Category Archives: push/pull

Getting around to (one of) the point(s).

So, 10 or so months ago I started Sin Aesthetics.

I did this post on immersionand this post on authorial intent and this post on push and pull.

None of them were supposed to be very groundbreaking, they were just setup posts to get everybody onto the page of a few things I wanted to talk about. The next one was supposed to combine some of these elements to having a discussion about how one could use pull techniques to help immersion-heavy players cope functionally and productively in push-heavy nar games. This seems like it’s kind of anti-climactic now after all the discussion that’s gone on about p/p. At least the post can be much shorter now, because we won’t have to sort through examples.

Basically, the point is that if the goal of nar games is to create drama by addressing premise, and if differential techniques (p/p) can equally be used to do this in a valid way then those techniques can be (and are) used intentionally to create a personal fit to a shared game, even if the game fosters a playstyle that is less friendly to the player using the technique. I’m an immersive player and find that many nar games with explicit push systems (read: mechanically supported) often interrupt my ability to immerse because the system requires me to toggle between IC-head and OOC-head too long or too frequently, or because they break (personal) character continuity over issues of ownership (e.g. winning narration rights).

The design intent over many of these explicit structures exist to create what matters. What matters might be drama through conflict, or to highlight the address of premise, or to reward giving over to the story. It might be simply to pre-negotiate the social system of the game so that there is less work or negotiation required to produce functional and enjoyable play. In any case, they are designed to produce.

In some cases, where the explicit structures prevent or deter a player from fully socketing to their locus of enjoyment in a game (so for me, to character, emotionally) the player can premptively produce what the explicit structure has been built to require in order to eliminate or minimize the negative impact of interacting with that structure, while still remaining functional and socially responsible to the game and the play group.

For example, say one explicit structure in the game is: once you have played to a point where crisis is coming, the players roll dice and the winner is given sole authority to narrate the outcome of the crisis. The point of this structure is to provide a means of resolving conflict and a clear direction of social authority. A player that sockets emotionally via character might find this structure impedes or prevents personal enjoyment in the game because when they lose conflicts the winning player is free to narrate what the loser’s character can do, and this creates static in the player’s personal sense of continuity with the character, knocking the plug out of the socket.

(Some of you might want to tell me that if this is the case, the player shouldn’t play this game. Sure, optimally we’d all be playing games with groups and in systems that fit us perfectly 100% of the time, but the reality is that we don’t. Sometimes we play games that fit other people’s preferences more than our own, because playing with the person is more important to us than the system we play in. Sometimes, everything else in the system makes it worth running into the occasional hump.)

So in this case, what can the player do to premptively produce what the system is looking for so as to lessen the impact of or eliminate the hump? Well, since it’s fresh, Brand’s moment of crisis post offers us one way. Since the structure is very FatE, a skilled player could pull to resolve the conflict and determine authority using social DitM. In order to succeed in the pull, the player must win the buy in of the other player, and in giving buy in (especially in a context in which going to the FatE is his mechanical right in the game) the other player is exhibiting an acceptance to what the pulling player has done (any of this could be an OOC explicit negotiation or an IC negotiation). Both players are happy, the premise has been addressed to the satisfaction of both players, and the drama rolls on. The transaction is functional and productive, and the pulling player has not had to experience the static produced by the FatE structure.

This kind of thing isn’t always going to be possible, of course, and could take considerable skill and finesse to make work, but it’s something worth thinking about.

It’s also an interesting consideration to take when designing. As the designer, if you want people to be able to use their personal skills to compensate for areas of your system they might have problems with, does your explicit system make room for them to do so? If you do not want this, how do you constrain this ability in your design? Is there other things we can do to expand the support for multiple playtypes, or multiple sockets or whatever? Do we even want to?

Anyway, it’s something I’m still musing on, so I thought I’d put it out there.

Push and Pull – One Last Time

(This was posted over on StoryGames, I thought since I put so much work into it, I should paste it in here, too. It helps me, continuity-wise, too.)

Chris and I have been knocking Push and Pull out very fruitfully over on Deep in the Game. Thanks Chris!

Here are your no-nonsense definitions:

Push is an assertion of individual authority.

Pull is a directed solicitation for collaborative buy-in and input.

Both Push and Pull are a part of fundamental human communication patterns. They are tools used in social interactions that provide movement to the interaction and provoke response and action within it.

In a RPG context, Push and Pull happen both as they do in a non game context (socially and incidentally because we are still people engaging in interaction), and as techniques used to affect the game, the social environment and the drama. Both Push and Pull can be mechanically or non-mechanically supported, functional or dysfunctional, effective or non-effective. Neither is inherently better or worse than the other, though people can have preferences for one or the other.

A player, using a Push technique, uses his own authority to put something out there. This something could be an assertion of an element or action into the fiction, it could be something in the social contract that causes or prevents something from happening (E.g. identifying that an NGH or TTP line has reached a hard stop) or in other ways (I’m not going to categorically list them here, that could be a discussion for a future time, suffice to say that although a push can be used as a technique to address the fiction, it’s not tied to it).

Push Example #1:

Game: Truth & Justice

Situation: The heroine has just found out that she has a long lost brother, and that her brother idolizes her secret identity for her work in the same science area that he is studying in. She, a precog, has a vision in which her estranged father and long lost brother are in a mall when a group of assassins break in and try to kill them. She could go save them, but if she does a whole busload of schoolgirls who have been captured by an evil cult will die terrible horrible sacrificial deaths. She chooses to go save the schoolgirls, because the ritual that they are being killed in may prove very, very bad for the world. In the vision where her brother and father are, the guns ring out, the bullets fly, and the father and brother are gunned down, their blood splattering.

The player (me) takes 4 hero points and hands them to the GM (Brand), declaring “Major Detect & Discover. Josh [the brother] is a mutant. He doesn’t die.” Brand cackles and gives time powers to Josh, so that when the reality of the precog vision comes true, he rewinds time in the second before he dies and uses his power to take out the villain, saving himself and their father.

I didn’t want the brother to die without having my character have a chance to interact with him, so I used a mechanic available to me to make it not happen.

Push Example #2:

Game: Unbreakable (A home-styled nar game) that’s loosely styled on the themes of M Night’s movie Unbreakable.

Situation: Our hero has been putting his ass on the line to make his Alphabet City neighborhood a safer place. In doing so, he’s pissed off a number of gangs in the area. In a previous bang, he had seen a member of the gang that has been hunting him down being shaken down by three guys of a rival gang over mule-ing drugs through their territory. Arjuna had interceded, scared the rival gangs off and saved the kid’s life. He even gave him back the drugs, as a show of good faith/bribe to leave his block alone.

The kid, afraid of what would happen if the leader found out about getting his ass saved by an enemy hadn’t passed the message on, so in another scene, when Arjuna’d come face to face with the sociopathic leader of the main gang, and had pointed out his show of good faith, the fit hit the shan. The gang leader thanked him for the interaction, and declared the feud between them over. He told Arjuna he would take care of the discrepancies.

Coming home that night, the GM (me) declares that in the vacant lot behind his house, the kid is dead – gutted – and has been left on display for him. The area has been police taped, and cops are on the scene. Alongside the body: the knapsack, likely still carrying his prints.

I put something down in front of him that said: Here, deal with that shit.

A player, using a Pull technique, solicits another player’s buy-in or input. This can happen by catering input to the other player’s tastes, by enticement, by reward, by negotiation, by collaborative mutual decision (and I’m sure there are other ways) Again, the Pull can be used to influence the fiction, but Pull techniques are not limited to the fiction.

Pull Example #1:

Game: The same Truth & Justice game as Push #1

Situation: Heroine encounters a villain for the first time. The game has a very graphic novel feel, and the social contract of the game has it established that there is (like many comic books) usually a pattern wherein at the first meeting, the villain will gets away, eluding the heroine.

The scene is set in a bank with a robbery underway, the mooks present are human goons for hire with lots of bad ass weaponry, the main villainess is a sexy succubus-y she-devil that is enrapturing the Bank Manager. The character comes in with great pith and daring do, and faithfully begins to kick the asses of the mooks en route to the main villainess. The mooks prove to be too numerous and too underhanded and threaten the innocents in the bank, but if she doesn’t do something about it, the villainess will get away with the booty!
The heroine takes the only action she has to spare to do a single attack on the villain, knocking her away from the bank manager, and into the vault and as part of her description says:

“Paper bank notes and bills flutter away from the hefty vault door as it slams shut with a satisfying THUD and a long series of clicks that lock the Hell Queen in its deep heart, keeping the bank’s patrons safely clear of her terrible, evil tactics!” The player (me), turns to the GM (Brand), raises an eyebrow and says in overly accentuated, sarcastic way:

“And Déjà Vu turns back and focuses her FULL attention on the members of Terror Inc, FULLY CONFIDENT that her “safe deposit” will be waiting for her once she has taken care of the gunboys!” Wink wink, nudge, nudge.

Brand, grins and says “Revolting Development?” and I agree, roll my dice and cash in on hero points which I then use to lay a righteous smackdown on the Terror Inc boys. When I get back to the vault to collect the villain, there is a hole melted in the floor, and the villainess and the booty are, of course, long, long gone.

If the villain got away, I wanted her to get away because something completely unexpected (to the character) had happened while my character continued to do the righteous smackdown. I was also low on Hero Points and knew that the Revolting Development would pay off. So, because I wanted these things, I created a situation where both requirements could be fulfilled, and one that I knew would be appealing enough for Brand to pick up on.

I wanted to go in a direction and so I made it a direction that Brand would like so that we could go that way together.

Pull Example #2:

Game: Breaking the Ice

Situation: It’s getting on to the end of the third date, and the fates of the lovers are being decided. They’ve racked up a pretty high attraction score, but their compatibility rating is low. This is reflected in the game’s fiction. The characters have never been ambivalent about each other; they’ve never fully managed to make it to a place where they click romantically, but they end up in bed despite that. Afterwards, one of the characters (mine) shows a bit of the desperation of the act by drawing a parallel between watching the woman he just lay with as she slept and the love of his life that died in a car accident (in which he was driving in heavy rain) a year ago. The other player (Brand) finding the earlier silly-ish game ending on too dour a note, wanting a chance at a bonus die, and knowing that I have a penchant for elegiac romance, wakes his character up and has her comfort him, saying in character:

“I can’t promise that I’ll be here forever, or even that I’ll love you forever, but I’m here now, and I love you now, and that’s enough. It’s a mistake to think you were driving then, or that you are driving now. Life is hydroplaning, and there isn’t any control to be had.”

And he earned the bonus die, and in their mutual comfort earned the one last compatibility (#3) that gave them at least a slim shot of making it.

Brand wanted something with more hope, and he wanted the characters to have a chance, so he found a way to appeal to my tastes in game to use a mechanically supported tool that allowed me to reward his pull.

Why is any of this important?

Well, if you’re designing, analysis of these kinds of social transactions and how they differ from each other helps you understand what kind of game you are creating, and who will be happy with it.

Now, I’ve never used the Power 19, because my brain naturally does this sort of thing without needing the tool, but it seems to me that if it represents a list of the things that are important to consider in game design and theory (which it seems to be, considering how many talk about it/use it), that discussion of social transactions such as Push and Pull are intrinsically connected to the following questions:

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)?
7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game?
9.) What does your game do to command the players’ attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like?
11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about?
14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players?
19.) Who is your target audience?

If the idea is to intentionally build games that cater to the target audience to maximize the potential fun that could be had by them, then it would be extremely helpful to consider whether the game coexists peacefully with the skills of your target audience and provide extra, explicit support to the skills that are not inherent to the group.

Conversely, if your target audience is “As many people as goddamn possible.”? Well, then, understanding the kinds of different play out there helps you to identify where support will be needed to get different players to peacefully co-exist in the same game while achieving the maximum potential for fun.

Example in Action:

I put my observations of Push and Pull into direct application in Crime and Punishment. In life, I like Pull. It’s energizing, it builds. I am less comfortable with Push, it feels confrontational and space invading. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t find Push useful… obviously I do, because I employ Push techniques in my games.

Crime and Punishment is designed to build collaborative environments that build investment between members of the player group to provide a basis and support for applying hardcore Push.

Huh?

Read the game. The entire first half is all built on Pull techniques, contributing ideas, soliciting investment, earning the approval and buy in of the other players to create a communal endeavor. The second half of the game is all Push. In this environment of investment and reinforced by the framework we have built together, players can now Push hard against each other to maximize the potential of the storyboard. To make the drama come to life. The mechanics support it here, too. You use the investment of other players that you have earned, to bid and buy and win how you want things to happen in the game.

Please go read C+P with all of this in mind.

While you’re at it, if all of this has finally made some semblance of coherent sense, you might want to go read a bunch of stuff again:

http://www.spaceanddeath.com/sin_aesthetics/2006/01/push-vs-pull.html
http://www.spaceanddeath.com/sin_aesthetics/2006/01/pull-clarification-and-promises.html
http://yudhishthirasdice.blogspot.com/2006/01/brand-pushes-and-pulls-and-blows.html
http://www.20by20room.com/2006/05/push_and_pull_e.html

I think that’s all I have for now.

Best,

~Mo

Syncronicity Moment – Push/Pull Communication Modes

Okay, so there’s this very excellent post by Paul Tevis over on RPG Talk that talks about Push/Pull in regards to Setting. This is interesting all on it’s own, and I’ll be thinking about it more in future days when my brain has more room to think, but what made me pick up the link and put it here is his later comments about Push and Pull modes of communication:

“Writing for Presentation and Setting are essentially Push techniques. They’re both ways of saying, “Here’s my position. I’m done. Here you go.” Writing for Discussion and Situation are essentially Pull techniques. They’re both about giving the other person room to tell their side, to make what you’ve started into something different and bigger than what you would have done on your own.”

This is one of the things I was trying to get to in my blathery way back when, but put together much more coherently and eloquently, especially once married to Brand’s excellent discussion with him in the comments. It’s something I’m struggling with over on Storygames, as I try, for the first time in a while to not give up on a forum. I generally don’t do so well on forums, (especially RPG ones) because of the exact thing Paul is talking about.

There’s a discussion happening over there, and it’s about gender, and I’ve been cautious to get too far into it because it’s a tarbaby in that context, because, I think that it has everything to do with gender while simultaneously have nothing to do with gender (I also didn’t want to co-opt the very real concern of the person starting the thread with my own issues). I like that Paul has put it back into the Push Pull context, because while Push/Pull were labeled Male/Female (partially my own fault) that’s not the way that I meant them, and I think that though you can make analogies, that they are essentially divorced from a any concept of sex or gender.

Push and Pull communication modes are not gender connected in any essentialist way at all. I know tons of Pull boys and Push girls. Throw a boy in a bubble over here and a girl in a bubble over there and pull them out as adults and neither will push or pull effectively at all. Neither will socialize effectively at all. Gender only has to do with Push and Pull as much as there is a very big difference (historically more so but still very real) between the way that most boys and most girls are socialized, and the way that girls are socialized have more to do with Pull than they do with Push (though exclusively neither) and vice versa with boys and Push.

So: nothing to do with gender, yet everything to do with gender. Boys by nature are no more capable of pushing than girls, or girls more capable of pulling, but many socialization experiences for each actively encourage one and discourage the other.

So gender aside: it is true for me. I was actively sociallized to Pull and actively (strongly) socialized not to Push. So it’s fun and comfortable and energizing for me to engage in activities relying primarily on Pull but difficult and uncomfortable and draining to engage in activities that rely on Push. I find forums maddening because the mode of most discussions are “Here’s my position. I’m done. Here you go.” followed by a series of challenges and defenses: all Push.

Worse than that, many of them masquerade (or honestly start out) as Pulls: “Here’s where I am, where are you, what does that mean?” and this is inviting to me, but once I’m part of them, they quickly move to Push: declaration, challenge, defense. When it happens I can get frustrated, angry, or hurt because I’ve been promised something that feels collaborative and have been given something that feels competetive, and I am there to share and explore, not to debate.

Now that I have words for it, I can identify that that’s why I started Sin Aesthetics, because I wanted to take part in the body of work that’s being built, but it allows me (for the most part, though less successfully in the past than it will be in the future) to pull the topics I am interested in, as well as moderate to control the amount of push in the discussion.

Now, to touch the tarbaby (hopefully with some latex gloves) for one second: If I’m right, and boys are socialized to push more often than pull, and there are disproportionately greater numbers of boys in RPG than girls, that means that there is a disproportionate amount of push in forums and games than pull, and that because of that, Pull mode people (be they boys or girls) will always feel less welcomed, less comfortable and less accepted than Push mode people.

Thanks Paul. 🙂

P.S. If you don’t understand and need to see the difference, go to SG and read two threads: A Very Special Gender and Gaming Conversation and Playing Across Gender Lines. When you read them, pay less attention to what is being said than how it is being said, and how the what changes the engagement level of the people involved. See if you can identify who’s uses Push Mode and who Pull and how that affects the discussion.

It may not be true for all push threads and pull threads, but the results of each of those threads also goes a long way in explaining why pull is fufilling to me and why push is not.

Pull Clarification and Promises! Promises!

Brand said something in the post over on anyway that I’m really rather thankful for:

For now, let me say that one of the things I think is going on is that everyone in the discussion is talking about pull/push on different levels. Mo was talking about it at the social level, as a rhetorical stance that people take towards the power dynamic of game. It then quickly moved into discussion of techniques and ephemera that enable such a stance, and from there into the underlying logic of game theory.

This is absolutely true. I see now where I might have contributed to the confusion between the elements up there. You see, I’m not used to talking to y’all. When something pours out of my head at Brand, where they always invariably go, he gets it, and I don’t have to make strict delineations. I see why the bigger forum needs them. I might not always use your lingo, cause quite frankly it’s hard to get a hold of. From what I’ve seen there’s a lot of internal debate about the naming of things too, you can just imagine what it’s like when you’re just looking in the window. I hope that doesn’t make you walk away – after all, just because somebody speaks a different language doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas.

For the record, I am interested in a lot of things about pull:

  1. I am interested in it at the social level as a viable alternative to, or married partner of push.
  2. I am interested in (some, not all) pull techniques as viable immersionist methods — both mechanical and social level — that may create better harmony, by providing more active, less immersion-destructive forms of authoring characters to meet the needs of the story, game or social contract.
  3. I am interested in examining current games to identify mechanics that support pull or push play, and see how using those mechanics feel different from each other.
  4. I would like to see more mechanics that support pull play in games in general to create a better balance, support those who prefer it over, or like it along with their push play. I am interested in talking about ways to accomplish this.
  5. I’m curious about the concept of seeing if an all-pull game is possible, and finding out if I’d like it or not (I suspect it would probably be not, but not as much as I would an all-push) Note: I’m not at all claiming to have the foggiest idea what an all-pull game would look like or contain, so don’t rag me on it until I give some indication that I think I do.

In the previous post, I was introducing #1 in the hopes of moving toward #2 in my next post and hopefully #3-5, down the line if people were interested. – well, I think I got my answer there.

So, to that end, I’m going to start fresh tomorrow after work, and see if I can get down my next intended post that will discuss some Actual Play examples that I think are indicative of the potential of pull and talk about their effects on the games they were in.

In the meantime, go check out Brand’s post: Brand Pushes and Pulls and Blows Himself Down. That should keep the discussion rolling along.

Push vs. Pull

I think it’s called Indian Wrestling, at least I’m pretty sure that’s what we called it as kids. You face your opponent, right leg forward, left leg back, your inside right foot touching your opponent’s inside right foot. You clasp your right hands together like you are about to arm wrestle, and count off. At go, you try your damnedest to throw the other person off balance. The player still standing at the end is the winner.

That game, minus the winning or losing bit, summarizes my internal picture of the process of playing an RPG. Mostly I am referring to the process between the player and the GM. Instead of the winning, the point of the game is to throw or tug each other as off balance as possible without making anybody fall down. The up and down and side-to-side, near fall and save is the story. The harder we both work to drive each other off balance but still keep each other safe and on our feet, the better the story will be. So. That movement, dynamic, fluid, always connected, in endless struggle, rife with moments of certain failure and gasps of almost victory, is how I feel about RPGs when they are at their very best.

Are you with me? Good.

Now, some people are better at the game than others. My cousin who introduced me to the game seemed like the King of Indian Wrestling. He was three years older, a foot taller, and twenty pounds heavier than I was. For two or three consecutive years he whupped my ass at it. Because we lived nowhere near each other but have cottages on the same street, we only ever got to play it in the summer. Every year he was still three years older, a foot taller, and twenty pounds heavier than me. Every game ran through the same process: he gloated his advantage, let me have a full swing at trying to push him off kilter, him neatly resisting my charge, him rubbing it in verbally, and then slowly, exerting his superior strength to force me backwards, out of my field of gravity, and on to the floor.

I was a stubborn and optimistic kid. I never gave up. Eventually I figured out the knack. It’s easy to look at that game and think that strength and power is the road to victory, but as I got older and my body coordination and lateral thinking skills improved, I realized that if I couldn’t out-force my opponent, I could try and outbalance him. Over the course of the next summer, I probably didn’t take his King’s crown away from him, but I enjoyed the game hell of a lot more once the playing field evened out. He would wait, I would wait, he would nudge, I would nudge, he would push I would push, he would push, I would drop my centre of gravity and pull, taking him to the floor. It was a lesson years later that I would be re-taught in Judo.

It’s a lesson that over the years I applied to a lot of things. Push never has been my thing. When Brand first started “going on” about Narrativism, I was very worried. I had finally managed to import my very own GM from California, and had just gotten him to a place where I could command he do my bidding, when he started talking about something that really didn’t sound like fun. The GM’s whole job is to push, he said, and players push back, and as a result of all that pushing, conflict, choices and stories come to be! To me, it sounded a whole lot like schoolyard bullies and football field chest thumping – frankly, it sounded stressful. So I went to the Forge, and I read a lot, and could understand why the Narrativism Brand was talking about had grown out of it. Even when just talking about the ideas of Narrativism, people on the Forge love to push each other around.

Now, I’m not saying the Forge is a bad, terrible place that no one should bother with. If you’re a pusher, you’ll probably find your niche there. I’m not a pusher, I ‘m a puller, and that means that the style of discourse on the Forge, and the style of discourse in many Nar games is really not for me. I’m not Forge diaspora adrift in the blogsphere, I’m just a girl that thought she could open the discussion a little wider, and couldn’t find her place at the Forge.

So what is pull? It’s the act of creating space that something can fall into. It’s the act of pulling yourself back to allow another to step in. It’s collaborative play rather than competitive play.

Lets take a look at both:

Dust Devils and Nine Worlds (not to pick on Matt Snyder here, it’s just that I have been thinking about Nine Worlds since our not-so-successful experiment this past weekend) are very much Push games. A mechanic in them that illustrates this very neatly is that when you win a conflict you win narration rights, which give you the authority to push anything in the game.

GM: You’re going to the Saturn Palace to retrieve the Oracle of Poseidon, but you know the chimera is in the area and hunting for you.
Player: I can deal with the chimera, I want a conflict to overcome it.
GM: OK, Let’s go.
(Cards are pulled, Player wins the conflict.)
Player: The chimera does spot us, and attacks, but I use the magical words that Hecate taught me to bind the chimera to my will, so that when we get to the palace, it fights with us.

That’s a push conflict. The player has taken it from the GM’s conceived scene of a Han Solo on the Death Star variety and pushed it by enforcing his will on the game. Lots of people, such as Brand, love push conflicts, which is why so many games have these kind of mechanics. There’s nothing wrong with push conflicts… unless you’re a puller and not comfortable with them.

In contrast, Breaking the Ice has many pull elements:

In Breaking the Ice, you must please the other player, rather than beat the other character to get bonus dice to make attraction happen. You must be willing and open to step back and let another player please you so you can grant the dice because your granting dice allows the other player to try to and attract you. It’s collaborative. An especially good example of a pull is the mechanic for Complication:

Player 1: OK, my dice hate me.
Player 2: I guess I do too.
Player 1: No, lets see here, it’s the end of the night, things have been going only fairly and Mark has walked you to your door. He tries to tell you he had a good time, but the words just stammer out. He flushes deeply red in a hot embarrassment and turns to go, but at the last moment, screws his courage to the sticking place and kisses you.
Player 2: That’s sweet! You get a re-roll.

Rather by making yourself more aggressive, you make yourself more fallible to win. You don’t get to push on the rule. You can’t make the other player give you the re-roll, you can only please them enough to make them want to give it to you. Similarly, the other player can tempt you to let them contribute to your story by making suggestions and offering bonus dice, but they can’t force it to happen. They have to pull you to pull them to put your ideas in play.

The first is like a boxing match, the second like a ballroom dance.

I think it’s important to notice that the first game is created by a male designer and the second by a female designer. I’m not saying that one game is male domain and one is female. That’d be a stupid thing to say. I can’t help but think though that this fact has some relevance based on the different ways that boys and girls are socialized. What we are talking about here is the ways in which we are skilled in dealing with conflict resolution. I’m a very strong woman who was raised by a very strong woman who taught me to stand up and represent myself when the situation called for it, and as Brand can attest, when aggression is called for (heh, when push comes to shove), I can call it on in spades. But my preferred method of approaching conflict resolution is by negotiation, approach and collaborative effort. I was taught that, most girls I know were too.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t women out there who love to get their push on. Of course there are, and perhaps that too is a reaction against – a pushing past – socialization. Conversely, there are guys out there that would land in the middle of a primary pull game and relax for the first time ever because pushing is not really their thing. Neither is weak or strong, neither is good or bad, neither is only for men or only for women, they are just preferences, or skills, or safe space in playing a game.

Maybe, just maybe (positing not declaring here) push vs. pull is (one of) the answer(s) to the age old question: why don’t more girls game? I do think that it is one of the primary reasons most girls don’t come to the Forge.

Anyway, enough for tonight.

Next up: Pull in Practical Application.
p.s. Read this to Brand and he reminded me: Please don’t mistake Pulling for passive or aimless play. It is a conscious, deliberate act on my part to encourage the story to become more dynamic and create more drama. I’ll get into the hows of it later.