The Rookery

Madeline's thoughts on social deduction games, forum/community meta, and any other philosophical musings
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New Metaphor Just Dropped

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No mountains, no valleys
Never argue with idiots; they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.
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This was inspired by watching the recent Game for 19, I was musing to myself in spectator chat but then it took a long time to close out!

The image I have is of a pyramid, where different layers represent different aspects of a player's style, and each layer builds off the one before--but just because players are similar on a deeper level doesn't mean that will deterministically impact their style on a higher level, or vice versa. Maybe sometimes when conflicts arise and don't get sorted out easily, it could be because the sniping is criticizing one layer but the real difference of opinion is at a different layer.

The top layer, the one that's most visible, I'll call the "finger" layer--what they post, what directly comes across to other people. "Player A has a high signal-to-noise ratio." "Player B is spamming the thread with GIFs."

The middle layer is the "nerve" layer--how they play, what their approach is to game mechanics. "C refuses to participate in an all-claim." "You can't trust D, they're probably just reaction-testing."

And the bottom layer is the "gut" layer--why they play, what they seek to get out of a game of werewolf. This ties into some of my thoughts on topography. "E is a valley slope, their goal is to support F."

You can sometimes see how lower layers impact the ones above. G is a mountain who think their own reads are better than the rest of the village (gut), so they feel justified in calling fake hits (nerve). H is just here for a FUN time because playing games is FUN (gut), and so posts a lot of GIFs in the thread because GIFs are FUN (finger).

But sometimes it's harder to express low-layer disagreements with people when your high layers are similar. Player X is someone whose hunting and analysis (nerve) comes across similarly to mine; we're both unlikely to make weird plays as villager, we'd rather play straight-up and then dig into the math. Most of the time, we get along well in games.

Once in a while, though, I see X behaving like a valley slope--their behavior around Y is frustrating and feels enabling (gut). It feels petty of me to point this out; after all, X is so much more "compatible" with my playstyle than many people! But I'm still wary of them because of it.

Similarly, Player Z and myself can sometimes write similar posts (finger). There's a lot of parenthetical asides and clever allusions and by the way, isn't this kind of like that math puzzle that got referenced one time, the one with the goats and the hats and the liars and...okay I'll stop, but wait, finding a solution to this dichotomy would be like (nerdy thing) okay, haha, I'm hilarious, let's move on.

On the other hand, some of the stuff Z has said about why they enjoy werewolf (gut), I disagree with so much that it probably takes effort to be that wrong. I like social deduction games because it gives a chance for other people's emotional leaps to fall short; they seem to like them because it gives a chance for other people's logical leaps to fall short. I like being competitive in a restrained, limited environment; they like pushing boundaries and hoping everything is okay. I like ensemble music, some people like fast-paced improv (not necessarily the same person Z, but you get the idea).

Now, you might think it would be useful for me to communicate this to people like Z, so we could try to find some middle ground. But one of the reasons that might not work is because the posts I write--like this one--tend to be long, nerdy, filled with asides and oh look, here's an xkcd link, and blah blah blah. I think it would be easy for player Z to read this and say "oh, Madeline doesn't really mind my style, she's just as bad. After all, the fact that she can write about this in such a distant, playful manner shows that we're ultimately more similar than different."

And that would be wrong, because our finger-layer similarities don't stem from gut-layer similarities. Which brings up another point: the idea of control, or deliberateness, in posts. At times it's tempting to say "J is emotionally lashing out and being whiny in the thread; they must be super immature and not know any better. K seems much calmer and purposeful in their word and sentence choice; they must be deliberately needling J to get a reaction." When the truth is, K is always going to come across as more controlled than J because that's how their finger-layer styles are, even if they're both emotionally upset at gut level. Temporarily making a post like "wah, my feels, bad, stop it!!!!" would probably get a reaction because it's "out of character" behavior, and might effectively get across how badly affected K is. But then when K resets back to baseline, their short-term behavior will be seen as insincere. Once you've established a "meta"--on any layer--there's no good workaround.
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