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Subject: Starfleet Ethics. Huh? Why? rss

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Barry Miller
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Finally got around to reading the rulebook for the first time. I admit that I'm struck by the "Starfleet Ethics" paragraph on page 4. After thoroughly reading over 250 rulebooks, I haven't seen anything quite like that before.

Typically - and especially in these days when rulebook brevity is considered a primary goal - rulebooks don't like to waste space on unneeded paragraphs or, even, words.

So why did GF9 find it necessary - or at least important enough - to go to the trouble of spending a valuable paragraph just to tell players to be good sports?

I find that really telling... I think. I mean, either GF9 really needed to kill about 2" of column space, or, they see poor sportsmanship (or poor gaming etiquette, if you will) as a problem in the board gaming culture - so much so that it's worth addressing in the ST:A rulebook.

Or am I totally seeing past some other motivation they may've had for including that paragraph? I doubt it was "thrown in there" on a whim!

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Jeffrey Spenner
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It struck me as a combination "flavor text" and way of light-heartedly saying "be nice".
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Angelus Seniores
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its sure not the only game to include an ethics paragraph, given the competitive nature of the game its a nice reminder to still play for fun

At least, its not like they had to cut some rules to fit it in.
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Barry Miller
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Angelsenior wrote:
... given the competitive nature of the game its a nice reminder to still play for fun

Thanks for the reply! So given your perspective, it begs the follow-up question:
"Do enough people really need a rulebook to tell them how to behave while playing a game?" Really?

Call me old school, but I just find that remarkable. Again, I'm assuming that the decision to put that paragraph in the rules wasn't made lightly. If it was a "light-hearted" attempt to provide flavor text - as Jeffrey mentioned above - well, that's an odd sort of flavor to insert without some sort of purpose behind it.

And, could the decision to include the paragraph be construed as a statement on our culture, that the writers felt it necessary - or even, only useful - to include it?

Finally, if you happen to know of other games with "good behavior" paragraphs, I'd like to see them! (BTW, I'm not asking about games with rules on settling disputes. Yes, there are several games that have dispute resolution rules. I have a few. But that's not the same as what I'm talking about in this thread).

 
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Tommy Dean
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They have something similar in all their rule books. I will assume of the 250 you read this is the first by GF 9

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Dave Summers
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The manual reads like it was cobbled together by various people with various ideas of what it should be like. I'm not a fan of it really. This rule about re-rolling dice, where shall we stick that? Right in the middle of game set up before we've even explained what the dice do? Cool. Also bugged me that when I first looked up how many tokens each player starts with, it just says 'a few'. Really, you couldn't have written three there?
 
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Brad Gravett
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bgm1961 wrote:
And, could the decision to include the paragraph be construed as a statement on our culture, that the writers felt it necessary - or even, only useful - to include it?

I don't want to sound condescending, but I think you might be reading too much into it. It sounds like you've made the connection that there's something about ST:A, or GF9 games in general, that inspires people to poor sportsmanship, and you're looking for evidence to prove that connection.

In my experience, I'm afraid there isn't any. I've played Firefly several times and Sons of Anarchy, and they're competitive and tense and flavorful and thematic and fun, but they don't elicit any poor sportsmanship behaviors from players. ST:A or any GF9 game aren't targeted to an audience that has a predilection for poor sportsmanship (at least anymore than other gamers).

I don't think think there's any ulterior motive. It's just good advice, even if it is common sense. If you hear hoof beats in Central Park, think horses, not zebras.
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Jim McMahon
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bgm1961 wrote:
Finally, if you happen to know of other games with "good behavior" paragraphs, I'd like to see them!

Love Letter
"A player could cheat when chosen with the Guard, or fail to discard the Countess when that player has the King or Prince in hand. We suggest that you don't play with knaves who cheat at fun, light games."
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Martin Gallo
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Because in our modern world there are plenty of people who actually need to be taught the basic concepts of ethical behavior. You usually find these people in courtrooms and boardrooms (as lawyers, criminals, CEOs CFOs, judges, etc.). In the gaming world these folks are known as "rules lawyers" and paragraphs like that are to help non-rules lawyers point to a rule that says being a dickjerk is not always the right way to play.

There is enough "white space" in the rules that clearly this one paragraph will not harm you, unless you are being a dickjerk and someone needs to read it to you.whistle (this paragraph posted for the purpose of humor, not for the purpose of harm.)
 
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Will

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bgm1961 wrote:

Thanks for the reply! So given your perspective, it begs the follow-up question:
"Do enough people really need a rulebook to tell them how to behave while playing a game?" Really?


You have no idea.
 
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James J

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I'd say far too much is being read into this, but if I had to take a stab at why they'd even think to include this I'd say it was because of what Star Trek represents. Gene Roddenberry bucked tradition by showing a future where humanity finally evolved beyond conflict, deceit, greed, etc. And if the 50th Anniversary brought in non-gamers, it might shock them to find that they can't role play in this game and win simply by being nice to everyone.
 
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Barry Miller
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Thanks all, for your replies! I appreciate your perspectives, and yes, perhaps I was reading too much into it. Before I reply to some of your comments, let me start with this:

Bottom Line Up Front: The point of my OP is that, GF9 put that paragraph in the rulebook on purpose. I’m intrigued if that purpose was because they felt it necessary to do so. That's all.


ozjesting wrote:
They have something similar in all their rule books. I will assume of the 250 you read this is the first by GF 9

The second, actually. I also have ‘Firefly’. I don’t remember seeing anything in that rulebook preaching about good behavior. I’ll have to go back and check!


swankidelic wrote:
I don't want to sound condescending, but I think you might be reading too much into it. It sounds like you've made the connection that there's something about ST:A, or GF9 games in general, that inspires people to poor sportsmanship, and you're looking for evidence to prove that connection. … I don't think think there's any ulterior motive.

You’re not being condescending at all. I appreciate your input. And perhaps I am reading too much into it, but not for the reasons you suppose. I wasn’t trying to imply any connection between GF9 games and bad behavior whatsoever. That thought never crossed my mind, actually. So if my OP came across as such, then let me correct that right here.

I’m assuming that GF9 included that paragraph for a reason. And I’m merely wondering if the reason could be that they see a problem of poor behavior in the gaming community (not necessarily among GF9 players, but anyone in the general community who might find themselves playing this game). So no, I wasn’t trying to draw any connection, nor prove a connection between GF9 players and poor sportsmanship!

And finally, I wasn’t trying to imply any ulterior motive, other than if they felt compelled to include that paragraph, then why? Again, I come from a perspective that every "gamer" should be a good sport without a rulebook having to remind them. That was their parents' job back when they were 4 or 5 years old, so that GF9 shouldn't have to even think of such a paragraph.


jimmcmahon wrote:
bgm1961 wrote:
Finally, if you happen to know of other games with "good behavior" paragraphs, I'd like to see them!

Love Letter
"A player could cheat when chosen with the Guard, or fail to discard the Countess when that player has the King or Prince in hand. We suggest that you don't play with knaves who cheat at fun, light games."

OK, that’s a good one. I have that game also, but didn’t think of that. It’s funny, but my reaction when reading that several years ago was, “Hmmm… I guess this makes it clear that you can’t lie when being challenged with a Guard.” (As many games let you lie).

So why did I not take notice of the Love Letter passage as I did with ST:A? Probably because the Love Letter rulebook was confirming only that you can’t lie and that doing so would be cheating and cheaters suck. I was OK with that. Whereas the ST:A rulebook is telling us not to be a poor sport, and that’s all. So I do see a difference behind the purpose for including each of these passages. But still, the 'Love Letter' passage was a good catch and admittedly dispels the claim in my OP!


japester1 wrote:
I'd say far too much is being read into this, but if I had to take a stab at why they'd even think to include this I'd say it was because of what Star Trek represents.

Yes, I may be reading too much into it. (Reading too much into things is one of my stronger talents)!
And given the responses in this thread thus far, that’s most likely the case. And if that be the case, then I agree with your second sentence!

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Angelus Seniores
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i wouldnt consider it as GF9 wanting to be teaching others how to behave but rather good advice, anyone reading it might connect to it unconciously at some point.

it also rather fits in with the star trek federation way of doing things, being diplomatic and such, so i actually consider it more in the spirit of star trek/the theme than in a belittling way.
 
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Lou Lessing
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I don't think it's that unusual to see a paragraph about sportsmanship in rulebooks. I don't have an example in mind unfortunately, but I'm certain I've seen it before.
 
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Brad Gravett
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You're a super sweet, guy, Barry, I wish more people (esp. on the interwebs) were like you =)

Maybe I'm cynical, though, but yeah, sometimes even good, well-behaved, upstanding members of society need to be reminded every now and then how to not be a barbarian. I'm not going to go as far to say that we're all vicious animals under a thin illusion of civilization, but even the best of us make mistakes.

Also, as a graphic designer, sometimes you just gotta fill negative space with *something*. A gentle, fun reminder about ethics is far from the worst thing you can do for that.
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Daniel Grant
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bgm1961 wrote:

or, they see poor sportsmanship (or poor gaming etiquette, if you will) as a problem in the board gaming culture - so much so that it's worth addressing in the ST:A rulebook.


While I cannot know GF9's internal decision making, I do think there is a broader problem in American culture in terms of conduct during competitive activities.

My twelve year old son just signed up for rugby this season. In addition to the typical medical releases and waivers, I have to sign and agree to a "Parent's Code of Conduct".

This isn't anything new per se. I've been seeing these for the past ten years. So I was not surprised to see this in the Ascendancy rulebook.

Personally, I believe we should have more of these in life. Political candidates should be made to sign a "Candidate Code of Conduct" before running for public office in the United States of America.
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Barry Miller
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Jatta Pake wrote:
I have to sign and agree to a "Parent's Code of Conduct".

Well, I'd be pissed if I had to sign one of these. I'd see it as an insult to my own capacity to behave, and a letdown to my expectation that everyone else should behave as well - without needing to sign a code of conduct!

Though of course I see it happening... I observe other parents behaving like total brats and a$$holes, in the situations you speak of. So I get the motivation which compels the pledge. But I just find the very notion of its existence to be abhorrent. For every parent that you speak of, I wonder under what situation did their parents fail so miserably?

Mind you, I really don't see this poor sportsmanship behavior among the gaming groups that I play with. So either I'm isolated from witnessing such behavior (and I've never seen it at Gen Con, or Geekway to the West for the past three years), or contrary to what the "Star Fleet Ethics" paragraph suggests, it simply doesn't exist. Wondering which it is, is the reason for my OP.

Thanks!

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Mattias Elfström
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Of GF9's games Sons of Anarchy has a sportsmanship rule on page 4, Spartacus on page 2 and Star Trek on page 4.

I can't find such a rule in Homeland or Firefly, but there is a note about PvP on page 1 of the P&BH rulebook for Firefly.

I think these are good reminders to have fun while playing, even if the games are competitive.
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Tommy Liles
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bgm1961 wrote:


Finally, if you happen to know of other games with "good behavior" paragraphs, I'd like to see them! (BTW, I'm not asking about games with rules on settling disputes. Yes, there are several games that have dispute resolution rules. I have a few. But that's not the same as what I'm talking about in this thread).



The closest thing I can think of besides the love letter example is page five of the warmachine rules. I think the similarity between the two is that the designers are trying to steer the ethos of their game, whereas the love letter rule is more of an admonition against playing with cheaters.

As a side note I've found that to be lousy advice. Some of my best, most amusing opponents are cheats, reformed or not. Keeps me on my toes.

bgm1961 wrote:

Mind you, I really don't see this poor sportsmanship behavior among the gaming groups that I play with. So either I'm isolated from witnessing such behavior (and I've never seen it at Gen Con, or Geekway to the West for the past three years), or contrary to what the "Star Fleet Ethics" paragraph suggests, it simply doesn't exist. Wondering which it is, is the reason for my OP.


Count yourself lucky. It's out there. At Origins I've seen people steal raffle tickets, scream at children, flip tables...

I also used to play warhammer competitively. Let's just say that there's just never enough opportunities to remind people it's a game, and it's supposed to be fun. Nobody is supposed to walk away from a game disgusted with another player's behavior.
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Lou Lessing
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Icehouse has some:

Quote:
ETIQUETTE NOTES

Hovering: When two players race to play pyramids into the same spot, the one whose piece arrived first must be allowed to attempt placing it without being harrassed. You can’t just push their hand away! But it’s fine to hold your own piece in the air above, ready to drop it in if the other player crashes or backs off.

Playing it “Cool”: Part of the mystique of Icehouse is the idea that a player’s attitude is a vital element of the game. A good Icehouse player is not only skilled at using clever strategies and diplomacy, but also understands the importance of being “cool.” Basically, this is just our word for being a good sport. Playing it cool means that no matter what kind of player you are, from friendly diplomat to evil executioner, you play with a style that makes others enjoy playing with you, even if you happen to win a lot. Being a cool player can even extend to matters well beyond the scope of the actual game, such as turning on some good mood music or making sure that everyone has a lovely beverage. You may even find that a cool style works well in other games!

What's “Uncool”: The rules of this game are easily abused by those with the wrong attitude. The best examples of this are intentional bad plays, such as crashing on purpose, deliberately creating a meltdown, and calling Icehouse without believing someone is in the Icehouse. It may be very strategic to “accidentally” do this, and it can be faked well enough that no one will notice the “mistake” was done on purpose. But it’s contrary to the spirit of Icehouse, and extremely uncool.Uncool players are encouraged not to play Icehouse.
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Björn Engqvist
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I think it is there because they predicted correctly that people would complain about the military focus of the game.
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Martin Gallo
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My wife is losing interest in Star Trek games because the emphasis is always on war rather than character and story (like the show). Yes there are exceptions.
 
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Barry Miller
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martimer wrote:
My wife is losing interest in Star Trek games because the emphasis is always on war rather than character and story (like the show). Yes there are exceptions.

And, Star Trek: Fleet Captains is one of the best exceptions I can think of. Definitely worth checking out. It's essentially ToS and TNG in a box!

The Federation is strongest in science and explorations missions
The Klingons are best at combat missions
The Romulans are best at sabotage and subterfuge missions (Need Star Trek: Fleet Captains – Romulan Empire)

The game models all the above really well, while at the same time, immersing the players into individual episodes through the encounter cards.

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Joseph Cochran
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martimer wrote:
My wife is losing interest in Star Trek games because the emphasis is always on war rather than character and story (like the show). Yes there are exceptions.


Have you/she tried Star Trek:Expeditions? Tangent I know, but definitely a game with more emphasis on story.
 
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Martin Gallo
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Just bought it yesterday! Hope springs eternal.
 
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