On RPG Theory: Z

This is the last word, some more analysis in May. And what a good word to end the game on.

Zilchplay: A style of play that doesn't prioritize any creative agenda. Walt Freitag defines it as having an agenda: "being told a story while engaging in manipulation of some arcana that makes it appear and feel that you're doing something of greater import than that."

I'm not exactly clear how to get to the bottom of this, so I'll just quote Walt, and what he says about it.

Zilchplay is Exploration without perceivable Creative Agenda.

Zilchplay IS Exploration.

Exploration without perceivable Creative Agenda is possible (and observable, most often on the part of individual participants rather than a whole group).

Zilchplay is or is not role playing depending on whether your definition of role playing has Creative Agenda as a requirement.
In the thread Zilchplay is disscussed, Ron makes an interesting comment, which I think elucidates much of what I've been saying. . .
I think this whole debate suffers slightly from a tendency to interpret any single proposed idea during a complex dialogue as a concrete position. I've noted this tendency on the parts of a lot of people who arrive at the Forge from a scholarly background - accustomed to reading texts as representatives of identified points of view, they aren't used to dealing with texts as "thickets of debate" in which everyone understands that the point of view is expected to emerge eventually.
Really Ron?

Frankly, I think that's exactly what you're doing when you post on a forum - proposing an idea as a concrete position.

When you write a forum post, you are explicitly writing a text that is representative of an identified point of view - yours.

I guess it's all that book learning, rational thinking, and following the scientific method that's got everyone all confused.

Well, that's it for April folks. I'll try to write up some summary posts over some of the useful bits next month!


  1. Hey, thanks for the series. I came into it late, but enjoyed it.


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