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This Is Not a Gas Mask

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13 Aug 2019 00:00 #300691 by Frohike
Drifting around these memories is the peculiar quality of the...

I haven't played The Grizzled in awhile, but parts of what it expressed have lingered in my memory: a lot of desperation, a feeling of almost shell-shocked abstraction colliding with evocative trauma effects, the weight of words and their absence, and that so much depends upon a single cup of coffee.

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13 Aug 2019 06:44 #300692 by mc
Replied by mc on topic This Is Not a Gas Mask
Great read Frohike, much appreciated.

I need to absorb some of the similitude vs resemblance stuff, especially in the context of board games, because I'm not sure that they are that different to any other medium in being able to combine the two things. Perhaps what is different for games is the expectation of the audience about this and the subsequent willingness to engage. You touch on this. But where does that expectation come from? Why is it (maybe) different? Why are we more willing (maybe) to accept the opening line of the rulebook (You are a....)

What I can say though, about the Grizzled, is that I have observed the interesting effect it has on kids. Kids are already more willing to run with the empathetic aspects - taking on a role - in my experience. With this game, they absolutely do go between trying to solve the puzzle, and empathising with each other - dipping in and out of the roles. One of my favourite things about this game is the way that it engenders some fairly complex feelings as a result. I love watching the exasperation as a beleaguered solider plays another hard knock - "DUDE!" - but then that camaraderie as they all know that's where the coffee has got to go. It's not a puzzle anymore a that point. They're not exasperated because of the puzzle in that instant - they are exasperated at poor old mate who's turned selfish in his fear of a gas attack, but despite that are willing to try and get him through it.

I've played with people who treat it only as a puzzle, and it's not particularly interesting then. Playing with kids though - or at least people who can combine the similitude and the resemblence - accept the resemblance for similitude? - that's the ticket. They will jump in without a care.
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13 Aug 2019 09:57 #300698 by charlest
Replied by charlest on topic This Is Not a Gas Mask
I read this long ago when you posted it under your BGG Blog, but I just read it again now because I love your writing Paul. Great stuff.
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13 Aug 2019 14:27 - 13 Aug 2019 14:28 #300704 by Frohike
Replied by Frohike on topic This Is Not a Gas Mask

mc wrote: I need to absorb some of the similitude vs resemblance stuff, especially in the context of board games, because I'm not sure that they are that different to any other medium in being able to combine the two things. Perhaps what is different for games is the expectation of the audience about this and the subsequent willingness to engage. You touch on this. But where does that expectation come from? Why is it (maybe) different? Why are we more willing (maybe) to accept the opening line of the rulebook (You are a....)

This is a crucial insight into how genre functions. Any "formal" differences only function through reader/player/viewer expectation. Neat formal parameters only get academics so far, putting a pin in a few distinguishing concepts before they eventually have to analyze the greyer (and IMO, more interesting) areas of how people engage a specific medium or genre & what larger historical & social frameworks affect this engagement and these sets of expectations (this includes formal precedent but also so much more.

Board games are fascinating to me because their "readership" (playership?) has formed in this liminal area of collaborative "make believe" that doesn't quite jibe with roleplay on one end of the spectrum, and more screen-mediated audio-visual escapism on the other (e.g. video games).

What I can say though, about the Grizzled, is that I have observed the interesting effect it has on kids. Kids are already more willing to run with the empathetic aspects - taking on a role - in my experience. With this game, they absolutely do go between trying to solve the puzzle, and empathizing with each other - dipping in and out of the roles.

That's a really interesting observation and makes a lot of sense to me since kids seem to be more agile in general when it comes to switching between different registers of "pretend" play, whereas adults tend to develop more static notions of where the game resides. As you noted, empathy can play a big role in this type of fluid transitioning. In the case of The Grizzled, it bridges the gap between "the player is stuck" and "the soldier is traumatized" in a way that works perfectly for the game.
Last edit: 13 Aug 2019 14:28 by Frohike.

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13 Aug 2019 14:35 #300705 by Frohike
Replied by Frohike on topic This Is Not a Gas Mask

charlest wrote: I read this long ago when you posted it under your BGG Blog, but I just read it again now because I love your writing Paul. Great stuff.


Thanks for the kind words, Charlie! I've hit some writer's block (I think a lot of it couched in shifting life circumstances) and figured that posting and discussing this would prime the pump a bit. Talking about why board games work & why we engage with them in the ways that we do always clears the cobwebs for me.
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