Saturday, September 23, 2006

On Lasting Achievements

I was thinking tonight about some of the films that I love by Akira Kurosawa



...and I realised suddenly that there are two different kinds of art forms; some which leave lasting records and some that do not. Books, Films, Sculpture leave future generations permanent works of art. Plays, however, and live performances have, until the invention of recording devices in the last century, have not. We have plays as written works, and music in the form of scores, of course, but unlike the permanent arts we have no record of the millions of impromptu performances throughout the ages. There is no record of the first flute song. There is no record of the first harp song. There is no record of untold numbers of live performances through out the ages, some, perhaps many, of which were remarkable. The books and the statues however remain.

So we have Permanent Arts:
Books
Films
Sculptures
Paintings


And non-permanent (the performance of) arts:
Plays
Music
Story telling
Jokes
Poems
Theater


And at the very bottom of that list are:
Role Playing Games

Why the bottom? Because unlike plays, music, stories, jokes, and poems, Role Playing Games are a hazy medium to begin with. The story itself is constantly interrupted with game mechanics. What die to roll, what stat to check. There is barely, in its current incarnation, an Art there.

Yet there is an art there. It is a major art. It is an amazingly complex and incredible art. It combines games, story telling, improvisational theater, history, folklore, drawing (creatures & characters & scenes), map making, and even with this list I'm but scratching the surface of the creative depths which Role Playing Games plumb.

Now what I would like for us to consider in my quest is how to derive more permanent records from Role Playing Game Adventures. Well for World System Creators there are Rules Books, and World Guides. Those often incorporate art and literature.

But I want more. To be meaningful. I want the stories to be known. And to make those stories worthy of the effort the first steps must be to make the World itself worthy. The second step is to make the story worthy, which is to say to find Players who can make the story worthy. And this requires setup. It requires effort. It requires that there be more to it than "lets play D&D this weekend". It must be "Let us create a work of art this season". And that art must be the game.

This goes to the whole concept of Player Characters as Actors. My feeling is that I want to start with Improvisational Game Theater (see post below) because I think it has the best shot of making the Game into something more than a mere game. It has everything an ordinary RPG session has, but one thing more. An audience. And one that expects a great story. And this makes the concept riveting to the actors. And I want the Improvisational Game Theater, when it begins to show real quality, to be recorded. But not merely recorded like a documentary of the Play, but well done. And I want there to be music. Not background music. Live performance music with the play, that reveals the mood and brings the game to life in that dimension.

I want the entire thing to be added to the permanent record as a new art form.

And then I shall be happy.
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