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Alternate Reality Games, Roles, and the Unfiction Forums
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xnbomb
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Joined: 13 Oct 2003
Posts: 655
Location: J302B S8JDC

 Alternate Reality Games, Roles, and the Unfiction Forums
Or, Who is Supposed to Do What, and Why That Is

Greetings Unfiction Forum User,

I'm going to begin this post by explaining a little about why I am writing it. The motivation is simple: As someone who has been moderating, and more recently administrating, the Unfiction Forums, I'm starting to get a feel for some of the common causes of difficulty that games run into that are forum-related. Note: There are plenty of other problems that games can run into that have nothing to do with how they get discussed on these forums, but what I'm going to discuss here is solely how games interact with the Unfiction Forums. For the most part, I think the difficulties I am addressing here are related to misunderstandings when it comes to the roles of the various parties when it comes to the Unfiction Forums.

I think a lot of the ideas I am going to try to convey below have been addressed in other places (see the Terms of Service including the General Rules and Guidelines and Rules and Guidelines for Puppetmasters, the STARTING YOUR OWN GAME OR TRAIL? READ THIS FIRST topic, etc.) but I'm going to try and restate some of that in a different way and format, because our existing documents don't seem to be doing the job in some cases. Unfortunately, this comes out as pretty long and as usual the people who need to read this the most probably won't bother. But, at least they can be referred to this after the fact. So, without further ado:



Alternate Reality Games, Roles, and the Unfiction Forums (or, Who is Supposed to Do What, and Why That Is)

Who: Players/Posters

What should they do: Play games and post on the Unfiction Forums

Why: Because it's fun (or at least, it should be)!

What should they NOT do: The wide variety of things prohibited in the Terms of Service

Why not: The things prohibited in the ToS are prohibited because they generally make it harder for other players/posters to enjoy playing and posting



Who: Moderators & Administrators

What should they do: Facilitate players/posters in their enjoyment of games by managing topics and forums (in terms of what goes where), and deal with ToS violations when necessary

Why: Because someone has to do it. While one of the Unfiction Administration's values is to let communities and discussion evolve as they will, there are some benefits to a little bit of management. There's a happy medium somewhere between total anarchy and absolute control, and the people who are Mods and Admins here are constantly trying to find it. The reason those people have been selected to be Mods and Admins is because they have shown leadership and good judgment in trying to seek that happy medium.

What should they NOT do: Use their Mod/Admin access to try and control/shape the development of a game's community and discussion beyond those minimal interventions that seem necessary for reasons of topic and forum management

Why not: As stated above, the Unfiction Administration puts a pretty high value on the chaotic system part of chaotic fiction. If we tried to tell players how to play and discuss, we would be acting in contravention of that idea. Now, some players/posters may think that topic/forum management (and ToS enforcement as well, although the argument there is a fair bit weaker) is a form of control and intervention in the development of a game's community and discussion. And to some extent, they'd be correct about that. But please, remember the happy medium mentioned above: The Unfiction Administration also believes that a certain amount of moderation and administration, executed in a fairly minimalistic style, makes the Unfiction Forums work better than they would without that intervention. You might disagree with this, either philosophically in general, or in terms of the subjective judgment as applied by a mod/admin in a particular situation in specific. On the philosophical level, this is not up for debate: Opinions and suggestions are always welcome, but the Unfiction Forums will continue to be moderated and administered in a fashion that is consistent with the Unfiction Administration's values, and through their interpretation of how to best achieve the goals that those values are designed to support. When it comes to specific instances, recognize that mods/admins have to exercise their judgment on a regular basis. You may not agree with their judgment all the time. Please be reassured that mods/admins do their best to act in a fashion that is consistent and fair.



Who: Puppetmasters/Behind-the-scenes persons

What should they do: Create games and read the Unfiction Forums to keep track of their players' progress

Why: Again, because it's fun (or at least, it should be), hopefully for the creators of the games and their players alike!

What should they NOT do: The wide variety of things prohibited in the Terms of Service, including interacting with their players through posting on the Unfiction Forums (by posting/shilling, whether by using their own account, through a {not allowed} second account, by guest posting, or through a behind-the-scenes proxy) or through private messages

Why not: The Unfiction Forums are a player resource. They exist to provide a context where players can play/post/discuss games. There is an ancillary benefit to game creators in that they can read what their players are writing, which allows a very useful feedback in the flow of a game. BUT puppetmasters/behind-the-scenes persons MUST remember that through the Unfiction Forums, this feedback only works in one direction! Players can communicate with game creators through the Unfiction Forums, BUT game creators CANNOT communicate with their players through the Unfiction Forums. There are a few reasons that the Unfiction Forums have been designed to work this way, mostly related to the preservation of a convincing game reality (remember ... alternate reality games), and some notions of fair play in these games (as opposed to game creators trying to solve their design and gameplay problems by trying to influence their players through the use of the Unfiction Forums). In general, since puppetmasters/behind-the-scenes persons have a great deal of control over the game reality, it's in that context that they should be communicating with their players, including meta-communicating with them (if puppetmasters/behind-the-scenes persons cannot think of a way to send any given message to their players through their game world, they might not be trying hard enough).

What ELSE should they NOT do: Tell the mods/admins on the Unfiction Forums how to manage the player discussion of their game

Why not: Please remember that the Unfiction Forums are primarily a player resource. Puppetmasters/behind-the-scenes persons have the benefit of being able to read what their players are writing about their games, and can adjust their game realities accordingly. But, much as mods/admins try to minimally intervene in the process of player discussion on the Unfiction Forums, puppetmasters/behind-the-scenes persons should not be intervening in it AT ALL. That includes trying to tell the mods/admins how they'd like to see topics associated with their games managed. One aspect of a game that its creators will have no control over whatsoever is how it is discussed on the Unfiction Forums (this falls neatly into the much broader category of things they will have no absolute control over, which is how their players will play their game). So, while they can execute as much control over their game reality as they'd like, that doesn't extend to the Unfiction Forums. They are out-of-game, in multiple senses. If a game creator thinks that they need to have some control over player discussion to make their game work, they might a) reconsider their game plan or b) consider running their own forum for player discussion (but they should be aware that if they try to manipulate their players in terms of how they play there, their players are probably not going to like it).
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 9:32 pm
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Nighthawk
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee


Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 4749
Location: Miami, Florida, USA, Earth

Excellent write-up, but I find it necessary to point out that under the puppetmaster's "Why" it should be mentioned that some PMs do it because it's their job: they are attempting to market or promote a product through the viral aspects of an ARG. For some of us it might be entertainment and a sense of challenge, but for others like merketing agencies it's just another way of doing business.
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 11:15 pm
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xnbomb
Unfettered


Joined: 13 Oct 2003
Posts: 655
Location: J302B S8JDC

Nighthawk wrote:
Excellent write-up, but I find it necessary to point out that under the puppetmaster's "Why" it should be mentioned that some PMs do it because it's their job: they are attempting to market or promote a product through the viral aspects of an ARG. For some of us it might be entertainment and a sense of challenge, but for others like merketing agencies it's just another way of doing business.

True enough. In turn, I find it necessary to point out that when those professionals are doing this because it is their business, I still hope they are in that business because they enjoy it, and that they recognize that their achieving their marketing goals is all about their players enjoying their games. If both of those things aren't true, I'm guessing they won't be in that business for very long.
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My location is a little tricky, but sooner or later, you'll get the knack.

{J302B S8JDC, 8996N M8L4W, 92D40 Q1JX5, 4PPRN R2B97, 8DC7C NZJNV, 8CH7V Q891H}


PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 11:41 pm
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faeryqueen21
Unfictologist


Joined: 25 Sep 2007
Posts: 1346
Location: Pasadena, CA

Thanks for posting this Xnbomb. I have a feeling this thread will be linked to and referenced quite a bit.
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:02 pm
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krystyn
I Never Tire of My Own Voice


Joined: 26 Sep 2002
Posts: 3640
Location: Is not Chicago

xnbomb wrote:

True enough. In turn, I find it necessary to point out that when those professionals are doing this because it is their business, I still hope they are in that business because they enjoy it, and that they recognize that their achieving their marketing goals is all about their players enjoying their games. If both of those things aren't true, I'm guessing they won't be in that business for very long.

I can't believe I am doing this, but: QFT
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Stories and dreams, crossing my palm like silver.

xbl gamertag: krystyn


PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:48 pm
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Lunsford
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1601
Location: With Rorschach

krystyn, what does that mean?
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:50 pm
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krystyn
I Never Tire of My Own Voice


Joined: 26 Sep 2002
Posts: 3640
Location: Is not Chicago

Quoted For Truth Smile
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Alternate Currency
Stories and dreams, crossing my palm like silver.

xbl gamertag: krystyn


PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 1:01 pm
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addlepated
Unfictologist


Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Posts: 1885
Location: Austin, Texas

krystyn wrote:
Quoted For Truth Smile

I always thought it was Quite Effing True. Embarassed
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 1:28 pm
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krystyn
I Never Tire of My Own Voice


Joined: 26 Sep 2002
Posts: 3640
Location: Is not Chicago

I think that definition could also be applicable!
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Stories and dreams, crossing my palm like silver.

xbl gamertag: krystyn


PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 2:40 pm
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Rekidk
Entrenched


Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 992
Location: Indiana, USA

Rock On

Great post, xnbomb!
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:45 pm
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nicksix
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i think i know the rule now!

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:05 pm
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