game attempts to be a window into another world but it also unavoidably a window into the people involved. As in any game, the dice and the rules and the Cheetos are palpably there, just like the brushstrokes and the picture frame are palpably there in any painting and it is hopeless to ask the audience to ignore them and doing so only highlights the falseness and irrelevance of what you're doing. So, instead, make these things fun--if it is in the players' consciousness, use it to your advantage. Whatever can be done to seize on an element at the table--a table, a rule, a chart, a miniature, a sound in the room, and make it part of a gesamtkunstwerk (albeit one collaged from disparate elements) is good. If there must be a Cheeto, use the Cheeto.


  1. If I had to choose I think I'd rather use the Cheeto than most of the apparatus of the spectacle as employed nowadays. At least the Cheeto has a practical function.

  2. Yeah, you bite the bottom off it and it makes a great freestanding lava maggot.

  3. The cheetos are the great white lie of the game; you try to pretend they aren't there, but when you want one you damn well want one.

  4. The cheetos are cool until the dude next to you sucks a bunch of the orange crap off his fingers and immediately reaches for one of your dice...

    The second approach seems better adapted to the realities of the hobby, but I think it's the DM in me that clings desperately to the first lol

  5. I'm all about the first. I don't like Cheetos all that much.

    Now spicy Cheetos...well, that's a different story. Not my favorite snack mind you but a hell of a lot better than those plain, bland, barely-like cheese Cheetos I so often encounter. Show me Cheetos with some heat and I'm more inclined to use them.

  6. "The sound of your loud and incessant chewing of dungeon granola seems to have attracted a purple worm, the likes of which even Crom himself has never seen." Like that kind of fun?

  7. Interesting analogy...

    For the record I think I am an Attitude Two Guy. Attitude 1 seems to take itself far too seriously for my taste. I'd rather play the game without the pretense and just enjoy it in whatever form it takes.

    I understand that I am, potentially, preemptively insulting anyone who has adopted Attitude 1. Its probably because I haven't thought it through that well and I hope my opinion isnt considered a personal attack by anyone.

    Damn you, Attitude Ones! I must caveat everything with you people. FREAKS. =P

  8. Something else made me think along these lines recently. Supposing games are an artistic medium - maybe gamist/sim/narrativist is not the best creative way to think about them. Maybe we should instead be thinking in terms of expressionism/realism/impressionism. What would a purposely expressionist game be like? What would an abstract game be like (Go?)

    The medium can be explored with much greater vibrancy if we realise that it IS a medium and it has elements of style inherent to it, that can be played with. Some of these elements may be cheetos.

    Could someone write the equivalent of McCloud's 'Understanding Comics' for RPG?

  9. Attitude One is The One Correct Attitude.

    Attitude Two is the work of The Devil. And Cthulhu. And Zak.

    And the Pure Evil of Attitude Two is aggravated by its use polysyllabic German words too.

  10. I don't think the two attitudes are some binary opposition where you choose either one or the other.

    Rather, I'd suggest it's degrees of the second attitude. From a self-hypnotizing "let's pretend we're not pretending", to a completely postmodern metafictional "we're pretending and aware of it".

    As someone (was it MJ Harrison?) said: "There is no there, there.". Ultimately we're playing a game and even at the deepest levels of immersion we're just making shit up and you can't wizard the table and the hum of cars outside away.

    (this is NOT to say immersion isn't a possible worthy and satisfying goal)

  11. I think the first attitude stems from a desire to recreate the escapism you can find in books and movies or any other shit you can totally get lost in. The problem that comes up when you try to make that happen at the gaming table is that theres like four or five other people there.

    I had a roommate that would try to comunicate with me telepathically all the time, there'd be a break in the verbal conversation and she'd just stare at me in a weird way. I didnt find out about the telepathy thing until later so I just thought she was kinda cracked out all the time, but if her telepathy had worked, she might have become the ultimate type one GM...

  12. @Night Wizard

    paragraph2 is funny

    paragraph one is interesting. I think you're right.