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#RPGTheoryJuly – 17th – Self-Reflexivity

Now we are slap bang in the middle of solo play territory. Solo players are arguably the royalty of self-reflexive play.

Self-Reflexivity sounds complicated but can be phrased as a game within a game or a tale with a tale. The absolute core of solo play is when you break away from the adventure and start to use the Oracle of choice. You are now playing the game with a game. You roll the dice, will you be lucky or not? Will the result be good for your character or not? Now you have the result but what does that mean right now? The zombies are after you and you race into the parking lot and grab the door handle on the first automobile you get to. Is the door door locked? You stop the game, set your odds and roll your dice and get… “No, but…” The oracles seen through that lens is clearly a game within a game but there is more.

What does the “No but…” mean? At this point we start to improvise an answer and meaning. We take the game so far into account, the genre and setting. We then create a packet of meaning, a tiny story to explain the meaning of a “No but…” answer. Is the car locked? No but the zombies have got here first and the interior and dashboard of the automobile is completely trashed.

We now have a tiny story within a the greater story of our solo game. As I said at the top solo players are the royalty of self reflexive play.

I am going to digress here. In researching this post I came across an academic study of Self Reflexivity in TTRPGs. The definition was…

It’s a game you play with friends in a social setting. …

It’s an exploration of intriguing or fanciful scenarios. …

It’s a chance to be someone you’re not. …

It’s a celebration of sticky situations. …

It’s collaborative daydreaming. …

It’s exercise for your personal sense of drama. …

It’s a way to trick ourselves into creating interesting things. …

It’s something you’ve been doing all along. (Ravachol, 2013a).

What Is a Role-Playing Game? Ravachol, E., Dig a Thousand Holes Publishing, USA, 2013.

I take issue with that definition. Incidentally, I follow Epidiah Ravachol on twitter. So I have pointed out to him that solo play is a legitimate branch of the role play hobby. No reply yet but I will update this when I hear anything.

My version goes…

It’s an exploration of intriguing or fanciful scenarios. …

It’s a chance to be someone you’re not. …

It’s a celebration of sticky situations. …

It’s interactive daydreaming. …

It’s exercise for your personal sense of drama. …

It’s a way to trick ourselves into creating interesting things. …

It’s something you’ve been doing all along….

Me, 2019
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