The Player's Club Manifesto

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Over the past fifteen years, everyone who is reading this has spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing video games. This is not to suggest that this is unhealthy behavior in and of itself: we've also all read books, seen movies, played sports, attended concerts, carried on careers and relationships and so on. The time we've spent with the latter activities has always been understood to be worthy of reflection and consideration; not so much so with video games. Serious discussion of gaming, especially on the internet, takes the form of unconsidered yelping and 133tsp33k pwn4ge; criticism tends to be made by people whose sole qualification is "liking games" and most intellectual, aesthetic or philosophic exploration of the field is either hopelessly naive, impossibly technical or made solely in the service of advancing pet theories. The Player's Club seeks to fill a mostly vacant niche: acknowledging that gaming matters, that it can inspire new ideas and emotion, that gaming is worthy of thought-out constructionist criticism and debate above and beyond the juvenile level that has become all-too-common today. Gamers and games are getting older and more clever; it's past time we also raise the bar for how we _talk_ about games as well.

The approach I'm suggesting with The Player's Club is directly analogous to that of a book club. The group tackles the game in discrete chunks within a generally linear progression. I strongly encourage note-taking and cataloging of nerdy minutia; as with animation, everything in a game (theoretically, at least) is there because it's intended to be there. Player's Club is in part a celebration of the ingenuity of game programmers, writers, composers and directors; let's revel in the Easter eggs and sly glances they're giving us from within the game. In addition to critical observation and theory, I'd also love to hear about your personal experiences; how does who you are and your environment inform the playing of this game? If you're playing while someone else watches or is affected by your playing, how does this impact your experience of the game world?

We'll be playing this game for one month (officially starting this one on September 29th and ending on October 31); I'll be asking you to put in a minimum of roughly four to five hours a week each week in playing time. You're certainly welcome to play more, but I'm asking that we maintain the entire board as a spoiler-free zone for discussion of anything clearly beyond the "assigned playing time". I've created a thread for potential spoiler conversation; please respect the pace of the group elsewhere on this board. You wouldn't start a discussion of Jane Eyre by asking what everyone thought about the madwoman in the attic; we shouldn't have people discussing the final boss in the second week.

We'll be scheduling regular, "required" meetings once a week on the board to discuss the macro experience of our play over the past seven days. These regularly scheduled meetings will also feature a number of pertinent discussion questions, posted by myself and all the Club members, that you can choose to respond to as you'd like. I may ask specific members of the group to lead the discussion on individual points as a sort of "homework." All this is pretty much in keeping with the book club connection and may prove to be over-thought in the end... but humor me. Let's see what happens.

I'm also going to be asking for something more difficult from participants in The Player's Club: I'd like you to post your thoughts on this board in honest-to-god, fully thought out, multi-paragraph essay form. I'm absolutely as bad or worse about this than anyone, but most critical discussion on the web has degenerated to lazy, three word repartee. There's nothing inherently wrong with that sort of short-form posting, but I often wonder if I'm becoming a worse writer (maybe even a worse person?) by giving my own thoughts and the topic at hand such short shrift. The Player's Club is an opportunity for all of us to give real consideration to what we're saying, all the more important given that gaming talk is so generally _without_ reflection. I think this distinction is an important one and it is part of the reason I suggested moving this experiment to its own board. I've created a thread for informal discussion as it's appropriate (or when that's all you have the energy for), but I'd really appreciate it if we'd all try to shoulder a more structured approach, at least for this first game. You don't have to be overly formal or alter your writing style; just take your time, draft out your responses in wordpad and follow your ideas out to their logical conclusions. My hope is that we'll end up with a record of the game that will be worthwhile to return to and provide a valuable reference to future players.

Hand-in-hand with this request is another, more obvious one: don't be a dick. Arguing and talking shit about your skillz is acceptable; trolling and personal invective is not. General civility will serve us all well.

Lastly, have fun! I'm aware that this approach may seem a bit SERIOUS BUSINESS but that's not my real aim. I just want to provide a space for people to take games as seriously as any piece of art, story and music that's stood the test of time deserves. I absolutely hope this is the start of a greater discussion of how and why we play games and how game makers scratch this itch... starting with an acknowledged classic in the field of PC RPG gaming: Fallout.

Whatcha think?

forksclovetofu, Monday, 29 September 2008 00:02 (fourteen years ago) link

Hi forks. I'll do my best to be active in as many games as possible.
I think there might be a problem with the board. When I click new answers all I get is the introduction thread. I have to click "Show threads updated in the last week" to see any other threads even though all the new threads are less than a day old.

aye it's me (onimo), Monday, 29 September 2008 14:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Now the introduction thread has disappeared and it only shows this one :/

aye it's me (onimo), Monday, 29 September 2008 14:42 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm on it. Not sure what the problem is, but there's a note in at Moderator requests. Can't seem to link to individual threads either.

forksclovetofu, Monday, 29 September 2008 16:25 (fourteen years ago) link

should be fixed now

SHOT INTO A FAN LIKE A CHRIS ROCK ROBOT (John Justen), Monday, 29 September 2008 16:56 (fourteen years ago) link

i'm not a writer; i make no promises

i'll try tho

cankles, Monday, 29 September 2008 17:05 (fourteen years ago) link

dude have you thought about starting a thread over at the vintage game club for any of the wordy dudes over there who want to join in on other discussions?

I know some of them are jonesing to play and discuss the fallouts

STINKING CORPSE (cozwn), Monday, 13 October 2008 09:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Okay this thing's out in the open now, sweet.

Poll Wall (Noodle Vague), Friday, 17 October 2008 21:50 (fourteen years ago) link

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