In the essay ‘Uncertainty in Analog Role Playing Games’ Evan Torner asks the question “What varieties of uncertainty are required in different types of role-playing experiences, and how does RPG design attend to the different levels of uncertainty at work?”. I am still grappling with this idea of uncertainty and the distinction being made here about how it functions in the game space as opposed to life outside of the magic circle. He talks about constraints and external influence over decision making in RPG scenarios like someone knowing the premise of the narrative and therefore perpetuating it or how a player who feels ill may not make the choices they would otherwise. These scenarios produce what he refers to as ‘certain types of play’ that should be investigated ‘as opposed to other types of play’. Perhaps I am misreading but it sounds like Torner is suggesting we examine the specificity of play types and and design around them rather than take them for granted in a controlled game design.
I think this is an interesting idea that could be explored in an ARG. As I am sure we all know by now the ARG structures allows for a variety of uncertainties beginning with the rabbit hole itself. Never being sure of what is or is not part of the game is another uncertainty that can generate a variety of play types. The play types that I am thinking of would be antagonistic play versus protagonistic play. Under what circumstances could a player be guided into antagonistic play in an ARG and could they subvert that? Torner talks about control in RPG design but in ARGs it would seem designers cede more control to the players than one might in other game types. What would happen in an ARG if different trails were modeled around different play types and the players choices could effect their path and influence their participation and/subversion of the trail design. Torner quotes Erik Fatland who says “When we design [role-playing games], we are playing basically with the building blocks of culture. Not just our fictional cultures; real cultures as well … [directing] human creativity toward a shared purpose.” Are the choices and actions of the players the building blocks being referred to here? Are they the desires to be complicit or undermine a given structure? Much like how art is a safe space to put pressure on notions of form perhaps the game space is one to put pressure on these cultural building blocks.