Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keyboards and Bathrobes: Five Fold Alignment System

So, much to my surprise, KB&BR has zoomed to the top of my page hits, garnering twice as many as the next most popular page (BMoTU). So, as an avowed attention whore, I succumb to reader pressure and present a long lost supplemental post for KB&BR. I'd come up with a witty name for it, but all I can think of is "SemioticMoor", and frankly, that is obscure and sucks. So here goes: a huge bolus of pretentious text, plus one overanalyzed and extrapolated diagram.  Enjoy, and try not to choke.

Online Game critique five-fold Alignment System.

As is obvious to all, the empowerment of the experience of the game vis-à-vis the actions preformed, or rather Pre-formed by the player-participant will hopefully be informed (or, as is often the case, mis-informed) by an overriding structuralization of a behavioral script divined from continuous self (or character-self) observation and actualization assessment which is the goal of all right minded, forward-looking gamers; or, put otherwise, Alignment. Oft derided by the thespian (or rather Hypocritical Thespian) the characters alignment is not, as is often maintained by the unenlightened an artificial limb upon which a wobbly characterization may be perched like some kind of fantastical long-john-silver impersonator; RATHER, it is a crutch upon which a players character may walk from A to B without having to infuse, or rather pollute (or perhaps homogenize and genericize, thereby dumbing -down the thespio-gaming experience to the lowest common denominator which disagrees with deconstructionist gaming criticism) the actions with preconceived notions of play style and non-historical genre-inconsistent and non-canonical (or, more accurately Wrong ) reactions to the Player-directors shared psycho-imaginational world. Such crutches are absolutely necessary, for the simple reason that all players are inherently lame, and need to be carefully and coddlingly coaxed onto the sleeper car of the phantasmical wonderful plot train of the Game-stewards design. Lord knows mine do ! Thus, one sees that an utter artificiality of behavioral analysis and summation, the alignment, is in fact a necessity and a benefit insofar as it is easy to use to direct recalcitrant players behavior, and the extent to which it makes an otherwise incorrectly motivated player remotivate in proper local terms, as laid down by the immediate rules-interpreter.

Thus, we see that five points on a continuum can successfully and completely define, predict and simulate all behavior of online game critics, which, obviously, is almost entirely an overlapping set with all gamers; and thus, the set of all sets, including the conceptually empty set, is the five fold alignment set.

In general other than food and excretion, all gaming forum critics have two main emotional states: Attack and defense, and unreasonable fear or unconditional love of change; and one centroid state: Cluelessness.

The fear/love axis is defined by the Napoleonic nicknames specific to the old and young guard regiment of the French imperial army: Grognards (old grumblers) and Malenfants (Fussy infants).* The Grognards were the unmoving defenders of the old ways, and the Malenfants the obsessive early adopters of all that was new and shiny. One sees this dichotomy at all levels of gaming discussion, but, while often referred to, does not adequately explain what is observed; in point of fact, the missing element is how a given individual (such as they are) reacts to a challenge to their desired way of things (Stasis or Chaos): Rabid attack or Utter Defense. This is utterly independent of what one's passion for, or abhorrence of change or tradition. One can obstinately cleave to an ancient game or mechanic by constantly extolling its utter perfection and virtue; or one can cleave to an old system by constantly pointing how utterly flawed, fallacious and broken all other choices are. While it is physically and mentally possible for one to both attack and defend, one tendency always predominates; and, as one equalizes ones tendency to either lash out or turtle up, one approaches the state of cluelessness which is also achieved by an unhealthy balance of emotional attachment to change or lack thereof.

Thus, all discussions of gaming can be parsed by this dichotomous set of axes, with the origin being the classic clueless gamer who imagines that while discussion may be interesting, the point of gaming is in fact gaming, and not arguing about how one should game, or, indeed, the ultimate fallacy of considering that actual experience of a game is somehow more appropriate to the nature of games than constantly meta-arguing about how one should discuss gaming.

Thus, in a very real Holmesian sense, keyboards and Bathrobe plarer -conspirators (or rather, experience-gamingists subjects) fit one of five alignments: Grognard-cynic/Grognard-fanboi/Malenfant-cynic/Malenfant-Fanboi, as this simple diagram should make clear, with added reference points of specific fan groups and gaming types added for reference. 

*The justification for this terminology is that I know a lot about this subject, and wish , at some point in my life, to make sure that other people know that I know about it too.

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